The role of the chief financial officer (CFO) is to manage the financial risks of the company and ensure that money being spent contributes to the organization's objectives. Many CFOs are also under pressure to cut costs or demonstrate the ROI of all major expenditures. As integral participants in strategic planning and implementation, CFOs must clearly see how any activities outside of normal business operations will contribute to the success of the organization before they approve the expense.
When considering event ideas, it is important to view them through the lens of the financial officer. Look for activities that meet at least one of these criteria:
- It has measurable ROI.
- It will improve individual and team performance.
- It contributes to organizational objectives.
Consider these CFO-friendly options as you plan your upcoming events:
Corporate Culture Change Kick-Off Event
If your organization is preparing for a culture transformation, a corporate event is a great opportunity to lay the foundation. The CFO should already be on board with the organizational objectives that led to the decision to implement a culture transformation, so gaining their support of a related event is reasonable. However, it’s important for the kick-off to happen in the context of a longer-term strategy so that the investment in building enthusiasm and changing hearts and minds is not lost after the excitement of the event wears off. Whether you are shifting to a culture of customer-centricity or one of innovation, having a clear roadmap is essential for staying on track and ensuring that every investment leads to measurable results.
Experiential Learning Event
One of the more challenging corporate event ideas to sell to a CFO is generic training. It’s difficult to measure the ROI of a team building exercise or bonding activity. However, experiential learning is not simply generic training. It is designed to deliver specific training concepts and demonstrate how to apply new skills and behaviors on the job. The result is a conviction to make changes that improve performance and the necessary skills to do it. Pitching experiential learning to a CFO is easier than other types of training for the following reasons:
- It is fully immersive; everybody gets engaged and stays engaged.
- Learning by doing deters learning decay after the event.
- Experiences are metaphors for real-world challenges so the lessons are directly applicable.
- Participants immediately see the results of testing new behaviors in a safe environment.
- A powerful debrief connects the lessons and behaviors learned to the real world.
- Participants leave motivated to change behavior and improve performance.
Experiential learning directly contributes to improving performance and produces behavior change that allows you to measure ROI, which are both important considerations for any CFO.
If your industry requires manufacturing, lab work, or any type of field work, you know that safety is critical for both employees and the surrounding environment. Safety training at a company event is one of the easiest investments to sell to a CFO because the financial risks of safety incidents can be dire. A program that focuses on building conviction in these three areas can deliver lasting results and build the foundation for a culture of safety throughout the organization. Here are a few aspects of a safety culture training should emphasize:
- Commitment: Everybody must passionately believe in the need for safety in the workplace.
- Accountability: Leaders and employees must take ownership of their actions.
- Coaching: Leaders must share knowledge and model the right behavior.
The ROI for safety training can be measured in a reduction of safety incidents over a period of time and lower associated costs.
If your event ideas don’t hold up to the CFO's scrutiny, it might time to upgrade your training approach. Consider every possible corporate event activity through the perspective of the CFO, and you will inevitably select the options they are most likely to approve of.