Some CFOs say employees don’t understand company’s strategic goals

Managers need to be diligent in sharing a company’s strategic vision with employees so that those workers stay motivated and have a clear understanding of why they’re coming to work every day.

That’s the recommendation from a recent Robert Half survey that shows a lack of clarity regarding companies’ strategy.

Thirty-four per cent of CFOs say their employees are not aware or not very aware of their company’s strategic business goals. The survey of more than 2,100 CFOs from large US cities shows that smaller companies are less likely to clearly communicate strategic goals to workers.

Just nine per cent of CFOs at companies of more than 1,000 employees thought workers lacked awareness of company strategy. That’s compared with 35% who felt that way at companies of 20 to 49 workers.

“With fewer staff and a more nimble structure, small companies, especially, have an opportunity to broadly discuss strategic business intentions and rally their teams around those targets,” Paul McDonald, Robert Half’s senior executive director, said in a news release. “Even organisations still refining their vision should communicate to staff their initial business goals and the company’s progress toward achieving them.”

Companies don’t truly have a strategic plan if they don’t have the leadership in place to communicate such a plan, said Larry Bienati, the vice president of organisational development at The Cooper Companies Inc. Bienati outlined five critical success factors in the design, accountability and execution of a strategic plan at the American Institute of CPAs CFO Conference in May. One section focused on a series of questions companies should ask themselves. “The simplest, and perhaps most important, question companies can ask themselves: Is our strategy clear, and how will it cascade through the organisation?”

Bob Paladino, CPA, the founder of Bob Paladino & Associates, a professional services consultancy, says companies that have the ability to track numerous metrics have a tendency to present employees with too many of those metrics, failing to clarify which ones are the most important.

This avalanche of numbers is part of the lack of clarity for employees.

“If you just have a page full of measures, employees don’t know what is important,” Paladino said during a recent interview. “They look at them and think, ‘What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to do all of these?’ ”

Related CGMA Magazine content:

As Role Evolves, CFOs Must Brush Up on Communication Skills and Strategic Thinking”: CFOs of multinational companies say their roles are evolving beyond the finance function. As a result, finance chiefs need to develop more skills centred on strategy and communication.

Neil Amato ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.