Learning Provider Profile
Mr Antongiovanni is a Certified Learning Provider (CLP) at Appleton Greene and he has experience in management, finance and human resources. He has achieved an MBA and BA in Accounting. He has industry experience within the following sectors: manufacturing; logistics; automotive; consumer goods and food & beverage. He has had commercial experience within the following countries: United States of America, or more specifically within the following cities: Chicago IL; Milwaukee WI; Des Moines IA; Indianapolis IN and Madison WI. His personal achievements include: creating a patented multi-layer coating process, inventing a patented workflow automation app, creating a new business unit in Japan, completing a global ERP rollout and creation of a M&A strategy. His service skills incorporate: process improvement; finance strategy; business strategy; operational execution and project management.
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 take steps towards action and understands the environment. This creates situations where an employee can attempt to push whatever decision they are making without consulting or engaging others that would be affected by the decision.
The challenge a financial leader faces is that the decision may be the right solution, but the implementation is significantly more difficult without the proper engagement of others. While the employee may have determined a viable solution, the financial leadership may be required to get involved to provide the necessary influence to solve any implementation problems.
Financial leaders should also be aware that this performance gap can do damage between teams and departments in a company. Other employees can feel ‘steam rolled’ by employees with this performance gap. If financial leaders are seen as enabling the behavior it can only magnify the damage to internal relationships in the company.
The Assumer Performance Gap
When an employee has initiative and influence without curiosity, the result is the Assumer Performance Gap. An employee will have the capacity to engage others and a willingness to take action, however they will lack an understanding of the environment. This results in the employee needing to make assumptions in the decision-making process. While employees will sometimes be successful with their assumptions, this is a less than optimal process. When the wrong assumptions are made the results can cause several issues for the financial leadership. In almost all cases this will result in additional work to the financial leader to get involved and fill in for the missing understanding that should have been provided by the employee’s own curiosity.
A financial leader may also have to get involved to address any issues or fix any damage because of the assumptions made. Financial leaders should be aware there is a difference between coaching and helping employees with complex processes to augment their understanding and having to provide insight the employee should already have.
The assumptions made can also damage internal relationships in the organization. It is difficult to work with people that are always making bad assumptions. This can make other employees feel resentment at having to address the issues created by the poor assumptions. The behavior can also have an impact beyond the employee, to the team or even department.
Financial leaders should be aware that failing to address these problems can be seen an endorsement of the behavior.
The Big Talker Performance Gap
When an employee is missing the initiative building block the Big Talker Performance Gap will happen. In these situations, an employee has an understanding of the work environment and is willing to engage others, however they do not have a willingness to take steps towards action. The result is almost exclusively a failure to execute. The employee will have a well thought out and socialized idea but is unwilling to take action. For a financial leader, the result is the need to get involved to make sure action is taken when they are aware of the situation. If a financial leader is not aware of the situation there is a missed opportunity. These situations can be rather frustrating for financial leaders, especially when one of the primary coping mechanism employees will use, will be to keep quite or suppress their ideas.
The impact on the organization can equally frustrating. Financial leaders should be aware that this performance gap can create a perception that finance can talk but not walk. This can be damaging to the team’s credibility.
The performance gaps result in two different groups of consequences for the financial leaders of a company. The first group consequences are personal. Leaders are always judged by the performance of their teams and the expression that a leader is only as good as the team behind them is true.
While perception matters, the bigger issue for leaders is the impact on their time. Financial leaders only have a fixed amount of time and while we have many tools to try and manage our time, building the right team alleviates many of the time constraints a financial leader will have. Think about the performance gaps mentioned and the time that is spent dealing with these issues. If you have the right team you do not need to address these issues, the team does it correctly for you. Having the right team allows a financial leader to be a financial leader. When you build the right team, the team can be leveraged to help when something happens that demands a significant amount of your attention.
The second group of consequences are relationship based. Financial leaders have many different relationships they need to maintain in order to have success. Having the right team will make building and growing relationships easier. An effective team will make things easier for you as a financial leader to build relationships. If a leader in the business has a poor team people will only want to communicate and deal with the leader and allow the leader of the poor team to deal with the ineffectiveness of the team. The team you have built will also have an impact on your credibility with others. A poor performing team will affect the credibility of a financial leader.
Performance gaps have three causes, cultural issues, leadership issues and individual issues. Cultural issues are the result of an underlying element of the company’s culture causing the performance gap. Leadership issues are the result of a failure on the part of the financial leadership of the company. Individual issues are performance issues related to the individual. Sometimes the causes are complex, meaning the issues are the result of more than one set of issues.
Building Competency and Success
Building success with the catalyst competency of the Financial Leadership Model requires that leaders address competency issues and eliminate performance gaps. Focusing on building the right team will help. The right team will have all the building blocks for each competency. For the Catalyst competency leaders need to make sure their teams have the curiosity, influence and initiative building blocks. This will allow you as a financial leader to build the effective resilient team you need to be successful.
Leaders should also know that even after you have assembled the right team, performance gaps will still happen on occasion. This is the result that none of us can be perfect all of the time. When this happens, it is important to make sure as the leader you are vigilant and use these incidents as an opportunity to coach your team to reinforce the competencies.
Cultural issues are one of the sources of performance gaps. Almost all cultural issues arise from unwritten rules or behavioral norms that are integrated into how the company operates on a daily basis. These informal cultural elements can be company wide or specific to a department, function, or geography. The informal cultural elements can have a powerful impact on individual behavior including leaders.
When a cultural issue is identified it is important to gain a firm understanding of the cultural element that is causing the behavior. These are unwritten and informal standards, processes, expectations that are not written down and are not part of any standard operating practice, but they exist. Without a firm understanding of the rules governing the cultural element a solution will be difficult to implement.
Leaders often ask, how do I know recognize a cultural issue? It can be difficult recognize these cultural issues especially when you are part of the culture. The best way to look for a potential cultural issue is to look for signs and indicators of such an issue. The best indicator is a lacking building block that appears to be a trait for an entire team or a significant majority of a team. While it is possible that this is a coincidence, the more likely scenario is there is another factor causing the majority of a team to be missing a building block. Another good indicator will be large scale resistance when you communicate the expectations of the competency. Frequent questions of a similar nature are another indicator of a potential cultural issue.
Cultural issues need to be addressed with care. If leaders fail to take into consideration how integrated the cultural norm is, you may only see a temporary improvement while the cultural element is suppressed. Once you turn your attention to something else, the cultural element will surface again, causing the performance gap to happen again. Once you have identified and understand the cultural element that is causing the conflict with the catalyst competency there are three strategies for dealing with the situation.
The easiest solution to implement is to refine and clarify the competency so it does not cause a conflict. For example, if a company has an element of employees being private and minding their own business, this could create all kinds of issues with the curiosity building block. A refining and clarification strategy would be a financial leader acknowledging the existing element of minding their own business and refining this to meet that this meant to respect confidentiality and allow everyone to have privacy in their personal lives. The leader should also clarify that curiosity in the financial leadership model is about understanding how the business works, which is not confidential or an encroachment of anyone’s personal privacy. By refining the cultural element and clarifying that there is no conflict, you allow the two to coexist.
A more robust solution is to bridge or reconcile the cultural element and the catalyst competency. The purpose of this strategy is to reconcile the cultural norm to the competency and create a bridge so they can coexist. I had a client that had a cultural norm of being nice. While the people at the company were the nicest and friendliest people I have ever encountered, the behavior did have a few side effects. The internal requirement to be nice made it challenging to have difficult conversations. This was a significant challenge for employees to show influence and engage others when there was a difficult or challenging situation. The solution was to use bridge the cultural requirement to be nice with the influence building block. To create the bridge, I explained that having a tough conversation was the right thing to do if you wanted to be ‘nice’, as long as the feedback was based on wanting to help the company and individual be better. This allowed the team to feel that they were being nice and use the building block properly.
The last solution is to change the cultural element. This is the right solution if there is no way for the competency element to coexist with the cultural element. This solution will require time and significant effort from financial leaders to extinguish the cultural element and replace it with the competency from the Financial Leadership Model.
Leadership issues are another cause of performance gaps. Leadership issues are the result of the behavior of a financial leader. Financial leaders can have a significant impact on behaviors of the people they lead. If the financial leader is not properly trained or accepting of the Financial Leadership Model, they will not be able to promote the proper behaviors and coach employees to improve.
Identifying leadership issues are as difficult as identifying cultural issues. The Financial Leadership Model provides for methods to assess financial leaders, these methods will be discussed later in the workshops dealing with the leadership traits. This should make it evident which leaders need additional support in understanding and implementing the model and which leaders are resistant to implementing the model. These assessments will provide indicators for which leaders are at risk for creating leadership issues. Another indicator of a possible leadership issue is when there are issues with performance gaps or building blocks that are isolated to employees of leader and not other financial leaders.
Implementation of the Financial Leadership Model is the primary solution for financial leadership issues. Once the model is implemented financial leaders will have the tools necessary to build effective, resilient teams. The model will also provide tools for analyzing and monitoring your team. Financial leaders will also be encouraged to share their success and challenges implementing the model. This will help to create a support network for your financial leaders as they implement the model.
After the model is implemented, the remaining issue is a Financial Leader that is unwilling or resistant to implementing the model. Financial leaders can be trained, coached, and given support tools. However, as the old expression goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. If a financial leader will not implement the model, there are only three options.
Option one is to confront the financial leader and explain this is the direction the company is moving and having financial leaders that do not accept the process is not a viable option for the company. Sometimes this will result in the employee getting on board and sometimes the employee will choose to leave. The second option is to remove the employee from a financial leadership role. This is not possible in all scenarios, but sometimes the company may have a role in another function or without the requirements to be a leader.The last option is to do nothing. Doing nothing is a conscious decision to allow the financial leadership model to fail. By not addressing the issue the decision will be made that implementation of the model is not a priority.
The last cause of performance gaps are individual issues. Issues with individuals should not be addressed until cultural or leadership issues have been addressed. The influence of cultural and leaderships are difficult for most individuals to overcome. Identifying individual issues is a primary function of the assessments that will be discussed in later workshops. The assessments should eventually become integrated into the finance function’s standard assessments of its team.
Solutions for individual issues are similar to the solutions for financial leaders. The primary solution for individuals is coaching and targeted development from their manager. The goal of the coaching is to help employees develop the building blocks necessary for the competencies of the Financial Leadership Model. If an employee refuses to be coached or cannot develop the necessary building blocks there are two options for the financial leader to consider.
The primary option is to have the difficult conversation with the employee regarding the expectations and that the employee is not meeting the expectations. If the employee cannot meet the expectations, they cannot remain with the company.
The second option is finding an alternate option for the employee. This option is only for instances where the employee can be removed from the financial team, or the performance gap can be managed until a pre-planned exit date like retirement. If a financial leader chooses to do nothing, this is no longer an individual problem, but a leadership issue and will need to be addressed as a leadership issue.
Complex issues occur when there are multiple issues causing a performance gap. If this happens financial leaders should address the issues in order. First, resolve cultural issues then leadership issues and finally individual issues. It is important to address complex issues in this order due to the relationship between the issues. Financial leaders will find that addressing a cultural issue can resolve many individual issues. The same strategies that are used for cultural, leadership and individual issues are the same strategies that are used for complex issues.
As you learn and implement the Financial Leadership Model you will begin to see visible improvements in your team. The purpose of the competencies is to build an effective, resilient team to enable financial leaders to focus on leading their teams and having a positive impact on the business. Once the competency portion of the model is ready for implementation you will identify the performance gaps and start addressing the issues causing the performance gaps.
As the performance gaps are addressed you will begin to see visible improvements in the finance team. You should see the individual team members making better decisions and becoming for effective. You will see gradual improvement in the relationships within the finance function and with the customers of the finance. As these progresses, you will see a change in how the financial function of the company is perceived.
KPI’s and Measuring Success
Measuring progress towards your success is important. Tracking a measurement helps you to understand the progress that has been made, how far you still have to go and how well you are maintaining once you have reached your goal. What makes a measurement helpful in attaining a successful outcome?
