One treasurer shares how he keeps staff united and upbeat—and offers his take on leadership during a crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many treasurers to confront the challenges of managing finance teams remotely.
- At a recent NeuGroup virtual meeting of mega-cap companies, one treasurer shared his approach to keeping his team cohesive, as well as an observation about how people perform during a crisis.
Together apart. To build a sense of togetherness and maintain unity when everyone is in a different place, the treasurer created a virtual “war room” where every morning each of his direct reports speaks up and updates the group on critical information including domestic and foreign cash levels.
- He holds another war room call at the end of the day to learn, for example, about any cash shortfalls and ask his direct reports about the calls they’re holding with their teams and how the broader treasury group is functioning.
- He also sends an email update to the entire treasury staff at the end of the day to reinforce the feeling that they are members of a team. He includes a fun fact about himself (first concert, favorite food, etc.). And he has received positive responses by sharing how he spends his workday.
- “They are very interested in what your day looks like,” he said, adding that he would likely share some of what he got from the NeuGroup meeting that day.
Fun stuff. To keep things light and spirits high during an extremely tough time, the treasurer had people wear something fun for St. Patrick’s Day. (Another member jokingly suggested having an “ugly sweater day.”)
- Every Friday, as part of the end-of-day call, the team has a virtual happy hour. The overall goal, he said, is to create a “good environment” in the virtual workplace.
Crisis response. In mid-March, two weeks or so into working from home, the treasurer had observed that some members of his team had not yet stepped up as leaders or started thinking outside the box as they navigated “unchartered waters” created by the pandemic.
- “Most people tend to do what they are comfortable with during a crisis, rather than hit it head on,” he said. “Top leaders tend to shine during a crisis.”
- To help maintain focus and motivation, the treasurer does a weekly review, listing the major accomplishments from the treasury/risk team.
- He also pays tribute to individuals who hit milestones, like a work anniversary, or who go “above the call of duty.”