Treasury Management

Developing Future Finance Leaders: What Top Performers Want

By June 12, 2024No Comments

High potentials want more leader input and guidance on intertwining goals and individual development plans.

What do high-performers on treasury teams need from senior managers today to develop into tomorrow’s finance leaders? Discussions between members of NeuGroup for High Potentials reveal that many up-and-comers want more formal, documented development plans tied to specific goals, among other wish-list items. And the talent development shortcomings that some cite include inadequate connection of individual goals to a company’s broader strategy and infrequent communication with leadership on these topics.

  • Two members of the high potentials (HiPo) group compiled and distilled those and other takeaways from discussions facilitated by NeuGroup associate director Kyle Bockus into an informative and eye-opening presentation for leaders who are members of NeuGroup for Mega-Cap Treasurers at that group’s spring meeting.
  • The topic resonated with the treasurers, who are also confronting skills gaps as they prepare for a future of finance driven by data and advanced technologies like AI. Many are also spending time on succession planning.

Features of strong development efforts. The presenters from the HiPo group listed several features of ideal approaches to talent development as well as these strengths of initiatives that have high impact:

  • Formalized and documented development plans. One of the presenters said development plans at her company are employee driven and management supported, a practice that struck a chord with other members who create plans which are then reviewed and tweaked by managers. At a minimum, leaders and their reports should discuss progress and make adjustments to these documented plans quarterly, according to the presentation.
  • Tying development items to specific goals. One best practice is using a goal plan model that is management driven and employee supported. At the presenter’s company, so-called SMART goals cascade from the executive office to treasurers, assistant treasurers and their direct reports.
    • The goals are tied to compensation, making this a powerful tool, she said. The development plan is tied to these goals to drive success at both the employee and corporate level.
  • Mentorships inside and outside of treasury. Mentorships can be formal or informal; mentoring by leaders outside of treasury is seen as more impactful, according to the discussions among HiPo members.
  • Networking across the organization. Supportive leaders who help team members expand their networks and make connections throughout the company are highly valued by members.
  • The chance to participate, and ideally lead, cross-functional teams and projects. This is prized by members. It provides opportunities to work with people across the organization to meet deadlines while managing a cross section of colleagues who don’t report to you.
    • “Any time you can lead a project or facilitate or be in charge of it, that’s really stretched me and gotten me out of my comfort zone and been very beneficial,” one member said.
  • Including people in meetings that are outside their specific work areas. This provides future leaders with exposure to a wider range of experiences and subjects. Earlier in her career, a manager let one presenter sit in on another team’s meeting; attending this capital markets group having a bank call helped her realize what she wanted to do next at the company.

Room for improvement. Members of the HiPo group identified a dearth of opportunities for US-based team members to take positions overseas as one development gap. In response to a question from the presenter, many of the mega-cap treasurers acknowledged that taking on international assignments earlier in their careers was, as she put it in a follow-up call, “very highly developmental.”

  • In response, she told the treasurers, “If you realize that now, give those same opportunities to your people. And make sure your people want to take on those opportunities—have those open and honest and transparent conversations with them when having career discussions.”
  • Finance leaders should also prepare high performers for leadership roles by helping them diversify their skills by taking on roles outside of treasury; the presenter recommends documenting and sharing so-called pipeline roles across treasury.
  • Also, finance planning committees need to introduce high-caliber treasury candidates to other planning committees so those individuals are “on their radar to move back and forth between teams to give them broader experience and diversify.”
  • Another area for improvement: HiPo members at larger companies experience challenges connecting their individual goals to the company’s overall strategy. One of the presenters said, “It can be really difficult to translate my day-to-day into the broad organization goals.”

A proactive approach to development. Addressing that difficulty “really requires vision and effective communication up and down the chain,” the presenter said. “So managers should be thinking about what they want their teams to accomplish and how that is connected to the executive office goals.” Effective approaches will also identify and mitigate resource constraints that may stand in the way of success.

  • Confronting those issues head-on is part of a framework for development the presenter called “proactive growth” consisting of the high-impact features listed above and includes 360 feedback. “To create this culture of proactive growth, everyone needs to be held accountable,” he said.
    • “And the only way to do that is to create a culture of effective feedback. So managers are accountable for development as well as the employee.”
  • To turn that ideal of shared responsibility into reality, the key is drawing a clear line connecting the employee’s development plan and goal plan and having ongoing discussions with leaders about those, the presenter said.
    • “When those three items are tied together, they’re maximizing the candidate’s growth, they’re identifying avenues that benefit both the company and them in terms of what they want and what the organization’s needs are.”
Justin Jones

Author Justin Jones

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