Successful measurements have two elements. The first element is comparability. All good measurements can be compared to some other benchmark. The benchmark may be an internally set goal, an industry standard or the performance of others using the same measurement. Comparability is important, otherwise you have a number with no context. The score of a sporting contest in a measurement, but if I only communicate the score of one team, it tells you nothing. You need to score of both teams to compare and determine who won the contest.
The second element is the requirement for an emotional connection to the metric. An emotional connection will provide relevance, direction, and purpose to the metric. If the metric is not perceived to be relevant and have a purpose, why would anyone pay attention to it? Take the example of a sporting contest. If you have no interest in the sport or the participants in the event, will you pay any attention to the score? If I tell you the score, will it have an impact on you? The emotional element is also necessary to validate metric.
All of us need a metric to make sense compared to other perceptions and data that we have. If the metric does not, we will find ways discount or ignore the metric. If I showed you metrics that showed that an average player was better than a player considered to be the greatest you would not believe the metric was accurate. It would not pass the simple eye test of what you have seen.
When looking to establish goals, there are two well-known schools of thought. Most people have heard of the SMART goal process. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. This process provides a methodology for crafting goals that are attainable and easy to communicate.
The second school of thought comes from Jim Collins in his well-known book ‘Good to Great’ where he describes a BHAG, big hairy audacious goal. A BHAG is a large goal that is similar to climbing a mountain. The idea is that the goal is inspiring and works to rally everyone to meet the goal.
I recommend financial leaders strongly consider combining the best of both in creating their goals. Building an effective and resilient team is a big task and will require a goal that will inspire people, however specifics and the ability to measure are equally important. This will have the specific and measurable elements of SMART, a BHAG and a timetable or milestones for getting up the mountain. This kind of goal will help you to establish a goal that will go with your measurement. In addition, your goal will share the same two key elements of your measurement. It will have an inspirational or emotional component to go with the tangible element.
When considering measurements or performance indicators you should consider the audience and the type of measurement. Consideration of the audience is important. Different audiences will have different communication needs and requirements. These needs usually reflect differences in the frequency, precision, and sophistication.
Frequency is how often the measurement is calculated and communicated. When you build a metric to measure the finance team’s success with the Catalyst Competency, the finance team may want to see the metric every month or possibly more often if possible. However, the CEO and other executives may only wish to see the results on a quarterly basis.
Precision is the level of granularity of the metric. Employees and managers in the finance function will want to see their performance on the metric in terms of their team, but the CEO may want to only see the total performance for all teams. The sophistication of the metric is also something to consider for each audience. In general, the easier the calculation the more transparent that calculation will appear.Financial leaders should keep in mind that the further the audience is from the day-to-day elements of the calculation, the greater the need for transparency. Financial leaders should also consider the type of measurement they are selecting and make sure the audience understands what kind of measurement it is.
There are two basic types of metrics, lagging and leading. Lagging indicators or metrics are metrics that measure historical performance where the metric typically lags when improvements have been made. Leading indicators or metrics that show indicate improvement before the improvement is fully implemented. It is important for your audience to understand if your metric is lagging or leading and how significant the time difference may be.
When financial leaders are considering the metrics to use, simplicity should be considered. Metrics that are overly complex in the measurement, interpretation or calculation will be met with skepticism with your audience. Remember metrics need to pass an emotional response from the audience. If your audience feels the process is overly complex there will be that feeling that they are being manipulated, this frequently results in the metric not passing the ‘gut check’ and being met with skepticism.
Financial leaders should develop a communication strategy for the metrics that are selected. The strategy should include details on when, how and frequency of communication. When considering the ‘when’ of the communication strategy timing and location should be considered. Will you be communicating the metrics as part of a larger in person employee meeting on a regularly scheduled basis, or will the communication be more informal over email? Financial leaders should design this strategy to be appropriate for their organization. Additionally, might make sense to for the metrics to be communicated in multiple settings. For example, the company CFO may present the results to the entire finance team in a more formal setting and then department or team leaders may review the metrics with their teams more informally.
One you have determined when to communicate, financial leaders should determine how to the communication will be done. Will the results be posted internally for employees to be reviewed? Will someone use a formal presentation or a less formal scorecard? Is a combination appropriate? Financial leaders should also consider if a scorecard or presentation will be used if it will be made available for employees to review.
The final element financial leaders should consider will be the frequency of the communication. The frequency of communication and the calculation of the metrics should be considered. While it is convenient if they match, it is not required. Many companies will calculate metrics on a monthly basis but there is discussion on the metric and progress being made on a more frequent basis. Financial leaders will need to balance the need to periodically report on a metric with the need to discuss building the necessary competencies for an effective, resilient team.
Changing Role of Finance
The role of finance has been evolving for decades. The days of finance keeping accurate books and monitoring transactions for compliance is only part of the expectation today. Financial leaders are expected to understand the business and to provide advice on the strategic direction of the organization. Companies expect financial leaders to understand complex issues, communicate with key stakeholders and help to drive the business towards its strategic goals.
The average tenure of a CFO has dropped from five to three years in the last five years. There are many reasons the average tenure for the CFO is shrinking. Many organizations have started to view that a change in strategy, necessitates a change in the CFO. The thought process is that there are types of CFO’s and if you are in a growth stage you need a ‘growth’ financial leader. If you need to reduce costs and improve operating performance, you need the financial leader for that situation. If you have technical accounting issues, there is a financial leader for that situation too. This movement towards type casting financial leaders is helping organizations with their challenges.
One of the common reasons for the reduction in CFO tenure has been the declining average tenure for CEOs. The average tenure of a CFO is about the same as the average CEO. While on the surface it may make sense that a new CEO will want to have their CFO on the team, this is not necessarily the best option. If you are a new CEO would you really want to replace the person that understands the business processes, will provide analysis and decision support? If the CEO decides to replace his financial leader, he / she will have to search and onboard a new financial leader. During this time, the financial function in the company will be at a reduced capacity. The company will either have no financial leader, an interim financial leader, or an obvious situation where the financial leader will be replaced. All of this can cause chaos and delay the CEO from implementing changes or from having the appropriate financial counsel during the transitional period.
Impact of a Financial Leadership Change
This chaos cascades through the organization, starting with the finance team. Employees will fall into one of three groups. The panic group will begin looking for employment and may start to disengage from the business. This can be dangerous in many aspects. First it could lead to a loss of talent since typically the first employees to leave in a crisis and uncertainty are the most talented employees. There is also the risk of one or two key people leaving to start a stampede for the door. A concentration of turnover in finance can have an impact on overall company morale. When there is a concentration of turnover in finance, it is a red flag to the rest of the company. Do these employees know something I do not? Is the financial outlook not positive? The CEO / Business Leader will need to help manage situation, it is improbable that an interim leader or a leader that is considered to be their way out of the organization will be capable of managing the situation by themselves.
The second group is the optimistic group. This is the opposite of the first group. The optimistic group will either consider change positive or have an optimistic view on the company. While this group will still be engaged the challenge is to keep them that way during the transition. If the transition is not handled well, you may find employees shifting out of this group and joining the first group looking to leave.
The third group take a wait and see approach. This is the typical group of fence sitters, waiting for more information or to see what happens. The leadership during the transition needs to make sure that employees in this group stay in this group. It is unlikely they will join the optimistic group until a new financial leader is in place however they may move into the first group looking to leave. The company will also need to watch out for the development of toxic employees. A toxic employee is one that is actively working against the company’s leadership and are working to taint other employees’ perceptions of the company and the changes being made. These employees can be found in either the panic group or the wait and see group.
There are several consequences as a result of this process. The CEO will be distracted from their responsibilities by having to pay closer attention to the financial team and this can have an impact on the CEO’s agenda. The new financial leader will have to immediately work to stabilize the existing team. The financial leader will also face pressure to quickly build the team which can lead to poor hiring decisions. The key to success for any new CFO is having an effective team that allows the CFO the opportunity to address the issues they were hired for.
What happens if the new financial leader has different expectations and demonstrates different behavior because the company decided to hire a different CFO ‘type’? Chaos will continue and possibly accelerate. There may be the appearance of smooth, calm surface like a slow flowing river, however, there will be many currents under the surface. Employees will be scrambling to understand changes that have become explicit while trying to read the tea leaves to predict what new expectations and changes may happen.
New leadership will shuffle the groups of employees and cause employees possible shift to a different group. The biggest risk for the new financial leader and the company will be employees that are positive on the change will take a wait and see approach. It is unlikely that an employee that has turned negative on the company prospects will revert and become positive. The new leader will need to find ways to get employees that are taking the wait and see approach to move towards feeling positive and secure about the prospect of the new financial leader.
Leadership change in the financial function can be necessary but changing a financial leader because there is a new CEO, or the company strategy has changed can be cause unnecessary disruption.
Financial Leadership is different from organizational leadership. The financial leader is not the face of the company and does not have the formal authority of the CEO. Financial leaders need to have the be able to use influence to affect change in an organization. While financial leaders have formal authority, the successful leaders are able to influence others. The ability to use influence to affect change is the key to financial leadership. The Financial Leadership Model will help financial leaders build these skills and the team necessary to build their ability to influence the organization.
Is it possible for a financial leader to develop skills that allow for them to adapt and change to new business leaders and shifts in the company strategy? After all it is in the best interests of the organization to have a financial leader that can change as the business environment changes. There are ways for financial leaders to learn to pivot their style in different situations. Financial leaders can also build great teams to help them in times of crisis and turmoil. In the case of a new business leader, it would make sense for that leader to want to have someone that will be able to help them understand and improve the business they are leading.
The Financial Leadership Model teaches financial leaders to vary their style based on the business circumstances and to build resilient, capable teams to support them in the process. The Financial Leadership Model has two critical components. First, there are competencies that all members of the finance team should have. These skills are necessary for the financial leader to develop on the team in order for their leadership to be effective. The second component are the leadership traits that are necessary for financial leaders to unlock true financial leadership in their organization. These skills will allow the financial leader to adapt to different situations in the business and to become a valued counsel and advocate for the business.
Company’s do not want to change their financial leadership if the current leader can pivot to the situation. This is great news for leaders that can develop these skills and the necessary team. Why lose time and possibly add chaos to the situation.
In today’s business environment it is critical for CFOs and other financial leaders to have the right team behind them. The most dynamic financial leader cannot be successful if the team supporting them is not effective and built for long term success. Having a team with the right financial competencies is a good first step in the process. There are four competencies that financial employees need to demonstrate. The more senior the role in the organization, the more skill that is required in each of these competencies.
Catalyst; the ability to see what and how things need to be done to meet the company goals is the first of these competencies. The second is Reporting or the communicating on the activities of the company while preserving assets with control. Balance is the ability to balance different activities and requirements to fulfill the needs of the customer. The Curve is the ability to use the company objectives to navigate uncertainty.
It is critical to determine the appropriate level of mastery for each of the competencies and to assess your team based on the expected performance against each competency. If an employee is lacking in the competency you need to develop strategies to address the performance gap. Failing to address these performance gaps requires financial leadership to get involved, distracting them from the working to guide the company to meet its strategic goals.
The catalyst competency is the ability to see what and how things need to be done to meet the company goals. The competencies are broken down into 3 building blocks. The building blocks make it easier to analyze employee performance. The absence or lack of a particular building block results in a performance gap, which can be identified by the missing building block.
The building blocks aid in the analyzing employee performance by focusing on traits that are necessary to be a part of resilient and effective finance team. While the building blocks help analyze the employee’s ability within the competency, we are only assessing if an employee is a good fit for the finance team. The competencies are not an indicator of technical skills or actual performance in their role. Leaders need to be aware that a lack of the catalyst competency indicates a lack of fit within the team and not necessarily a lack of performance. The opposite is also true, strong technical performance in a role does not necessarily mean the catalyst competency, and therefore fit, is present. The building blocks and competencies of the Financial Leadership Model help to identify employees that are a poor fit. Financial leaders should be aware of the good performance, bad fit trap. An employee that does a lot of work but leaves a mess for you to clean up may be a problem and not a solution.
The three building blocks of the catalyst competency are curiosity, influence, and initiative. Curiosity is the desire to understand the environment related to the employees work. Influence is the capacity to engage others to consider action on a different point of view. Initiative is a willingness to take steps towards action. When all three of the building blocks are not present, a performance gap will manifest.
