In Pursuit of Profit
Read our expert article below or sign up to get articles sent to your inbox.
However, pay for performance based on the achievement of these targets is no longer adequate in the post-COVID pandemic world to acquire and retain skilled financial staff and leaders.
As both Certified Public Accountants and Certified Leadership Coaches, Amy Michael and David FitzPatrick suggest that a new approach to financial staffing development is needed. They suggest utilizing a coaching approach to reduce turnover among financial leaders. In their professional experience, this tactic leads to:
A Focus on Strengths
Coaching is about bringing people together, not dividing them. Learning to capitalize on the strengths and values that Gen-Z, Gen-X, Millennial, and Baby-Boomer employees all bring to the table individually is now required. The old days of just focusing on what is different among employees to “other-itize” various groups is over. (For example, it’s not just a matter of boomers passing on their knowledge and experiences to millennials, it’s about millennials helping boomers stay current with the technology needed to navigate today’s innovations and efficiencies.) At every level, understanding what each employee can contribute is key to ensuring people feel valued, encouraging them to fully engage with the organization, and convincing them to stick around, especially with the current shortage of financial workers.
We’ve heard it before – listening is one of the most important skills for both leaders and professionals in achieving a deeper understanding of each other. Coaching can help leaders BE better at listening effectively by honing their attentiveness to others’ needs. Being a good listener is more about BEING fully present than it is about DOING the work. Boomers were rewarded for DOING, while Millennials are more about BEING included. Listening helps bridge the gap between managers and their staff as well as among teams/departments to establish mutual respect, which results in and encourages retention.
Of course, solid internal controls must still be established and followed, but competent staffing is a product of partnering between leaders and staff in which each listen to each other’s professional and personal needs and wants. This partnership is enhanced by coaching techniques in which being fully present and asking questions replaces the old command and control philosophy of finance.
Another benefit from using a coaching approach to financial leadership is the value experienced in the enhanced relationships at the top of both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations among the CEO and CFO or the Executive Director and Finance Director. For example, in an organization with an inexperienced or dysfunctional board, a Finance Director can coach the ED on financial matters to ensure clean audits and an informative 990 Tax Return. This, in turn, helps build credibility with the board and opens the door for improved governance in the organization, making the ED’s job more effective and the organization more likely to succeed at its mission. A huge by-product is greater retention across the executive leadership team as a whole.
Lastly, coaching can also help today’s accountants visualize what they want in their everyday life, not just the end target. We go beyond the “what by when” that is typically the focus of goal setting. Organizations need to know what they hope to accomplish over a certain timeframe, and professionals need to figure this out in much the same way. The icing on the cake is when financial leaders gain a clear vision of what is most important to them now and in the future so they know how to make the best decisions for their career. For example, a CFO may say, “I want a successful financial career so I can have the resources to provide the necessities for myself and my family, enjoy experiences like pursing my favorite hobbies and taking vacations, the funds to help causes I support, and to someday retire in a way that meets my expectations.” That’s what builds the real value for a person and also helps nurture retention strategies for the organization. Everyone wins!
For more leadership advice, check out this inspiring article from ASP’s Recruiting Services Leader, Quinn Finnigan: Leadership Lessons Learned from Hiking The Wonderland Trail
The ASP team is ready to come alongside your organization with the kind of well-qualified bookkeeping and accounting staff you need to manage cash flow, provide reporting, and fuel key financial analyses. Find out more about their outsourced accounting services today! If you are looking to hire in-house instead, they also have a growing team of recruiters to help you find the right fit for your role. Contact their experienced accounting and finance recruiting team now!
Or, if you need a consulting CFO to help lead your for-profit or not-for-profit organization, please reach out to CFO Selections. They have an experienced team of CFOs ready to help lead your organization.
About the Authors
Amy Michael – CFO Selections
Amy is a people-focused nonprofit leader who is passionate about building financially healthy organizations; she loves coaching people and teams to engage with their work and world at the intersection of the best and highest use of their skills, self-awareness, and passions. Throughout her career, she has been an integral part of management teams where she brings a solid understanding of strategic planning and implementation using strategies such as process improvements, accessible financial reporting, leadership and dynamic team development, and use of compelling presentations to simplify complex information.
Most recently, Amy has been a leadership development coach and consultant in the nonprofit sector and teaches finance in the Masters in Nonprofit Leadership program at Seattle University.
David FitzPatrick – CFO Selections
David is a uniquely experienced accounting and operational and leader, with experience as a leadership and personal development coach. His 35 plus years of experience cover a wide-range of industries including distribution, manufacturing, hospitality, non-profit, tribal government, and telecommunications. David is a detail-oriented process thinker with the ability to shift between the strategic and tactical in executing processes, systems, and people leadership. With his understanding of organizational and people systems, David is often called upon to lead the due diligence, closing, and integration of acquisitions.