Maintaining strong leadership of an entire finance team is hard, no question about it. But as CFOs have seen lately, remote leadership can present even more challenges.
When the pandemic hit, finance operations everywhere moved from corporate buildings and conference rooms to home offices and kitchen tables. And while some CFOs may now be raring to get their teams back into the office, in many cases, remote work arrangements have proved people can be productive at home.
To some extent, a dispersed workforce is here to stay. So, knowing how to manage your team remotely will be key even after the pandemic’s passed.
To keep Finance productive and connected, consider this remote leadership advice from career coach Marie McIntyre:
1. Hold communication as king
Most leaders will agree it’s easier to relay messages face to face than via technology. But physical distance shouldn’t mean less communication. You may just have to be more aware of it and make a more conscious effort.
Think about how often you’d normally communicate with your finance function managers if you were in person. How about front-line staffers? And what about other business units you collaborate with, like Purchasing or HR? If you feel like the remote shift has resulted in less communication with a particular person or department, demonstrate your leadership by addressing the gaps.
Also: Especially in the coming months, CFOs may be forced to make smart but quick business decisions. So, make sure the appropriate information (data, instructions, etc.) is trickling down to all the people it will affect. Giving notice of what’s to come and providing the reason why changes are being made will help others feel connected and stay productive no matter where they are.
2. Level-up virtual meetings
Platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype have become staples for businesses in recent months. And similar to how you’d never go into a meeting unprepared, you shouldn’t go into a digital meeting unprepared either.
To make your virtual meetings more interactive and effective:
- Stick to time commitments. CFOs hate wasting time in long meetings, and your attendees don’t like it either! To keep people from losing interest, set short, time-restricted meetings. That’ll also force you to prep an agenda that really sticks to your core points.
- Try polls. They’re a win-win. Attendees can cast their votes instantly and feel more involved in decisions. You can gather needed opinions and keep people attentive.
- Connect, then split. After holding general meetings (e.g., for all of Finance) you can switch to “breakout meetings” with smaller groups (e.g., A/P, A/R, Payroll). Those smaller groups will allow for more discussion and feedback that can then be passed on to you.
3. Be (even more) available
To some extent, finance managers and staffers depend on you for answers. But remotely, they can’t knock on your door or catch you in the office hallway. They either have to anxiously wait for a response or start to nag you with messages.
Despite your busy workdays, try to carve out time where staffers know they can reach out to you with questions or comments. Think of it as a virtual “office hours” of sorts. During that time, you’re available and ready to chat. Other times, you can hone in more on your core duties and initiatives.
4. Keep key items on the radar
You know the phrase “out of sight, out of mind.” And you certainly don’t want that to be the case with big-picture finance plans.
During remote work, also keep in close touch with other leaders, executives and stakeholders regarding any projects or initiatives that are in the works. Regularly share information, relay updates, schedule deadlines and celebrate milestones to keep your objectives front and center – even when you’re not physically front and center.