When performance gaps develop, there will be consequences for the financial leadership of the company. These consequences are typically additional effort or time that will be required of financial leaders to address the performance gap. This results in added stress for the financial leadership and less time for the strategic issues that are necessary to meet the financial goals of the company. Consider for a moment an employee that is missing the building block curiosity. How will this employee meet the criteria for the catalyst competency, without the ability to understand their environment? There are two possible outcomes.
First, the employee does not take action because of their lack of understanding. While they are not doing any harm, they are participating in meeting the company goals. The second outcome is they could take action without any understanding of what should be done. While the person may have good intentions, they will most likely not have the proper solution. The result for the financial leader will be to fix whatever was done and explain to others the individual meant well but lacked a full understanding of the situation.
The rate of change in the world is increasing and companies are looking to build resilient teams that can anticipate and deal with change. The automation of transaction processing will further disrupt finance. The role of finance will shift from processing transactions, to analysis and supporting the business. Financial leaders face the challenge of building teams that have the resilience and flexibility to adapt to the changing business environment.
The Financial Leadership Model creates a framework for financial leaders to build these teams through four essential competencies for all members of the finance team. Understanding and deploying these competencies will allow the financial leadership of the company to develop a right team for the future and to have the leadership skills to adapt to the changing environment.
As a financial leader, imagine a future where you have the right people in place to do the day-to-day work and the managerial structure in place to lead the team. This will allow you to focus on the strategic elements of what is required of the financial leader. Most financial leaders struggle to get to this future because they do not take the time to build the right team, with the right skills. They spend too much of their time covering the team’s weaknesses instead of addressing the underlying cause. Many CFOs and financial leaders complain about the amount that is on their plate, but how many Financial Leaders actually have the right things on their plate? Properly assessing your current team and building that team with competencies and leadership helps to solve this issue.
The catalyst competency is the ability to see what and how things need to be done to meet the goals of the company. There are three elements or building blocks to the catalyst competency. First, there is a need to understand the business environment or curiosity. Next, it is necessary to engage others to consider action. This is the influence building block. The last building block, initiative is a willingness to take action. All three building blocks together form the catalyst competency.
As a financial leader it is easy to see how employees need to have this competency. An employee with this competency is able to take action when there is minor ambiguity and can be trusted to make effective decisions. Employees with the catalyst competency can interact with others and are capable and willing to share insight and guide others. These are employees that you trust and are employees that allow you to focus on bigger issues. Building the right team to support you is a key step in the Financial Leadership Model.
After you progress through the Financial Leadership Program, you will notice a change in the conversations you have with others in the organization. There will be a shift from conversations and interactions happening due to obligation to a desire to have the finance team involved in the conversation. This is a subtle, but powerful shift in behavior. Many times, finance and financial leaders are involved in discussions because it is a requirement. Someone from finance will need to perform analysis, approve a budget, etc. When finance is no longer viewed as the number crunching, compliance experts they will be invited to the discussion as someone that can add value.
As you find yourself pulled into more discussions it will become critical to have the right team behind you. This will require you to delegate more and to be able to rely more on your team. The team will also benefit from finance being viewed as a key business partner and not the compliance team that makes business difficult.
As the company and others react to the positive changes coming from your implementation of the Financial Leadership Program, you will be sought after for counsel as a trusted advisor. Your peers will come to you as a sounding board to talk through issues. They will not come seeking approval but will be looking for guidance and help on issues. The CEO or business leader will confide more in you. There is a difference between being told factually information that should be given to finance and having a real conversation where the leader of the business explains their thoughts and is expecting your opinion.
You may also find that you become known outside of your organization. It is not uncommon for financial leaders to be sought after by customers and others in the industry.
Financial Leadership – Workshop 2 – Catalyst Competency
- Building and Understanding the Catalyst Competency
- Curiosity Building Block
- Influence Building Block
- Initiative Building Block
- Catalyst Competency
- Steam Roller
- The Assumer
- The Big Talker
- How to assess
- Testing the Competency Matrix / Prep for Assessment
- Addressing Competency Gaps
- Measuring Success
Welcome to Appleton Greene and thank you for enrolling on the Financial Leadership corporate training program. You will be learning through our unique facilitation via distance-learning method, which will enable you to practically implement everything that you learn academically. The methods and materials used in your program have been designed and developed to ensure that you derive the maximum benefits and enjoyment possible. We hope that you find the program challenging and fun to do. However, if you have never been a distance-learner before, you may be experiencing some trepidation at the task before you. So we will get you started by giving you some basic information and guidance on how you can make the best use of the modules, how you should manage the materials and what you should be doing as you work through them. This guide is designed to point you in the right direction and help you to become an effective distance-learner. Take a few hours or so to study this guide and your guide to tutorial support for students, while making notes, before you start to study in earnest.
You will need to locate a quiet and private place to study, preferably a room where you can easily be isolated from external disturbances or distractions. Make sure the room is well-lit and incorporates a relaxed, pleasant feel. If you can spoil yourself within your study environment, you will have much more of a chance to ensure that you are always in the right frame of mind when you do devote time to study. For example, a nice fire, the ability to play soft soothing background music, soft but effective lighting, perhaps a nice view if possible and a good size desk with a comfortable chair. Make sure that your family know when you are studying and understand your study rules. Your study environment is very important. The ideal situation, if at all possible, is to have a separate study, which can be devoted to you. If this is not possible then you will need to pay a lot more attention to developing and managing your study schedule, because it will affect other people as well as yourself. The better your study environment, the more productive you will be.
Study tools & rules
Try and make sure that your study tools are sufficient and in good working order. You will need to have access to a computer, scanner and printer, with access to the internet. You will need a very comfortable chair, which supports your lower back, and you will need a good filing system. It can be very frustrating if you are spending valuable study time trying to fix study tools that are unreliable, or unsuitable for the task. Make sure that your study tools are up to date. You will also need to consider some study rules. Some of these rules will apply to you and will be intended to help you to be more disciplined about when and how you study. This distance-learning guide will help you and after you have read it you can put some thought into what your study rules should be. You will also need to negotiate some study rules for your family, friends or anyone who lives with you. They too will need to be disciplined in order to ensure that they can support you while you study. It is important to ensure that your family and friends are an integral part of your study team. Having their support and encouragement can prove to be a crucial contribution to your successful completion of the program. Involve them in as much as you can.
Distance-learners are freed from the necessity of attending regular classes or workshops, since they can study in their own way, at their own pace and for their own purposes. But unlike traditional internal training courses, it is the student’s responsibility, with a distance-learning program, to ensure that they manage their own study contribution. This requires strong self-discipline and self-motivation skills and there must be a clear will to succeed. Those students who are used to managing themselves, are good at managing others and who enjoy working in isolation, are more likely to be good distance-learners. It is also important to be aware of the main reasons why you are studying and of the main objectives that you are hoping to achieve as a result. You will need to remind yourself of these objectives at times when you need to motivate yourself. Never lose sight of your long-term goals and your short-term objectives. There is nobody available here to pamper you, or to look after you, or to spoon-feed you with information, so you will need to find ways to encourage and appreciate yourself while you are studying. Make sure that you chart your study progress, so that you can be sure of your achievements and re-evaluate your goals and objectives regularly.
Appleton Greene training programs are in all cases post-graduate programs. Consequently, you should already have obtained a business-related degree and be an experienced learner. You should therefore already be aware of your study strengths and weaknesses. For example, which time of the day are you at your most productive? Are you a lark or an owl? What study methods do you respond to the most? Are you a consistent learner? How do you discipline yourself? How do you ensure that you enjoy yourself while studying? It is important to understand yourself as a learner and so some self-assessment early on will be necessary if you are to apply yourself correctly. Perform a SWOT analysis on yourself as a student. List your internal strengths and weaknesses as a student and your external opportunities and threats. This will help you later on when you are creating a study plan. You can then incorporate features within your study plan that can ensure that you are playing to your strengths, while compensating for your weaknesses. You can also ensure that you make the most of your opportunities, while avoiding the potential threats to your success.
Accepting responsibility as a student
Training programs invariably require a significant investment, both in terms of what they cost and in the time that you need to contribute to study and the responsibility for successful completion of training programs rests entirely with the student. This is never more apparent than when a student is learning via distance-learning. Accepting responsibility as a student is an important step towards ensuring that you can successfully complete your training program. It is easy to instantly blame other people or factors when things go wrong. But the fact of the matter is that if a failure is your failure, then you have the power to do something about it, it is entirely in your own hands. If it is always someone else’s failure, then you are powerless to do anything about it. All students study in entirely different ways, this is because we are all individuals and what is right for one student, is not necessarily right for another. In order to succeed, you will have to accept personal responsibility for finding a way to plan, implement and manage a personal study plan that works for you. If you do not succeed, you only have yourself to blame.
By far the most critical contribution to stress, is the feeling of not being in control. In the absence of planning we tend to be reactive and can stumble from pillar to post in the hope that things will turn out fine in the end. Invariably they don’t! In order to be in control, we need to have firm ideas about how and when we want to do things. We also need to consider as many possible eventualities as we can, so that we are prepared for them when they happen. Prescriptive Change, is far easier to manage and control, than Emergent Change. The same is true with distance-learning. It is much easier and much more enjoyable, if you feel that you are in control and that things are going to plan. Even when things do go wrong, you are prepared for them and can act accordingly without any unnecessary stress. It is important therefore that you do take time to plan your studies properly.
Once you have developed a clear study plan, it is of equal importance to ensure that you manage the implementation of it. Most of us usually enjoy planning, but it is usually during implementation when things go wrong. Targets are not met and we do not understand why. Sometimes we do not even know if targets are being met. It is not enough for us to conclude that the study plan just failed. If it is failing, you will need to understand what you can do about it. Similarly if your study plan is succeeding, it is still important to understand why, so that you can improve upon your success. You therefore need to have guidelines for self-assessment so that you can be consistent with performance improvement throughout the program. If you manage things correctly, then your performance should constantly improve throughout the program.
Study objectives & tasks
The first place to start is developing your program objectives. These should feature your reasons for undertaking the training program in order of priority. Keep them succinct and to the point in order to avoid confusion. Do not just write the first things that come into your head because they are likely to be too similar to each other. Make a list of possible departmental headings, such as: Customer Service; E-business; Finance; Globalization; Human Resources; Technology; Legal; Management; Marketing and Production. Then brainstorm for ideas by listing as many things that you want to achieve under each heading and later re-arrange these things in order of priority. Finally, select the top item from each department heading and choose these as your program objectives. Try and restrict yourself to five because it will enable you to focus clearly. It is likely that the other things that you listed will be achieved if each of the top objectives are achieved. If this does not prove to be the case, then simply work through the process again.
As a guide, the Appleton Greene Financial Leadership corporate training program should take 12-18 months to complete, depending upon your availability and current commitments. The reason why there is such a variance in time estimates is because every student is an individual, with differing productivity levels and different commitments. These differentiations are then exaggerated by the fact that this is a distance-learning program, which incorporates the practical integration of academic theory as an as a part of the training program. Consequently all of the project studies are real, which means that important decisions and compromises need to be made. You will want to get things right and will need to be patient with your expectations in order to ensure that they are. We would always recommend that you are prudent with your own task and time forecasts, but you still need to develop them and have a clear indication of what are realistic expectations in your case. With reference to your time planning: consider the time that you can realistically dedicate towards study with the program every week; calculate how long it should take you to complete the program, using the guidelines featured here; then break the program down into logical modules and allocate a suitable proportion of time to each of them, these will be your milestones; you can create a time plan by using a spreadsheet on your computer, or a personal organizer such as MS Outlook, you could also use a financial forecasting software; break your time forecasts down into manageable chunks of time, the more specific you can be, the more productive and accurate your time management will be; finally, use formulas where possible to do your time calculations for you, because this will help later on when your forecasts need to change in line with actual performance. With reference to your task planning: refer to your list of tasks that need to be undertaken in order to achieve your program objectives; with reference to your time plan, calculate when each task should be implemented; remember that you are not estimating when your objectives will be achieved, but when you will need to focus upon implementing the corresponding tasks; you also need to ensure that each task is implemented in conjunction with the associated training modules which are relevant; then break each single task down into a list of specific to do’s, say approximately ten to do’s for each task and enter these into your study plan; once again you could use MS Outlook to incorporate both your time and task planning and this could constitute your study plan; you could also use a project management software like MS Project. You should now have a clear and realistic forecast detailing when you can expect to be able to do something about undertaking the tasks to achieve your program objectives.
