How to Hone Your Soft Skills with Personal Development

By Robert Half January 23, 2014 at 8:00am

You've heard about the need for soft skills amid all the other skills you must possess as an accounting and finance professional. But have you heard about the advantages of a personal development plan?

CFOs in a Robert Half survey cited communication as the area where they’d like to see the most improvement from employees in their department. As it turns out, the ability to communicate effectively with diverse audiences is just one of a number of increasingly valuable soft skills accounting and finance professionals must possess.

What non-accounting skills are you missing? Discover the four ways you can hone your soft skills with a personal development plan to expand your leadership and communication abilities:

1. Volunteer to lead new projects

Managing a new initiative, particularly one involving members of departments outside of your own. Cross-departmental collaboration will force you to expand your soft skills. It might even lead you to a leadership role.

2. Take advantage of your company’s training program

Find out what relevant professional development opportunities your employer offers.

3. Tap professional associations

Accounting and finance organizations commonly offer events and courses designed to help members build both their technical and nontechnical abilities. Also consider pursuing leadership positions within your local chapter.

4. Build relationships

Relationship building has many advantages. Fostering camaraderie with staff members does wonders for conflict resolution, staff loyalty and a positive work environment. Go out to lunch, promote training opportunities, actively communicate. Strong workplace friendships won’t solve all your problems, but they are a major factor in creating a dynamic, motivated and productive team.

5. Practice

The more opportunities you have to collaborate, speak with diverse audiences and serve as a leader — whether at work, with a community organization or even among your family and friends — the more you’ll see your soft skills improve.

In author Keith Ferrazzi's best-seller, "Never Eat Alone," he shares that "Success in any field, but especially in business, is about working with people, not against them."

In finance and accounting, the same holds true. If you are looking to land a new finance job or gain a promotion, not only do you need to be a numbers guru but you also need strong nontechnical attributes to navigate the organizational chart successfully.

More From the Blog...