I spend time working with some of the best Payroll Managers in the business and often ask myself “what differentiates these people from the pack ?” … “what specific behaviours, traits or skills do these individuals display that makes them more effective ?”
Having identified some of these things below, I also wanted to provide real examples of the types of activities that the best Payroll Managers are doing to stay at the top of their game. They already bring top notch technical payroll knowledge and operational excellence – which is really just a “ticket to the game” at this level.
Not always associated with leading Payroll Managers, but a strong capability to present data at all levels is being increasingly recognised as a differentiator for the highest performers. Whether that is presenting information to team members, or presenting strategic recommendations to a CFO or shareholders around payroll data, the ability to effectively present information at all levels and give the payroll function a credible voice is extremely valuable.
The best Payroll Managers are the ones that have researched and are fully prepared for legislative changes long before they occur. Instead of continually highlighting system problems they have sourced alternative solutions and make informed recommendations. The pure nature of delivering accurate payroll means that a high level of proactivity can only ever be an advantage in staying “ahead of the game”.
Not just specific to payroll, but most high performing Payroll Managers understand the importance of this. The best examples include tailored staff development plans, cross training and a regular personal review process. The benefits are increased staff retention, well thought out succession plans and risk mitigation from isolated technical knowledge (or key person risk).
Resilience and Tenacity
Most experienced Payroll Managers have at some point been tested (many way too often) in relation to this. The ability to remain calm, professional and methodical in the midst of a “payroll crisis” is often the key to the solution – and also easier said than done. The best Payroll Managers have refined their skills in this area and can take control of a recovery plan, engaging additional resources and communicating effectively with all stakeholders as may be required. They take full responsibility for paying employees accurately and will do whatever is required to make that happen under what can become extremely trying circumstances.
It may sound obvious but regular team meetings, goal setting and review processes with senior management are all part of effective collaboration for high performing Payroll Managers … and lots of other people “don’t have time for that stuff”. The skill in this is making time for it and understanding that a highly engaged team environment is a culture that most people enjoy being a part of.
This is by no means an exhaustive or definitive list but hopefully gives you an insight into the common traits I regularly see in high performing Payroll Managers, how they differentiate themselves and why the additional value is often recognised and rewarded accordingly by their employers.
Feel free to email me anytime for specific payroll career advice, market insights or assistance.