... Motivate your finance team: If you want to retain the brightest and best people, you've got to keep them keen. Here are eight pieces of advice for doing this ...

AuthorSchiller, Ben
Position8 ways to...


  1. Partner with HI operations people

    Several commentators say that what once worked to motivate finance professionals in the past may not work so well today.

    "The finance function has changed enormously in the past few years so the old talent-management approach doesn't necessarily work," says Dan Zbacnik, financial management leader at KPMG Canada.

    "Money doesn't always cut it now. These new types of people are looking for on-the-job satisfaction, learning and constantly growing. They are looking for more partnering with operations people. Finance people may come in with technical skills, but they want to learn about the operations as well"

  2. Beware micromanaging

    Stephen Brooks, specialist in people management at PA Consulting, says there are three proven ways of motivating people: what he calls "autonomy, mastery and purpose" The first of these can pose problems for financial professionals, he thinks.

    "As they develop, finance people tend to have a controlling function, but as you reach managerial level you need to stop being like that. That can be quite difficult for some people. Finance attracts people who find it more difficult to trust and delegate "

    Micromanaging is a big no-no, because it saps people's sense of urgency and because it is inefficient, essentially amounting to doing someone's work for them.

  3. Let employees 'make progress9

    Managers might think they know what motivates teams - but they may be wrong, according to Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of The Progress Principle. Amabile collected electronic diaries from 238 people working on projects in seven companies, looking at what motivated people from hour to hour over several months.

    "What we found was, of things that get people engaged in their work, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. There is a tremendous motivational effect when people make even small, incremental progress," she says.

    Amabile's statement contradicts what employers say. A corresponding survey asked 600 managers to rank "recognition", "incentives", "interpersonal support", "support for making progress" and "clear goals" as motivating factors. "Recognition" came first, some way ahead of "progress".

    Amabile says managers should not over-emphasise the importance of incentives, financial or otherwise. "We found that people rarely mentioned incentives. Of course, when they got recognition, that made them happy. But they had...

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