Tag Archives | training

Invest in Leadership Development

When you invest in leadership development, you are making an investment. It’s something that you pay good money for and expect a return on your investment. But what many leaders don’t realize is that leadership development should be strategic. We once had a coaching participant (CFO) who worked in a family company. Once the CEO retires, the CFO is set to become the CEO. Instead of going into the job blind or get coaching at the wrong time, this individual sought out coaching before he was set to take over the company. So, why invest in leadership development in the first place?

Invest in Leadership Development

Why Invest in Leadership Development

People will always be a good investment. Why? Because without people, you will not be able to accomplish all  of your goals for your company. There’s a phrase… The tone starts at the top or the fish rots from the head down. Whichever phrase you prefer, it hints at the same thing. Success (or failure) is a result of the leadership of a company. If you want a future for your company, then you need to focus on your leadership and management. You can accomplish this in 2 ways – 1) hire good leaders and 2) invest in leadership development for existing company leaders.

A legal entity should stand on its own no matter what changes are made at the top. There should always be a succession plan whereby management should be able to step up to executive roles. Without investing in your team, this will not happen.

The second option rides on the fact that you have already invested in a current employees with their compensation, benefits, etc. Now, it’s time to get them the coaching they need to further increase their value to your company.

 To learn more financial leadership skills, download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs.

Reasons to Invest in Leadership Development

There are several reasons to invest in leadership development including improving profitability, retaining talent, and improving return on investment. Harvard’s research report on The State of Leadership Development discusses how leadership development addresses the “demands for change to address threats from global competition and technology-driven upstarts; the need to engage a multigenerational workforce with a range of work styles; and the imperative to cultivate a new generation of leaders who can meet these needs and thrive.” Simply put, companies need to address competition, culture, work styles, and generational differences to compete on a global scale.

Improve Profitability

If your leaders know how to improve profitability with the tools, resources, and second-hand experience from a leadership development program, then they will become evermore valuable to your firm. Leadership development will coach them how to make strategic decisions, how to lead effectively, and how to find opportunities. All of those benefits have the opportunity to improve profitability.

Day 2 of the Financial Leadership Workshop is all about improve profitability and cash flow. Click here to learn more, then contact us to register for the next series.

Retain Talent

In addition, companies cannot motivate all people by money. In fact, financial gain isn’t the only thing many employees negotiate. The next “gain” many negotiate for is mentorship, training, coaching, and further leadership development. That should tell you something. We all know the cost of turnover is high and can potentially make a dent in profitability. Your company’s goal should be to retain talent for as long as possible.

Improve Return on Investment

Many leadership development programs do not effectively communicate how they are going to improve return on investment. A good CFO or financial leader should be able to increase value 1-2% of sales in profits. For example, if a company has $1mm in sales, then a CFO should be able to increase profitability at least $10-20,000. And it goes up from there! If the investment is greater than 1-2% of sales, then I would advise you to find a different program. How much return can you expect from investing in your leaders? Financial leaders should always be looking at ways of adding value.

Financial Leadership Development

More specifically, your financial leadership needs to be further developed in their leadership skills. In our Financial Leadership Workshop, I enable my students to go beyond the role of CFO/CEO to become the central financial leader in the company. Furthermore, our curriculum empowers you to become both an influence and decision maker in your company.

Any financial leadership development program worth investing in should accomplish a couple things. It should make the shift from numbers cruncher to financial leader. It should also cover how technology changes the role. Obviously, it should address profits and cash flow. There are many other topics that I could list here, but you can read more about what you should be prepared to walk away from a coaching workshop here.

Finding the Right Financial Leadership Development Program

It all starts with who is coaching the program. For example, if a 26-year old with no financial executive experience began coaching financial leadership, then there would be no credibility or experience behind that program. In comparison, if the course is coached by a 28-year financial executive who is seasoned and experienced either in a niche market or a variety of markets, then the only thing you need to look for is the fit. Finding the right financial leadership development program begins with the curriculum. Does it coach on the topics you need to coached up on? If so, then you need to also evaluate the following:

  • Logistics (time, location, schedule, etc.)
  • Cost
  • Benefits
  • The Coach

Right now, registration is open for our Financial Leadership Workshop Gamma Series starting this October. Click here to learn more about our program and contact us to see if it’s the right fit for you.

In the meantime, I also wanted to gift you our 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs. This whitepaper is by far our most popular whitepaper and is just a snippet of what to expect in our Financial Leadership Workshop.

