A CFO’s Guide to Working with the Millennial Generation

The future of the finance department may depend on how well leaders navigate potential generation gaps.

Walking in 20 minutes late, expecting only the most exciting assignments, piping up when it would be far better to listen — the portrait of the stereotypically nightmarish Millennial employee in the finance department practically draws itself!

Of course, those cliches would never apply consistently to the next generation of talent managed by CFOs and others in large companies. Concerns about how best to motivate, coach and hold onto younger professionals, however, is becoming nearly as important to financial leaders as many of their more traditional priorities.

For all the talk of discord between Millennials and their elders, there’s a lot of promise in how the relationship could play out in finance departments.”

When CGMA Magazine recently published an article about ‘5 Tips To Ease CFOs’ Worst Worries,’ for example, the majority of the advice came from recruiters who say their clients in the U.S. and Europe are losing sleep over workplace issues with Millennials. To some extent, it begins with figuring out what it is they really want:

Salary is important, but so are non-monetary benefits and the work environment. Millennials in the UK focus on work/life balance, which means they want to be able to work from home, dress casually, or leave early,” the article said. “Many young finance professionals in France no longer want to start their professional career in auditing . . . Instead, they prefer to go to work for start-ups and tech companies, where they can be entrepreneurial, take on more responsibilities earlier in their careers, and get involved in a broader range of projects.”

An in-depth feature report on CFO Innovation indicated many of the same issues. One of the more interesting sources interviewed was Niq Lai, Chief Talent & Financial Officer and Co-Owner, Hong Kong Broadband Network. He said his fellow CFOs should think of Millennials more like partners than underlings.

Millennials could be daring because they are less experienced—this is often seen as a weakness. However, Lai said managers can turn that into a strength. “They have no idea what works and what doesn’t, so you can let them try new things with calculated risk,” Lai noted. “Millennials make mistakes but they’ll learn from them. I call that ‘stumbling our way to success’.”

Older, more experienced CFOs may stumble their way to success as well, naturally, but Lai and others argue they need to talk more openly about their missteps in order to earn trust and pass on their wisdom in a palatable way.

In fact, for all the talk of discord between Millennials and their elders, there’s a lot of promise in how the relationship could play out in finance departments. Evolving from number-crunching to strategic analysis will definitely involve greater experimentation and potential failure, but it will also involve work that’s just as valuable and fulfilling as what you could do at a tech startup.

Smart CFOs already know Millennials represent the future of their team. It’s a future that could be brighter than anyone realizes.

The post A CFO’s Guide to Working with the Millennial Generation appeared first on Blog | Vena Voice | Vena Solutions.

About the Author

George Papayiannis

As Chief Technology Officer, George directs all aspects of product development, research, engineering and delivery of Vena’s solutions. Prior to co-founding Vena, George gained considerable experience in the software and technology industry in a variety of roles including development, consulting, architecture and design. In his most recent role as an Enterprise Software Architect at IBM, George led complex software architecture engagements for many Fortune 500 companies and managed a large, globally distributed development team based in Brazil, Beijing and France. George is seen as a thought leader in technology, speaking at numerous conferences on topics ranging from web architecture and design to the future of mobile web development. George holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from McMaster University, specializing in Software Engineering, along with a major in Finance, focusing on Banking and Capital Markets.

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