Emotional Intelligence & The High-Performing Team - [CFO Weekly] Episode 20

October 6, 2020 Lydia Adams

High performing team in office

As we press on through the COVID pandemic, the remote work lifestyle is becoming more and more of a permanent reality for a growing number of people, while the need for a high-performing team remains. Several large companies have moved to a permanent remote workforce, or at least allowed their employees the choice of whether they want a traditional working situation, or to remain working from home.

And in the midst of all of this uncertainty, it’s more important than ever before to keep your high performing teams motivated, connected, and inspired. But how do you do that? What does it take to keep a high performing team operating at peak efficiency while working remotely?

On this episode of The CFO Weekly, we talk to Larry Chillemi. Larry is the Chief Financial Officer at Grow West, and our conversation centered around emotional intelligence, keeping your high performing teams motivated, tips for showing appreciation and recognition to your team, and how technology is going to shape the future of accounting.

Why Emotional Intelligence Is Essential for a High Performing Team

The first step in a high performing team may sound conceptual or ethereal, but emotional intelligence is key to your team operating and performing at peak capacity. Emotional intelligence is simply the ability to understand, use and manage your own emotions.

One way to get a feel for the emotional intelligence of your team is to utilize personality profiles, or personality tests. And don’t use just one. Whether it’s DISC, Strengthfinders, ProScan, Vistage, or any other, the important thing to remember is to utilize multiple profiles.

You’ll find that they’ll help you find the skill sets you need for your organization. Not everybody is innovative, so a combination of profiles will help you discover the ones that are truly innovative, and the ones that will react to innovation.

Emotional Intelligence for a high performing team

Getting the right people on the bus, so to speak, is key. It’s not easy to do, and you’re probably going to get pushback, especially if you’re coming into a company from the outside as opposed to being promoted.

Everything else is about communication. The overwhelming truth is that most of us don’t communicate consistently, and we all need to get better at it. Communication, or lack thereof, is at the root of most every issue that plague teams all over the world in every industry.

It’s been said before that, “A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.”

How Do You Show Employee Appreciation?

Especially now that most people are at home, it’s crucial to keep your teams motivated. This can be as simple as regular one on one meetings, huddles, or weekly check-ins. Sit down with your employees and first, point out the things they’ve done well. Focus on the good. Get a blank card and write down the great things they’ve done and give it to them. Let them put it on their desks, or keep it with them.

The more you can talk to people about what they’re doing right, as opposed to the things that need correcting, the more you put them in the driver’s seat of their own career. You get them involved in the decision-making process, and you allow them to take the work that you’ve delegated to them.

It’s really easy to send an email, but some conversations, especially ones of high praise or appreciation, can use a more human touch. A face-to-face (or Zoom) conversation might be a better avenue for such a  discussion. It’s tempting to send the email and move on, but slow down, take a moment, and make it personal.

One thing that Chillemi suggests is a honest-to-goodness handwritten note with your words of thanks, highlighting specific actions that deserve appreciation.

Getting the Most Out of Technology With Top-Down Buy-In

Your technology is key, especially at home. So how do you get the most out of your technology? It  has to come from the top down, which may sound counterintuitive as a lot of companies like to work from “the bottom up.” But for technology to move along, at a company it has to come from the top.

This means you need buy-in from the CEO. It may seem like too trivial a thing to bother the CEO with, but having their buy-in is going to make sure that you have a process, and that you have the adequate resources to implement that new technology.

“I think the key to getting the most out of technology is to ask, ‘what does the customer want? What’s the right platform for them and for our industry?’” Chillemi said.

What does the customer want? What’s the right platform for our industry to help that customer? They’re the center of the pie, so how do you make everything else work for them? Not all customers want state-of-the-art cutting edge technology, so you’ve got to constantly be thinking about what they want.

Larry Chillemi Quote

What About Technology & the Future of Accounting? - Enabling A High Performing Team

How is technology going to shape  the future of accounting? It’s all about workflow. Is your company interested in workflow? Is that something that they’re committed to doing? Because it takes constant looking after. Constant upkeep.

There’s a pervasive fear in the financial industry that technology is going to replace all of the jobs. That machines are going to be doing our jobs for us because they’re cheaper, and they don’t take days off.

“I don't feel like technology would completely replace all of accounting, but I think it can take care of most of it," Chillemi said.

Technology will certainly replace some things. But one thing it will never be able to do is make gut decisions. Those decisions that you analyze and agonize over before making. But technology is going to be able to help you get to the answers quicker. It won't necessarily replace jobs, but will give you a chance to move up the chain and add value.

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