When we review the last year and the major impact it had on all businesses, it becomes clear that leading well through unexpected, rapid change has become more essential. Conventional playbooks for everything from communications to day-to-day operations have been rewritten. Despite these changes, leaders need to continue to keep their companies running at optimum efficiency through their teams.
This is certainly true for finance teams and is even more true for those that serve fast-growing dynamic businesses. Just like the role of the CFO has transformed over the last several years, high-performing finance organizations should also stretch beyond traditional boundaries. With that transformation comes a new responsibility to develop and be part of a team that supports the expectations of today’s business environment.
Here are some ways CFOs can think differently about developing talent to build a highly functioning and successful finance team.
Look Beyond Technical Skills
According to Gartner's 2019"Leading the Next-Generation Finance Workforce," three out of four finance organizations are likely to face a capability shortage because their finance teams put nontechnical skills like innovation and digital acumen on the backburner throughout the hiring process.
While CFOs build a framework for driving profit and growth and guarding their businesses from risk, they should also identify and develop talent to support that framework beyond traditional finance and accounting skills. As CFOs construct their teams, they should source managers with both strong technical skills and exceptional leadership skills who prioritize talent and team development. This type of manager is not only ideal for retention purposes but also helps guide CFOs by identifying talent with attributes beyond the typical finance resume who might otherwise be overlooked.
Take time to vet the more intangible skillsets and provide avenues to continue developing them in employees. Identifying and prioritizing abilities ranging from relationship management to communication and problem solving through training and mentoring is beneficial for building a strong team that can adapt as expectations change.
Today’s CFOs have more data at their fingertips than ever before. It's important to effectively analyze that data and share learnings to help the company make more strategic decisions. However, while CFOs and their teams are necessarily fluent in numbers, not every employee or fellow executive is. And the numbers are just the “what”; what matters is the “so what” and “now what,” and that’s where the art of storytelling comes in.
When delivering financial communications, leaders should carefully consider their audience, what narrative they are trying to build and what the most important key takeaways are. Relentlessly coaching employees at all levels and in all roles to adopt these practices, rather than falling into a silo of spreadsheets, can add more value to the business and create a more rewarding professional development experience for team members.
Prioritize Continued Learning And Career Development
A(download required) found that 21% of employees leave their jobs for reasons related to career development, like a lack of development and growth opportunities. Eleven percent leave due to their managers' behavior, such as a lack of support. The competition for top talent is fierce in many industries, and it is leadership's responsibility to protect retention by providing opportunities for employees to keep learning and stay engaged. This starts with hiring talent who are already wired to prioritize development and advocate for the success of others. The next step is to encourage managers to conduct open, meaningful career development conversations regularly. Mining for and identifying traits like a zeal for learning and aptitude for helping others grow during the hiring process could have immeasurable positive effects on your team in the long run.
However, keep in mind that simply making learning and development programs available is not enough. It is important to continually measure efficacy and determine how training should be altered or improved. And most critically, leaders should provide employees with the opportunity to put their new skills to use.
I believe being a perpetual learner is a key trait for the CFO of the future — one that true leaders should strive to instill a passion and thirst for across their teams. Then employees, too, can see the long-term benefits of this trait for their careers and the impact it can have on the business.
Because the last year catalyzed many of the digital, cultural and operational transformations that are taking place, finance leaders of high-growth organizations should recognize that their companies can benefit from a strategically and intentionally curated team that leverages the art of storytelling, stretches beyond technical skills and encourages continual learning and development from the top down.