Barden Insights for New Managers in Finance
It’s in the DNA of an aspiring finance professional to want to manage a team. It’s also a vital skill to master to continue your professional development, and a pre-requisite to obtaining a position with wider organisational leadership accountability, such as Financial Controller or CFO role. However, there’s a lot to learn, and most of it will come with trial, and error.
We’ve put together some top tips from experience, research and professional thought leadership to help you with this journey. Even if you’re not quite there yet, but hoping to make the step soon, read up, there are some worthy pointers for you too.
Don’t Take On the World At Once
You’re not Superman. Becoming a new Manager is tough. You need to be comfortable with the reality that mastering a set of skills in people management is an ongoing goal for even the most accomplished of CFOs and CEOs. Initially, your best course of action is to observe. Assess your team and how they perform, interact with co-employees and how they react to you. Begin to create a view on your vision, what needs to be changed and how you are going to go about doing it, and regularly bounce these ideas off your line manager or mentor to refine and prepare you to implement them.
Nobody likes an undue show of authority. Creating a professional bond with your team, based on respect for them, as an individual not just an employee, is so important. Likewise, it’s essential that you fully believe in the vision you create for your team, and that is stays consistent over time. Don’t let short-term organisational priorities contradict your vision – if there is a conflict in prioritisation, strategy or workload, take it away and work it through before you speak with your team.
Create a Purpose for Everyone
Take time to understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Don’t judge, engage. A coffee once a week over a period of a few months will not only build strong bridges but will reveal more and more about their fears, passions and goals. Undoubtedly, you’ll find that different team members have varied career objectives, and that actually, they enjoy different things about their day-to-day jobs. Finding this out takes time, but utilising it to align their key strengths with your team structure, and your team vision, is crucial to motivating and retaining an engaged, and productive, workforce.
Seek Feedback. Regularly
Setting up a regular feedback session is critical to successfully developing as a Finance Manager. It might feel like you’re being judged, but actually, it’ll be the best learning experience you can get. It’s best to receive most feedback from your peers and superiors, particularly your direct line manager, purely because their views will be more informed. It is important to ask for feedback from your team, but you must be careful not to create an environment that enables direct reports to push accountability for their performance back to you, or any predecessor.
Above all, don’t forget to be yourself – becoming a Manager doesn’t mean you have to lose your sense of humour. Staying true to the personality that got you there in the first place is crucial to your success. Keep it enjoyable, and the rest will follow!
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