Unless you have lived a very blessed HR life, you have, from time to time, had difficulties dealing with your CFO.  Is it just that CFOs are mean and nasty people?  Perhaps, but have you ever thought that there might be legitimate reasons that HR does not always get along with their CFO?

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The CFO has to answer to not only their CEO, but to the organization’s Board of Directors, Investors, and Stock Market Analysts.  A CFO has no room for error when representing the financials of the organization.  On this week’s podcast, Kelly and I discuss how HR can better work with their CFO, with our guest, Dr. Kimberly Whitehead, who served as a CFO for Newell Brands, prior to going into academia.

According to Dr. Whitehead, most HR professionals she has worked with do not understand the business, or basic financial principles.  Often, when advocating for programs the HR department has no real idea the costs or the return on the investment (ROI) of those programs.  An estimate by HR on the costs and ROI of an HR proposal is simply not going to cut it with any CFO.

So, should HR professionals just resolve that their CFO will never like them?  No!  Be proactive. If you are working on an HR program, get the Finance Department involved early on in the discussions, so they can help you in the financial analysis.  If you don’t feel comfortable in the area of finance, ask if there is someone in the Finance Department that will help you better understand things like the budget, balance sheet, income statement, forecasting, insurance costing, bonus and long term incentive planning and costs, to name a few. If no one is willing to help you within the organization, take a class, or just research “understanding finance”, or similar terms on the internet for some free help.  HR and the CFO can be great allies, with just a few modifications in approach and a little relationship building.

As always, Kelly and I appreciate you listening to Survive HR.  Please tell your friends about the show and please go on iTunes and rate us. 

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Steve Nail is currently the Dean, College of Business, at Anderson University. He is a labor and employment attorney who began his career with the National Labor Relations Board. Thereafter, he served as Assistant General Counsel for Michelin, including two stints in France, where he worked on the structuring of the European Economic Community and served in the HR and Legal Departments. Later he served as the Vice President of Labor and Employee Relations before moving on to Hubbell where he served as the Vice President of Human Resources. Steve was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to serve on the SC Healthcare Planning Committee and was reappointed by Governor McMaster in 2018. Steve was named the 2012 South Carolina HR Professional of the Year and awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, by the Greenville SHRM chapter. He is a frequent speaker, a published author, and mentor to many in the HR profession. He often coaches individuals and consults organizations on strategic matters. He is a Register Corporate Coach, certified by the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches and holds SPHR and SHRM-SCP certifications.