This is the second workshop in the Financial Leadership program and is designed to introduce the participants to the Catalyst Competency. We will introduce the three building blocks of the Catalyst Competency, initiative, curiosity, and influence. We will discuss how the building blocks work together to form the Catalyst Competency.
Participants in the workshop will also learn how to recognize when the building blocks are not present and strategies to deal with performance gaps. This will allow the participants to further test the Competency Matrix developed in the first workshop and see if further refinements are necessary. Finally, we will discuss and establish KPIs to track performance as the program progresses.
01. Understand the catalyst competency and how it fits into the Financial Leadership Model: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
02. Understand and analyze the Curiosity building block; departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
03. Understand and analyze the Influence building block; departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
04. Understand and analyze; departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
05. Understand how the 3 building blocks build and support the Catalyst Competency; departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
06. Understand the three common performance gaps; departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
07. Understand how to assess the team and individuals for performance gaps: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. 1 Month
08. Identify and understand potential strategies for addressing performance gaps: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
09. Review the performance standards in Competency Matrix and analyze to see if refinements are necessary: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
10. Identify performance metrics for baseline measurement and future KPIs: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
01. Each participant is to set aside time to study the elements of the workshop: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
02. Review and discuss the workshop elements related to the Curiosity building block: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
03. Review and discuss the workshop elements related to the Influence building block: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
04. Review and discuss the workshop elements related to the Initiative building block: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
05. Review, discuss and analyze how the three building blocks interact and support the formation of the Catalyst Competency: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
06. Discuss and analyze the performance gaps and visible symptoms the organization is experiencing: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
07. Discuss, analyze and plan to assess the current performance of the team for the Catalyst competency: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
08. Analyze and discuss different strategies for addressing building block performance gaps: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
09. Review and analyze the calibration done in Module 1 for the Competency Matrix: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
10. Review the KPI materials. Analyze and discuss possible KPIs: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
01. Read through the entire workshop and make notes.
02. Schedule time to review and discuss any potential implementation issues with the building block, Curiosity.
03. Schedule time to review and discuss any potential implementation issues with the building block, Influence.
04. Schedule time to review and discuss any potential implementation issues with the building block, Initiative.
05. Determine if any existing infrastructure issues exist. If necessary, update any plans for infrastructure integration for the Catalyst Competency.
06. List the performance gap symptoms identified by the participants.
07. Review and update the competency assessment plan developed in module 1.
08. Update the competency assessment plan.
09. Update the Competency Matrix for the Catalyst Competency.
10. Establish a KPI baseline.
Competencies in the Financial Leadership Model
If a financial leader wants to build an effective, resilient team that will support them as a financial leader, it is critical for all members of the financial team to have all four of the financial competencies in the Financial Leadership Model.
These competencies are:
Catalyst – The ability to see what and how things need to be done to meet the goals of the company.
Reporting – The ability to communicate on the activities of the company while preserving assets with control.
Balance: The ability to balance different activities and requirements to fulfill the needs of the customer.
The Curve: The ability to use the company objectives to navigate uncertainty.
This workshop will focus on the catalyst competency; The catalyst competency is the ability to see what and how things need to be done to meet the goals of the company.
Building Blocks form Competency
Each competency in the Financial Leadership Model is made up of three building blocks. These building blocks allow us to explore the competency in greater depth and to understand performance gaps that teams experience. For an employee to have a successful performance level of a competency all the building blocks need to be present. The lack of a building block results in a performance gap. When a performance gap exists, the competency cannot be fully utilized, and execution suffers.
The three building blocks of the Catalyst Competency are: Curiosity, Influence, and Initiative. All three of these attributes work together to form the competency. Missing building blocks result in a performance gap. If an employee is missing curiosity, the result is the Assumer performance gap. A lack of initiative results in the Big Talker performance gap. The Steam Roller performance gap is when there is a lack of influence. The building block structure provides a framework for leaders to understand the behaviors they are experiencing. This framework will also provide leaders a communication tool for providing feedback to employees.
This framework also makes it easier for leaders to see performance gaps. Many times, leaders will allow an employee’s work output or strength in other areas to hide the underlying issues caused by the lack of a specific building block. This bias can exist due to not having a framework to measure and gauge the performance of employees. By identifying common performance gaps associated with missing building blocks, this framework provides for easier identification of the missing building block. Once the performance gap is identified strategies are identified to resolve the issue and close the performance gap.
Benefits of Building Block Structure
A key benefit to the building blocks for each competency is the creation of a structure or framework. This creates a tool for leaders and employees to understand expectations and performance. The framework allows for specifics to remove the perception of these being soft issues or a manager’s opinion on an employee’s personality.
