Building a High-performing Finance Team Requires a Better Playbook

A trove of research studies tracking employee sentiment over the last two years indicates that leaders intending to build and retain talented workforces will face challenges of a higher order well into the future. While organizations are seeing many of the traditional employee-employer-manager issues play out, new employee motivation and satisfaction criteria have emerged. 

And besides more seriousness and intensity evident in the behaviors and sentiments that employees are expressing, the data also suggests a sense of permanence or “new normal” in these criteria. Job seekers and employees are both projecting a greater resolve in what they intend to do about their current state of play and what could trigger their next move. 

The broad implication is that team-building will no longer be about filling requisitions to plug gaps and relieve workload bottlenecks. Team-building should be strategic; it should feel more like building a supercomputer. The goal is to engineer a know-how and efficiency engine that works much smarter, faster, and strategically. 

Without a constructive intervention strategy, it will only be a matter of time before a talent drama evolves into a runaway crisis. For some, that time has already arrived. So, managers must double down on meeting the job selection criteria for new hires and addressing evolving requirements for employee retention.

How Does a CFO Succeed in Team Building?

No other C-suite role has absorbed more complexity and undergone more role creep than the CFO and the knock-on effect has landed squarely on finance teams. The CFO’s lens now has to be more indicator-sensitive. They must analyze in the context of fuzzy patterns and likelihoods. They have to build a stable platform consisting of better data, systems, and processes because they want to eliminate the ready-fire-aim behaviors across the enterprise.

Yet, while CFOs run the nerve center of the business model, their finance function treads water continuously with unrelenting data gathering, interpreting, and reporting. What-happened questions are all too common and consume time they don’t have to spare. The CFO’s world is marked by minutia and fire-fighting, and they consequently have one of the toughest jobs of team-building.
The silver lining is that CFOs have a clear vision of what’s needed to be successful today and tomorrow. Astute CFOs are crafting playbooks to escape minutia. Although minutia won’t go away entirely, technology investments and process improvements will enable better control of the variables, enhance data accuracy, improve predictability of forecasts, and generate systematic communications on a timely basis.

The in-the-moment bias to finance operations today will be counter-balanced by a forward-looking vison. And instilling a blend of critical thinking and empowered risk taking should inspire a growth-minded soul of their teams. Net, net, they want to replace performing with outperforming both inside finance and across the enterprise.

So Far, So Good.

OK, a broad-brush application of such goals and playbooks will help the finance function operate more smoothly and effectively. Those fixes alone will help improve the work experience by mitigating some of the big issues that finance teams loathe. 

But the focus now turns to the human dimension of team building. CFOs must be humanistic, authentic, and nurturing. And they must apply these attributes in a way their teams believe is genuine. Teams want to feel they are being led by a leader.

Each team member wants a relationship with their boss. Irrespective of whether a team member works remotely or not, a true personal relationship bridges all gaps and elevates interactions into a high-trust zone. Getting there means first developing a listening strategy that extracts their needs and aspirations. It means communicating regularly about their roles and the bigger picture of the business. It means applying nurturing behaviors indicating that you are supportive of their personal development and success. 

Leadership Experts on Call to Help

If the human side of managing is not your strong suit, take heart. The CFO Alliance has no equal in understanding these demands and the potential of the CFO role. We’ve developed a powerful suite of programs and partnerships that help CFOs build finance skillsets, strengthen operations, and develop personal leadership personas.

A personalized action plan begins with contacting AchieveNEXT. While First Water and a host of corporate sponsors are focused on improving finance operations, our sister company, AchieveNEXT, brings exceptional capabilities in leadership development, organizational alignment, business effectiveness, and building growth cultures. They can work across the entirely of an enterprise, within a selected function, and 1:1 with key business leaders like CFOs and finance executives.
Because AchieveNEXT is a tightly integral part of The CFO Alliance, they know exactly how to help CFOs and finance executives solve a full spectrum of managerial problems and advance their leadership and performance goals.

Contact Us for More Insight here.