If you demonstrate money management skills, your first impression will be one of unanticipated sophistication. You don't need to have an MBA in finance. Just be able to show that you are sensitive to your company's bottom line and are ready to accept responsibility for your own.

Whether you are managing for a Fortune 500 company, a small family-owned business, or a non-profit corporation, you will ultimately be accountable for your money management performance - or lack thereof - to your employer.

Build Basic Money Management Skills

  • Learn to read your company's Annual Report. Go back and read the Report for the past few years to get a feel for how your company is doing financially.
  • See if you can find Annual Reports for your company's major competitors. You'll be able to judge how your company stacks up.
  • Be sure you understand the budgeting cycle, what you are expected to contribute and when. (I used to dread budget time. Everyone burned the midnight oil and seemed cranky!) But every year it passed and things got back to normal.)
  • If you are among the “financially challenged”, consider the Fred Pryor Seminar, Finance for Non-Financial Professionals, available online or in a one-day classroom setting if you prefer.

Think of your team and your area of responsibility as a microcosm of the whole company. You will be held accountable for your bottom line.

Employee Retention

Employee retention is such a big issue and has such a huge financial impact that it belongs at the top of your money management agenda. Turnover will be on the upswing as the job market continues to improve. So if you are concerned that a team member may be considering leaving, address that concern immediately rather than taking a wait and see approach.

Number 1. The real eye-opener is that employees leave more often because of their managers rather than their companies or jobs! And employees who are dissatisfied with their managers feel they are not appreciated for the job they do. So be financially aware and:

  • Provide opportunities for employees to share their knowledge via training sessions, presentations, mentoring others and unique team assignments.
  • Show respect and loyalty always.
  • Listen to them carefully. Use their ideas.
  • Provide performance feedback often and praise effort and results.
  • Recognize excellent performance and link pay to performance.
  • Celebrate success, marking it as a goal achieved.
  • Create opportunities for cross-training within the company. They can lead to internal career progression.
  • Communicate goals, roles and responsibilities so employees know what is expected and feel like part of the "in-crowd".
  • According to research by Gallup, encouraging employees to have good friends at work is a great recruiting tool.
  • Be clear about what you expect.
  • Avoid setting unrealistic expectations.

Number 2. In a recent survey, published in The Wall Street Journal, employees gave the following additional reasons they will be looking for a new job:

  • better compensation and benefits
  • dissatisfaction witih career opportunities in the company
  • ready for a new experience

Number 3. The most common programs employers are implementing to maximize employee retention are:

  • provide tuition reimbursement
  • offer competitive vacation and holiday benefits
  • ensure they offer competitive salaries

You may not be able to resolve all your team's concerns, but you certainly can let them know they are appreciated, help them set realistic career and salary expectations and create an environment conducive to new job experiences.

Other Ways To Show
Your Money Management Skills

  • Keep your eye on expenses. Simple things you may have taken for granted, like office supplies, long-distance phone calls, temporary help during busy periods, all add up in a hurry.
  • Involve your team in cost-savings efforts. They may surprise you with some innovative ideas.
  • If your Human Resources department does not have a file of potential new employees, begin one for your team. It can save you time if someone does leave and minimize the time that could be necessary for other team members to take on additional responsibilities.
  • Salaries, along with benefits, are two of your biggest budget line items. If your company has a bonus plan, understand how it works and what input you provide. If you need to do some creative persuasion on behalf of your team members, be armed with sound reasoning.
  • If your responsibilities include outsourcing services, be sure to obtain at least three Requests for Proposals (RFPs). Go over them carefully, alert for hidden costs in the fine print.
  • Plan ahead as much as you can. If you are in marketing, you already know that you can ask for "fast, high quality and inexpensive" but will never be able to get all three - only two. There's always the tendency to delay expenses as long as possible. Be aware of the potential cost of that decision.
  • Avoid any pressure to perform "creative accounting". Legal fees are hugely expensive!
No matter how small the impact, any way you can save the company money shows your money management skills.

The Bottom Line

If money management is one of your strengths already, you know that today's bottom line-driven business climate focuses on the short term (week, month or quarter) and companies tend to value their managers in terms of what they have done for the company lately. Keep a list of ways in which you have positively impacted your company's bottom line and demonstrated your money management skills. By the way, don't hesitate to drop one or two into a conversation with your boss.

When you grasp the bottom line issues your company faces, you will show a level of sophistication not normally expected of first-time women in management. It will stand you in very good stead!