How to Train Your CFO Successor

How to Train Your CFO Successor
Via Flickr By The Art of New Business

Unless your company is experiencing rapid growth, you’ll probably outgrow your employer before they “outgrow you.” When it’s time to move on to a bigger and better job, however, you don’t want to leave your old employer high and dry. By taking a few days or weeks to train your successor, you can leave your employer on great terms. Plus, when you train a successor, you can have greater confidence that all of your hard work won’t go to waste.

Documentation Phase

As a CFO, you probably have strong documentation/record-keeping skills. Now, it’s time to utilize these skills, which brought you this far, for the benefit of your successor. Take copious notes on what you do – especially anything abnormal or involving software (the two obstacles that can result in major hang ups for your successor).

You probably complete dozens of tasks on a daily basis that you no longer even think about. Many of these tasks probably have steps involved that require some specific knowledge your successor won’t have. Make sure to write down everything so that the transition phrase will be as smooth as possible. Your successor will have enough to adjust to; software tricks and other insignificant secrets shouldn’t be a major obstacle.

Ask for a Learning Style

There are seven basic learning styles: visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social, and solitary. Everyone has their own learning style, which is usually a combination of two or more of these styles. Ask the successor what his/her learning style is. Though you’re a CFO – not a professional educator – having this knowledge should help guide you as you train the successor over the next few days.

Let The Successor Shadow You

You could write a book full of notes, but even more valuable is the actual experience of shadowing. Let your successor follow you for a few days. Thoroughly explain everything that you’re doing as CFO, and tell them why you’re doing the things you do, encouraging questions as you go.

Ask for Demonstrations

Once you’ve demonstrated a lot of tasks to your successor, ask them to perform a few of them for you. Don’t approach this as a pop quiz. After all, there’s no reason to try and make your successor feel uncomfortable. Rather, the purpose of asking them to demonstrate is for their own benefit.

When people have to perform a task that they’ve recently observed, they’re almost certain to run into new, unforeseen obstacles. This isn’t meant to be embarrassing; rather it’s an opportunity to realize a gap in knowledge, and fill it before you, the incumbent CFO, leave.

Have other tips on training a successor for your CFO position? Share them with other CFO Global HQ readers in the comments section.