Succeeding in the finance profession requires more than just credentials, industry expertise and familiarity with the appropriate technology, like enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. It's the soft skills, such as communication and leadership, that distinguish the strongest candidates from the crowd. These nontechnical attributes give finance professionals the edge they need to form effective partnerships with colleagues, take on new responsibilities and meet the challenges of today's finance teams. Here are some qualities to look for when building your team:
Dealing with sensitive information in a confidential and responsible way is absolutely essential for finance professionals. You should seek candidates who demonstrate trustworthiness, good judgment and discretion.
Use open-ended questions during the job interview, such as, "Can you give me an example of how you handled a workplace disagreement in the past?" You want candidates who try to be reasonable but nonetheless stand up for what's right. Beware of candidates who say that they never get into conflict situations. They are being either dishonest or unrealistic about life in the workplace.
If you're thinking of hiring a new employee, craft some interview questions that focus on learning, onboarding and mentoring to gauge the candidate's receptiveness to the idea of professional development.
If you have temporary finance professionals already on board, examine their enthusiasm for learning. Do they seem interested in other departments and the tasks of more senior roles? Do they take advantage of free training offered by their employment agency? These professionals could make ideal full-time hires if a long-term need materializes.
You understandably want to recruit and develop finance professionals with good leadership skills. The future of your business depends on it. Besides looking for leadership qualities when hiring, you also will want to consider developing strong leaders among your existing employees through career coaching. By following the lead of a senior team member, your employees can learn to emulate the soft skills they need to manage and motivate others. If you have a few top performers in mind for future promotions or even succession planning – or if you've just hired a new shining star – invest in them by providing leadership workshops, education opportunities and guidance in choosing the right career path.
You can test interpersonal skills during meetings. If your employees dominate the conversation or cut off other speakers, chances are they don't possess the communication skills necessary to excel in the workplace. You want to keep your eye out for finance professionals who are open-minded, respect diverse opinions and cultural backgrounds, and treat everyone with politeness and professionalism – from the courier to the receptionist to the CEO.
In addition, all of their written communication should be clear and concise, and they should observe proper business etiquette when using devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops.
When adding new financial professionals or considering promoting members of your team, look beyond their technical assets, finance skills and educational credentials. First-rate soft skills are vital assets as well.