The chief financial officer is most often chosen for his technical expertise. By accessing this function, however, he can no longer consider himself solely an expert, he becomes the hierarchical manager of a team, often acts as a transversal manager, becomes a full member of the management committee. A major challenge becomes for him to achieve a good balance between expertise and management.
Chief Financial Officer remains an Expert
Numerous are the tasks of expertise within a financial department: updating cash forecasts, currency or interest rate hedges, negotiating loans or investments, ensuring the banking relationship as well as negotiating with credit institutions, communication financial with the investors, animation of the budgetary process (budgeting and budgetary follow-up), accounting closures, comments on the reporting, consolidation, participation in the investment choices.
The CFO was chosen because of a particular expertise acquired most often in management control or in accounting, sometimes in finance, cash, etc … Beyond the basic expertise he has developed until then he must acquire a good understanding of the issues and techniques of the other expertise of the finance department in order to effectively manage the finance function and the people.
In SMEs, the economic constraint implies that it must continue to carry out a certain number of expertise tasks on its own. The mastery of his expertise gives him recognition towards his team and the entire company. These technical skills obviously have a reassuring effect because they legitimize him in his job.
The CFO must, however, agree to “let go” of part of his expertise to devote the necessary time to management.
He must Identify the Personal “brakes” to the Change of Function:
- He may fear this managerial responsibility, not feel ready to assume it. It will then need support in terms of training or individual coaching to learn to go from “doing” to “doing”
- He has difficulty mourning the technique or not wanting to take risks out of his comfort zone. Any change involves mourning the past, but it also involves discovering new horizons. Access to financial management allows him to open up to new expertise with the help of specialists. It also gives him a higher vision of the company, leading him to participate in the decisions of the management committee. He must now consider that bringing his team to a collective result becomes his priority task. It sets management goals
- He must also sometimes put a brake on his management, asking for ways to free up the time necessary for his team management tasks. He negotiates the reduction of his personal goals in terms of expertise
- With the help of a table similar to the one below, he will identify the tasks of expertise that he will continue to carry out himself, those he will delegate to members of his team, and even those he outsource to a provider;
- The CFO chooses the expertise tasks that he continues to perform on his own according to their strategic importance for the company or the finance function, the time needed to achieve them, his own tastes, … He takes considers the existence of existing skills or people with potential in his team able to take over the tasks he chooses to delegate. It is sometimes cheaper to outsource some expertise than to have the expertise internally, such as consolidation in a small group.
Learn to manage in a Short time
“Short-time” manager is the name of anyone who cannot devote 100% of their time to managing their team. Here are the main keys to success:
- Privilege collective communication (group meetings, emails sent to the team) to individual communication (individual interviews) which is more time consuming and offers a risk of dispersion;
- Give priority also to formal management (meetings and planned interviews) which allows better control of time. However, there is a need for informal management times: walking around the services, keeping an open door to answer individual questions and emergencies
- Plan for a long time, year or semester, the times of collective communication: team meetings, individual interviews; Create a ritual, by organizing them, for example, every first Monday morning of the month to make unavoidable appointments
- Ask team members to prepare their individual interviews in order to save time, for example, fill in the figures of an annual evaluation interview, have already made an initial analysis of budget variances;
- These group meetings and planned individual interviews are like the big stones that are first dropped and around which the manager carries out his expertise tasks with more flexibility and not the other way around.
The person who leaves his comfort zone, which is the expertise to access the financial management, must consider the positive aspects of this change; continue to cultivate certain fields of expertise while considering that from now on the management of the activity and his team became his priority goal.