As a specialist finance recruiter, I‘ve placed many candidates in their ideal finance roles. Occasionally, I hear from one or two who tell me that although the job is excellent, they find it challenging to communicate with non-finance colleagues at their organisation.
It’s sometimes difficult to get your non-finance colleagues to listen and pay attention to numbers. How do you make your case appealing? Explaining what data like this means in an engaging way is an art form in itself.
This is a situation that can arise more often than you might think, and so I thought it would be useful to provide some direction for those new to a finance role – or as a refresher for more senior individuals – as to the best way to communicate with your sales, marketing or IT teams, and other non-finance colleagues.
Confidence is Key
Anyone can communicate with confidence. This is something that people in the Classical world knew a lot about. Traders, public speakers, leaders; they all knew how to communicate with authority.
Being able to exhibit gravitas – giving weight, influence and authority to what you say – stems from excellent communication and networking skills.
Gravitas will help you to improve working relationships and leverage authority in your financial subject. It establishes confidence, without being arrogant, and provides you with the ability to challenge without adversity.
Confidence will help you demonstrate strong opinions on foundations of substantial experience. It will portray you as considered, articulate and eloquent.
That all sounds very promising, but communicating with confidence takes practice.
To exude gravitas, you first need to believe in yourself. As a finance professional, you should banish any feelings of imposter syndrome. You are the expert in your subject, with proven ability and experience to deliver information to others.
Your financial information and viewpoint matter to your organisation, so take time to think about how you deliver it, and what it means to your institution going forward.
Lost in Translation?
First – why is it so challenging to communicate financial information to others from a different professional background? There could be several reasons, such as:
- They may be intimidated by the data
Multiple pages of figures may result in overwhelm for some individuals. Can you simplify the facts?
- Some organisation cultures don’t embrace financial information
Does your business understand the significance of your financial reports and advice?
- Other staff may lack financial literacy
Perhaps the metrics you use to convey information, or the finance jargon, are preventing your message from being understood?
There can be several reasons you may be finding it difficult to influence non-finance colleagues, but there are strategies you can apply to help you overcome these challenges. Here are some that will help you gain traction and move towards creating both clarity and confident communication…
6 Steps to Improve Communication
Clear, concise information is the hallmark of a great communicator; and is especially needed in the finance profession. Additionally, anyone can improve their communication abilities with practice.
You want to tell a story with figures – so, what’s the best way to go about that? How can you successfully convey the information without overwhelming others?
1. Keep it Simple
Firstly, think about the message you’re trying to convey. Keep it on track and make the message clear. What is the core point you want the listener to remember and potentially act upon? Make sure you concentrate on that message.
2. Be Concise
Clear, concise communication makes the complex easy to understand for non-finance colleagues. As well as keeping the main points in mind, be sure to avoid going into too much detail. As a finance professional, you may be happy to talk all day about the data you spent a week preparing, but your colleagues just want the basics. And you don’t have to talk at length to convey how long you spent working it all out.
3. Know Your Audience
You can tailor your reports better to individuals if you know their preferred communication style (more on this next). Understanding why you’re having finance discussions is essential to recognise the best way to deliver the information.
Are you presenting facts? Are you advising, or adding value? The reasons for financial discussions can vary from one organisation to another.
4. Make It Accessible
Once you are aware of your colleagues‘ preferred communication style, you can ensure you present the information in a user-friendly way.
By making the information accessible; for example, in written report form, PowerPoint presentation, graphs or verbal comment, you can tune into what motivates and helps them retain the information.
Using consistent metrics that you know work, and less financial jargon, will enable you to engage at a deeper level with colleagues.
5. Be Prepared
It’s crucial to have your answers prepared for any questions that you may be asked: be prepared to explain and reaffirm your data. It’s wise to check – and doublecheck – your facts in advance.
And don’t just provide statements; offer advice to your colleagues. So, for example, if your marketing department has overspent, instead of saying “Your department’s overspent again!” consider an alternative such as “You could do X Y or Z to improve your spending.”
6. Offer Value
Finally, you could consider offering training workshops or programmes to help non-finance colleagues understand your financial processes and procedures. This will enable them to build their knowledge and understanding to help them better interpret financial data and thus be able to work with you in collaboration to benefit the organisation.
Forbes advises that excellent executive-level communication requires a commitment to be precise and succinct in your message. Additionally, you should ensure you do not evade challenges to your information, or use jargon that might confuse the meaning of the message you’re trying to convey.
To make sure your communication as a finance professional is valuable and relevant, it’s wise to invest time in advance of meetings to consider the facts you need to convey, along with additional helpful information and advice you can provide.
By offering this value-added support, you will position yourself as an informative, helpful and go-to finance expert.
Remember, the combination of possessing strategic perspective and being able to articulate with clarity is a recipe for persuasive communication, which will help you engage with others in your finance organisation to achieve success.
P.S. If you’re looking for your ideal finance role, contact Rebus Financial Recruitment or call us on 01282 930930 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, you can achieve great things.
About Rebus Financial Recruitment
Rebus Financial Recruitment provides a specialist and focused recruitment service to its customers, which historically range from a wide variety of organisations including SME’s to large PLCs.
We strive to offer both the client and candidate a seamless recruitment experience. Using our expertise, we get to the heart of employer and employee needs; and, in doing so, we match the two perfectly. To find out more, get in contact with one of our team today, or you can call us on 01282 930930.