Expert Panel

Focus on these things to succeed in Accounting

Workplace Communication Techniques for Exceptional Accountants


It is one thing to follow standards, meet deadlines and accurately complete tasks.  Exceptional accountants, however, integrate themselves and the business by incorporating workplace communication skills that set new standards.  They not only integrate themselves into all areas of the business, they help the business succeed.  Here are six workplace communication techniques for Exceptional Accountants.


Understand that you are part of a business team, not just the accounting team.

Too often the accounting group is set apart in their own world whether by self-design or management design.  This should not be the case.  Your reporting and analysis is vital to the company’s infrastructure, and you should take every opportunity to incorporate your activity into the rest of the organization.  The first step is embracing this philosophy on for yourself, the next is incorporating it into every interaction you have with other departments in your company.


Know that the system can & should be modified to meet the business’s needs.

There are reporting standards that must be met, but in addition to that, know that rigid structures can and should accommodate the needs of each department so that the data is understandable and useable for the organization.  The more capable you are at making accommodations for coding and system reports, the more valuable you will become to your company.  Do this in collaboration with department heads throughout your business.  Tweaking things here and there is not the answer; instead, work together to agree to a set of changes that are understood and useful to all parties.  Plan the changes, launch them and ensure they are adding value.


Ensure AP/AR employees act for the benefit of the company.

Customers are not owned by sales, they are owned by every individual including accounts payable, receivable and the credit department.  That means that customer service needs to be aligned in all areas of the business.  Hand-offs to other departments to settle issues is not the answer, collaboration is.  Make sure there is positive communication between departments and that the customer is always front and center.


Align yourself with management at all levels.

Set up meetings with both senior and middle managers in your organization.  Present your current reporting tools to them in very simplistic terms.  Make cheat sheets for them so that they understand the reports that are being presented so non-accountants can understand the meaning behind the numbers.  This may even mean changing acronyms to real descriptions so they can understand.  By establishing a good relationship with individuals throughout the organization, you will not only be more appreciated, you will have a better appreciation for the value you are bringing to the team.


Understand the data you are reporting.

Too often checks and balances are just that, numbers in the system.  If you don’t understand the meaning behind the numbers, how can you present the data and help your organization understand them too?  You will benefit by asking questions while helping others to understand.  


Create useful reporting tools linked to the business strategy.

Have you thought about creating reports that compare how departments are spending money, reports that are linked to cost cutting measures with goals vs. actual results each month?  What about providing overtime-spending reports by department, or sales expenses for each sales region?  Raw material purchase price comparisons month over month, or how about operating costs per product line?  These reports can come from the accounting group instead of each area of business trying to run their own reports that are never linked to actual company results.  Avoid month end comparison arguments, and start working as a team.


What is accounting’s role in your organization?  Are you an Exceptional Accountant?  Do you hold your accounting staff to these communication standards?  Try some of these techniques and share your results with us!


Written by Lisa Woods,

President ManagingAmericans.com



Do you work closely with other departments to create useful management tools?