How to Take Your Existing Financial Team to the Next Level of Performance

Written by Carol Coughlin. Posted in Business Leadership

Lack of productivity is a challenge for all companies right now. In fact, recent Gallup research showed that 70% percent of U.S. employees are not committed to performing at their best with 52% of those sleepwalking through their day and the other 18% acting out on their dissatisfaction, creating a negative workplace environment.

While this is a problem for every department, lack of performance within your financial team can have an even more serious impact on your company’s bottom line. After all, these are the people in charge of your company’s entire financial foundation, including preparing the reports and projections you need to make smart business decisions.

But even if your financial team is hard working, problems can still arise thanks to limited skill sets and/or lack of the knowledge needed for individual financial employees to achieve the next level in their career (e.g. your senior accountant become your controller or your controller becoming your CFO).

Fortunately there is a cost effective approach to helping your existing financial team as a whole and/or specific individuals to achieve the next level, and it’s an especially viable option given how much you’ve already invested in your team and the untapped potential that’s undoubtedly there.

That approach is mentoring and whether you have the financial expertise to provide coaching yourself, or need to engage an outside mentor who specializes in preparing financial employees for the next step in their performance and careers, the results can be tremendously positive, as you are not only developing your current team, as mentioned earlier, but you are also helping with retention of key staff members.

Here’s just a glimpse of what mentoring an existing financial team can accomplish:

Save Money by Increasing Retention and Improving Culture

Every employee lost equals lost time and money.

In fact, the average cost of replacing a younger, less experienced employee is $15K to $25K and the Center for American Progress reports that the average cost of losing a highly skilled employee is 213% of that employee’s annual compensation.

This means having a strong employee retention strategy is crucial and mentoring just happens to be one of the most effective retention tactics. To prove this point, a Wharton study reported that employees who are mentored are promoted five times more than employees who aren’t with an increase in retention of 20% five years later.

When you consider the higher-level skills required of financial employees, the business case for mentoring your financial team becomes even clearer.

Retain Your Millennial Talent for Future High-Level Financial Roles

Millennials have earned quite a reputation for changing jobs at the drop of a hat, who want to be the boss right out of college, and aren’t motivated by raises and other traditional incentives.

However, the research conducted on millennials, along with employers’ anecdotal experiences with this generation, have resulted in a few very unfortunate misperceptions that prevent companies from realizing the current and future value of their millennial workforce.

While millennials’ attitudes might suggest they don’t like to receive feedback, this could not be further from the truth. A PGi study revealed that 75% of millennials not only want mentors but believe that being mentored is will be the key to their success.

Another misconception is that millennials are not loyal. While it’s true that millennials are not loyal to companies, they are very loyal to individuals. This means that providing your millennial financial team members with ongoing feedback from supportive mentors will actually create the loyalty that this generation has long been accused of lacking.

The bottom line is that millennials are going to be your future controllers and CFOs no matter what. So, invest in those currently on your team by mentoring them into the super stars they are truly striving to be.

Provide a Clear Vision of the End Game for Better Decision Making

When financial teams are clear about what they need to accomplish from a big picture perspective, they will make wiser day-to-day decisions.

Therefore, the mentor’s role is to increase each financial employee’s understanding of what the financial department is there to accomplish, what the company’s big picture goals are and what their own priorities need to be to help achieve those goals.

A mentor can also help financial employees envision their career path within the company and work with them to learn and practice the skills they’ll need to take that next step.

Increase the Relevancy of Financial Tasks

A significant outcome of mentoring a financial team is better team and individual understanding of how financial activities impact the company overall, and just how crucial every financial role within the department is.

When financial employees truly see the relevancy of their work (even the most mundane tasks), they take more pride in what they do and become increasingly more motivated to increase the timeliness and accuracy of their tasks – both of which improve the overall performance of the financial department.

Instill New Work Practices

Mentoring often focuses on teaching new processes and ways of working that can reshape how a department functions. For example, while not many companies apply lean principles to their financial function, doing so can exponentially increase the financial team’s effectiveness and productivity. But regardless of what new approaches for better financial department performance might be adopted, mentoring will help to speed both employee buy-in and learning.

Revitalize Experienced Financial Team Members

After so many years at any job even the most exciting work can become mundane and the most committed employee bored. This is why providing mentorship to your most seasoned financial team members is just as important as mentoring your younger hires.

Installing ongoing mentoring from highly experienced financial department mentors who can immediately gain the respect of your top players will pay big dividends when it comes to the energy, thoughtfulness and keen strategy those key financial employees are able to table year after year.

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Carol Coughlin

Carol Coughlin founded BottomLine Growth Strategies, Inc., in 2006 as a way for small and medium-sized businesses to access the same high-level financial and operational expertise that gives large companies a distinct advantage. Using her own extensive corporate experience and willingness to sit in the hot seat as a catalyst, Carol helps BottomLine Growth clients climb to the summit of their success.
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