During the past decade, the role of the CFO has changed both in terms of the position in the company and in the priorities to be focused upon. Different geographies, different stages of management development of countries and companies are unified by the fact that the primary and sole focus of a financial executive from the past has now become part of their routine.
The hard skills developed and utilized for the functional focus are a prerequisite for a good finance manager. A CFO nowadays must concentrate on cross-functional matters with attention paid to performance improvement, efficiency, business support, and has to partner with HR to create a performance culture, something necessary in order to compete and succeed in the current competitive landscape.
So what do we mean when we refer to performance culture? It is a culture where the values are clearly aligned with the strategy of the company and the targets set in the strategic plan are continuously reinforced by the behaviors of the employee and the top management.
To keep this alignment, it is necessary to continuously reinforce the values and encourage proper behavior. It is also very important to keep the employees engaged with the same values. Motivated employees are the best asset a company can have in order to perform, be productive and efficient, and ultimately be able to serve its customers and clients at best.
Engagement usually starts with clarity and sharing of direction, keeping the destination in mind. Transparent and continuous communication coupled with a clear vision for the business and the company is also important to keep the workforce motivated. These tasks are now also in the hands of the CFO because of the change in the role. Strategy co-formulation, execution, operations, and performance management are now tasks that have become the priority for a modern and successful CFO.
Talent development is also in line in the achievement of the final goal: a modern and strong performance culture in the company. In order to perform and reach the strategy targets set, it is equally important that we hire the best talents while also managing and helping them grow. Talent development is hence a critical priority for the modern CFO. There is no engagement without talent development and vice versa. The ability of a performing company to grow management internally is a critical success factor in modern days.
Talent development cannot be in the hands of the HR director alone. It needs to be a strategic priority and is interlinked with growth, agility, and a prevailing mindset of change and adaptability. The opportunity, for example, to move talent across geographies or functions is a great accelerator for talent development. This can be done only if the company is growing, and is creating opportunities for growth within the company.
Talent development is also evolving through training and coaching. We must add mobility, visibility, and the ability to listen to our employees. All these aspects must work together and the modern CFO must be equipped with the skills to contribute, help, and even lead, when necessary, these initiatives.
Today’s CFO is not just a company officer charged with optimizing the financial performance of the company, but is actually embracing the organization’s entire value chain—from customer needs to back-office operations to suppliers’ contributions to competitors’ positioning—and pinpointing the places that need attention. Along with the expected level of financial acumen, CFOs are gaining competencies which include strategic thinking, strong leadership and communication skills, along with operational insights to strengthen the performance & culture concept of the company.