Effective manager-employee communication is essential in all professions, and accounting and finance professionals are no exception. Managers need to set a good example for the entire office. Aside from making yourself available and recognizing and rewarding good work, it requires skill to positively deliver criticism, prepare your accounting and finance professionals for big changes and quell the rumor mill.
Here are six communication tips that can help:
1. Let them know it's OK to speak up
Any team, including accounting and finance professionals, may need a little prompting to be vocal with their feedback for you. Encourage your staff to ask questions and express concerns. Remind them frequently that there are no negative repercussions for honest and respectful communication.
2. Check in often
If you're not getting feedback, don't assume things are going well. Your team may feel uncomfortable approaching you with a problem. Regularly — and gently — remind your accounting and finance professionals that you value their input. Your attentiveness and openness may prompt them to share more ideas.
3. Don't catch people off guard
Don't wait until the annual appraisal to give your team feedback. Employees should never be surprised by what they hear during a performance review. Let staff members know how they’re doing all year long. Also talk about areas for improvement.
4. Give it to them straight
Two key character traits effective accounting and finance professionals should display are trustworthiness and integrity. People usually appreciate a communication style from you that is equally honest, reliable and direct.
5. Be specific
Accounting and finance professionals are trained to focus on data. Their jobs generally require a great deal of precision, accuracy and technical knowledge. When communicating with this group, avoid generalizations. For example, don't ask, "Can you pull some numbers?" Instead, be more specific: "Can you run a report that breaks down what we spent on travel and entertainment, as well as office supplies, for the first quarter?"
6. Ward off rumors
One danger of under-communicating with your team members is that office gossip can run wild. True, a certain amount of gossip exists in every workplace, but productivity and morale suffer in an atmosphere plagued by rumors and uncertainty. Don't ignore half-truths and misinformation when you hear them circulating around the office. Nip rumors in the bud by offering accurate and up-to-date clarifications. This will help you neutralize the water-cooler chatter and maintain the trust and loyalty of your team.
Your efforts to communicate effectively with the accounting and finance professionals on your team are critical in ensuring that your productivity and retention goals are met. Emphasize the critical role each of them plays in maintaining the workflow and keeping quality high. And always bear in mind that communication that truly works is always a two-way experience.