How Team Productivity Slows CFOs Down

09/25/2023 06:56:21 +0000

You may know that almost 1 year ago we made the decision to move from Inner Sydney to a beach suburb in the Central Coast of NSW. Once we arrived, we knew we had a few priorities to sort out:

1. Where will we buy our bread from?
2. Where are the best hot chips? (Don't judge: we live at beach and I have 2 young kids - we 'must' know where the best hot chips are!)

and most importantly:
3. Where is the best coffee?

We're not massive coffee snobs, but we're used to having a few coffee shops where we can get consistently good coffee. After some swift research, we found just the place: a cute General Store that reminded me of the places I'd find when we'd travel to the Southern Highlands as a child. You know the ones - that have the gourmet snacks ready for when that friend announces they're popping around for a vino next to the 20 cent lolly bags full of red frogs and gummy bears. It's just two blocks away from our house and on the way home from school - it's perfect.

They do a delicious cuppa and they're very nice. There's always a lovely local vibe to the conversation and you typically walk away feeling pretty good about things (or is that the coffee? Hmmm).

But you don't go there if you're in a rush.

It can be the simplest things that put people over the edge

Things came to a head one cold Sunday morning when dropped in on our way to my eldest daughter's AFL game 45 minutes north. No way was I lasting that drive without a hot coffee. So we raced to the General Store, I jumped and ordered our coffees.

By now, I know they're not fast but the taste of their coffee and their friendliness offsets the twitch I get when I see them make one coffee at a time without thinking about how they might use the double shot function to make two. So I'm not expecting miracles. On this particular day, however, the wait was tedious. I watched on in horror as they put my coffee cups next to the machine, then walked away to work on other things: sandwiches, cakes and so forth. I get it - there were people who had ordered before me. That's cool. Then I noticed that everyone who was already waiting before me had left and my sad coffee cups were still sitting empty and not getting any attention.

So I say to the nice man who manages the store, 'Is there any chance my coffees will be ready soon, because I need to head up north for my daughter's footy game and I'm running late!'

At this stage I'm still jovial, because they're always friendly and I quite like the occasional local banter of a morning. He says, 'Yes, no worries we're just really busy' and starts making one of the coffees. After making one and handing it to me, he goes off to do something else. I see the headline now: "Child late for sport because Mum is a coffee addict!", so I say 'Look, don't worry about the other one, we need to take off.' I've paid so it's all good - happy to take this as a loss. He's splutters 'Oh, I'll do it right now.'

I jump in the car with the coffees and make a decision that I've stuck to since. We won't go there for our regular coffees. In fact on the way home from the AFL game we stop to get a new coffee machine - we can make it ourselves.

That way, I reason, we don't need to rely on other people who might be nice, but can't be relied on to deliver when we need it.

Is there any slack in your Finance team?

This got me thinking - as a CFO, where are the areas that your team aren't being as productive or effective as they could be? How do the business respond to this? What is the effect?

What might the business be experiencing of your team and how does that influence their willingness to bring Finance into the conversation?

This is how 'shadow finance' functions form. This is how commercial manager roles pop up around the business and how these roles do the performance analysis and insights that could and should be done by your finance team. This is why it can be hard for Finance teams to demonstrate value.

Team productivity is not just about time. It's about being intentional with your time. When we obsess over time at the expense of all else, we drop other balls that have unintended consequences. If we are intentional, we can focus on outcomes, results and value. All things that are required of CFOs.

What is the cost of pockets of underperformance in your team?
How could you improve team productivity so that they deliver more value to the business?
How does your team's effectiveness influence your ability to position yourself as a valued business partner with your stakeholders?

Author: Alena Bennett

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 [email protected]
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 ⓒ 2023




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