3 Skills That Require Zero Talent
The accounting profession is all about skills – technical skills, communication skills, leadership skills. You’ve probably heard the advice that firms should hire for soft skills since technical skills are easier to teach. No matter your experience level or whether you’re a natural bean counter or more comfortable working a room, here are three skills that require zero talent and can help you become more valuable in your career.
Being late all the time has almost become a point of pride for some people. “Look at how important I am! Every second of my day is scheduled!” It’s truly not a big deal if you get to your desk a few minutes late because traffic was particularly bad. But perpetually running late for client meetings and missing deadlines doesn’t make you look important – it makes you look disorganized and careless at best. At worst, you’ll appear self-centered because you’ve kept people waiting for you.
Being on time is really an easy thing to get right. If you struggle with punctuality, try these tricks:
Set a goal to arrive ten minutes early. You can carry that business book you’ve been meaning to read with you, so you have something to do before the meeting starts and won’t feel as though you’re wasting precious time.
Under promise, over deliver. When you’re agreeing to a deadline, you can almost guarantee that if you give yourself just enough time to get the work done, something unexpected will crop up. Build in a bit of slack. If a project will take four days to complete, ask for five. If you need the extra time, you have it. If you don’t, you’ll look like a superstar for finishing the job early.
Set alarms. It’s easy to get so caught up in email and other work that time flies by, and before you know it, you’re running late. Set alarms calendar notifications to pop up and remind you to stop working.
Perception is reality. How your boss, co-workers, clients, etc. perceive you shapes how successful your interactions with them are going to be. Numerous studies have shown that 60 to 80 percent of communication is non-verbal, so it pays to consider the body language you use to communicate.
This video from Harvard Business Review offers the following tips for taking control of your nonverbal communication:
Become aware of your nonverbal behavior. Catch yourself in a mirror or take note of your posture next time you’re in a meeting. Are you hunched over when everyone else is sitting up tall? Do you stare at the table while everyone else is making eye contact with a group? Realize how you may be unconsciously sending signals to others.
Focus on your emotional intent. The emotions you’re feeling show up in your body, and they are passed on to others. So consider the feelings you want to carry into your next meeting or interaction. Focus on those emotions – and not your to-do list – before you engage in a conversation to ensure you’re sending out that passion, excitement, etc. when you talk to others.
Monitor yourself in important settings. Once you’ve identified the gap between how you’re currently presenting yourself and how you’d like to behave, monitor yourself during crucial interactions to make sure you’re showing up the way you want to show up. With practice, you’ll eventually make positive body language a habit.
Anyone who wants to grow, learn and operate at their peak performance needs to be coachable. Being coachable means you’re open to listening to feedback, able to receive constructive criticism without taking it personally and willing to take a look at your own performance to improve it.
When supervisors, managers or potential mentors perceive you as not being open to coaching, a lot of valuable conversations will shut down before they’ve even begun. Convey to others that you are receptive to coaching can be as simple as asking for feedback. So sincerely invite your colleagues and especially your boss to give you suggestions for being more effective at your job. Be sure to thank the giver of feedback, even if its tough to hear, and act on it.
Success requires a strong foundation of habits and characteristics that demonstrate your professionalism. Make these skills a priority in your career. Your dedication will give you a huge advantage over people who don’t take them seriously.
As the Marketing Manager for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Heather’s primary focus is on developing the firm’s marketing strategy and brand awareness to help drive business results. She manages and executes marketing and business development initiatives, with daily oversight of the website, social media, and thought leadership content. In addition, as a part of the Business Development team, she provides leadership and strategic planning on marketing and communication practices for the firm.