Poor Interpersonal Skills Hurt Career Advancement

But few CFOs plan to invest in soft skills development for their teams

Executives say it takes strong soft skills to move up the corporate ladder, but few firms provide training in this area, an Accountemps survey finds. When chief financial officers were asked to identify the most common reason their employees fail to advance, poor interpersonal skills was the top response (30 percent). But only one in five (19 percent) executives said their organization is likely to invest in soft skills training for accounting and finance staff in the next two years.

CFOs were asked, “In your opinion, which one of the following is the most common reason for an employee’s failure to advance at your company?” Their responses:

Poor interpersonal skills 30%
Poor work ethic 25%
Not developing new skills 23%
Failure to enhance his or her visibility within the organization 15%
Failure to proactively seek promotions and career advancement 5%
None of these 1%
Don’t know/no answer 2%





CFOs also were asked, “Which of the following types of skills training are you likely to invest in for your internal accounting and finance staff in the next two years?” Their responses:

2013 2008
Accounting or finance 32% 26%
Information technology 29% 30%
Soft skills (communication and interpersonal abilities) 19% 8%
Management 17% 16%
None of these 2% 18%
Don’t know/no answer 2% 2%
101%* 100%
*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.






Although few respondents expect to invest in soft skills training, the results show a greater emphasis on this area than in 2008, when only 8 percent of CFOs planned to support interpersonal skills development.

“Accounting and finance professionals have gradually assumed increased visibility, expanded roles and greater influence within their firms over the past several years, making soft skills an essential competency today,” says Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Human Resources Kit for Dummies®, 3rd Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). “Providing employees with the tools to become better communicators, consensus builders and negotiators should be a priority for any organization.”

continue reading »