It is one thing to develop your study forecast, it is quite another to monitor your progress. Ultimately it is less important whether you achieve your original study forecast and more important that you update it so that it constantly remains realistic in line with your performance. As you begin to work through the program, you will begin to have more of an idea about your own personal performance and productivity levels as a distance-learner. Once you have completed your first study module, you should re-evaluate your study forecast for both time and tasks, so that they reflect your actual performance level achieved. In order to achieve this you must first time yourself while training by using an alarm clock. Set the alarm for hourly intervals and make a note of how far you have come within that time. You can then make a note of your actual performance on your study plan and then compare your performance against your forecast. Then consider the reasons that have contributed towards your performance level, whether they are positive or negative and make a considered adjustment to your future forecasts as a result. Given time, you should start achieving your forecasts regularly.
With reference to time management: time yourself while you are studying and make a note of the actual time taken in your study plan; consider your successes with time-efficiency and the reasons for the success in each case and take this into consideration when reviewing future time planning; consider your failures with time-efficiency and the reasons for the failures in each case and take this into consideration when reviewing future time planning; re-evaluate your study forecast in relation to time planning for the remainder of your training program to ensure that you continue to be realistic about your time expectations. You need to be consistent with your time management, otherwise you will never complete your studies. This will either be because you are not contributing enough time to your studies, or you will become less efficient with the time that you do allocate to your studies. Remember, if you are not in control of your studies, they can just become yet another cause of stress for you.
With reference to your task management: time yourself while you are studying and make a note of the actual tasks that you have undertaken in your study plan; consider your successes with task-efficiency and the reasons for the success in each case; take this into consideration when reviewing future task planning; consider your failures with task-efficiency and the reasons for the failures in each case and take this into consideration when reviewing future task planning; re-evaluate your study forecast in relation to task planning for the remainder of your training program to ensure that you continue to be realistic about your task expectations. You need to be consistent with your task management, otherwise you will never know whether you are achieving your program objectives or not.
Keeping in touch
You will have access to qualified and experienced professors and tutors who are responsible for providing tutorial support for your particular training program. So don’t be shy about letting them know how you are getting on. We keep electronic records of all tutorial support emails so that professors and tutors can review previous correspondence before considering an individual response. It also means that there is a record of all communications between you and your professors and tutors and this helps to avoid any unnecessary duplication, misunderstanding, or misinterpretation. If you have a problem relating to the program, share it with them via email. It is likely that they have come across the same problem before and are usually able to make helpful suggestions and steer you in the right direction. To learn more about when and how to use tutorial support, please refer to the Tutorial Support section of this student information guide. This will help you to ensure that you are making the most of tutorial support that is available to you and will ultimately contribute towards your success and enjoyment with your training program.
Work colleagues and family
You should certainly discuss your program study progress with your colleagues, friends and your family. Appleton Greene training programs are very practical. They require you to seek information from other people, to plan, develop and implement processes with other people and to achieve feedback from other people in relation to viability and productivity. You will therefore have plenty of opportunities to test your ideas and enlist the views of others. People tend to be sympathetic towards distance-learners, so don’t bottle it all up in yourself. Get out there and share it! It is also likely that your family and colleagues are going to benefit from your labors with the program, so they are likely to be much more interested in being involved than you might think. Be bold about delegating work to those who might benefit themselves. This is a great way to achieve understanding and commitment from people who you may later rely upon for process implementation. Share your experiences with your friends and family.
Making it relevant
The key to successful learning is to make it relevant to your own individual circumstances. At all times you should be trying to make bridges between the content of the program and your own situation. Whether you achieve this through quiet reflection or through interactive discussion with your colleagues, client partners or your family, remember that it is the most important and rewarding aspect of translating your studies into real self-improvement. You should be clear about how you want the program to benefit you. This involves setting clear study objectives in relation to the content of the course in terms of understanding, concepts, completing research or reviewing activities and relating the content of the modules to your own situation. Your objectives may understandably change as you work through the program, in which case you should enter the revised objectives on your study plan so that you have a permanent reminder of what you are trying to achieve, when and why.
Prepare your study environment, your study tools and rules.
Undertake detailed self-assessment in terms of your ability as a learner.
Create a format for your study plan.
Consider your study objectives and tasks.
Create a study forecast.
Assess your study performance.
Re-evaluate your study forecast.
Be consistent when managing your study plan.
Use your Appleton Greene Certified Learning Provider (CLP) for tutorial support.
Make sure you keep in touch with those around you.
Appleton Greene uses standard and bespoke corporate training programs as vessels to transfer business process improvement knowledge into the heart of our clients’ organizations. Each individual program focuses upon the implementation of a specific business process, which enables clients to easily quantify their return on investment. There are hundreds of established Appleton Greene corporate training products now available to clients within customer services, e-business, finance, globalization, human resources, information technology, legal, management, marketing and production. It does not matter whether a client’s employees are located within one office, or an unlimited number of international offices, we can still bring them together to learn and implement specific business processes collectively. Our approach to global localization enables us to provide clients with a truly international service with that all important personal touch. Appleton Greene corporate training programs can be provided virtually or locally and they are all unique in that they individually focus upon a specific business function. They are implemented over a sustainable period of time and professional support is consistently provided by qualified learning providers and specialist consultants.
You will have a designated Certified Learning Provider (CLP) and an Accredited Consultant and we encourage you to communicate with them as much as possible. In all cases tutorial support is provided online because we can then keep a record of all communications to ensure that tutorial support remains consistent. You would also be forwarding your work to the tutorial support unit for evaluation and assessment. You will receive individual feedback on all of the work that you undertake on a one-to-one basis, together with specific recommendations for anything that may need to be changed in order to achieve a pass with merit or a pass with distinction and you then have as many opportunities as you may need to re-submit project studies until they meet with the required standard. Consequently the only reason that you should really fail (CLP) is if you do not do the work. It makes no difference to us whether a student takes 12 months or 18 months to complete the program, what matters is that in all cases the same quality standard will have been achieved.
Please forward all of your future emails to the designated (CLP) Tutorial Support Unit email address that has been provided and please do not duplicate or copy your emails to other AGC email accounts as this will just cause unnecessary administration. Please note that emails are always answered as quickly as possible but you will need to allow a period of up to 20 business days for responses to general tutorial support emails during busy periods, because emails are answered strictly within the order in which they are received. You will also need to allow a period of up to 30 business days for the evaluation and assessment of project studies. This does not include weekends or public holidays. Please therefore kindly allow for this within your time planning. All communications are managed online via email because it enables tutorial service support managers to review other communications which have been received before responding and it ensures that there is a copy of all communications retained on file for future reference. All communications will be stored within your personal (CLP) study file here at Appleton Greene throughout your designated study period. If you need any assistance or clarification at any time, please do not hesitate to contact us by forwarding an email and remember that we are here to help. If you have any questions, please list and number your questions succinctly and you can then be sure of receiving specific answers to each and every query.
It takes approximately 1 Year to complete the Financial Leadership corporate training program, incorporating 12 x 6-hour monthly workshops. Each student will also need to contribute approximately 4 hours per week over 1 Year of their personal time. Students can study from home or work at their own pace and are responsible for managing their own study plan. There are no formal examinations and students are evaluated and assessed based upon their project study submissions, together with the quality of their internal analysis and supporting documents. They can contribute more time towards study when they have the time to do so and can contribute less time when they are busy. All students tend to be in full time employment while studying and the Financial Leadership program is purposely designed to accommodate this, so there is plenty of flexibility in terms of time management. It makes no difference to us at Appleton Greene, whether individuals take 12-18 months to complete this program. What matters is that in all cases the same standard of quality will have been achieved with the standard and bespoke programs that have been developed.
Distance Learning Guide
The distance learning guide should be your first port of call when starting your training program. It will help you when you are planning how and when to study, how to create the right environment and how to establish the right frame of mind. If you can lay the foundations properly during the planning stage, then it will contribute to your enjoyment and productivity while training later. The guide helps to change your lifestyle in order to accommodate time for study and to cultivate good study habits. It helps you to chart your progress so that you can measure your performance and achieve your goals. It explains the tools that you will need for study and how to make them work. It also explains how to translate academic theory into practical reality. Spend some time now working through your distance learning guide and make sure that you have firm foundations in place so that you can make the most of your distance learning program. There is no requirement for you to attend training workshops or classes at Appleton Greene offices. The entire program is undertaken online, program course manuals and project studies are administered via the Appleton Greene web site and via email, so you are able to study at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home or office as long as you have a computer and access to the internet.
How To Study
The how to study guide provides students with a clear understanding of the Appleton Greene facilitation via distance learning training methods and enables students to obtain a clear overview of the training program content. It enables students to understand the step-by-step training methods used by Appleton Greene and how course manuals are integrated with project studies. It explains the research and development that is required and the need to provide evidence and references to support your statements. It also enables students to understand precisely what will be required of them in order to achieve a pass with merit and a pass with distinction for individual project studies and provides useful guidance on how to be innovative and creative when developing your Unique Program Proposition (UPP).
Tutorial support for the Appleton Greene Financial Leadership corporate training program is provided online either through the Appleton Greene Client Support Portal (CSP), or via email. All tutorial support requests are facilitated by a designated Program Administration Manager (PAM). They are responsible for deciding which professor or tutor is the most appropriate option relating to the support required and then the tutorial support request is forwarded onto them. Once the professor or tutor has completed the tutorial support request and answered any questions that have been asked, this communication is then returned to the student via email by the designated Program Administration Manager (PAM). This enables all tutorial support, between students, professors and tutors, to be facilitated by the designated Program Administration Manager (PAM) efficiently and securely through the email account. You will therefore need to allow a period of up to 20 business days for responses to general support queries and up to 30 business days for the evaluation and assessment of project studies, because all tutorial support requests are answered strictly within the order in which they are received. This does not include weekends or public holidays. Consequently you need to put some thought into the management of your tutorial support procedure in order to ensure that your study plan is feasible and to obtain the maximum possible benefit from tutorial support during your period of study. Please retain copies of your tutorial support emails for future reference. Please ensure that ALL of your tutorial support emails are set out using the format as suggested within your guide to tutorial support. Your tutorial support emails need to be referenced clearly to the specific part of the course manual or project study which you are working on at any given time. You also need to list and number any questions that you would like to ask, up to a maximum of five questions within each tutorial support email. Remember the more specific you can be with your questions the more specific your answers will be too and this will help you to avoid any unnecessary misunderstanding, misinterpretation, or duplication. The guide to tutorial support is intended to help you to understand how and when to use support in order to ensure that you get the most out of your training program. Appleton Greene training programs are designed to enable you to do things for yourself. They provide you with a structure or a framework and we use tutorial support to facilitate students while they practically implement what they learn. In other words, we are enabling students to do things for themselves. The benefits of distance learning via facilitation are considerable and are much more sustainable in the long-term than traditional short-term knowledge sharing programs. Consequently you should learn how and when to use tutorial support so that you can maximize the benefits from your learning experience with Appleton Greene. This guide describes the purpose of each training function and how to use them and how to use tutorial support in relation to each aspect of the training program. It also provides useful tips and guidance with regard to best practice.
Tutorial Support Tips
Students are often unsure about how and when to use tutorial support with Appleton Greene. This Tip List will help you to understand more about how to achieve the most from using tutorial support. Refer to it regularly to ensure that you are continuing to use the service properly. Tutorial support is critical to the success of your training experience, but it is important to understand when and how to use it in order to maximize the benefit that you receive. It is no coincidence that those students who succeed are those that learn how to be positive, proactive and productive when using tutorial support.
Be positive and friendly with your tutorial support emails
Remember that if you forward an email to the tutorial support unit, you are dealing with real people. “Do unto others as you would expect others to do unto you”. If you are positive, complimentary and generally friendly in your emails, you will generate a similar response in return. This will be more enjoyable, productive and rewarding for you in the long-term.
