4 Ways to Balance the Many Hats of Effective CFOs - Finance Silos

4 Ways to Balance the Many Hats of Effective CFOs

CFOs are expected to take charge of many categories. While the top priority is keeping the organization on track for proper financial performance, CFO responsibilities don’t end there. Being a C-suite executive, relationship builder, proficient in technology, and a strategic partner are just some of the additional hats that a CFO wears on a regular basis.

Many people believe that the most important qualities for great CFOs are experience and leadership. While these are highly important, the unique complexity of a CFO’s job makes time management one of the most, if not the most important factor.

According to a Gartner report, CFOs lose roughly 8 hours a week (the equivalent of a full business day) doing the wrong activities. The problem is that the “wrong” activities are often disguised as productive work- yet in the long term they are not the most efficient way to spend time and energy. Leading CFOs are able to apply a number of tactics that ensure that their time management provides the most efficient impact on the company’s financial outcomes. A Gartner study reveals that effective CFOs follow 4 time management practices.

1) Time block schedules

One of the biggest human weaknesses is procrastination and time mismanagement. Those who are able to control it are able to propel ahead- even in comparison to those with more advanced finance skills. Breaking down the schedule into time blocks is a great tool that ensures continuous time devoted to a single challenge.

In addition, it makes a CFO think of whether each individual task is worth the time spent on it. Erasing the tasks that don’t require CFO input is the difference between focusing on the goals that get the company ahead and an average CFO.

2) Always improving time allocation

Breaking down time allocation isn’t only for scheduling future management, it is also a reflection of past time management. CFOs scrutinize previous years audits and budgets very carefully in order to learn from past mistakes, so why not do it for their personal time as well?

3) Practicing zero-based scheduling

Just like zero based budgeting is effective in reevaluating every expense in order to reach the optimal input/output scenario, zero-based scheduling does the same for time. This erases the habit of scheduling things as they come along or the even more damaging habit of keeping the same schedule week in and week out without reevaluating it. Both of these common occurrences create situations where a CFO’s time is influenced by outside factors instead of the clear and prioritized big picture like it should be.

Top CFOs are able to consistently “start from scratch” and allocate the appropriate amount of time for each activity. Overall it not only improves more efficient time usage, but it also provides a more confident attitude and protects mental energy for top priorities.

4) Announcing personal priorities

Oftentimes leaders are very good at communicating team objectives and priorities but find it difficult to do so for themselves. Clearly stating personal priorities to their team or the C-suite provides a number of advantages for CFOs:

  • Verbally communicating ideas to someone else helps both sides recognize the advantages and flaws far more than nonverbal thoughts. In the case of C-suite communication, they can support CFOs when needed.
  • Verbal communication holds the CFO accountable because someone else knows their priorities and goals. This is true even if it was only communicated to team members who they don’t report to- because their word means something.
  • Lastly, it shows good leadership which has the potential to influence everyone in the company, including the CFO, to take more responsibility and be more productive.

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