It sounds like such a simple, self-evident good. Yet, as anyone living in Boston, Chicago, Miami, or New York during this past playoff season will attest, team spirit can be divisive. Loyalties provoke rivalries, create conflicts, and foster tensions. CFO Publishing, for instance, has offices in Boston and New York, and employees in each city have ties to the other. This month we experienced firsthand the tensions of team spirit, with Red Sox and Yankees fans taunting each other even as we tried to get this issue out.
As Lisa Yoon, Yankees fan and assistant editor of CFO.com, reports in our annual feature on best workplace practices (see "Work in Progress)," when finance organizations work to boost team spirit, they often discover that the process, however worthy, can create unexpected strains. Every company is home to many teams, some of which inevitably overlap. But the ensuing question, "Whose team are you on?" is arguably toughest to answer in finance, where people are routinely asked to divide their loyalties between the business units and the CFO. As Citigroup CFO Todd Thomson bluntly explains to Yankees fan and senior writer Tim Reason (see "Citi's New Stance"), "I want the CFO of the cards business to work closely with the CEO of the business unit.... But when it comes time to report financials, the [divisional] CFOs work for me."
In the end, working as a team requires individuals to shift their approach to work. They must compete with one another while pulling together, and even, on occasion, root for the other guy. (Off the record, some New Yorkers have even admitted to cheering for the Red Sox.)
Speaking of teamwork, the three articles in this issue written by the CFO.com staff represent something of a best-practices breakthrough for us. I'm sure you'll agree that the result of this team effort, both in this issue and online, is a better resource for you.
Julia Homer, Red Sox Fan