Member Stuart Latta Speaks: Forget the Org Chart. Own Processes For Which You’re Accountable

The Challenge:

The case at hand was brought by the CFO of a large, multinational corporation. He was in a classic bind presented by his company’s organizational matrix model: he was fully accountable for the financials of the company, but the regional CFOs reported to a market head who reported directly to the CEO. The CFO felt a lack of control over what he was ultimately accountable for.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

If I were in your shoes, first, I’d call a meeting with your CEO and lay out a clear plan to engage the market heads and their CFOs. Ignore the fact that these individuals don’t report directly to you. At the end of the day, the international accounting standards and financial forecast accountabilities lie with you. You own the process.

I’ve been exactly where you are today. You can’t fire weak regional CFOs, but you are not stranded by any means. The key is to proactively take control through leadership and coaching. Get your CEO’s blessing to engage the market heads and establish that, when it comes to financial processes, you own it. Explain to the market heads that their CFOs are strong in some areas and need work in others. Develop a team mission to build out the regional CFO’s expertise where it is lacking. Start a rotation for these regional CFOs to visit each other and, with your guidance, learn and share knowledge and best practices. Far from an audit, position this program as a collaborative engagement for learning and development purposes. Then, build a plan to shore up gaps.

I can relate to the frustration you feel at not having direct levers over performance that ultimately you are accountable for. But you can act as if the regional CFOs do report directly to you once you gain the alignment with the market heads on your plan. Jump in and lead them to success.