Part 5: Ways to Bridge the Gap Between HR and Finance

July 29, 2016 Zuman

In the last post, we examined the reasons finance departments everywhere have begun to outsource key HR functions. In the final post in this series, we explore ways that HR and finance can bridge their gap and align themselves more organically.

A map of business
We've often discussed the gap between HR and finance, and how it's similar to standing on contrasting points on the same map. Both departments only seem to interact with the world in a very narrow sort of way: HR being more interested in managing people, while finance emphasizes more targeted business outcomes. Coming together is about recognizing these differences, and finding ways to align whenever possible to think holistically about the entire organization. Here are nine techniques to bringing HR and finance on to the same page:

1. Build a conversation
Interactions between HR and finance can't happen sporadically or as the result of an emergency or other crisis. Instead, regular meetings should be held to allow both groups a chance to discuss what's going on individually and find ways to align objectives. It's especially vital that executives have a chance to evaluate one another to find areas with deficits.

2. Have a ball
So-called "beach ball" conversations were created by Fierce Conversations, which develops training programs for corporate entities. The exercise is fairly straightforward: the ball itself referents different people and their perspectives into an issue. By having these differing opinions or realities involved in a conversation, groups can reach a more holistic solution.

3. Get to networking
People tend to only develop relationships within their departments. Networking, then, is a chance to eliminate these personal boundaries and to uncover new and interesting perspectives form other individuals or teams. It's all about becoming comfortable with one another, as this is crucial to natural and candid conversations about businesses practices and operational values.

4. Seek out what you need
To departments might feel as if they're lacking vital strands of information from the other. Effective HR and finance teams avoid this breakdown by continually making lists of the exact information they need to be aware of to function properly. From there, it's just a matter of developing the tools to facilitate the transfer or sharing of these vital insights. 

5. Tinker with communication
Similar to the concept above, interdepartmental communication experiences frequent delays because there are few operating procedures in place. Without these specific ways of reaching out and sharing info, two departments may as well work in two different parts of the galaxy. It's important to set out specific guidelines that help with the free flow of information.

6. Get the right exercise
The beach ball activity isn't the only one that should be implemented from time to time. Another helpful method is the "JFK Communication Exercise": It's not about asking other departments for information, but asking what kinds of insights you can provide regularly. If everyone provides info more freely, than collaboration and communication become all that much easier.

7. Build it up
Some people consider team building exercises to be a waste of time or an excuse not to complete work. However, these activities can have real value if they're implemented properly. It's about setting specific goals for these "games" and sticking to them. To aid with the process, it's always a good idea to bring in a consultant or expert to help with planning and implementation.

8. Learn new languages
No two departments ever speak the same language, and even the content that an HR team deals with daily can be drastically different to the subject matter of finance. That's why it's so crucial that departments, especially HR, take the time to understand the "language" of each department, understanding key phrases and concepts to better comprehend the workloads of their colleagues.

9. Find a new model
Outsourcing isn't just a way to improve or aid finance departments. HR departments should also try to take proper advantage of these services. The HR BPaaS model, for instance, is aimed at facilitating this process. It works to help finance just as in-depth as HR. It's all about creating checklists that match both and emphasize business-wide objectives and goals.


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