Invest in Leadership Development
Invest in Leadership Development

Share this:
1

Productivity of an Accounting Department

Most people (especially those outside the finance side of the business) see the financial function as a cost center. Although an accounting department does not generate any revenue, it has the potential to dramatically improve profitability. Think about this: you should be able to convert 1-2% of sales into profits if the department was more productive. The productivity of an accounting department is directly linked to the improvement of profits and cash flow – the bread and butter of financial leaders.

How Productive Is Your Accounting Department?

Before you attempt to improve the productivity of an accounting department, assess how productive or unproductive it is currently. First, log what is working and what is not working. By going through this process, you will allow yourself or the financial leader of your company to fully evaluate what is going on. There are a couple areas that you can start considering when asking the question: how productive is your accounting department?

If you find that your accounting department is productive, brainstorm ways to make it more productive. The great thing is that there is always room for improvement.

Track your accounting department’s productivity by using KPIs. For help, download the KPI Discovery Cheatsheet!

productivity of an accounting departmentTips to Improve Productivity of Accounting Department

While there may be a million little things that you can do to push the needle a little, we have found that there are a few focus areas that allow you to take the biggest strides ahead. When improving the productivity of an accounting department, start by using best practices, training and developing your team, automating as much as possible, communicating effectively, tracking progress, and outsourcing. Finally, walk through your accounting department to ensure maximum profitability.


Click here to download: The Smart Back Office for SMBs


Use Best Practices

The best way to accomplish this first tip is to continually read up on, research, discuss, learn from thought leaders, and attend events to catalog the best practices used by others to attain a productive accounting department. In addition, if you keep ahead on implementing the best practices, you should be able to accomplish company goals quicker. According to GAAP, some best practices include regularity, consistency, continuity, and recording sales when they are certain.

Training & Development

Unfortunately, some employees are simply not going to do the dirty work of reading up on the best practices. They are leaving that up to you ­– the financial leader. Those employees are going to continue to do exactly what they have done in the past; and therefore, reduce the chances of being more productive. So, it is up to the financial leader to provide training and development for the team. If the team hears and learns the same training and development sessions, then there is a huge opportunity to create a more synergized accounting process.

In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey says that synergy “is the habit of creative cooperation. It is teamwork, open-mindedness, and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems. But it doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s a process, and through that process, people bring all their personal experience and expertise to the table. Together, they can produce far better results than they could individually. Synergy lets us discover jointly things we are much less likely to discover by ourselves.” The more your team is on the same page, the more productive your accounting department.

Automate

One of the great things about technology is that you can automate almost everything. While that could be bad news for those of you whose jobs could be automated, it is great for the productivity of an accounting department. Rather than laying off those employees, strategize how you can transition those people into more value-adding roles.

Communicate with Team

There’s a joke that you can tell extroverted accountants from introverted accountants by whose shoes they look at – their own or the other person’s. All jokes aside, it is critical that the financial leader get themselves and their team out of their office to communicate. During the hour or so when you take lunch or get coffee, ask one of your team members to join you. In addition to getting to know them better, see if they have any ideas about how to make the department more productive.

Identify Skills of Team

Part of communicating with your team includes identifying the skills of your team. Understand what talents they may have that was not on their resume. Assign projects to them in areas that they excel. Ask questions like: What’s the first thing that you like to do at the beginning of the day? Or if there is something that you could do all day, every day, what would that task be? When you identify the skills, talents, likes, and dislikes, you will be able to further develop your team.

Have KPIs

Identify those key performance indicators (KPIs) that indicate the productivity of an accounting department. Once you have identified them, use and track them. If you find your department sliding backwards, reassess and start the process over again.

If you are struggling to identify and track the KPIs that indicate the productivity of your accounting department, click here to access your free KPI Discovery Cheatsheet!

Outsource

If a specific job or task is not a core function of the business, explore whether it can be outsourced. For example in our retained search business, we have discovered that many companies are outsourcing their accounting departments to countries like the Philippines and Germany because it is more cost-effective for their organization. While that decision may be outside the norm, it is an opportunity to step up and be a financial leader. Outsource tasks and roles that can be accomplished at the same quality for a lower cost.


Click here to download: The Smart Back Office for SMBs


productivity of an accounting departmentWalk-Through Process

Finally, generate a list of topics to run through when evaluating the productivity of an accounting department. The Journal of Accountancy developed a questionnaire as part of a walk-through process checklist that can be accessed online (we have also included it below). When you ask yourself these questions, you’ll be able to better gauge the productivity of your accounting department and exactly where you need to focus.

