Every quarter, we present insights from top executives from different backgrounds and functions. For Q3, we gathered insights from three business leaders — experts in operations, human resources, and finance — to help you succeed in Q3. Here are insights on finance from interim executive Wendy Worcester.
As businesses advance into Q3 and the second half of 2021, what do you see as the biggest challenges facing business leaders? How are things evolving?
As we migrate back into both an onsite and remote workforce, we need to strategically plan how to build up our bench strength with our existing workforce. Part of that work is to competitively attract and retain new talent. In today’s world, that will require unique compensation packages including options for remote, hybrid, or traditional on-site work environments that give employees the ability to choose what’s right for their situation rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
As businesses evolve and change into more AI-driven models and digital transformations, executives need to lean forward to make the capital investments necessary to stay ahead of this curve to stand out in an ultra-competitive marketplace.
The business environment continues to rapidly change into more of an employee and machine-driven AI environment where disruptive technologies become tools of the trade (the new standard toolbox) as we move more into automated AI-based, digital modeling, and rapid synthesis of large data sets.
Company leaders—including CEOs, CTOs, and CFOs— must work together to not only define the right digital transformation journey but also fund it and accelerate its adoption.
What are a few best practices to help leaders overcome the current challenges? What do you see working well?
One best practice is applying diversity and inclusive models to establish an environment where employees feel comfortable yet creative to bring their experiences and best strategic thoughts forward. Employees want to feel a part of the team and not be put into boxes. They also want to be encouraged to develop new skill sets and focus on quality, not quantity, of hours to create the work-life balance they need and expect.
With the right leadership, today’s businesses can and should implement strong diversity and inclusion strategies that permeate the entire organization—and build communications campaigns to support those plans and reinforce a feeling of authenticity. This will help all employees to feel comfortable and supported in the workplace, which drives creativity, innovation, and long-term engagement (and ultimately better productivity and stronger business results).
Leaders should also drive a strong focus on career development—especially now as more and more employees are exploring their career options. Companies should encourage employees to develop new skills, offer mentorship opportunities, discuss their long-term career plans with managers, and help employees realize the career opportunities available to them at their current organization. In today’s dynamic business landscape—where the war on talent rages—a strong focus on employee retention can go a long way to ensuring a competitive advantage and business success over time.
In terms of encouraging work-life balance, organizations (and employees) everywhere are evaluating what the “future of work” looks like. Now that pandemic restrictions are easing—and many companies are returning to their worksites—today’s employees are reconsidering their priorities. Many employees have enjoyed working from home—and want to continue. For companies resistant to that possibility, employees are exploring options and entertaining possible job changes.
Are there any strategies you view to be ineffective?
Micro-managing and creating barriers stifle employee creativity and limit their ability to lean forward and disrupt the status quo. Team members want to feel a part of the company’s success, regardless of their experience, education, or lack thereof. They want to be empowered to make decisions and promote their thoughts and ideas with the ability to profit both financially and personally.
To be effective, smart leaders should be flexible with their team members and not work with everyone the same way in a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Instead, they should understand what motivates each individual since some team members have aspirations to become a CEO or CFO someday, while others are motivated by having the time to travel, play sports, or be with their friends and family. Understanding what drives each team member will make for a happier and more motivated team.
About Wendy Worcester
Wendy Worcester is an executive with experience in growing early-stage, high-growth disruptive companies focusing on operations, strategic planning, capital raising, FP&A, KPIs, business systems including Oracle, SAP, NetSuite, and Tableau, AGILE process implementations, and accounting. Wendy has been an advisor and/or CFO for multiple start-up companies including Rent.com, Parcel Pending, Gateway Genomics, Mesa BioTech, Anyone Home, Inc. and OpenEnglish.com. Wendy is a CPA (inactive) and has held the CFA designation.