The role of the treasurer continues to expand into different areas of the organisation, such as risk management and working capital. At the same time, while the treasury department was once an isolated function within a corporate organisation, it is now becoming more integrated with other departments. As a result, the ability to manage a treasury team more effectively, as well as the relationships with other departments, has become increasingly important. In addition, the trend towards centralisation and globalisation among all corporates further highlights the need for effective management skills and the ability to deliver and align objectives across the organisation. But what makes a good manager and how can you ensure that you effectively manage your department and team?
At the recent Payment Strategies Day on 10 June in Birmingham, hosted by Experian Payments, Sir Gerry Robinson, the Irish-born businessman opened proceedings with his opinion of what corporate managers want to achieve and how they can do it. As the former (non-executive) chairman of Allied Domecq and the ex-chairman/chief executive of Granada, Robinson has extensive business management experience and enlightened the audience with his pearls of wisdom about what makes a successful manager.
“A manager must be capable of motivating and inspiring their team, as well have the ability to distinguish between what is simply ‘wishful thinking’ and action that could provide real business opportunity,” he said. “It is also vital to have clarity and be absolutely crystal clear about what it is you are trying to achieve as a manager and with your team.”
In order to achieve clarity, Robinson advised managers to be direct about what they wanted their team to do and project a clear vision and aim. He also underlined the fact that passion is a vital ingredient in management success. “An organisation that isn’t passionate about what they do will not succeed,” he warned. “Managers should inspire others towards success through simple gestures, such as the recognition and praise of individual achievements.”
He concluded his presentation (which was dotted with illustrative anecdotes from his career re-told in an array of accents!) by highlighting key characteristics that any successful manager should cultivate:
1. Have courage: Robinson dared the audience to do one thing this year that they don’t get clearance for from the organisation’s “higher powers” and have the strength to follow their instincts.
2. Follow-up requests: If you ask for something to be done, as a manager you should follow it up “doggedly and persistently” to make sure it is. This will enhance your authority by making it clear that you will notice if something you ask for doesn’t happen and also reassure the team that their efforts will not be wasted.
3. Singularity: A manager must be able to make rapid and effective decisions on business issues and Robinson recommended simplifying all decision-making processes as much possible to ensure this.
4. Innovation: According to Robinson, a manager should “never invent something that already exists that you can utilise.”
The role of a manager within a treasury department, or wider finance function in a corporate organisation, is complicated, wide-ranging and, at times, stressful. By focusing on key management principles, however, such as clarity and the ability to motivate and inspire your team, the path to successful management will be a lot less daunting.