How Finance Leaders Can Help Shape Corporate Culture
Turns out a company's values can have a real impact on its bottom line
Corporate culture is a powerful thing. A lackluster culture can drive talent away while an inspiring and positive one can motivate employees to perform at their best. And when workers are happy in their jobs, they are more likely to become brand ambassadors for their employer, helping to influence public perception of the company’s products, services, mission, values and much more. That, in turn, helps the firm to build a reputation as an employer of choice.
Finance leaders can play a pivotal role in helping shape their company’s corporate culture — and they should seek out and embrace that opportunity. Yet only about half (51 percent) of the CFOs interviewed for a recent Robert Half Management Resources survey said they involve themselves in that process. Nearly a quarter (22 percent) said they don’t contribute at all.
As a finance leader, where do you fall on the spectrum?
If you haven’t paid much attention to your role in shaping corporate culture before, you may want to consider making it a top responsibility moving forward. Senior finance executives can help build and champion corporate culture by defining (or refining, when necessary) the company’s core values and the way they translate into — and form the foundation of — the firm’s culture
GET OTHERS THINKING ABOUT CORPORATE CULTURE
One way to reinforce corporate culture is by helping employees feel more connected to it, and to see the values and principles in action every day. If your corporate culture is one of openness and transparency, for example, you could take a more active role in improving communication about the health of the business by sharing details of financial performance and failures. If your culture emphasizes teamwork, celebrate successes so all staff members understand how their work is having an impact.
Also, find ways to drive executive collaboration around corporate culture. While a company’s culture may evolve naturally, senior executives can set the tone and provide direction for how it evolves. Kick off the discussion at senior management meetings by asking: “Are we happy with our current workplace culture?” or “What exactly is our workplace culture?” The answers to these questions could be the wake-up call showing management should be doing more to modify, or strengthen the prevailing corporate culture.
Here are some other ways financial leaders can have an impact on corporate culture:
1. KEEP CULTURE TOP OF MIND IN HIRING
When reading resumes and interviewing candidates, look for more than just technical abilities and financial knowledge. Try to ensure that every new hire is someone likely to support the company’s core values. For example, if your business has made innovation a top priority, hire professionals who can build processes designed to spur new ideas.
That doesn’t mean you should hire individuals who won’t question the status quo when appropriate; you’re looking for people who can readily understand what drives your company forward.
2. HELP EMPLOYEES BUILD CAREERS
Does your company’s culture emphasize professional development and growth?
If so, is leadership making that clear to employees and helping them visualize their future at the firm?
Like many companies, this might be an area where your business needs to step up its efforts. In a recent Robert Half survey, 40 percent of professionals said their managers never discuss their career paths with them.
Become known as a manager who touches base with staff on a regular basis to make sure they’re still satisfied with their job and future options. Help them set goals and make it easy to for them reach those milestones by connecting them with technical training and leadership development options. In words and deeds, let them know that they have a real future within your firm and that career advancement is a core part of your culture.
3. LEAD BY EXAMPLE
A company’s culture is largely the product of its history and past leaders. As a finance leader, you can and should, take an active interest in reinforcing the positive elements of your company’s culture so it continues to grow and become stronger.
You can do this by “living” your corporate culture and setting a good example for your team. Show pride in your organization, acknowledge the work of others, build positive workplace relationships with colleagues in other departments, and more. Small but powerful everyday actions like these can help to create a work environment where positivity and productivity flourish — the type of corporate culture that any talented professional would want to be part of.
John Wallace is the division director for Robert Half Management Resources, the premier provider of senior-level finance, accounting, and business systems professionals to companies on a project and interim basis. He is a Certified Internal Auditor with a background in auditing, risk management and compliance. Robert Half Management Resources has more than 140 locations worldwide and offers online services at www.roberthalfmr.com.