Let’s face it: crunch times are sink or swim opportunities. People carry crunch time experiences 2 ways: as scars or badges of honour. And this has the ability to define how you are perceived in the business. Are you relevant or irrelevant (and quite frankly, painful) to them?
While we know that crunch times are extremely difficult for us to deliver, it is also our job to influence how others experience that same crunch time.
30 June is a big milestone. Whether we’re in finance or not, numbers and deadlines become important. Facts become our focus, and we experience heightened feelings due to the impending good or bad news, exacerbated by long hours and big decisions. Everything becomes 'sensitive': information (bonuses linked to profit), people (underperforming departments, mistakes in calculations), so we need to have the skill to know when we need to be ’sensitive’ when delivering. It’s hard to think about emotions when you’re knee deep in spreadsheets.
That’s the role of a finance function that truly partners with the business. With strategic business partnering being an imperative for survival, CFOs have are more focussed than ever on getting this right.
A joint study between Deloitte and CPA Australia indicated that 27% of respondents agreed with the statement: “The business rarely sees Finance as a business partner.” Which is why crunch times are the perfect time to show the business that despite the pressure, you can keep your head on and reliably deliver in a way that’s relevant and useful to their strategic decision making.
2 weeks ago, the Golden State Warriors won game 1 of the NBA Playoffs*. The final margin of 124-114 doesn’t tell the story of the last 4.7 seconds of regular time. With the score tied after his teammate missed the 2nd free throw attempt, JR Smith caught the rebound but lost his head. Instead of making a game winning shot, he ran to the perimeter and ultimately ran down the clock. The game was straight into overtime and JR Smith and the Cavaliers lost by 10.
The reason I share that story, is that we all have a job to do and like JR Smith, we are highly skilled and qualified to do our job. But when we are under pressure, tension emerges between facts and feelings: the fine balance of delivery and emotion. To know how to use emotions that serve - not stall - us in our delivery. So we don’t get overwhelmed and make the wrong move.
If we can get that balance right, we have the flexibility needed to provide the insight and direction that can shape the future of our organisation. We can create conversations that will connect the contrasts that arise during Crunch Time.
How powerful would it be to bridge the 'us' vs 'them' mentality and get a seat at the table at the right time to influence the best outcome?
How freeing would it be to have conversations that seamlessly move from strategy to execution in one step, vs over 3 meetings?
How great would it feel to be a relevant strategic partner to inform success now and in the future?
If you can do that, the organisation will begin to look to you for leadership: to steer the organisation to achieve its long term objectives. If you can’t, you’ll miss the boat and it will be costly to try and catch up.
Love to hear about ways you successfully connect feelings and focus during crunch time...
* In the 4 years I lived in San Francisco, the GSW made it to playoffs once and lost in the conference semis. Since moving back, they've made it 6 times and won the NBA Championships 3 of those times. Naturally.
About Alena: Alena works with leaders and their teams to connect technical and leadership skills so they can deliver to deadline without killing their people. She is a mentor, trainer, facilitator and coach. Contact her today on firstname.lastname@example.org