In all industries and professions, there are stereotypes about jobs and the people who possess them. They are all over the place from the cocky and superior surgeon in the healthcare industry over the boring bean counter in finance to the politicians who care more about winning elections than speaking the truth to voters.
However, if you take a closer look at anyone in any given job you will often find that there is much more to them than the stereotype would suggest. Let’s take a closer look at the bean counter in finance. These days there is a great drive in finance and other support functions to add value to the bottom-line. This is not something you would typically associate with a bean counter and therefore, they are often not listened to. This is portrayed well in the Dodge Dart Commercial – How To Change Cars Forever in the small clip where finance is asked about the price of the car.
So, what can you do to break free from a stereotype?
This is something we have worked very actively with for last couple of years in the finance department at Maersk Drilling USA, Inc. In my experience, here are at least some things to consider if you want to effectively break free from the stereotype and change the perception of you and the job or the function you are in:
- Recognize that there is some truth to the stereotype – yes, some accountants are boring, prefer to sit in a corner and just work with their numbers all day long.
- Figure out what in your job, positions you well to add value – accountants have access to vast amounts of data regarding the financial performance of the company hence by deploying innovative analytics they might be able to derive trends about products, markets, etc. that no one knew existed.
- Design a communication plan for how you will make your analysis and value add understood by management or other functions you want to partner with – accountants should speak less with numbers and more with graphics and stories.
- Consistently deliver on (2) and (3) and over time people will see you and your function for what you can really bring to the table and not just what the stereotype tells them.
Is your finance team uniquely placed to foster cross functional collaboration, drive performance and add value to the bottom-line? As with everything change takes time so hang in there.