Thursday, December 2, 2010

99 Day Plan for New Finance Execs

Several surveys conducted over the last few years indicate that there is pent-up-demand in the workforce with people dissatisfied with their current roles.  As the global economy continues to rebound from a deep recession, opportunities to take on new challenges will appear.  Whether you are moving to another division in your current firm or you are taking on a new role at a new company, you will need a strategy to hit the ground running.  Here are some of the tasks that should fill your first 99 days.

Understand, Formulate, Implement

Whether you outline a 99 day plan, a 90 day plan or a 100 day plan, the basic outline is the same: spend the first 3rd seeking to understand, listen, confirm and ask probing questions in order for you to determine what strategically and tactically needs to happen; spend the second 3rd formulating your strategy and confirming it with your sponsors, your peers and your team; and spend the last 3rd beginning to implement your strategy.

Understand: Confirm How Value Is Created

Joining at any level and any leadership position requires that you understand how value is created at your firm.  In short, how does the company make money?  Assuming you joined from an outside firm, it is likely that you have a general sense of what the company does.  After all, as part of the interview process, a review of the company’s website, 10k, press releases, and a few analyst reports would have been in order.  But there is nothing like being able to see how the company really works from the inside out.
The key question to ask is “how does the company create shareholder value and what is the best way for my group to support that mission”.

Understand: Get to know your stakeholders

Surveys indicate that when CFO’s reflect on their time in roles, the one thing they wished is that they had spent more time with their peer group in the first 99 days.  During your first day, set meetings with the following groups of people (in descending order of priority):
  • Business Unit Heads
  • CEO
  • Finance Staff
  • Executive Committee
  • Board of Directors
  • Investors/Analysts


You need the support of your peers in order to implement the strategic changes you are likely to make.  Spend some time proactively understanding what their pain points are, who you can rely on, and what the various personality types are.
Getting to know the CEO and how your vision integrates with his vision and working style is next on the list.  As equally important as understanding your boss is understanding your own team.  People (more so than process and technology) largely dictate the success or failure of an organization.  Take inventory of who are your stars are and where you have weaknesses on your staff.  Gauge whether the weaknesses are correctable or not and begin to counsel those individuals out that aren’t a fit for your new team.

Understand: Expectations

Surveys indicate that the CEO expects the CFO to (order of importance):
  • Being active member of senior management team
  • Contributing to company’s performance
  • Ensuring efficiency of finance organization
  • Strengthen Core Team


When polled using the same questions, finance staff responded with the opposite priority list.  This is an important distinction of expectations that should be an input into your strategy.

Formulate: Clear and Simple Communication

As you formulate your strategy and seek to confirm your plan in the 2nd month, remember to communicate simply and clearly.  Backing up insights with hard facts is great but PowerPoints filled with tables of numbers rarely impress.  Place a high level of importance on making your leadership messages clear and simple to understand.

Implement: Ruthless Execution of Quick Wins

As you transition into your 3rd month, you are likely to have formulated your strategy and have begun to implement key provisions.  If you’ve identified any quick wins, use this time to ruthlessly execute those and celebrate your victories.

No comments:

Post a Comment