Three Ways to Get Your Employees To Think Like Your CFO

Your employees might not know what a Chief Financial Officer, or CFO, does on a regular basis, or why the CFO is so important to the success of the company. The CFO uses his or her knowledge of accounting and combines it with business strategy to determine the best way to utilize the company’s finances, making such decisions as where to go with marketing and advertising, whether to add that free gym membership as an employee benefit, or even where to expand or contract the business (Journal of Accountancy).

CFOs look at the bigger picture of the company’s finances, their mission and their vision, and strategize to get them where they want to go. In that sense, the CFO becomes more than an advisor, driving the company’s trajectory.

According to a 2013 survey by staffing agency Robert Half, 34 percent of CFOs think that their employees are unaware of or unsure of the company’s goals for the future of the business.  Companies also need to work on communicating their plans to their employees, which helps them to understand the direction of the company and how they can contribute to its success. You’re clarifying your company’s mission.

But helping your employees to think like CFOs, both within the company and in their personal finances, could take that a step further and empower them with financial agency. Your employees help the company to meet its goals with purpose, while also ensuring personal satisfaction in their work life and off-hours.

In their personal finances, your employees will be able to see how their financial decisions lead to particular outcomes and which moves they need to make in order to reach the desired outcomes. Do your employees want to pay off their student loans faster? Do they want to save money for buying a new house in the next 10 years? Thinking like a CFO in their personal finances will give them the power to do that.

Strategy is what makes a business succeed or fail, and having a good strategy that considers all obstacles and avenues can be applied in our personal lives as well. Think of yourself as a self-contained business. Your main goal is to have a quality life with your needs, and many of your wants, met. No dream can be realized without first having a plan to make it happen. But how do you get your employees to think like CFOs?

First, you need to clearly communicate your company’s vision for the future. Why is your company making certain decisions? How do they affect the company and your employees? How can the employees help you to meet your goals? How do those numbers translate into the real world? Giving them a stake in the success of the company not only empowers them, it also strengthens the company’s strategy. Your employees need to know that their work makes a difference, and that their decisions have a real impact.

Second, you want to empower your employees to be CFOs in their personal lives. Provide tools and resources for them to manage their finances. Whether this means giving them access to a financial coach or just using an online tool that lets them see the potential outcome of various financial decisions, you’ll be giving your employees the opportunity to succeed in ways that perhaps hadn’t been available to them before. Your employees’ success will transfer to their success within and for the company because they’ll be more satisfied with their jobs and less stressed about their finances.

Lastly, be more transparent. Helping your employees to think like CFOs shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Maybe you can share what’s going on within the company through internal company newsletters or blog posts. Maybe you can provide a suggestion box that allows employees, who often are the ones directly dealing with your clients and customers, provide insight into what is working and what might need to be adjusted or fixed.

By providing your employees with the resources to make them successful in their jobs and in their personal lives, you’ll not only increase the satisfaction of your employees but you’ll also ensure that your company can thrive in an ever-evolving business landscape with a strengthened strategy toward future success.

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