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Do you sometimes feel frustrated that people don’t appreciate you as a true business partner? That you are brought into conversations once the decision has already been made?

Earlier in my finance career, I saw myself as part of a support function. I wasn’t servicing clients, I wasn’t generating revenue, and I didn’t feel I was adding much value. When I needed to speak to my ‘revenue-generating’ colleagues, I almost felt that I was inconveniencing them. They were doing me a ‘great favour’ by giving me some of their time. It didn’t feel like a real business partnership.

As I got more senior in my career, things changed. I realised that even if I wasn’t directly servicing clients, I could still add a considerable amount of value. I could influence critical decisions. By using my skills, I could help my colleagues add value to our clients. I could be a real business partner. It came from my different perspective; a more objective, less emotional point of view.

Ask curious questions

To do this, I started showing more interest in the wider business. I started asking curious questions to understand the roles of others better. I started listening more as to what the real challenges they were having with their clients.

Having gathered that information, I started offering advice and suggestions to help them with their challenges. I was thinking less about what I needed to get done and thinking more about helping them.

By doing this, I started to build a good relationship with my colleagues, creating more trust. They started opening up and becoming more interested in my role and the role of finance. They began to realise that I could help them in ways they had not previously thought. 

Trusted partner

Soon enough, they were coming to me for advice. They involved me earlier on in those critical conversations, appreciating my role and the role of finance. They were now seeing me as a true business partner.

If you feel that your role is not appreciated, try and improve your relationships with colleagues. Listen to them, try to understand things from their perspective, and think about how you could help them. By doing this, they will see your value and will start to see you as a true business partner.

Authored by Tony Shafar from www.shafarcoaching.com

Tony Shafar is a Chartered Accountant and Executive and Business Coach working with Senior Finance professionals. His company is Shafar Coaching.