The CFO has a large role to play in building a company’s vision and strategy — especially in times of economic uncertainty. That means stepping into roles that may not traditionally call for a “numbers person,” such as promoting a strong company culture.
Successful leaders recognize that a set of shared values helps keep teams focused and pulling together in the same direction in good times and bad. Building a great company takes hard work and talented people, but that’s not enough if those people aren’t working together toward a common goal.
Company culture is the bond that unites employees behind common objectives. Here are three ways CFOs can use their unique skill sets to play their part in strengthening culture.
1. Analyze How Teams Work Together
A company’s culture needs to be intentional — thoughtfully crafted and constantly reinforced. Without intentionality, another ethos will develop organically, and it may not be strong enough to help the company withstand the pressures that come with inevitable market turbulence or internal discord.
CFOs should analyze the state of their organization and how their teams work together and then apply what they see when looking for ways to keep culture top-of-mind. For example, a company holding regular town hall meetings might begin each session with a reminder of its core values.
Once an intentionally designed and managed cultural strategy is in place, the next step is for CFOs and other executives is to lead by example and live out the values. If executives don’t, how can they expect employees to follow suit?
2. Bridge the Gap Between Remote and In-Office
This decade has seen many businesses transition to hybrid or remote environments. Logistical issues aside, business leaders worldwide faced the added challenges of building and maintaining a company culture among socially distanced employees. And as remote and hybrid work becomes more of an employee expectation, CFOs must collaborate with other executives to effectively strategize and narrow the gap between remote and in-office employees.
Strategic intentionality toward remote-friendly culture is an ongoing process and CFOs should continue to solicit employee views about individual aspects of remote working.
What does this approach look like in practice?
Companies that host all-hands meetings on collaboration platforms might continue that approach while instituting in-person gatherings for the entire company and functional teams at least once a year. These gatherings would be dedicated to team-building activities and collaborative service projects. At a time when employee attrition continues to challenge many companies, this approach lays the groundwork for tighter teams and, ultimately, lower turnover.
Strategic intentionality toward a remote-friendly culture is an ongoing process. A company should continue to solicit employee views about individual aspects of remote working. Executives should then leverage employee feedback to set and adapt norms and standards around working hours, meetings, calendar management, time zone awareness, and other matters of reciprocal respect.
3. Invest in Company Culture
Company culture effectiveness is constantly challenged, whether by internal or external factors. Culture grounded in genuine connection and investment will more effectively motivate teams, and it’s up to the entire executive team — not just the head of human resources or the CEO — to foster company culture.
Internal cohesiveness is a necessary trait of competitive companies. As a business enabler, it’s in the CFO’s best interest to consistently advocate for employee well-being and the overall company culture. Because it’s good for the business and because employees deserve no less.
People First at Every Step
Only three months into the new decade CFOs worldwide were tested like never before. They faced difficult decisions on how to cut costs and help their companies navigate such a challenging time, both personally and professionally, with minimal damage. The crisis taught the C-suite many lessons, but one, in particular, stands out: CFOs must consider factors beyond the balance sheet, including company culture, to be successful leaders. Great products and services can be copied; great people cannot.
When CFOs actively foster company culture, the business will flourish — and employees will reward the company with their loyalty.
by Bryan Jones
Trust and emotional connection play a key role in attracting and retaining workers, particularly as the nature of work continues to change, according to a Sept. 20 report based on HP’s first Work Relationship Index. The report showed that employees want to work for an employer with empathetic and emotionally intelligent leaders, and they’d even be willing to take a pay cut for such a job.
To drive greater internal employee mobility, companies may need to address talent “hoarding,” according to the report, if managers attempt to retain their best people. Leaders may need to consider incentives to encourage internal hiring and cooperation across the organization.
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