Think about the impression that you want to create
Every time that you communicate, you create an impression, which can be either positive or negative, so put some thought into the impression that you want to create. Remember that copies of all tutorial support emails are stored electronically and tutors will always refer to prior correspondence before responding to any current emails. Over a period of time, a general opinion will be arrived at in relation to your character, attitude and ability. Try to manage your own frustrations, mood swings and temperament professionally, without involving the tutorial support team. Demonstrating frustration or a lack of patience is a weakness and will be interpreted as such. The good thing about communicating in writing, is that you will have the time to consider your content carefully, you can review it and proof-read it before sending your email to Appleton Greene and this should help you to communicate more professionally, consistently and to avoid any unnecessary knee-jerk reactions to individual situations as and when they may arise. Please also remember that the CLP Tutorial Support Unit will not just be responsible for evaluating and assessing the quality of your work, they will also be responsible for providing recommendations to other learning providers and to client contacts within the Appleton Greene global client network, so do be in control of your own emotions and try to create a good impression.
Remember that quality is preferred to quantity
Please remember that when you send an email to the tutorial support team, you are not using Twitter or Text Messaging. Try not to forward an email every time that you have a thought. This will not prove to be productive either for you or for the tutorial support team. Take time to prepare your communications properly, as if you were writing a professional letter to a business colleague and make a list of queries that you are likely to have and then incorporate them within one email, say once every month, so that the tutorial support team can understand more about context, application and your methodology for study. Get yourself into a consistent routine with your tutorial support requests and use the tutorial support template provided with ALL of your emails. The (CLP) Tutorial Support Unit will not spoon-feed you with information. They need to be able to evaluate and assess your tutorial support requests carefully and professionally.
Be specific about your questions in order to receive specific answers
Try not to write essays by thinking as you are writing tutorial support emails. The tutorial support unit can be unclear about what in fact you are asking, or what you are looking to achieve. Be specific about asking questions that you want answers to. Number your questions. You will then receive specific answers to each and every question. This is the main purpose of tutorial support via email.
Keep a record of your tutorial support emails
It is important that you keep a record of all tutorial support emails that are forwarded to you. You can then refer to them when necessary and it avoids any unnecessary duplication, misunderstanding, or misinterpretation.
Individual training workshops or telephone support
Please be advised that Appleton Greene does not provide separate or individual tutorial support meetings, workshops, or provide telephone support for individual students. Appleton Greene is an equal opportunities learning and service provider and we are therefore understandably bound to treat all students equally. We cannot therefore broker special financial or study arrangements with individual students regardless of the circumstances. All tutorial support is provided online and this enables Appleton Greene to keep a record of all communications between students, professors and tutors on file for future reference, in accordance with our quality management procedure and your terms and conditions of enrolment. All tutorial support is provided online via email because it enables us to have time to consider support content carefully, it ensures that you receive a considered and detailed response to your queries. You can number questions that you would like to ask, which relate to things that you do not understand or where clarification may be required. You can then be sure of receiving specific answers to each individual query. You will also then have a record of these communications and of all tutorial support, which has been provided to you. This makes tutorial support administration more productive by avoiding any unnecessary duplication, misunderstanding, or misinterpretation.
Tutorial Support Email Format
You should use this tutorial support format if you need to request clarification or assistance while studying with your training program. Please note that ALL of your tutorial support request emails should use the same format. You should therefore set up a standard email template, which you can then use as and when you need to. Emails that are forwarded to Appleton Greene, which do not use the following format, may be rejected and returned to you by the (CLP) Program Administration Manager. A detailed response will then be forwarded to you via email usually within 20 business days of receipt for general support queries and 30 business days for the evaluation and assessment of project studies. This does not include weekends or public holidays. Your tutorial support request, together with the corresponding TSU reply, will then be saved and stored within your electronic TSU file at Appleton Greene for future reference.
Subject line of your email
Please insert: Appleton Greene (CLP) Tutorial Support Request: (Your Full Name) (Date), within the subject line of your email.
Main body of your email
1. Appleton Greene Certified Learning Provider (CLP) Tutorial Support Request
2. Your Full Name
3. Date of TS request
4. Preferred email address
5. Backup email address
6. Course manual page name or number (reference)
7. Project study page name or number (reference)
Subject of enquiry
Please insert a maximum of 50 words (please be succinct)
Briefly outline the subject matter of your inquiry, or what your questions relate to.
Maximum of 50 words (please be succinct)
Maximum of 50 words (please be succinct)
Maximum of 50 words (please be succinct)
Maximum of 50 words (please be succinct)
Maximum of 50 words (please be succinct)
Please note that a maximum of 5 questions is permitted with each individual tutorial support request email.
* List the questions that you want to ask first, then re-arrange them in order of priority. Make sure that you reference them, where necessary, to the course manuals or project studies.
* Make sure that you are specific about your questions and number them. Try to plan the content within your emails to make sure that it is relevant.
* Make sure that your tutorial support emails are set out correctly, using the Tutorial Support Email Format provided here.
* Save a copy of your email and incorporate the date sent after the subject title. Keep your tutorial support emails within the same file and in date order for easy reference.
* Allow up to 20 business days for a response to general tutorial support emails and up to 30 business days for the evaluation and assessment of project studies, because detailed individual responses will be made in all cases and tutorial support emails are answered strictly within the order in which they are received.
* Emails can and do get lost. So if you have not received a reply within the appropriate time, forward another copy or a reminder to the tutorial support unit to be sure that it has been received but do not forward reminders unless the appropriate time has elapsed.
* When you receive a reply, save it immediately featuring the date of receipt after the subject heading for easy reference. In most cases the tutorial support unit replies to your questions individually, so you will have a record of the questions that you asked as well as the answers offered. With project studies however, separate emails are usually forwarded by the tutorial support unit, so do keep a record of your own original emails as well.
* Remember to be positive and friendly in your emails. You are dealing with real people who will respond to the same things that you respond to.
* Try not to repeat questions that have already been asked in previous emails. If this happens the tutorial support unit will probably just refer you to the appropriate answers that have already been provided within previous emails.
* If you lose your tutorial support email records you can write to Appleton Greene to receive a copy of your tutorial support file, but a separate administration charge may be levied for this service.
How To Study
Your Certified Learning Provider (CLP) and Accredited Consultant can help you to plan a task list for getting started so that you can be clear about your direction and your priorities in relation to your training program. It is also a good way to introduce yourself to the tutorial support team.
Planning your study environment
Your study conditions are of great importance and will have a direct effect on how much you enjoy your training program. Consider how much space you will have, whether it is comfortable and private and whether you are likely to be disturbed. The study tools and facilities at your disposal are also important to the success of your distance-learning experience. Your tutorial support unit can help with useful tips and guidance, regardless of your starting position. It is important to get this right before you start working on your training program.
Planning your program objectives
It is important that you have a clear list of study objectives, in order of priority, before you start working on your training program. Your tutorial support unit can offer assistance here to ensure that your study objectives have been afforded due consideration and priority.
Planning how and when to study
Distance-learners are freed from the necessity of attending regular classes, since they can study in their own way, at their own pace and for their own purposes. This approach is designed to let you study efficiently away from the traditional classroom environment. It is important however, that you plan how and when to study, so that you are making the most of your natural attributes, strengths and opportunities. Your tutorial support unit can offer assistance and useful tips to ensure that you are playing to your strengths.
Planning your study tasks
You should have a clear understanding of the study tasks that you should be undertaking and the priority associated with each task. These tasks should also be integrated with your program objectives. The distance learning guide and the guide to tutorial support for students should help you here, but if you need any clarification or assistance, please contact your tutorial support unit.
Planning your time
You will need to allocate specific times during your calendar when you intend to study if you are to have a realistic chance of completing your program on time. You are responsible for planning and managing your own study time, so it is important that you are successful with this. Your tutorial support unit can help you with this if your time plan is not working.
Keeping in touch
Consistency is the key here. If you communicate too frequently in short bursts, or too infrequently with no pattern, then your management ability with your studies will be questioned, both by you and by your tutorial support unit. It is obvious when a student is in control and when one is not and this will depend how able you are at sticking with your study plan. Inconsistency invariably leads to in-completion.
Charting your progress
Your tutorial support team can help you to chart your own study progress. Refer to your distance learning guide for further details.
Making it work
To succeed, all that you will need to do is apply yourself to undertaking your training program and interpreting it correctly. Success or failure lies in your hands and your hands alone, so be sure that you have a strategy for making it work. Your Certified Learning Provider (CLP) and Accredited Consultant can guide you through the process of program planning, development and implementation.
Interpretation is often unique to the individual but it can be improved and even quantified by implementing consistent interpretation methods. Interpretation can be affected by outside interference such as family members, TV, or the Internet, or simply by other thoughts which are demanding priority in our minds. One thing that can improve our productivity is using recognized reading methods. This helps us to focus and to be more structured when reading information for reasons of importance, rather than relaxation.
When reading through course manuals for the first time, subconsciously set your reading speed to be just fast enough that you cannot dwell on individual words or tables. With practice, you should be able to read an A4 sheet of paper in one minute. You will not achieve much in the way of a detailed understanding, but your brain will retain a useful overview. This overview will be important later on and will enable you to keep individual issues in perspective with a more generic picture because speed reading appeals to the memory part of the brain. Do not worry about what you do or do not remember at this stage.
Once you have speed read everything, you can then start work in earnest. You now need to read a particular section of your course manual thoroughly, by making detailed notes while you read. This process is called Content Reading and it will help to consolidate your understanding and interpretation of the information that has been provided.
Making structured notes on the course manuals
When you are content reading, you should be making detailed notes, which are both structured and informative. Make these notes in a MS Word document on your computer, because you can then amend and update these as and when you deem it to be necessary. List your notes under three headings: 1. Interpretation – 2. Questions – 3. Tasks. The purpose of the 1st section is to clarify your interpretation by writing it down. The purpose of the 2nd section is to list any questions that the issue raises for you. The purpose of the 3rd section is to list any tasks that you should undertake as a result. Anyone who has graduated with a business-related degree should already be familiar with this process.
Organizing structured notes separately
You should then transfer your notes to a separate study notebook, preferably one that enables easy referencing, such as a MS Word Document, a MS Excel Spreadsheet, a MS Access Database, or a personal organizer on your cell phone. Transferring your notes allows you to have the opportunity of cross-checking and verifying them, which assists considerably with understanding and interpretation. You will also find that the better you are at doing this, the more chance you will have of ensuring that you achieve your study objectives.
Question your understanding
Do challenge your understanding. Explain things to yourself in your own words by writing things down.
Clarifying your understanding
If you are at all unsure, forward an email to your tutorial support unit and they will help to clarify your understanding.
Question your interpretation
Do challenge your interpretation. Qualify your interpretation by writing it down.
Clarifying your interpretation
If you are at all unsure, forward an email to your tutorial support unit and they will help to clarify your interpretation.
The student will need to successfully complete the project study and all of the exercises relating to the Financial Leadership corporate training program, achieving a pass with merit or distinction in each case, in order to qualify as an Accredited Financial Leadership Specialist (AFLS). All monthly workshops need to be tried and tested within your company. These project studies can be completed in your own time and at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home or office. There are no formal examinations, assessment is based upon the successful completion of the project studies. They are called project studies because, unlike case studies, these projects are not theoretical, they incorporate real program processes that need to be properly researched and developed. The project studies assist us in measuring your understanding and interpretation of the training program and enable us to assess qualification merits. All of the project studies are based entirely upon the content within the training program and they enable you to integrate what you have learnt into your corporate training practice.
Financial Leadership – Grading Contribution
Project Study – Grading Contribution
Customer Service – 10%
E-business – 05%
Finance – 10%
Globalization – 10%
Human Resources – 10%
Information Technology – 10%
Legal – 05%
Management – 10%
Marketing – 10%
Production – 10%
Education – 05%
Logistics – 05%
TOTAL GRADING – 100%
A mark of 90% = Pass with Distinction.
A mark of 75% = Pass with Merit.
A mark of less than 75% = Fail.
If you fail to achieve a mark of 75% with a project study, you will receive detailed feedback from the Certified Learning Provider (CLP) and/or Accredited Consultant, together with a list of tasks which you will need to complete, in order to ensure that your project study meets with the minimum quality standard that is required by Appleton Greene. You can then re-submit your project study for further evaluation and assessment. Indeed you can re-submit as many drafts of your project studies as you need to, until such a time as they eventually meet with the required standard by Appleton Greene, so you need not worry about this, it is all part of the learning process.
