As a business leader, it’s up to you to manage your finance team as the dust settles and we find a ‘new norm’.
Finance leaders must now make the transition from crisis management to rebuilding and preparing for the future.
But what that new normal will look like is a highly subjective and changeable thing. The economic impact of COVID-19 on businesses and finance teams is continuously shifting, so finding a new way of working in our changing world will require some excellent leadership skills.
The critical elements to your success will be in your preparation, agility and willingness to flex.
In today’s blog, we look at how finance leaders and managers must adopt a new mindset to support their teams effectively over the coming weeks and months.
Planning for a Possible Recession?
Many finance leaders have been planning for a recession of sorts, the length and scale of which is unknown. In PwC’s April 2020 survey of global chief financial officers, 71% of responders said that a global recession was currently their biggest fear.
In fact, the U.K. is currently in recession, as spending was curtailed during the most severe part of the lockdown. However, as the economy opens up – non-essential shops and businesses are opening from 15th June – most markets are expected to bounce back quickly.
It is natural for businesses to go into self-preservation mode in times of uncertainty, and recession planning will certainly be on the minds of leaders. But as reported in the Telegraph, growth is expected in the third quarter – the recession will be ‘short but severe’.
And for businesses who do suffer in 2020’s second half – the comeback in 2021 is predicted to be significant, returning to pre-virus levels.
Your planning should focus on a changed future for your clients or finance department, rather than a reduction of services. This means encouraging flexibility in your workforce and emphasising collaboration – finance teams of the ‘new norm’ will need to be highly responsive to fast changes in the market.
To aid your finance team in their altered roles, you will need to ensure you’ve got the right technology, systems and processes in place.
Updating Your Technology
Whether your finance team are continuing to work from home, returning to the office in stages, or a mixture of both, you need to be prepared for a new technological landscape.
A recent poll found that 52% of the workforce felt unprepared for remote working, and we can only wonder how some organisations and finance professionals have managed over the past few months.
Common problems have included the duplication of documents, as employees work from home without cloud storage such as DropBox or Google Drive, and employees are misplacing physical files due to a lack of adequate home filing systems.
Accounts payable is one area which has been disrupted with teams working from home – how can your team process physical documents from home? Will this task be given to employees returning to the office – if so, are they adequately trained in this area?
To reduce disruptions in your finance team, you should ensure that you use all the technology available to you to make their jobs easier.
This includes making sure you’ve got excellent cloud software, redistributing tasks to employees who can do them with ease and making sure you’ve got the latest video software for ease of collaboration in your team.
Finally, let me divulge the importance of being an emotionally intelligent leader during this time.
Emotional Intelligence: A Key Leadership Skill for the ‘New Norm’
Employees need influential leaders in times of change, but this goes beyond merely being robust. You must employ high emotional intelligence to help your team get through the next few months unscathed.
Due to lockdown, you will have naturally developed a deeper level of relationship with your team. Who in your organisation has young children or elderly relatives; what is their living situation? All of these factors have never been more pertinent, and emotionally intelligent leaders will realise the importance of understanding the emotional toll that the recent upheaval has had on many individuals and families.
Finance leaders should consider the following to improve their emotional intelligence and help their teams –
- Be on the lookout for who needs support and when. This means regularly checking in with employees that they are coping with changes in their role. Try not to assume that because employees seem fine on Zoom calls that they aren’t struggling with new systems or changing workloads.
- Get comfortable with ambiguity. High emotional intelligence requires flexibility. Try to avoid thinking about decisions in terms of ‘right and wrong’. Instead, aim to develop the ability to focus on the positive outcomes in any situation.
- Be open and honest with your team. Showing vulnerability and humility as a leader is not seen as a weakness anymore; it’s encouraged. Having honest conversations with your team about problems is a great way to bond and to strengthen trust within the team.
- Encourage positive mental health in your team by sharing resources from reputable sources such as Public Health England and Mind with your team. Either if you suspect they need help, or even just for a boost and to raise awareness of these issues.
What we can expect is that going forward, the ‘new normal’ will be an amalgamation of the old and the new. Workspaces will look different, and teams will be changed, but success will be possible with empathetic management.
Do you need influential finance leaders for your organisation?
If your recruitment needs have changed and you need new talent for your finance team going forwards, we can help. Get in touch with our finance recruitment experts here to discuss your vacancy.
About Rebus Financial Recruitment
Rebus Financial Recruitment provides a specialist and focused recruitment service to its customers, which historically range from a wide variety of organisations including SME’s to large PLCs.
We strive to offer both the client and candidate a seamless recruitment experience. Using our expertise, we get to the heart of employer and employee needs; and, in doing so, we match the two perfectly. To find out more, get in contact with one of our team today, or you can call us on 01282 930930.