The framework can also be used proactively. When managers and supervisors see performance gaps, they can act when it happens. Employee’s can be coached and put back on track. Employees that see a performance gap can have an opportunity to self-reflect and make corrections. When recruiting for employees the competencies in the Financial Leadership Model help to identify employees that already have the competencies necessary to be successful.
The building blocks link together to form the competency and to establish cause and effect relationships when the certain building blocks are missing. These relationships make performance gaps easier to identify and allow for common strategies to be used to eliminate the performance gap. This allows for earlier identification of performance issues and allows for early intervention with employee coaching. All of this will reduce costs, organizational stress and improve teamwork.
Lower costs will also be achieved through more effective recruitment, lower involuntary turnover, and higher productivity. Recruiting a new employee is an expensive process. There is the cost to conduct the search and interview candidates and there are additional costs to onboard and train the new employee. If a company misses on a hire, the cost is even more significant; There is the lost productivity, wasted time, damage to the team dynamics and then you have to recruit again. The competencies and their building blocks help the recruiting process by providing a framework to help select employees that have not only good technical skills but also the soft skills to be part of a strong, resilient team.
Once you have recruited the right team, the Financial Leadership Model provides several benefits to employees. The competencies and building blocks help to communicate expectations regarding what many perceive to be the softer side of a job. Many elements of financial roles are concrete with deadlines and how much work should be done. However, there are expectations regarding teamwork, how you interaction with others and solving problems. The competencies in the Financial Leadership Model provides insight for employees into expectations and an objective way to view their performance. This provides clarity regarding the employee’s career and helps managers provide more meaningful coaching. This aides in the retention and development of employees.
Other benefits financial leaders will see include improved transparency and a reduction in common organizational stressors. Having a common framework to communication expectations and identify issues improves transparency and accountability. Additionally, employees will see more clarity and will want to work in this environment, reducing turnover. Employees will be able to see clear expectations for development. When there is a common framework of expectations, feedback and coaching will also improve in quality and effectiveness.
Decision Making Process
The Financial Leadership Model has four financial competencies that allow financial leaders to be effective. In order for a financial leader to be effective the team supporting them needs to be effective and resilient. Effective teams meet the needs and expectations of customers. Resilient teams are able to adjust to a changing business environment. A resilient team will adapt, improvise, and follow through to make sure the company goals are met.
One of the keys to resiliency is the ability to make effective decisions.To make effective decisions, employees need to have the financial competencies in the Financial Leadership Model. If an employee lacks in the competencies, they cannot make effective decisions. Employees that lack the capacity for effective decision making require more supervision and management intervention. This results in either additional costs or an inability of financial leaders to focus on strategic issues that require their attention.
Early in my career I had an employee that worked for me that would come to me at the end of the day with a list of questions regarding days activity. At first, I answered the questions thinking it was a lack of training that was causing the questions. Over time the number of questions increased and the amount of time that I was spending answering simple questions increased. Soon I was spending over two hours daily answering questions from one employee. After a few late evenings in the office, I came to realize the employee did not need answers to questions, the employee was afraid to make a decision. In this case the issue was a lack of curiosity. It took a while to change the employee’s behavior and stop the daily questions for answers that should have been known.
Let us take a look at the consequences of the example above. It is a common situation and a trap many financial leaders fall into. An employee needs help, and a leader provides the help. The trap is allowing the situation to continue because of another factor, most likely the quantity of work the employee gets done. The consequence for the financial leader is an increase in their personal workload because they are taking on some of the employee’s responsibility.
The leader must now deal with the additional work and there are three possible coping mechanisms. First, the leader can work more, spending more time in the office. While this may be a good short-term solution, over time it can lead to burn out and a loss in productivity for the leader. The leader could look to eliminate other tasks to accommodate the time, however this is only a short-term solution.
You can push things off but at some point, the work needs to get done and the result of pushing them off further is to risk not getting it done or reverting to spending more time in the office. The third solution is to try and mix the two strategies. Again, this in only a short-term solution. Eventually you end up with burnout or not getting the work done.
The long-term consequences for this kind of scenario can be even bleaker. Other managers and leaders in the business will perceive you as disorganized, unable to get things done, or not able to focus on the bigger picture. This is not a plan for long term success. Successful financial leaders must build teams that will support them and allow them to serve the strategic needs of the business.
3 Building Blocks
Curiosity Building Block
Curiosity is one of the Catalyst Competency building blocks. Curiosity is a desire to understand the environment related to the employees work. Curiosity allows an employee to develop an understanding of their work environment. Without curiosity an employee will have a limited understanding of how they fit into the team and the larger organization. Without this understanding an employee will have difficulty putting actions or decisions into the context of the larger organization or team.