When marking project studies, Appleton Greene is looking for sufficient evidence of the following:
Pass with merit
A satisfactory level of program understanding
A satisfactory level of program interpretation
A satisfactory level of project study content presentation
A satisfactory level of Unique Program Proposition (UPP) quality
A satisfactory level of the practical integration of academic theory
Pass with distinction
An exceptional level of program understanding
An exceptional level of program interpretation
An exceptional level of project study content presentation
An exceptional level of Unique Program Proposition (UPP) quality
An exceptional level of the practical integration of academic theory
No formal research is required prior to starting this workshop; however, it is recommended that all participants review certain elements of their organization and work done in prior workshops. Taking time to refresh your understanding of the topics covered and reflect will be helpful in this module. Participants should also read through the Distance Learning section to make sure they establish the proper learning environment. The Tutorial Support section will also provide instructions and details on how to seek support.
Section 1: Review Existing Organization
Participants should reflect on the overall finance team. Participants should spend time reflecting on the overall performance of the team and individual members. Focus on elements of the Catalyst Competency and related building blocks.
Make a list of situations where there was an opportunity to take appropriate action. The list should include situations where someone took the opportunity and when no one took the opportunity. Reflect on the impact this had for you as a financial leader. Also consider if you have members of your team that are always taking opportunities for action and others that are hesitant.
Review your team and think about who has a desire to understand and who want to be ‘told what to do’. Create a list of employees with the desire to understand and those that need to be told what to do. Reflect on how this impacts you as a financial leader. Review your team and think about who is willing to engage others and those that will not engage or expect you to engage others. Participants should create a list of employees willing to engage others and those unwilling to engage others. Reflect on how this impacts you as a financial leader.
Section 2: Review Competency Matrix and Current Performance
The participants should review the Competency Matrix that was developed in the previous workshop and make sure they are very familiar with different competency levels for the Catalyst Competency. Time should be spent reflecting on the matrix and if is still clear. Has anything since the last workshop happened that would warrant reviewing the Competency Matrix? Are the expectations for each organization level clear?
The Catalyst Competency has three building blocks, Curiosity, Initiative, and Influence. Curiosity is a desire to understand the environment related to the employees work. Initiative is a willingness to take steps towards action. Influence is the capacity to engage others to consider action or a different point of view. Do the different performance levels in the competency matrix show elements from all building blocks?
Next, participants should spend time reflecting on the performance of the existing team compared to the performance criteria in the Competency Matrix for the Catalyst Competency. Participants should consider the individuals on their team’s performance compared to the performance standards for the Catalyst Competency in the matrix. The participants should list any concerns they have regarding actual performance compared to the matrix.
Section 3: Review Feedback from Module 1 (Exercise – the 4 competencies) list of opportunities
The participants should review the 4 Competencies Exercise from module 1 and the employees and situations related to the Catalyst Competency. Participants should then review opportunities for improvement related to the Catalyst Competency.
Participants should then reflect on the opportunities and identify opportunities related to the Catalyst Competency. Participants should use to the identified opportunities as goals for the workshop.
Section 4 Review Module 1 Guidelines on Feedback and Team Dynamics
Participants should review Module 1 Introduction Guidelines of Feedback and Team / Organization Dynamics sections. This will remind participants of the basic guidelines for giving feedback and to make sure the team dynamics allows for effective conversation and to maximize the team’s opportunity for success.
Section 5 Thoughts on Metrics
Participants should spend some time reviewing existing KPIs. I would recommend considering how these KPIs are communicated by the organization and how they are received and used by individuals in the company. Are there more metrics that employees have more interest in? Are there metrics employees have little or no interest in? What do these have in common?
It may be helpful for participants to gain an understanding from a few key employees regarding the KPI measurements and how they affect the organization. Take some time to inquire with a handful of employees on their opinion on the effectiveness of certain KPIs. Do the KPIs reflect what is going on in the business? Do they help you understand how the organization is performing? How could they be better? Discussing the employee’s perception of the company’s KPIs will provide insight for discussion later in the workshop regarding measuring the effectiveness of the Financial Leadership Model.
Participants will also find it helpful to have a conversation regarding metrics and performance with peers in other departments they frequently work with. Having a perspective from an internal customer will be helpful for participants during the metric and KPI conversations.
After discussing KPIs with other departments and employees, participants should make a list of effective and ineffective metrics based on the feedback that was given. Effective metrics will be of value to finance employees or the other departments working with finance. Ineffective metrics are of limited value or relevancy to employees or internal customers.
Course Manuals 1-12
Building and Understanding the Catalyst Competency
This workshop is designed to build upon the previous workshop and discuss the Catalyst Competency in greater detail. It is recommended that all participants review the Study Guide, Tutorial Support and Preliminary Analysis prior to the start of the workshop. The Study Guide help each participant prepare for the program and will provide tips to help your success. The Tutorial Support section will provide show you how to request support during the program. The Preliminary Analysis will discuss things the participants should do to prepare prior to the workshop. The preparation discussed in the Preliminary Analysis does not involve any research. However, the participants should spend time preparing for the Workshop.
As discussed in Module 1, the Financial Leadership Model is designed to help financial leaders build effective, resilient teams so they can adapt to the rapidly changing business environment. Financial leadership is different from organizational leadership. Organizational leaders are responsible for the entire organization and are generally the face of the organization. Financial leaders operate without the formal authority of a CEO or business leader, for the financial leader the ability to influence others to affect change is the key to success.
In order to build the influence that is needed, financial leaders need to have an effective team and a mastery of key leadership skills. The Financial Leadership Model helps to build effective teams through the use of four Competencies. These competencies of the leadership model are Catalyst, Reporting, Balance, and The Curve. Together these competencies help leaders to build effective team that enable to them to focus on the strategic needs of the business.
Efficiency vs Effectiveness:
Throughout the workshop the terms efficiency and effectiveness will be used. It is important to understand the difference and why both are important. Efficiency is how well an organization performs a process. It is an internal measure and something those inside the organization are concerned about. Organizations that are efficient have lower costs and typically perform functions faster than inefficient competitors.
Effectiveness is how well the organization’s processes meet the needs of the customer. The customer can be internal or external. Effectiveness is a measure that focuses outward from the team or organization. Effective organizations have higher levels of customer satisfaction. Successful organizations look to be both efficient and effective.
When building a financial team, building efficiency is generally the focus. Finance leaders look to process transactions quickly and keep costs low. While building the efficient processes, are you making sure the people are effective? Efficiency is great, but if you cannot be effective and meet the expectations of your customer, you will have an unhappy customer that only views finance as a low cost, compliance driven function. The four competencies of the Financial Leadership Model deal with improving the effectiveness of the finance team.
Catalyst is the first competency and is the ability to see what and how things need to be done to meet the company goals. Employees with this competency do not just understand the company goals. They look for opportunities to act and encourage others, so the company meets its goals.
Once while touring a plant of a company that was very focused on the safety and cleanliness of the plant, the leader of the tour picked up some packing material that had fallen on the floor. The tour never stopped, the leader picked it up and as we walked by an appropriate refuse container, he placed it in while conducting the tour. This is an example catalyst behavior; the company has a goal and when there was an issue the employee addressed the issue. Imagine how much more effective you and your team would be if everyone understood the goals of the company and acted towards those goals without having to be told.
Catalyst Building Blocks
Each competency is made of building blocks of different behaviors working together to form the competency. These building blocks make it easier to identify the Catalyst behavior. The three building blocks are curiosity, influence, and initiative. The building blocks will help in the evaluation of employees.
All three building blocks are necessary to have the competency. If an employee lacks one or more building blocks, then there is a performance gap. Scenarios where an employee is missing two or all three of the building blocks, it is easy to see. These performance gaps are usually so large that other areas of performance suffer, and managers will address the performance issues.
However, if only one building block is missing or underdeveloped, the performance gap that results is often rationalized away. This can happen for many reasons. Many employees are adept at using their strengths in two of the building blocks to compensate for the lack of the other. Managers can focus more on work output of the individual and excuse other issues.
Teams can also develop different coping mechanisms to deal with team members and other employees that lack certain skills. These coping mechanisms may shield the employees, but these mechanisms can cause dysfunction, inefficiency, and other team issues. This can result in hidden costs. Once you understand the relationships between the building blocks and the performance gap symptoms, diagnosing the situation becomes easier.
Exercise: Building and Understanding the Catalyst Competency
The participants should discuss the challenges of getting the right team in place. Next, the participants should discuss and list any barriers to getting the right team.
Curiosity Building Block
Curiosity is the first building block of the Catalyst Competency. The Financial Leadership Model describes curiosity as a desire to understand the environment related to the employees work. Employees will demonstrate this by asking questions to not only understand why things are done the way they are but to understand the impact their work has on others. Having an understanding of your work environment is necessary to successfully executing towards the company goals. If an employee lacks an understanding of their environment, they cannot act appropriately when decisions need to be made.
Ask an employee why certain tasks are done. If you get a response that is how I was told to do it or that is the way we have always done it, you are dealing with a lack of curiosity. If the building block, curiosity is present you will get an answer on why things are done a certain way, who it might impact, and you might even be asked if there is a better way.
How Curiosity fits into the Model
The Catalyst Competency is the ability to see what and how things need to be done to meet the company goals. It would be difficult for employees to understand the company goals if they do not have an understanding of how their role in the organization relates to the broader organization. Furthermore, taking action without this understanding is also impossible. If action is taken without the proper understanding, the action taken may be counterproductive if there is limited understand of how the change will impact others.
It could be argued that training can resolve these issues. It may be possible to train employee to know the answers to these questions, but this would require close supervision and significant resources devoted to keeping the team informed of any changes. Curiosity is desire to understand, and the key is a desire on the part of the employee to want to understand the environment. While training can provide key information and data, curiosity is when the employee develops an understanding of how it fits together.
The Financial Leadership Model’s goal is to make financial teams more resilient and able to react to changing business conditions. If you want your financial team to be more resilient this is a necessary building block for this important competency. To be a financial leader, you need to build the right team. Building the right team will enable you to focus on the strategic issues of the business that need financial leadership.
During my career I was hired into a situation where the finance team was struggling to support the business. As the new financial leader, I was looking for a quick win to show my peers things were going to improve. It was brought to my attention that there was significant frustration with how expense reports and the related reimbursements were handled. The complaints where the process took too long and there was a general lack of transparency. I discussed this with my team, and we developed a plan to address the concerns.
Two months later I was attending a strategy meeting with our sales team. After reviewing our financial performance, I asked if there were any questions. It is painful to admit there was only one question, and it was why have expense reimbursements gotten slower when I promised to address the situation. The question was a shock to me, considering we had communicated a new process with a commitment to reimbursement time frames. I had even gone back to my peers and ask if the process was better. The response I received was things had improved significantly.
As I investigated, I found that my team had established deadlines for weekly reimbursements and anything that arrived after the deadline was pushed to the following week. While this process was very efficient and transparent, it did not consider the process the sales managers used to review reimbursements. The finance deadline did not line up with the sales manager deadline and the result was to push all the sales departments expense reimbursements out one week. What was more disturbing was that no one on my team new how the sales managers reviewed the expense reports from their teams. My team and I failed at curiosity. We did not understand the environment and didn’t ask a fairly basic question. When the team received expense reports right after the deadline, no one ever asked why.
Finance teams that do have the curiosity building block face several challenges as demonstrated in the example. In this situation there were several consequences. Finance’s internal customer received slower reimbursements, and this had an impact on the employees in that department, but also affected of the finance team was perceived. The finance team is faced with the challenge of not meeting their customer’s expectations despite their best effort. As the financial leader I had to face the perception issue from the sales team, but I also need to invest my time to fix the issue and repair the damage with the other functional areas.
When the finance team acts without curiosity, they will be making assumptions and risk making decisions that will be ineffective at meeting the needs of internal customers. I am sure that you have experience poor service when someone offers excuses of things not being part of their process or part of their job. How can you expect anything better if there is no understanding how why things are or the company goals? Poor service will affect the perception of the team to others in the organization. It also can impact the internal customer’s ability to help the organization be successful.
