30 Mar The Importance of Assembling a Team of Finance Champions
The role of the Finance Team
A Finance Team is a small or large group of individuals who work together to meet and fulfil the responsibilities of their group, for example the execution of payments to suppliers, the payroll for the staff, the preparation of budgets and reports and the closing of the accounts. This finance team is the backbone of every business and that’s why it is important to set its purpose. Having a clear purpose helps the members of the team work towards the same goals and head towards the same direction. Without a clear and well communicated purpose the team may be disoriented. Disorientation may enable errors that will cost a lot to your business. Think about the consequences if a mistake is made in tax calculations or in the preparation of the annual budget. In these cases, penalties may have to be paid and wrong decisions will have been taken, leading to losses for the business.
Achieving a clear purpose is not always an easy task, however, correct goal setting will ensure that this can be accomplished. Goals must be attainable, achievable and realistic, and they should motivate individuals, teams or departments. They should also, create healthy and constructive competition amongst individuals. For example, you may determine that the primary purpose of your finance team is to provide high quality and on time financial data on your business’ performance, to help high level management take strategic decisions about the future of the business. Goals in this case might include effective budgeting at departmental and business level, monitoring of cash flow, and efficient credit control.
To a great extent, goals are based on expectations. There are three key stands in expectation setting.
The first is to define the tasks of every individual and the team. Clarity and division of responsibilities are crucial. Many employees struggle to understand exactly what their deliverables are. Teams and individuals spend time trying to figure out what should be delivered, rather than focusing on what matters.
The second is being clear about the way you expect team members to behave. You need to deal with the inevitable conflicts and disagreements. You must listen, communicate and collaborate with your team. You should set procedures and mechanisms that ensure conflict resolution, as well.
The last stand is trust. Choose to trust your employees and don’t try to control them. Organizational structure and environment can help to establish trust within your company. According to some researches, trust is considered as one of the key factors for successful teams. To enhance trust, you need to delegate and let your people try their own way. Who knows, their way could be better than yours. You also need to get involved. encourage them to demonstrate their skills and abilities, even if you are not sure about it. In the end you may intervene and make the corrections you wish to make. But do not interfere during the process. Remember that the culture will shape the team performance.
Get hiring right
Let’s look inside a team. Its success depends on its members. It is important for team members to possess diversified skills, expertise and knowledge, but it is even more important that these skills can complement each other to achieve the best end result. The recruitment process is considered to be a vital part for the proper team building. Remember, that it is vital to make right choices at this stage, avoiding mistakes and stereotypes during this process. Think out of the box. Don’t hire the same people. Look for skills and expertise that are missing or needed from your existing team or a new team.
Richard Branson once said: “Look for experience and transferrable skills rather than qualifications”. People with transferable skills can make the difference. They are able to adapt quickly, pitch in and help in unplanned circumstances. These people do not always have top grades or the most academic credentials. Branson claimed that within just three months, new recruits with the right personality and transferable skills can do a lot for your company. You can throw them in the deep and be sure that they can make it. “You have to hire the skills you lack”, he said. One of the smartest things entrepreneurs can do is to hire according to their weaknesses. Observe your team, identify gaps in terms of skills and knowledge, in terms of expertise and experiences as well. This is very important in the selection of a team, and when setting their responsibilities – this will lead to improved team performance. So, when you’re hiring, search for people who can fill the team’s skill gap. Think about areas where the team can improve and recruit talented people with the capability to make improvements on these potential problem areas.
Focus on people’s strengths
Obviously, none of us are excellent at everything. We all have some strengths and weaknesses. When seeking to create a successful finance team, you should get people to focus on their strengths as much as possible. Use these strengths and get the most out of them, whilst at the same time train and improve them. The return on your investment will worth much more than it costs you.
Never stop improving
A successful finance team needs continuous improvement. This process should never stop. You need to keep learning and looking for ways to make life easier. The key is to create ‘time for thinking’. Team meetings are a good opportunity. Brainstorm, discuss, argue constructively and be open minded, think at team level and not at individual level. Take an aspect of your work and explore how it could be delivered differently.
Ask for feedback periodically and use that as a basis for change, avoid considering it as criticism. Something as simple as a staff suggestion scheme can also be effective. Senior and experienced staff don’t necessarily have the best ideas.
How things are done at EIMF
In this article I refer a lot to the words “skills, experience and team”. This is done consciously. Why? Here at EIMF we are team players. This is our way of thinking. We are focused on team building. Our main objective is to help individuals (established professionals and new entrants) to develop their knowledge, improve their skills and take their career a step further. We know that knowledge is better transferred through teams. They can share experiences, knowledge, ideas, ways of thinking and expertise. The participants are challenged to learn and work as a team during courses. We don’t have classes. We have teams that work together with a common purpose; to get as much knowledge as possible.
One of the key qualifies of a successful team is the having the correct skills. For a finance team the skills are crucial. We offer high quality programmes that contribute towards our main goal; the development of high quality and well-trained professionals that will be able to work in the Cyprus demanding market. Some of the programmes we offer lead to various qualification levels offered by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) Qualifications. Its structure helps us to ensure that the participants can improve their skills. It includes courses that cover a great part of the finance profession. Budgeting, costing, cash and treasury management, credit management, financial reporting, and ethics are some of them. EIMF develops several different delivery methods to ensure that everyone can follow the programme accordingly to their needs, and, thus attain the knowledge and qualifications. We offer classroom courses, live online courses, and online and blended courses.
The methods of delivery are a main part of our success. We prepare and offer interactive lectures. Our tutors prepare well-structured presentations, that are simple, understandable and attractive for the students. During the class we use audio-visuals, various learning games and quizzes (for example Plicker’s cards) to help our students better understand the content. We also, use smaller sessions to ensure quality time in class with mini breaks for discussion among students and tutors. All methods used are well designed and carefully selected to ensure that our students receive the highest quality courses possible.
Accounting technicians are often missing from the Cyprus market even though they have a key role to play within organisations and the finance team. They can perform a wide range of responsibilities and contribute to the success of the team and its ultimate goals.
AAT qualifications can ensure that you will acquire the skills that will give you the entrance pass to such a team.
For more information about AAT Qualification please click here or call us on +357 2227 4470 to arrange a consultation to discuss the training options to suit your business needs, or email [email protected]
Trainer and Accountancy Programmes Leader