Time

  • How much time are you spending on any given task?
  • Is it labor intensive?
  • How many people participate in the process?
  • Does it take excessive time to complete?
  • Is there a duplication of effort?
  • Are too many handoffs occurring?
  • Are roles and responsibilities clearly defined?
  • Is anyone performing similar tasks?
  • Are roles and responsibilities appropriate?
  • What is slowing down the process?
  • Do you require needless reviews or approvals?
  • What are the busiest times of the day, week, month and/or quarter?

If there is a task or job that is time intensive, judge if that job could be automated, outsourced, or done quicker. The goal is to reduce the cost associated with that task or job. Unfortunately, you are going to find that there are jobs that simply cannot be trimmed as they are essential to the business itself. That’s okay! But try to find and reduce the costs associated for as many tasks as possible.

Necessity

  • Is the step or process necessary to the company’s success?
  • Can you eliminate it without causing any damage?
  • Do you have more tasks to do because of a single task?
  • Is duplication of information necessary?

Automation

  • Can you automate a task?
  • Are you keying in the same data into multiple places? (For example, the accounting system, an Access database, spreadsheets, etc.)
  • Does a backlog exist?
  • How often are your deadlines missed?
  • Where is there a breakdown of a streamlined process?
  • Is there a person or a job that stops the production of financials?

Value Adding

  • Does a task add value?
  • How accurate is the data?
  • How much value can come from automating/outsourcing/etc.?

Conclusion

Streamline your accounting department by asking questions, automating, outsourcing, and find more profits and cash flow. Don’t continue to just be a cost center… Transform your department into a value-adding entity within the company! For help and tips to track your transformation, you need something to measure your performance. For help, download our KPI Discovery Cheatsheet and start measuring your accounting department’s KPIs today.

Productivity of an Accounting Department

Productivity of an Accounting Department

Share this:
0

Business Issues Survey – Final Results

This time last year, we posted a survey asking you what business issues were causing you to lose the most sleep: 1) lack of training, 2) turnover, 3) cash flow, 4) managing growth, or 5) losses or declining profits.  We tallied the results as of June 2014 and posted them on our blog. We also re-opened the survey to see if anything had changed, or if the same issues were still causing insomnia.  The results of both surveys are summarized in the graph below.

Business Issues Survey Results

business issuesWhat’s really interesting to note is that while cash flow and declining profitability were among the most troublesome issues in the first survey, those issues took a backseat to personnel issues such as lack of training and high turnover in the second survey.  It would appear that as companies became more profitable and cash flow improved, employees became more optimistic and began to look for other opportunities leaving a talent void in their wake.

Unavoidable Business Issues

We included a “write-in” issue in the second survey whereby participants could list other issues that they were struggling with.  Once again, lack of talent and difficulty finding good people led the responses.

So what’s a company to do?

Business issues are unavoidable, but understanding how the resolution of one issue (lack of profitability) can give rise to another issue (turnover) is key to developing plans to mitigate these issues.

Download our three most powerful tools to take your business to the next level.

business issues

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Strategic Pricing Model Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to set your prices to maximize profits.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

business issues

Share this:
0

What Business Issues Keep You Up?

As a business owner, I often find myself lying awake at night worrying about issues my company is facing.  Are we making as much money as we should be?  How is my cash flow?  Do I have the right team to grow the business?  These are just a few of the questions that cause me to lose sleep.

What Business Issues Keep You Up?

My guess is that I’m not alone in my insomnia, and I was curious to know what issues are keeping others up at night.  I put together a brief survey of some common business issues and solicited responses from my clients, colleagues, referral partners and members of our LinkedIn group.  I asked them to rate these issues on a scale of 0 (sleeping like a baby) to 5 (Ambien please!).  Here are the results so far:

 

up at night survey graph

 

Based upon these results, it appears that cash flow issues are currently demanding most of your attention.  Not surprisingly, managing growth comes in a close second as rapid growth is often the chief cause of cash flow problems.  I’m curious to see if turnover will become more of an issue as the economy continues to stabilize and employees begin to seek new opportunities.

What financial issues do you think are the most pressing for your company?  We’d love to have your input, so click here if you haven’t had a chance to submit your answers yet.  Stay tuned for updated results…

To learn more financial leadership skills download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs.

business issues

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Flash Report Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to manage your company before your financial statements are prepared.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

business issues

Share this:
0

How To Train People For Success

See Also:
How to Run an Effective Meeting
How to Hire New Employees
Benefits of Advisory Boards
How to form an Advisory Board
Future of the Accounting Workforce

How to Train People for Success

How To Train People For Success: Training is about management preparing employees for success in their jobs and in their careers.

