Shaping and managing the team you need now.
Whether you’re new to your role as a CFO or whether you’ve been a CFO for years, building and leading a strong team informs your success as a leader. Team management might get easier the more experience you have as a CFO, but quickly securing high-performing candidates who integrate well with your team can pose challenges at any point.
Related Post: Why it’s necessary to have the skills to build a team?
Research from the multinational professional services network Deloitte has found that most CEO’s and CFO’s agree a) that retaining top performers is worth the effort required and b) that recruiting talented candidates who fit your company’s culture and long-term needs is essential. These CEO’s and CFO’s recommend choosing candidates not only for their technical skills but also for their partnering abilities and mindset.[CM1]
Although there are no simple ways to decide which candidates to hire, knowing how to gauge your candidates’ skills and offerings can put you in a stronger position to recruit talent. Here, the divisional and group CFO Gary McGaghey discusses how to review your current team and shares strategies on how to elevate your team so you can achieve your company’s goals.
Putting the Right People in the Right Seats
Seasoned executives often refer to putting the “right people in the right seats” when it comes to building strong teams. This is because hiring candidates for roles that don’t allow them to make the most of their skills can affect your credibility and cost you — and the company — valuable time. So, how can you ensure your team members are filling the right roles?
Gary McGaghey explains that CFOs must begin by gauging whether they should improve their team’s capabilities or hire new talent. You can make this call by ensuring your team’s performance reviews are suitably informative and then evaluating each team member’s review.
Seven Questions to Get a Big-Picture View of Your Team
Gary McGaghey also suggests that team leaders consider the following seven questions. These questions can help you understand how your team members integrate, what their individual capabilities are, and how they can improve the team’s overall talent.
1. How confident are you in your direct reports and the key staff below them? Are you confident in these individuals’ competence and judgment in critical situations, and their execution abilities? If in doubt, you can ask your staff carefully angled questions to delve into their approaches to their tasks. For example, a CFO would ask their tax directors what they would do differently if they faced an unexpected tax audit. When you ask carefully thought-out questions, you can gain important insights into each team member’s capabilities.
1. Who fuels your team’s positive energy, and who sucks this energy from the team? This question delves into your team’s organisational culture. When you build a team of positive thinkers, you’ll see this positivity reflected in the company’s energy.
2. Who would you take with you if you left the company? When you identify your “keepers”, you’re identifying who your highest performers are and what they bring to the table that others can’t.
3. Who makes the best brand ambassadors? Technical competence aside, you need team members who can effectively represent the Finance function and company’s brand. These people should partner with internal and external clients and enhance the finance function and wider company’s reputation.
4. Who makes the best team players? Usually, leaders need their team members to collaborate effectively. You’ll need a strategy in place for those who don’t work well in a team.
5. Who is likely to leave the company? Look out for signs that a team member is likely to leave the company for another opportunity. If they’re a valuable member of the team, think about a retention or succession plan that would meet their employment needs and might motivate them to stay.
6. Who is technically competent but struggles managerially? One of your managers might be an excellent contributor to the company, but this doesn’t make them an excellent manager. If a manager is experiencing issues with delegation, bottlenecking of work, hiring, or turnover on a team, a non-managerial role might suit them better.
When you first build a team, it usually takes at least one day per week over the first six months to recruit talent and review your staff. Gary McGaghey explains that you can make this process easier by identifying and pre-empting the risks that may undermine the recruitment process. For example, the HR department might resist your plans to change the compensation model so you can recruit key staff.
Gary McGaghey explains that, at the simplest level, there are three ways to shape your team’s talent: replace poor-fit team members, reassign staff, and/or overcome performance gaps by offering training/coaching. In an ideal scenario, you should have confidence in all team members. However, if you’re unsure whether an individual is a good fit for your team, you can assign this person specific tasks so you can evaluate their competence and/or judgment.
Where you conclude that an individual isn’t meeting the finance function or company’s needs, you should decide whether to replace or reassign them. This can be a particularly difficult call to make when you’re dealing with a well-liked individual who isn’t performing to the required standard or a talented individual who, although a specialist in their niche, is inconsistent with the finance function or company’s culture or norms.
Many CFOs are reluctant to let these individuals go, but this difficult decision is a critical one. Exiting poor performers is important but taking proactive steps to keep the finance function evolving and improving sometimes is even more important and difficult. It requires proactive critical interventions to exit team members who don’t fit the technical or culture fit required for the success of the future finance function, which differs from that required for success in the past.
It’s important to consider whether reassigning an individual is likely to pay off or whether the company would see more success if you hired a candidate who can offer the skills and temperament needed for the role instead. If reassigning the individual could solve the problem, training programmes and/or external or internal coaching can often help the individual hone their skills so they have a better chance of succeeding in their new role.
When hiring external candidates Gary McGaghey emphasizes the need to hire for attitude, resilience and energy. He firmly believes most candidates will have some areas of technical capability gaps but these can be filled with training and support. However, one can not teach attitude, resilience and energy. This is particularly important in situations where the business and finance function is going through a challenging period such as functional or business wider restructuring or refinancing.
Also Read: Best Apps for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Working With HR
If you need to dismiss or reassign an individual, keep in mind that you’ll need to work with HR as there are processes that need to be followed. This process may take some time. Therefore, it’s essential to get HR on board to help you with your talent agenda.
Building and Leading Your Great Team
Perhaps most importantly, Gary McGaghey reminds CFOs to trust their instincts and move forwards without regrets. He explains that in his experience he regrets not moving quickly enough on talent performance issues. When you get the right people in the right seats quickly, you’ll gain the time you need to attend to your priority workload and build an effective team who can support you.
About Gary McGaghey
Gary McGaghey is a highly acclaimed CFO who has overseen impressive financial outcomes for several private equity, privately owned, and listed companies. These companies span a variety of sectors, including FMCG, beverage, pharmacy, and media. Gary McGaghey is currently the CFO of the €1.3bn end-to-end marketing production and business services group Williams Lea Tag. He has curated a high-level finance team for the company and oversees the group’s commercial plans, cash generation, and investment decisions.