Employees with the curiosity building block ask questions and have an understanding of how things work around them. Employees with curiosity are often referred to as having ‘tribal knowledge’ or are subject matter experts. If you ask an employee with curiosity why something is done in a certain manner, they will be able to answer with their understanding of why. Employees that do not understand the work environment will tell you the procedure, who told them to do it or something truly unhelpful like ‘I just work here’.
Influence Building Block
Influence is the second Catalyst Competency building block. Influence is a capacity to engage others to consider action or a different point of view. Employees with influence are often employees that others look to for guidance and direction. Employees with influence are effective at training and teaching others. They also work well with other departments and teams. These employees can communicate the perspective of their department or function and can take messages back to the team.
When an employee lacks the influence building block, they will have difficulty selling others on their ideas and will often result rely on formal authority when sharing ideas with others. Using formal authority, while necessary at times, should not be the primary tool that an employee uses. Influence is about engaging others in discussion. Employees that lack influence are also uncomfortable working with others and many cases others can be uncomfortable with the employee.
The influence building block is not an outgoing or extroverted personality. Influence is about the ability and willingness to engage others in a thoughtful manner. This can be done with words and deeds. A financial leader should look to see if others listen, even if a lot is not said.
Initiative Building Block
The third building block of the Catalyst Competency is Initiative. Initiative is the willingness to take steps towards action. Employees with this building block will frequently offer to help others. These employees are also not easily discouraged by setbacks, will look for solutions and will seek help if a problem is encountered. The willingness to take steps towards action includes being willing to follow as well as lead.
Employees that do not have the initiative building block will show hesitation when there is an opportunity to take action. This can manifest itself in several different ways. An employee may be hesitant to try an alternate or newer solution. An employee may give up on a challenge quickly or adopt an ‘I told you it wouldn’t work’ attitude. It is also common for employees without this building block to be hesitant to lead or follow, even when prompted to do so.
Leaders should not confuse shyness with a lack of initiative. It is possible there is another dynamic at work. The employee may feel that someone else is more qualified or there are more outspoken volunteers in the group. Leaders will get a better understanding if they prompt any employees that are shy or rarely volunteer. While it is preferable to not have to prompt employees, this will help you understand if you are dealing with an issue of shyness or an inability to take action.
Interaction forms Competency
All three building blocks are necessary to successfully build the Catalyst Competency. While the building blocks are separate, they are also dependent on each other. Curiosity, the understanding of your environment helps strengthen influence. It is easier to engage others if you have an understanding of the environment. At the same time, a willingness to engage others helps to build a better understanding of the work environment.
Curiosity and Initiative also compliment each other. It can be difficult to take action if you have a limited understanding of the environment. It is easier to develop an understanding of your environment if you are willing to take action to develop that understanding.
Influence and Initiative are also complimentary. Imagine taking action without having the capacity to engage others. In world today, it is difficult to take initiative on your own. It is also difficult to engage others if you are not willing to take action.
Absence of a Building Block
The absence of a building block results in a performance gap. If an employee is missing two or all three of the building blocks, the performance issue is generally obvious. When an employee is only lacking in one of the three building blocks it can be more difficult to detect. Employees become adept at hiding their weaknesses and leaders can experience a bias based on other performance factors.
There are three common performance gaps. The lack of curiosity results in the Assumer Performance Gap. The lack of curiosity results in employees taking action and trying to exert influence without a proper understanding of the environment and situation. A lack of influence results in the Steamroller Performance Gap. The lack of influence results in an employee having an understanding of the situation and willing to act, however they do not engage others. Finally, is a lack of initiative. This results in the Big Talker Performance Gap. The lack of initiative creates situations where an employee understands and engages others, but nothing ever happens.
3 Performance Gaps
Using building blocks as diagnostic tools
Building blocks are helpful for leaders is to use diagnostic and communication tools. Understanding the building blocks and their interaction will help leaders to recognize performance gaps and develop effective strategies for dealing with the gaps. Additionally, the building blocks will help communicate with employees. Telling an employee, they need to ‘Catalyst’ better is not going to an effective conversation. However, if the employee is struggling with initiative it is easier to explain the performance gap you see and discuss the issue is the lack of being willing to take action. This allows an employee to understand what they do well and what needs to improve.
Using building blocks as a diagnostic tool is helpful in situations where an employee uses two of the three building blocks. In these situations, it can be difficult to identify the missing building block. To help identify these situations there are three common performance gaps when there is a missing building block.
Steam Roller Performance Gap
When the missing building block is influence, the result is the Steam Roller Performance Gap. The lack of influence results in an inability or unwillingness to engage others. However, the employee has a willingness to ta