Employee Training For Success

Once a company has identified business strategies, jobs to be done, some measures of success, and the right people, make sure that employees have all the knowledge, skills, and abilities to succeed. Too many companies fail to make an investment in training and then wonder why employees under perform or even fail.

Some Important Best Practices For Training Employees

Make Sure It Is A Training Issue

Training is not always the best way to assure that your employees will succeed. If the job is designed poorly, or the manager has weak coaching skills, or the incumbent in the job has limited talent or work ethic, you usually don’t have a training problem. Make sure you have good people in well-designed jobs with solid, supportive managers before you invest in training.

Training As Strategy

Training is both expensive and time consuming. It is important to review training at the highest management levels. Then make sure that your investment is in the training with the highest chance for success and profit. Not all training needs are equal, and too often the “squeaky wheel” gets get training dollars that would be better spent elsewhere. A yearly training plan helps to solve this common problem.

Establish Training Objectives

When you identify an important training need, be sure to establish concrete, written goals. If you are providing training on new products, then determine exactly what information about each product that you want the employees to know. In addition, determine how they can use that information in their jobs. People can only learn so much in a limited time, so you need to plan carefully and develop the program to insure that the participants can use the right information.

Select The Best Trainer

There are many training providers out there, and it takes work to pick the right ones, those that can actually educate your employees to perform at a higher level. This is not the place to save a few dollars by selecting a cheaper, but less talented, trainer. Do research, talk to colleagues and competitors, go to trade organization events, and make it a management priority to find the best people. It won’t happen overnight, and it takes some effort, but you will be richly rewarded with training that makes your people better.

Reinforce The Training

Companies that do the best job of training people make sure that training is reinforced when the employee returns to the job. After all, you have invested hundreds or even thousands of dollars, so you thought it was important. Don’t let managers undermine your investment. This happens when you fail to discuss the training with the returning employee and not use/incorporate the new skills/knowledges into the job.

Integrate Training With Career Growth

We know that a primary reason good employees leave companies is that they believe that they are not growing in their career. One of the best ways to keep your best people is provide them with the chance to keep developing their skills. This does not mean training every year for every employee. Rather, it means using training in conjunction with recognition, rewards, and new opportunities to keep your best employees in your company.

And, A Few Tips About Training

1. Hire managers who are good at training their people.

2. Look for on-line training programs that employees can use by themselves.

3. Measure the results of training, every time.

In order to determine which candidates are the right fit for your company, download and access your free white paper, 5 Guiding Principles For Recruiting a Star-Quality Team.

How to train people for success

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Recruiting Manual Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan recruit the best talent as well as avoid hiring duds.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

How to train people for success

External Resources

American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) Largest and most established source for information and materials about training.

Learnativity.com – website that contains articles and readings on adult learning, training, and evaluation. www.learnativity.com.

Share this:
0

Designing an Internship Program

5 Steps to Designing an Internship Program

Internship programs are a great way for your organization to bring in new talent and fresh ideas with motivated and knowledgeable interns. Many companies offer internship programs for college students. Both the organization and the interns benefit from the value of an internship experience. Establishing successful intern programs involve several key steps that are simple to implement and maintain. Following are five steps to designing an internship program:

1. Planning your Internship Programs

The first step to designing successful intern programs is to plan ahead. Decide on your company’s goals and expectations for your internship programs. Do this by creating an internship job description, establishing intern responsibilities, and planning on internship projects. Setting an internship plan of action will facilitate the accomplishment of both your company’s and your intern’s goals and expectations. As an employer, you should decide on the conditions of your internship program. Establish clear terms for the intern’s work schedule and the internship time frame so that both the organization and the interns are in agreement for how long the internship program will last. In addition, determine whether your internship program will be paid or unpaid. Follow the Fair Labor Standards Act for more information about unpaid internship legal requirements.

2. Internship Program Orientation

Establish internship orientations before your interns start their internship programs. Intern orientations introduce the interns into the company and ease the interns’ transition into the workplace. Company cultures vary across organizations. Internship orientations enhance interns’ awareness of the company culture, introduce your interns to the company and to other employees, and offer an inside look into the workplace environment. It is important for you to clarify in your orientation the internship program policies and procedures and to address the interns’ initial questions or concerns. Interns will work better for you and your company if you offer them insight into decision-making processes and organizational culture. In addition, organizations should develop intern training plans during the intern orientation process to help the interns identify, develop, and learn the skills that will be necessary to excel in the internship program.

