At the end of 2020 you may well find yourself reviewing your finance team. Its been a very unusual year. A test of character. Some of your team may have struggled while others have flourished. The team has adapted and survived, but the start of 2021 might be the time to make some more long term changes. Andrew Waters joins the GrowCFO Show to help us navigate our way through the review.
What do you intend to do long term
Our finance teams have been operating under unusual circumstances since March 2020. By and large we’ve adapted and survived. The next 6 months lare likely to be very similar. Beyond that we might be returning to a more normal situation. But what lies beyond? Are you now a remote team? How likely is it you go back to exactly how it was?
Your high fliers have had a taste of alternative way of working which they may have loved. There are risks to bringing them back into the office 5 days a week.
We’ve been ducking and diving, muddling through with the current team. There have been few opportunities for CFO to take control of situation. Now is the time for that to change. What should the team look like in 6 or 9 months time.
Is your finance team still motivated by the same things?
Dont assume you know what works best, ask the team, involve them in designing the future
Motivations may well have changed. Are individuals still quite so motivated by career progression and money as before. Is Friday afternoon off to play tennis much more important than it used to be.
How do you deal with individual finance team member’s performance?
Top performers need to be rewarded. Some people will have flourished during the pandemic. They will have thrived in the new conditions and will have gone the extra mile. Your 9 and 10s need to be recognised. Is it time to stretch these people further. Are there any new responsibilities you can pass their way that might help the next step in their development?
Likewise solid performers at 7 or 8 will be doing great things to hold the team together. What can you do to make sure this continues? Can you better support these individuals?
What about poor performance?
Poor performers, 6 and below are more difficult. Who has done much worse than expected, or worse than previous years?
Nobody shows up at work to do a bad job. Its been a tough year and some folk have been in a difficult situation. You need to understand what’s going on under the surface.
You need to avoid similar conversations in 6 months time, so look to see how you can help. A sudden drop in performance will have a story behind it. You need to know that story and investigate how to change its ending.
Ongoing poor performance is a different matter. If somebody has performed consistently badly you may need to take more drastic action. Its likely that the pandemic is more excuse than reason for the current year grading.
How do you reward people?
Saying thank you is sometimes enough. Don’t forget the simple recognition. Think about giving your best performers more challenges and opportunities.
Make sure you take money off the table. Pay sufficient to make sure your folk are well rewarded, but beyond that remember that money isn’t always the best motivator. Lack of money or lack of parity with friends may well de motivate so make sure that doesn’t happen.
We discussed the effectiveness of bonuses in a recent GrowCFO members Situation Room. One of our members referred us to this excellent video from Dan Pink. Take a look before you conclude that bonuses work. Dan argues otherwise.
Think about benefits as well as bonuses. Gym memberships; mental health wellbeing coaching. Make sure people working remotely aren’t disadvantaged by the geography of supplying the benefit.
How do we need to evolve?
Take time to reflect on 2020. What have you learned about your team? Are there things you could have done differently? What extra could you have done to support them?
Some common themes are emerging from finance teams. A common cry is for more time to do the job. Often the communication has been over done. Many people are zoomed out.
Do you need to move away from the strict 9 to 5? Many folk are achieving outcomes but not necessarily within those hours. It doesn’t really matter what time of day it gets done as long as the outcome is there.
Some folk are starting earlier because not commuting but also struggling to turn off in the evening. Make sure that some boundaries are set and expectations aren’t set too high to be unrealistic.
Do you need to change the structure of your finance team?
As well as looking inward to your finance team you need to think about the business context. Whats happened to the wider business? what new demands has that placed on finance?
Many tech businesses have accelerated, and on a faster growth trajectory. The team might be stretched to its limits. What extra skills and capacity do you need?
Now is the time to think it all through and start laying the post pandemic foundations. The foundations you will build upon in the new normal.