In our series of interviews for the Future Positive Podcast, we recently interviewed Nicky Pattinson, trainer, consultant and event speaker who specialises in improving communication skills for teams in a variety of sectors, including professional services’ firms.
Nicky’s work experience, firstly as a market trader, not in stocks and shares but in biscuits and cakes on a stall in a Yorkshire mill town, taught her how to make a quick impression with potential customers walking by. She recognised that tone of voice, body language and charisma were essential when trying to communicate effectively. She has now integrated that science of human connection, to introduce it into a wide range of industries and disciplines.
The innovation which Nicky aspires to bring to companies includes examining what makes each of us unique, so that we can translate that into all our written, verbal and visual communications. This is essential when dealing with both clients and team members.
Kirsty McGregor, Accountant-in-Residence at Capitalise, examines what this means for the recent trend of firms’ implementing systemised emails and templates across their practice.
Systems has become the buzzword of the past decade as accounting firms recognised that they allowed senior leaders to delegate processes to more inexperienced members of the team, without being nervous about the quality of the output.
Systems such as workflows, internal processes, branded documents and templated emails, have been incorporated by savvy practices across all their service lines. In fact, a whole industry has developed to assist in creating these procedures, which has allowed firms to develop efficiencies and scalability.
However, by removing the risk which accompanies a more individualised approach to communications, have we have actually omitted the one unique facet where we can truly differentiate – our own teams’ personalities?
"Should we be concerned that we have gone too far?”
So, is there a balance to be struck? How can we empower our team to showcase their own uniqueness? And is there a way to achieve this whilst maintaining quality and ensuring the team remain ‘on brand’ according to the firm’s overall wish for how it wishes to be perceived?
Nicky seems to think so! By working across the business and also with every individual, she introduces some minor changes to the approaches used. These bring huge differences to the impact achieved from the firm’s communications, such as emails, video calls and in discussions to win new work.
Releasing our teams to be themselves, especially those more junior members, could be nerve-racking for firms’ senior leaders who worry they may lose control over the output.
But by accompanying that with adequate training and some general guidelines, we could also allow our teams to feel empowered. In turn bringing faster development of their own personal, yet professional brands, under the wider umbrella of the practice as a whole.
In these days where a long-term shortage of skilled professionals means ensuring retention should be a strategic focus for any firm, this demonstration of trust would surely go a long way to achieving that objective.