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  • Writer's pictureBrett Hampson

Building a Vision for Your Finance Team

As a finance manager, building a vision for your team is not just about setting goals—it's about creating a roadmap that aligns with your core responsibilities and personal motivations. This guide will walk you through the essential steps to craft an effective vision that can drive your team toward success.


Why Set a Vision?


Setting a vision for your finance team is crucial for several reasons:

  • Direction and Focus: A clear vision provides direction and helps your team focus on key priorities.

  • Motivation and Engagement: When team members understand and believe in the vision, they are more motivated and engaged in their work.

  • Alignment and Consistency: A vision ensures that everyone is aligned with the same goals, fostering consistency in decision-making and actions.


Consider your favorite roles and favorite leaders to work for. I'm almost certain there was some element of a strong, shared vision that got you excited to accomplish each day. It's up to us leaders to develop that vision and articulate it to our teams to motivate action that makes a difference.


What Does a Good Vision Look Like?


A good vision:

  • Is Clear and Concise: It should be easy to understand and remember.

  • Is Inspiring: It should motivate and excite your team (starting with you!).

  • Is Achievable: It should be realistic and attainable with the resources available.

  • Aligns with Core Responsibilities: It should reflect the fundamental duties of your finance team.


How to Set a Vision for Your Finance Team


Step 1: Understand Your Main Role Accountabilities


Every finance role is unique, but they all share similar core responsibilities:

  • Reporting: Providing accurate and timely financial statements and reports.

  • Analysis: Analyzing financial data to support decision-making.

  • Forecasting: Predicting future financial performance to guide strategic planning.

  • Business Partnering: Collaborating with other departments to drive business objectives.


Obviously, you'll have to reflect on the above to decide if these fit for you. These are standard financial analyst or FP&A team responsibilities. Consider also adding Leadership or Data/Tools/Technology as main responsibilities if those fit as well.


Step 2: Determine What You Want Out of Your Team


Reflect on your personal motivations and pain points:

  • What personally motivates you?: Consider what aspects of your work you find most rewarding.

  • What pain points are you feeling?: Identify challenges or inefficiencies that you want to address.

  • What best practices get you excited?: Think about industry standards or innovative practices that inspire you.


Remember, you are the leader. You get to decide what direction the team runs (within reason). Make sure your fingerprints are all over the team's vision and direction and you'll be 100x more engaged in the role.


Step 3: Create a Vision Narrative for Each Core Responsibility


Combine your ideal future state with your core responsibilities to create a vision narrative:

  • Reporting: "In our ideal future state, our reporting process is fully automated, enabling real-time insights and freeing up time for strategic analysis."

  • Analysis: "Our analysis capabilities are enhanced by advanced analytics tools, providing deep insights that drive business growth."

  • Forecasting: "We leverage predictive analytics to deliver highly accurate forecasts, allowing proactive and informed decision-making."

  • Business Partnering: "We are trusted advisors to all departments, known for our strategic insights and collaborative approach."


The above examples are short and simple. I encourage you to dig deep into your role and add up to 5 sentences to describe each core responsibility. The more specific you are the more clarity your team will have for the direction you are heading.


Step 4: Assess Your Current State


Critically evaluate where you stand today compared to each vision narrative:

  • Reporting: Are your reports timely and accurate? What is the current level of automation?

  • Analysis: How effective are your current analytical tools and processes?

  • Forecasting: How accurate are your forecasts? What methods are you using?

  • Business Partnering: How well are you collaborating with other departments? Are you seen as a strategic partner?


If you can add quantitative comparisons like 'reports are 20% automated' then that gives you a measurable comparison to your vision narrative. It's not always possible to do that, but it helps the members of your team who are motivated by objective goals.


Step 5: Map Out the Steps to Achieve Your Vision


Develop a plan to bridge the gap between your current state and your vision:

  • Set Specific Goals: Define clear, measurable objectives for each core responsibility.

  • Identify Resources: Determine the resources (e.g., tools, training, budget) needed to achieve your goals.

  • Create an Action Plan: Outline the specific actions required to reach each objective, assigning responsibilities and deadlines.

  • Monitor Progress: Regularly review progress towards your vision, making adjustments as needed.


By following these steps, you can craft a compelling vision for your finance team that not only aligns with your core responsibilities but also reflects your personal motivations and aspirations. This vision will serve as a guiding light, helping you lead your team with clarity, purpose, and inspiration.



 


Whenever you are ready, check out the Finance Leadership Lab. It's the place where 500+ finance professionals have learned corporate finance and leadership best practices to grow their career.

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