Have you ever arrived in a finance department and thought that this place feels neglected? It seems remote and does not appear to be valued by the rest of the organisation. Any person with get up and go probably got up and left a while ago. Unfortunately, there seem to be too many finance departments like this around.
Is this malaise the fault of finance? Is finance more prone to this condition than other parts of the business?
The answer to both of these questions is “no, not really”. This is not passing the buck. I think that most organisations end up with the finance function that they deserve. Problems are usually systemic and arise from cultural issues that run across the organisation.
I can think of plenty of finance departments that are buzzing. These ones are full of bright-eyed people, who know what is going on, are interested and interesting. Others in the organisation value them and understand what they can do. There is a real sense of everyone being in it together, mutual support and a good understanding of the need for effective teamwork both within the finance function and beyond it.
So why do some end up the doldrums and others at the sharp end?
I think the starting point is respect: respect from those who run or set up the organisation. Those that perform understand that having a strong finance function is as important to their success as having strong sales, marketing or operations. There is respect for the people who work in every department. And that respect is represented by investing sufficient money and management time to ensure that strength is built in as issues are recognized and resolved.
Another key factor in enlightened finance functions, is that their leaders have worked out how to collaborate effectively with the rest of the organisation. They do this not just by possessing good technical skills but also through understanding the human side of working life. In strong finance functions there are people in finance who can communicate well and understand what others want. There maybe others who are not so strong at communication skills but possess strong numerate or other technical skills. Everyone works together to deliver good service and support with a level of challenge when it is required.
And finally, in being well connected they don’t just know about the times when they need to collaborate with others, but they understand the times when they just need to get on with it. This is one of the key skills of being a great collaborator: only include people when you need to. In that way you grab their attention and don’t waste their time.
I have tools that can help you and your finance team work out the times when you need to collaborate and the times when you don’t. Get in touch if you would like me to help your organisation build a great finance function or transform the one you’ve got.