3. Intern Supervision and Mentorship

Provide internship program supervision and mentorship throughout the internship experience. Coordinate a designated employee to be the intern programs supervisor. Most interns are new to the workplace environment, so organizations should offer direction and support to maximize interns’ productivity. However, it is also important to offer interns autonomy and responsibilities. If the interns don’t know how to do something, you should instruct them to go and figure it out. The interns will improve their skills and learn to problem solve on their own. Young interns are high on energy and are excited to learn new things. Give the interns meaningful and internship responsibilities and projects with foreseeable deadlines in order to build a sense of task accomplishment and completion. This will motivate the interns to think outside the box and bring fresh, creative ideas into the organization.

Communicate and meet with the interns regularly to review progress and plan ahead. Communication is the key to building trust between the interns and the employers so that the interns can effectively make progress and accomplish tasks. Interns are eager to receive affirmation that you are pleased with their work. Mentor and support the interns to maximize the interns’ potential and to maximize the value of the internship program for both the organization and the intern.

4. Internship Program Problems

Prepare for internship problems or issues ahead of time! Things might go wrong, so it is important for you to create back up plans for urgent issues. Identify problems early and designate someone to get involved to create effective and easy to implement solutions.

For example, if interns are overwhelmed or intimidated by a task or project, offer them the support and guidance to come and talk to you about it. If the interns have any questions or concerns, make it clear that there is always someone in the organization to be their internship supervisor. Internship mistakes are bound to occur during the internship experience. Turn interns’ mistakes into constructive feedback and learning. You don’t want your interns to lose confidence in their abilities or motivation to do things. Learning from mistakes leads to improvement and lays the foundation for future success.

5. Internship Program Mistakes

Avoid these common intern program mistakes:

– Some employers do not communicate, offer feedback, or provide support for the interns. They seem to throw their interns into the deep end and then expect them to figure out a way to survive on their own. Internship communication and mentorship are vital to instilling interns’ dedication to their work. If you do not communicate or offer feedback, how can interns feel confident that they are doing a good job?

– Another intern program mistake is that the organization provides the interns with busy work rather than meaningful internship projects. Do NOT establish internship programs for “cheap labor.” Instead, design internships to bring in new perspectives, ideas, and skill sets to enhance your organization. An effective internship program will have value for both the interns and the organization.

– There are some organizations that push the interns into a corner and segregate them from other employees. If full-time employees do not know the first name of the interns, the interns become demoralized and feel like outcast within the organization. Employers should introduce the interns to other employees and invite them into some meetings so that the interns feel like they belong. When you encourage dedicated interns to be involved and active within the organization, it leads to increased intern productivity and creativity.

Determine which candidates are the right fit for your company by downloading our 5 Guiding Principles For Recruiting a Star-Quality Team.

designing an internship program

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Recruiting Manual Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan recruit the best talent as well as avoid hiring duds.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

designing an internship program

See also:
Recruiting a Winning Team

Share this:
0

Recession Strategies for Business

Once you find yourself in a recession your first goal is to stabilize your operations. But having achieved that goal you need to look beyond the present and develop a longer term strategy. Our goal for this recession is to “come out of the recession better and stronger than we went in!”

Recession Strategies for Business

How do you do that? The answer is in improving your capabilities in the following areas. We immediately began improving our marketing efforts and results. While cutting expenses in other areas we increased our marketing efforts and budget dollars. We began to increase the frequency and improve the quality of our marketing techniques with the goal of being in a better position to compete when the economy came back.

The next area we invested in was improving and documenting our systems. We documented our best practices and began to institutionalized them throughout the organization. This exercise led to increase training of our employees. We took advantage of the resulting down time to train and develop new skills for our staff.

Finally, all of this combined effort led to the development of new products that could be sold to our customer base. We are now generating sales with less expensive products that are needed in the recession.

So what is your company doing to position themselves for the recovery? Are you going to come out of the recession leapfrogging your competition or playing catch up? When you find your business slow are you just taking time off instead of investing in yourself and your company? The success of tomorrow rests on the efforts of today!

Learn how you can be the best wingman with our free How to be a Wingman guide!

Recession Strategies

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Projections Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to get ahead of your cash flow.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

Recession Strategies

Share this:
0

LEARN THE ART OF THE CFO