The impact on finance team employees should not be overlooked. These situations can have an impact on employee morale and will lower job satisfaction. Employees that understand the why elements of their job and how others are affected are happier in their roles. Imagine the level of misery if an employee has no idea why they do what they do and if anyone even cares. Lower job satisfaction leads to higher turnover and higher costs.
The consequences for financial leaders are twofold. First, there is the damage to perception and credibility in the organization. Second, the financial leader will have to get involved to correct the situation and work to repair any damage to relationships in the company. The financial leader must spend time resolving this issue and reworking the solution that did not work. This can distract leaders from other pressing issues where their leadership is needed. For financial leaders to have long term success they need to build effective teams that allow them to provide the financial leadership for the organization. Distraction for the financial leadership of a company can have significant consequences for the entire organization.
Exercise – Curiosity Building Block
The participants should discuss the example given above. Have similar events happened in the company or to any of the participants? Discuss the curiosity building block and develop a list of internal employees that are examples of Curiosity. After identifying examples of curiosity, they should review the improvement opportunities list and discuss how further developing curiosity can help with those opportunities.
Influence Building Block
Influence is the Second building block of the Catalyst Competency. The Financial Leadership Model describes influence as the capacity to engage others to consider action or a different point of view. Employees with the building block of influence are willing to discuss with others in the organization their thoughts and ideas. This will not be limited to only their peers or people in their department. Employees will demonstrate this ability by engaging with others in the organization to discuss challenges or opportunities for improvement. Influence can also show itself by others asking for specific employees to be involved when there are team related tasks.
Look at your team and think about the employees that you feel comfortable explaining a change in process to others on your team or to another department. You would want someone that can discuss with others the change in process. They should explain why the change needs to be implemented, and just as important someone that will listen to feedback. The person you chose, should not only communicate the message, but will build support and buy-in for the message being communicated. Employees that are strong with the influence building block should be the team members that come to mind.
How Influence fits into the Model
The Catalyst Competency is the ability to see what and how things need to be done to meet the company goals. The influence building block helps with the second part. Influence is necessary to engage others to meet the goals of the company. If you have an understanding of the company goals but are unwilling or unable to engage others regarding these common goals it can be difficult for the company to be successful.
Some companies will rely on the hierarchy of management to manage and resolve these issues. In these cases, it would be argued that influence is only necessary for managers to have. Employees can bring issues to their manager who can work to resolve the issue. The biggest challenge with this model is that it removes those closest to the challenge from developing the solution, separating the pain of the problem from ownership of the solution. The underlying goal of the Financial Leadership Model is to build effective, resilient teams that will allow financial leaders to focus on the leadership aspects of their roles. Relying on management only to provide basic influence to get things done, will not build that effective, resilient team.
Financial leaders need teams that are designed to meet the needs of their internal customers and can react to changing business conditions. If you want your financial team to be more resilient, influence is a necessary building block for this important competency. If you do not have employees that can use influence, it will be difficult for you as a financial leader to focus on the strategic issues of the business that require your attention.
Once I was working with a CFO client that had several strategic items on his plate. I was engaged to help him get more through his staff without his personal involvement. We reviewed the open projects that were ready for implementation. As I took the list and talked to the different managers responsible for the implantation of these projects there was a common theme. Most of them were waiting for the CFO to be able to attend a meeting with the manager and other functional departments. As I asked questions it became apparent to me that none of the managers waiting for the CFO where willing to engage others in discussing the issue or asking other functional areas to take action to help with the implementation of these projects. The lack of influence among the senior level managers reporting to the CFO had caused all of these projects to sit on the desk of the CFO.
As the example above shows, finance teams that lack the influence building block face many challenges. The most obvious will be lack of strong relationships between finance and other teams in the company. The lack of relationships will result in a lack of cooperation or the need for issues to be escalated in the organization. The lack of relationships will delay improvements to processes or worse cause employees to not take the time to point out opportunities for improvement. Employee engagement is clearly affected if employees no longer feel they can affect change or be a part of the solution.
The increased workload on the managers in the organization shifts them away from other activities that require their attention. In the example above, all these projects were waiting to be implemented because the CFO could not attend a meeting to ask someone to do the work. The reason the CFO had delegated these projects was due to the other issues on his plate, the failure of his team to address the other issues was putting significant stress on the organization. A lack of influence reduces the resiliency of the overall team and increases the likelihood of the organization not meeting their goals.
Exercise – Influence Building Block
Participants should discuss the example about and discuss any similar experiences they have had. The participants should also discuss the influence building block and develop a list of internal employees that are examples of Influence. After identifying examples of influence, they should review the improvement opportunities list and discuss how further developing influence can help with those opportunities.
Initiative Building Block
Initiative is the third building block of the Catalyst Competency. The Financial Leadership Model describes initiative as a willingness to take the steps towards action. Employees with the building block of initiative are willing to move forward by taking steps towards action. Employees will show this by either suggesting the steps necessary to move towards action, are willing to take the initial steps themselves or will volunteer to help.
Seeing initiative on your team can be easier than the other building blocks since it is linked to action. When the opportunity presents itself, there will be those that are willing to take action and those that will not show a willingness to take action. It is important to note that for some of employees that do not show a willingness to act it is not due to a lack of initiative but other factors.
Among these other factors are workload and skepticism about the action to be taken. This should not be considered a lack an initiative without taking into consideration proper context of the other factors. Financial leaders can test an employee by prompting them to help with an issue. If the employee will not take action when prompted, there is clearly an issue. If an employee will take action only when prompted, initiative is present however there is another issue causing the employee to limit the action they take.
How Initiative fits into the Model
The Catalyst Competency is the ability to see what and how things need to be done to meet the company goals. The initiative building block is critical to the Catalyst Competency to have visible action. If we go back to the plant tour and the packing material on the floor. The individual giving the tour takes the initiative to pick up the material and properly dispose of it. At this moment, the concept of Catalyst is realized action was taken to meet the company’s goals. The action taken was appropriate in that given situation. The tour leader did not call someone to clean it up or step around it. Understanding and communicating about a goal is important but without the action the goal cannot be met.
The key to initiative (what we want) compared to random action (what we do not want) is that it needs to be related to the company’s goals. If the action is not aligned to the company goals, it is not initiative. Financial leaders need to be careful not to confuse activity and energy for initiative. Initiative is action that relates to the organization’s goals. Initiative is necessary for the Financial Leadership Model’s to work. The goal is to make financial teams more resilient and able to react to changing business conditions.
There consequences for finance teams lacking the initiative building block are very visible. A lack of an ability to get key projects done on time, an inability to support key initiatives and an unwillingness of financial leaders to delegate tasks and projects to others. All of these are consequences of not having employees with the initiative building block.
The impact on the organization can be significant. If finance cannot help the company achieve its goals, others will look at the financial team as a barrier to success and something that needs to be navigated around instead of a partner that will help create success. The financial leadership of the company can find itself overwhelmed trying to keep up without the ability to delegate or having some of the burden shared by others on the team. It is not possible for a few financial leaders to do everything required for a company to meet its goals. To address the situation, the company will need to spend on additional resources to help or make strategic decisions without the benefit of financial expertise.
Exercise – Initiative Building Block
Participants should discuss the example of the plant tour and other incidents where there has been a lack of initiative. The participants should discuss the initiative building block and develop a list of internal employees that are examples of initiative. After identifying examples of initiative, they should review the improvement opportunities list and discuss how further developing initiative can help with those opportunities.
Putting it together
The three building blocks work together to form the Catalyst Competency. All three are required to properly form the competency. For employees to have the ability to see what needs to be done to meet the company goals, it is necessary to have a desire to understand (Curiosity), the capacity to engage others (Influence) and a willingness to take action (Initiative).
The Catalyst Competency requires all three to be present. A lack of understanding (Curiosity) will lead to ineffective action (Initiative) and lessen the ability to engage others (Influence). If Curiosity is present along with Influence, but there is no initiative, problems will be solved but not implemented. If Curiosity and Initiative are present but no Influence you will never be able to engage and convince others.
A performance gap is when one or more of the building blocks are missing. When two or three of the building blocks are missing, the symptoms become more obvious. Curiosity without Initiative to take action and Influence to engage others will result in knowing the situation but an inability to act or implement. Influence without Curiosity and Initiative will result in lots of talking and possibly complaining without an understanding or willingness to take action. Initiative without the understanding from Curiosity and the willingness to engage others with Influence results in frustration from random action being taken without any regard for logic or other department needs.
Additionally, in cases of two missing building blocks, the one building block that is present is diminished. For example, it is difficult for someone to demonstrate Curiosity and understand their environment without Influence or Initiative. This makes the performance gap easy to see and typically the organization’s performance management system will address these issues. Employee lacking more than one building block can also have performance issues in other aspects of their role.
When an employee is missing only one building block the performance gap is not as apparent. Using two building blocks to compensate for another is a strategy many employees with a performance gap will use. Additionally, managers can be biased that an employee performs on technical aspects of their role and not see the missing building block. The result is that managers and other financial leaders will need to compensate for the missing building blocks and lack of Catalyst Competency.
The Catalyst Competency is broken down into the three building blocks to help identify the gaps employees have and articulate what is missing. Most financial leaders have experienced the symptoms and employee behavior that is frustrating. Teams that can’t seem to finish projects, need to constantly have little details managed or have ‘incidents’ with others smoothed over. The building blocks will help you to analyze your team to build the right team to enable success.
Exercise – Catalyst Competency
The participants should discuss all three building blocks for the Catalyst Competency. Participants should discuss and list symptoms they have experience and the impact on the organization.
The absence of the building block influence results in the big talker performance gap. This performance gap happens when an employee has curiosity and initiative but lacks influence. The result is an employee that has a desire to understand the environment and a willingness to take steps towards action, however there is a lack of capacity or willingness to engage others. The result is someone that will either force things to happen with little regard for the impact on others in the company or someone that will be ineffective because they cannot engage others.
The result is of either situation is typically the same. A financial leader will have to get involved to provide the necessary influence to engage others that are necessary, or the financial leader will need to spend time smoothing over the steam rolling. Both situations take financial leaders away from important tasks and reduce the ability of the financial leader to spend time providing financial leadership.
The are several common indicators of a lack of influence. Employees that have a very narrow view of their role will use stay away from others and offer the defense ‘not my job’. These are employees that focused primarily on transaction processing and only want to process what is on their desk. The result is the financial leader having to get involved in things the employee should be able to resolve on their own. The behavior is frequently overlooked because a perceived amount of work output.
Another indicator of a lack of influence is hiding from interacting and hoping that someone else will influence the situation. Common examples of this are poor uses of email or large meetings. The broadcast email that states a general problem without engaging the necessary people is an example of someone want to say something without really engaging. The hope is that someone else included on the email will step in or the fact that so many people are on the email that action will be taken. The same is true for large meetings scheduled to discuss a topic in hopes that someone else will champion the cause. This typically results in a financial leader having to get involved or the topic remaining unaddressed.
Deflection is another indicator of a lack of influence. Employees will attempt to deflect attention away from themselves and put the issue on others. The issue is not me; it is the sales department that does not listen or does not like me. This strategy is misdirection, shifting the blame to the other party. The result is the same, someone else will need to provide the influence or the topic will remain unaddressed.
Some employees with a lack of influence will attempt to engage by using someone’s authority to drive the conversation. These conversations usually include statements like, my boss wants me to do this or corporate needs this done. While this may look like engaging others, it is in reality an attempt to have others do what I want without any regard for their point of view by using some other authority to blame it on. This is not influence as defined by the Financial Leadership Model. This is an attempt at coercion. While this may produce results on some occasions, long term it typically creates a mess. The mess could be animosity between different functions, an inefficient process, or a poor customer experience. Whatever the mess the result will be eventually a financial leader will have to address the issue.
Exercise – Steam Roller
Participants should discuss the Steam Roller performance gap and develop a list of examples where the participants have seen this performance gap. The participants should then discuss the impact these situations had on the financial leaders involved and on the company.
The absence of the building block curiosity results in the assumer performance gap. This performance gap happens when an employee has Influence and Initiative but lacks influence. The result is an employee that has a willingness to engage others and to take steps towards action, however there is a lack of a desire to understand their environment. The result is someone that is willing to engage others and take action but lacks an understanding of the environment. The lack of understanding will result in the employee adopting ideas from someone else or moving forward without an understanding of the potential impact.
