You look forward to getting appointed into the big leagues – as Chief Financial Officer, no less. The transition is tough and you may feel a tiny bit lost. This blog series can be a helping hand, walking by you as you perform your new role with élan.

In the previous post, we discussed the first essential step – learning about the business and its stakeholders – to taking over as CFO effectively. Today, let’s explore how to select amongst the volley of tasks that you have to deal with to get  maximum success in minimum time.

Step 2: Select

It helps to remember that you represent an opportunity for improvement. The second you are crowned monarch of the financial function, you are expected to expound words of wisdom that will transform the landscape in your organization. Within two quarters of the year, you will be required to show results. The challenge lies in choosing what to do now, what to save for later and what not to do at all.

Select your victories

Like in Step 1, this process will start with listening. Conversations with your CEO and other executives would reveal a list of points you should address immediately and establish immediate victories. Whether it is tax savings, cost control, increased profitability, technology implementation or talent upgrade – the opportunities are yours to exploit.

Select what not to do

Sit back and reflect upon tasks that have a low probability of success. Perhaps some tasks will drain resources but add little or no value. It is possible they remained undone or were left on the back-burner intentionally. Weed out such tasks and make the tough decision of letting them go. Instead, focus resources in activities that will yield results.

Select your team

When you set about assessing the finance team, you might be surprised to know how much bright talent remains untapped and how much deadweight the business has been carrying over the years. Insist on retaining only the best – and do all you can to keep them happy and motivated. Reshuffle the non-contributors so they can do meaningful work, too. You may have to perform the unpleasant task of letting a few of the least contributing members go – hopefully, to other departments in which they can thrive; sometimes, out of the business. If done with unambiguous vision and empathy, this exercise could leave your team sharper and more passionate to achieve the clearly defined goals.

Select your message

Now comes the time to make a critical move: communicating the agenda of tasks simply and clearly with well-defined roles for each key player. The more critical the task, the clearer its guideline message needs to be. From time to time, redirect your team towards this message so they remained aligned to the path you have charted.

In the final step, we will discuss how to bring about the change you represent when you take over as CFO.

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