Raising your game 1: Purpose

Charity finance expert Paul Leigh writes about the importance of defining the purpose of your finance function, in the first in a series of articles

Paul Leigh
Paul Leigh

In high-performing finance departments, clerks do not say "my job is to collect cash relating to debts due". They say it is "to ensure we have the cash to deliver our charitable aims". President Kennedy once asked a cleaner at Nasa what his job was. The reply was: "To help put a man on the moon."

You can achieve this wider view by defining and communicating the purpose, or mission, of the finance function at every level. If you want to see change, you have to make change with your leadership skills.

The finance mission statement answers the question "why are we here?" It gives the team a sense of purpose, direction, identity and belonging. It sets the scene for objectives and service standards and provides a framework for success.

A few tips: Involve the team in writing the mission statement. Keep it simple and meaningful. Remember that the value lies in team engagement rather than the output itself. And reinforce the mission in day-to-day conversations.

Next week: key performance indicators and continuous improvement

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