Why Finance Teams Falter (And What You Can Do About It)


What causes the breakdown of a team? Is it poor leadership, or a lack of chemistry among team members?

From our experience there are a number of reasons a finance team falters.

Here are three of them, coupled with some suggestions to right the course.

Inconsistent Direction

To Siva Kumar, Director of Finance at SNC-Lavalin O&M Incorporated, inconsistent direction from leadership can quickly derail the most effective team. “Managers that constantly shift priorities send mixed signals that can grind effective production to a halt,” Kumar says.

Solution: Clearly define expectations and understand each individual’s needs. Some people will need more direction at the start, while others will ask questions as the initiative progresses.

No Accountability

While understanding their role in achieving the organization’s vision is important, so too is the need for team members to feel accountable to each other.  Management as the source of accountability is not enough. Think about it, great sports teams emphasize a team first mentality, where everyone holds each other accountable for excellence.

Solution: In an article entitled, “The Best Teams Hold Themselves Accountable” Joseph Grenny writes that teams should create a culture of universal accountability where “team members [are] both motivated and able to handle the day-to-day concerns they have one with another or [the leadership].”

Slow Problem Solving

High-performing teams solve problems quickly. The greater the lag time between acknowledging the problem and devising a solution, the greater the likelihood that the team will struggle. Seeds of mistrust and dysfunction can be sown quickly, leading to a lack of team unity.

Solution: Model behaviours that you want to see in your team, including respectfully and directly expressing concerns that you have. Create a positive culture of continuous improvement by openly acknowledging success stories in front of other team members, and communicate that you too are to be held accountable for achieving expectations.

For finance teams to deliver there must be a culture of accountability and support. Establish expectations that are clear and tied to each person’s strengths. Solve disagreements quickly. You’ll soon have a high performing finance team.