The practical experience requirements for ACCA membership assess your personal effectiveness – including your ability to manage yourself, communicate with others, and use information and communications technology. This article will help you to identify opportunities to develop your self-management and communication skills.
Your practical experience supervisor may provide you with guidance as you gain practical experience. However, how you approach and manage your workload, strive for higher standards, and work with other people will determine whether you meet your performance objectives. These factors will also contribute to your development as a professional and to your long-term career success.
Although self-management is a performance objective in its own right, it’s also a skill you will employ when meeting most of your other performance objectives.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when managing your workload:
Prioritising and planning
Development of working relationships
Development of skills and knowledge
Developing your communication skills
In most jobs, the majority of your time at work involves dealing with other people. Whether you are working alongside peers, reporting to a line manager, delegating to juniors, collaborating with non-finance colleagues, or liaising with the employees of clients or suppliers, how you interact with them is vital to your personal effectiveness.
Although everyone is unique, many people exhibit common characteristics that dictate the way they relate to their surroundings – at home and at work. As a finance professional, you must be able to perceive how the people you deal with respond to the office environment – including their perception of what is significant or urgent and how they might behave as a result. Improving your understanding of other people’s ‘behavioural styles’ may help you to adjust your own behaviour and therefore get better results from office interactions, leading to the following benefits:
Adjusting your own style to achieve better results from working with others doesn’t require you to act in a false way. You simply have to stand back and observe, in order to improve your understanding of why people behave in certain ways.
Identifying common styles Watch and listen to your colleagues to observe how certain traits and characteristics can determine how they give and receive information:
You also need to understand your own style, so that you can alter how you behave in order to be more successful when dealing with others. For instance, if you tend to rely on intuition and you’re working on a specific project with a colleague who approaches tasks in an objective way, you might find it helpful to support your ideas with facts and figures.
Using style awareness
Put your heightened awareness of others’ likely behaviours to good use as you accumulate practical experience. Consider the following:
The subject of behavioural styles and personal effectiveness is well documented. However, be careful not to become too prescriptive about style awareness – judgment based on your own experience shouldn’t necessarily be invalidated by theories on behavioural style.
As with self-management, effective communication is not just a standalone performance objective. It’s a skill you will need to continue developing throughout your career. As you refine your personal effectiveness, you will find that not only does your ability to meet performance objectives improve, but so does your capacity to take on more responsibility, with minimum levels of stress, and with increased energy and drive. You are likely to experience positive benefits outside the workplace too, meaning that you can really enjoy the rewards of your hard work. Improving your personal effectiveness makes you better at managing your job and your life outside of work.