3 Strategies CFOs Should Employ To Achieve Operational Excellence

There’s a nationwide rise of the “Operational” Chief Financial Officer. This, of course, is the manifestation of something that financial officers have all been aware of: the role of the CFO is ever expanding. However, the acknowledgement that CFOs play a major “operational” role is a clear display of CFO influence beyond the financial department.

Though financial acumen can clearly benefit every department, the system’s focus is what gives more operational influence to CFOs in any industry. As research from the Hackett Group showcases that Fortune 100 companies could reduce their expenses by $120 million on average annually by utilizing the global labor force, the responsibility of achieving operational excellence continues to fall more and more beneath the CFO’s umbrella.

Of course, while operational excellence is not easy to define, the end goal is the same: maximizing your company’s efficiency in all workflow processes. So how can CFOs better achieve this universal goal within their own company?

  1. Avoid the urge to lead. While CFOs are gaining more influence within the structure of any given company, they should focus more on “empowering teams and employees” rather than becoming a manager. Tight management from too many power players leaves teams ultimately feeling like they have all the responsibility yet no authority. In other words, as CFO you want to maintain involvement in the various workflow processes to boost efficiency and excellence without unnecessarily becoming a manager. Lead without leading.
  2. Invest in your team or your team won’t invest in your company. The old adage that “A team is only as strong as its weakest link” still holds true today. CFOs must develop their teams, or else the team won’t be able to, in turn, develop the operation. Teams must not only learn more about the operational process, but also improve specific skills such as technical problem-solving and stronger communication.
  3. Beware creating the super star. Similar to an all-star athlete, it’s always dangerous to put all your eggs into a single basket. In other words, while it may be tempting to select a team member with the highest intellectual aptitude for large tasks and assignments, improved operational outcomes are developed by holistic growth from the team, not a single member.
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