As a high-level leader, it can be hard to gauge and determine exactly what your finance team wants and needs from you.
When should you give them more attention? When should you pull back? Do they want some gentle handholding or to be pushed harder for greatness?
Of course, there may not be one set answer that works in every case. But CFOs can get insight on how to navigate these murky waters from former CEO and author Terry Bacon. In his book, What People Want: A Manager’s Guide to Building Relationships That Work, Bacon surveyed more than 500 employees to find what they want and don’t want from a manager or leader.
Here are some of the highlights that you can use to guide your management approach in Finance:
Your staff needs …
According to Bacon’s findings, five things about their boss that mattered most to employees were:
- Honesty (90%): Above all else, staffers want their leader to be honest and straightforward. Show them the numbers, talk through the hard truths. As you know, withholding info or secrecy can hurt credibility.
- Fairness (89%): Hold people accountable and to equal standards.
- Trust (86%): It goes both ways – they want to be able to trust you and be trusted by you.
- Respect (84%): In a similar vein, people want to respect you and feel like they’re respected, too.
- Dependability (81%): Staffers want to know they can count on you – to be there, to be frank, to be resilient.
Your staff doesn’t need …
Five things that employees don’t necessarily value in a leader, per Bacon’s findings, are:
- Friendship (3%): The vast majority of people would rather have their boss feel like a mentor or coach than a pal.
- Conversation (14%): Many employees don’t believe they need regular chit-chat with the boss.
- TLC (24%): Similar to not needing friendship, staffers don’t necessary want you to “care” for them the way a colleague or buddy would.
- Emotional support (25%): People are more likely to desire this type of support from co-workers or people in their personal life, not a leader.
- Cheerfulness (28%): Fortunately, you don’t have to plaster on a smile or act overly happy. Turns out staffers would rather respect you than “like” you.
The big takeaway
While Bacon’s findings don’t account for every employee or company, they reveal an important truth: Staffers would rather look up to their leader – as someone they can trust, respect and count on – than be their friend.
For CFOs, this likely falls in line with the type of management style you already practice. But it could be worth passing along this notion to other finance leaders – your A/P manager, your A/R director, your payroll supervisor.
Understandably, many managers want their staffers to like them. But this could remind managers that honesty and respect are more important than likability – both for staffers and for the success of the company.