In the face of the unforeseen challenges of a global pandemic, organizations need their management teams to have excellent business acumen. Leadership teams need to be quick in understanding and dealing with unique business situations and understand how their decisions and actions create the future of the organization as a whole. Every manager should have a basic understanding of how the business operates, who the customer is, what drives revenue in the business, and what drives cost. Leaders must also empower employees at all levels to know how the company works and how their individual role fits into the overall business strategy. Here are a few ways you can develop your team’s business acumen and include them in building the business for the future.
Routinely Share Strategic Business Goals
It is vital to educate your employees about the strategic goals of the organization and help them understand how their role contributes to the overall strategy. When employees know how they can contribute to the overall goals of the company, it can motivate them to deliver results. Understanding the short-term and long-term vision of the business helps managers make more effective day-to-day decisions that align with strategic goals.
Teach Managers to Understand Financial Statements
Make sure your teams know how to decipher financial statements, departmental budgets, and profit and loss statements. Managers should know if the business made or lost money in each financial quarter to better understand how to improve performance and remove barriers to success. Facilitate discussions about how each manager’s role or department impacts the financials. Have your CFO or controller hold a lunch ‘n learn session to teach basic accounting concepts for non-financial managers.
Create Opportunites for Cross-Training
Cross-departmental training increases the overall understanding of the business. It also strengthens teams and improves communication when employees learn more about the roles and challenges of other departments. It can also facilitate cross-departmental problem-solving. Not only can cross-training help individuals see how their work can affect other teams, but diverse perspectives can offer more creative solutions to daily challenges.
Encourage Employee Innovation
Make time for managers and employees to share ideas about how to improve business operations. This could be part of a quarterly or annual review or a special brainstorming session. Give them time to create a strategy to overcome a specific problem or allow them to identify a problem and suggest a solution. Creativity and problem-solving skills are developed through practice and application, so people need opportunities to flex those mental muscles. It is also common for front-line staff to have solutions to operational problems, but feel like it’s not their place to share their ideas. Create a business culture that values employee feedback and invites them to be more innovative.
Invest in Leadership Development
One way to ensure your team is developing their business acumen and contributing to the strategic goals of the organization is to invest in a leadership training program. Encourage and provide opportunities for your employees to improve their leadership skills and learn how to apply tools, techniques, and systems to improve performance across your organization.