Finance professionals are tasked with more than ever in today’s business climate, and thinking holistically can ensure you’re spending your time in the most efficient and effective way.
“It’s crazier in business than it’s ever been,” said Kyle Bickhart, CPA, chief financial officer of The Ohio Society of CPAs. “And in three years it’s only going to be crazier and we’ll wish we were three years back. We need to consider how we are challenging ourselves every day.”
With a long to-do list and expectations from managers, it’s easy to concentrate on completing one task and moving on to the next. But that won’t help you grow as a professional long-term. Thinking holistically will.
To start, Bickhart encouraged accounting professionals to ask themselves why they are doing something. When they uncover the reason, they should ask the question again – five times – to get to the heart of their purpose.
“Doing something because you’ve always done it is not a good enough reason,” he said.
Professionals are working with fewer resources and expected to do more, so using time wisely will be what sets you apart. Asking questions of yourself and of others is critical.
And, you don’t need to necessarily take a class to strengthen this skill. On-the-job training is a big factor in thinking holistically, Bickhart said. Push yourself to apply this thinking during your workday, and don’t be afraid to extend it to other areas of the organization.
“The idea of working in silos and only working your job is really short-sighted,” Bickhart said. “It’s short-sighted for the organization and it’s short-sighted for the individual.”
Although those in senior roles may be more inclined to have this mindset, that doesn’t mean only the executive team should take on this issue. This way of thinking is something the entire company should promote and support, Bickhart said.
“There’s a cross-functional aspect of every job, so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask a question,” he said. “The company benefits by everyone seeing different pieces and parts and making sure everyone is working efficiently and effectively.”
Applying this mindset on a regular basis takes time, but Bickhart said it’s possible if you approach it realistically. Don’t try to radically change overnight; instead, practice consistent use over an extended period to make it a habit. Ask yourself why you’re doing one certain thing in your personal life or at work. Learn from that experience, and then repeat.
“I think, in the past, finance was looked at as mostly budgets and finances,” he said. “But the future of finance is really about being a partner for everyone.”