The consequence of either situation is the same as other performance gaps. A financial leader will have to get involved to provide the necessary skills to either get positive results or clean up any mess made. This will take the financial leaders away from important tasks and reduce the ability of the financial leader to spend time providing financial leadership. Additionally, internal relationships may be damaged or strained as a result of the performance gap.
Assumers that are aware of their limited knowledge of the working environment are typically selective when they will use their skills. These assumers will look for ideas from others that they can use as their own, engaging others and starting action. Typically, you will see indications of this during implementation when the lack of understanding will show. Another aspect that is indicative of this situation is the feeling that things did not fail, it was more of a good idea at the time or just needed a little more ‘horsepower’ to get the job done. While complex projects can fail for these reasons, it is important to recognize a lack of curiosity can be a significant factor. The impact on the financial leadership is the need to get involved in the situation taking time away from the strategic activities requiring financial leadership.
The unaware assumer is not aware or unwilling to admit that they have limited knowledge of the work environment. These situations are messier than situations where there is awareness. The unaware assumer will make assumptions on the business environment and make poor decisions as a result. In these situations, failure can happen anywhere in the process and has the potential to cause collateral damage to other teams or departments. In situations where the damage extends beyond the team or department this will require a financial leader to not only get involved in setting things right, but also repairing the damage with others.
Exercise – The Assumer
Participants should discuss The Assumer performance gap and develop a list of examples where the participants have seen this performance gap. The participants should then discuss the impact these situations had on the financial leaders involved and on the company.
The Big Talker
The absence of the building block initiative results in the big talker performance gap. This performance gap happens when an employee has Curiosity and Influence but lacks initiative. The result is an employee that has a desire to understand the environment and a willingness to engage others, however there is a lack of willingness to take steps towards action. The result is someone that will engage others and have an understanding of what to do but will be ineffective because they lack the ability to take steps towards action.
The result of the performance gap is the same. A financial leader will have to get involved to provide the necessary initiative to take steps towards action, or the financial leader takes no action, and nothing happens, other than talk. Both situations take financial leaders away from important tasks and reduce the ability of the financial leader to spend time providing financial leadership.
Deflection is the most common indicator of a lack of initiative. Employees without initiative will look to place the blame on the lack of action somewhere else. It is important to identify the performance gap and recognize the deflection techniques used so appropriate action can be taken once the performance gap is identified. Strategies to address performance gap will be discussed later.
‘It is not my job’ is a common deflection tactic used. The implication is the employee bears no responsibility and therefore must be someone else that needs to initiate action. That someone is a financial leader in the business.
Sometimes the deflections are aimed back at management. One such that is the ‘they don’t pay me to do that’ deflection. Another similar tactic is the ‘someone won’t approve it’ deflection. Here the someone can be a supervisor, other department, or my favorite ‘Corporate’.
In these cases, the deflection towards management is usually the result of two possible dynamics. First, the relationship between the employee or team and other levels in the organization may be damaged. The second dynamic is that something is broken in the culture of the organization. If this is happening odds are the financial leadership of the company is already distracted with the lack of initiative take by employees.
A final deflection that is commonly used is that the employee is too busy. This deflection has two different varieties. First, is the employee actually having a lot to do and if they take something else on something else may not get done. The implication of this situation is the employee has concluded taking action is a low priority compared to the other activities they need to accomplish. The second variety is the employee does not have interest in taking on anything additional.
Exercise – The Big Talker
Participants should discuss the Big Talker performance gap and develop a list of examples where the participants have seen this performance gap. The participants should then discuss the impact these situations had on the financial leaders involved and on the company.
How to assess
Keys to assessment
Now that we have identified the three performance gaps for the Catalyst Competency, the focus will shift to assessing each performance gap and determining the underlying causes. Assessing the situation where the performance gap occurs will allow you to address the root cause of the performance gap and see improvement.
There are three underlying causes for performance gaps, cultural, leadership and individuals. Each underlying cause will have its own methods for addressing and remediating the performance gap. Identifying the issue is key to addressing the issue is the key to remediation and eliminating the performance gap. If you do not identify the cause of the performance gap properly the solution you apply may not solve the issue but make things worse.
Company Culture Issues
It is tempting to quickly dismiss the company culture could be causing a performance gap, however it can and does happen. When discussing a company’s culture, it is important to note the formal culture as stated in the company’s vision, mission, and values is rarely the problem. Have you ever heard of a company that has in its mission statement something that tells employees not to understand the company strategy or to take no initiative to make decisions?
Cultural issues usually come from the unwritten rules of the company or the behavioral norms that are part of how the employees conduct themselves. The unwritten rules and expectations of a company can have a powerful effect on employee behavior. Cultural issues should always be considered before moving to other possible causes.
Once I worked with an organization that had a core value of integrity. The CFO, however, took integrity to higher level with the financial team. He set an expectation of complete honesty. Over time the honesty that was exhibited by the finance team became more and more direct. At some point, employees began expressing themselves without any humanity or compassion for the message that was being conveyed. This brutal honesty led to an expectation that everyone in finance was a jerk and arrogant.
In this situation the implicit aspects of the culture grew to have a different meaning and expectation than the explicitly stated value of integrity. The poor behavior carried out by financial leaders and most of the finance team was a function of the culture that developed and not necessarily the performance of the leaders or individuals. Cultural issues generally are widespread in a function or team. If the majority of the members on a team have a performance gap, a cultural issue could be a significant factor in the performance gap.
After considering possible cultural issues, you should next assess any possible leadership issues. There are two leadership issues that should be considered. First, you should assess if the financial leader has a performance gap. Performance gaps with financial leaders can result in the employees on their teams having performance gaps. The leader’s performance gap can make the development and recruitment of others a challenge.
The second issue to be considered is commitment to the Financial Leadership Model the financial leader has. If there is a lack of commitment to the Financial Leadership Model, there will be performance gaps. Employees will sense the lack of commitment and will not embrace the competencies prescribed in the model.
Before determining if a performance gap is related to an individual, it is important to consider potential cultural and leadership issues. Cultural issues are powerful in an organization and unless addressed, it is difficult to change the individual’s performance. Leadership can also exert influence over an individual’s performance. Many times, it is easy and simple to point out an individual as an issue without considering there may be a larger underlying issue.
The primary indicator that an employee’s performance gap may be related to cultural or leadership issues, is an inconsistency. The inconsistency will be something different when circumstances or other elements change. For example, several members of a team show signs of a specific performance gap, it is possible that each of them independently has the performance gap. However, there is significant likelihood that there could be a leadership or cultural issue that may be causing the performance gap. Similarly, if a team has a new leader and performance gaps start happening it may not be the individual.
Once you have ruled out other factors you can assess the individual performance. The building blocks help with the analysis of the individual’s performance by providing a clear analytical tool. For each building block you put each employee into one of three categories. First, there is the ‘has the building block’ category. This means you have seen the employee demonstrate the building block on a consistent basis.
The next category is ‘inconsistent’. Employees in this category sometimes show the building block and sometimes do not. Typically, they will show the building block when prompted.
The last category is ‘void of the building block’. Employees in this category rarely, if ever, show the building block. Once you have done this for all three building blocks you will know what performance gaps exist.
Exercise – How to Assess
The participants should use the performance gap situations gathered in previous exercises to discuss their assessment of each situation. List the underlying issue for each of the performance gap situations discussed. The participants should also discuss how to use the three-tier rating system for individuals and how this could be helpful.
Testing the Competency Matrix / Prep for Assessment
The Competency Matrix that was developed in the first workshop is an important tool in communicating and measuring the performance for each of the 4 competencies. Now that we have completed our analysis of the Catalyst Competency building blocks and performance gaps, we should review the Catalyst Competency in the Competency Matrix.
Reviewing the matrix will provide the opportunity to validate the Catalyst Competency criteria and make improvements to the matrix. The Competency Matrix is a powerful team in implementing the Financial Leadership Model. The matrix helps the financial leaders to build the right team. The matrix is a critical communication tool to employees, it defines the performance criteria for different levels in the organization and by doing so establishes accountability.
Reviewing the Performance Criteria
When reviewing the Catalyst Competency performance criteria in the matrix several questions should be asked. First, do the performance criteria still feel accurate? Do each of the performance criteria have elements of all three building blocks? This is an opportunity to further refine the performance criteria and make sure it will provide a validate message to the employees.
Next review the progression of the performance requirements through the different organizational levels. The progression should feel logical, and all three building blocks should be evident in the performance criteria for each organizational level. Is there clarity between the different performance levels?
Validating the Competency Matrix
After reviewing the matrix and identifying possible opportunities for improvement it is important to validate any possible changes. Validating helps to make sure the matrix is being improved and meeting the needs of the organization. Every company’s competency matrix will be different to meet the needs of that organization. Validating is similar to the optometrist asking which one is bigger, brighter and clearer.
Changes to the matrix should make it visibly better. If the changes make the message to employees clearer, that is better. If the changes make it easier to review an employee’s performance, that is better. Look at the employee you validated against the matrix in Module 1 and apply the test.
Updating the Competency Matrix
After validating the Catalyst Competency in the matrix, you will be ready to update the matrix. If you finish the validation and have decided not to make any physical changes to the competency matrix you should consider the matrix updated. While no changes were made, the validation should make the participants feel more confident in the competency matrix. If the matrix requires updates to the Catalyst Competency, the master document should be updated and distributed to all participants.
Creating a Preparation Plan
A successful preparation plan for the competency assessment will include several items. To start the planning process, you will need to get a listing of the employees to be assessed. The participants should also determine how long an employee needs to be in their current role before being evaluated. The competencies of the Financial Leadership Model are requirements that employees should meet to be in their role. The reason for the evaluation time frame is for the company to have time to observe and validate the competency exists. Typically, the evaluation period should be sixty to ninety days. Next, the participants should make sure they will have data from different points of view for each employee.
Different Employee Relationships
There are four different kinds of relationships with employees. The first is the direct supervisory or managerial relationship. These relationships are characterized by a direct relationship and day to day interaction. An example of this kind of relationship would be the accounts payable clerk and the accounts payable manager.
The second kind of relationship is an indirect managerial relationship. These relationships are characterized by some level of formal authority without day-to-day interaction. An example of this kind of relationship might be the CFO of a large company and a cost accountant at a distant plant.
The third relationship will be a peer relationship. Peer relationships are defined by similar levels of the organization and frequent interaction.
The final relationship is the customer relationship. This is a relationship where you have a reliance or need for data or a service the other party is providing. For example, a Plant Controller and Plant Manager have a customer relationship. The plant manager should be relying on information and insight provided by the plant controller.
Understanding these relationships and making sure that you have representation from these different viewpoints is essential to the calibration process. The purpose of the calibration exercise is to make sure you have an understanding of performance of the individuals and the team. If the direct supervisors of a team believe they have a great team, the indirect management is not connected and the internal customers are unsatisfied, the assessment will provide great information and insight if you get the different perspectives.
Data Gathering / Prework
In order to have a successful assessment the participants will need to make sure they have enough data on all of the employees for the assessment. The participants in the competency assessment will need to make sure they have viewpoints from as many of the 4 different relationship categories as possible. There are different techniques that can be used to gather data for the assessment. This should be planned carefully to make sure the correct perspectives can be brought into the assessment conversation.
One of the best methods for gathering data will be to conduct an interview or have a conversation about the performance of a team or group of individuals. This strategy typically works well with internal customers. For more complex organizations or larger groups, a conversation may not be practical. For these situations, a survey or questionnaire can be helpful. If this method is used, take care to make sure you address issues of confidentiality. Employees are more likely to provide honest feedback if they feel their responses are confidential.
For larger organizations it is not practical to gather data on all employees. Gathering data on team performance can be very helpful for assessing the individuals on the team.
Assessment Expectations and Rules
The preparation plan should also include expectations for participants in the competency assessment. Participants in the competency assessment have two important expectations. First, the assessment is confidential and all conversations regarding the competency assessment should not be discussed with anyone outside the group. This is critical to the participants having confidence to discuss sensitive issues. The second expectation is that participants need to come prepared for the assessment. This includes any prework assigned and taking the proper time to reflect on the performance of the team and the individuals.