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Finance Leaders: HR isn't designed to help you

Updated: May 18, 2021

For Finance Leadership Programs to be successful make sure you bring on someone that can proudly state how many quarter end cycles they survived.

While I normally prefer to write positive inspiring articles sometimes it’s important to call it like I see it.

If you are a finance leader relying solely on HR to drive your leadership development programs you are missing out. Why?

1. They haven’t walked a mile in your shoes. To be more specific, they haven’t experienced the quarterly cycles that consume a significant portion of time. Being in finance is sometimes like being on a hamster wheel that without consciously hopping off to gather your thoughts can be very damaging to your development . HR works across many functions and in my experience doesn’t customize development programs with the quarterly and annual planning cycles in mind.

2. Generic development programs aren’t as effective. I’ve experienced while in a finance leadership role Myers Briggs, Strength-finders 2.0 and Insights. While they were helpful in creating some self-awareness EQ (Emotional Intelligence) development I found that once the assessment readouts were done, we moved on. We moved on without a plan for growth. We moved on without relating how this would help me develop as a finance business partner. We move on without any real explanations on how the team can operate better as a part of the exercise. Many of us wondered if being pegged as introverts was a negative thing. Assessments are only effective if they help you create a development plan that is effective and relevant to your role. Does is make sense that your development program is the same as a sales leader? Hard no.

3. HR will typically run an annual performance review and employee satisfaction survey. It is incredible that the organization that is supposed to be most in tune with the culture of the company continues to roll out these two programs. The annual performance review has multiple issues with it including:

• timeliness of feedback

• demotivation of employees outside the top 20% in ratings

• roughly half of the people rated as meet expectations actually feel strongly that they have exceeded expectations

• there is a significant overweight especially in finance on task focused execution and the education portion of development (leaving out development-based opportunities in experience and exposure, EQ development, and focus on strategy, collaboration, and relationship behavioural development)

The employee survey is effective only if areas are addressed. I worked for a global IT company that had similar survey results in critical areas over a 10-year span. How effective is this process if measurement doesn’t lead to action? My strong view is once you measure and benchmark you need to address critical areas in a 4D way. You need to create behavioural strengths in areas of relationships, teams, strategy and execution.

I know some very intelligent HR leaders, so I want to be clear that this article is not an attack on their profession and efforts. Experience is the best way to understand the challenge of the finance function and there are a growing number of leadership development companies led by former finance leaders that truly understand the challenges of the profession. Whether you work with B Inspired or reach out to our peers at BPI or The OutPerformer, I recommend you get the firepower you need to help create a world class finance organization. We know if you had more time, you’d develop the programs yourself, luckily, we’ve done it for you. The assessments and blueprints are ready, please reach out to schedule a call to see if we can help.

Brett Bourgon,

Founder, President

B Inspired

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