Successful CFO transitions are about building relationships and trust and establishing credibility. Doing so with your peers, the C-suite and the board is particularly important.
Gartner research indicates that new executives who intentionally yet quickly build a strong network among company leaders are 50% more likely to succeed in their transitions.
Connecting during your CFO transition includes:
Building stakeholder relationships
As work becomes more complex and collaborative, new executives’ success becomes more dependent on colleagues in other functions. To influence the performance of employees outside the executive’s reporting line, relationships with the board, CEO and peer executives are critical.
Incoming CFOs need an intentional, not instinctive, approach to relationship building. Our research identifies the principles new CFOs can follow to increase the likelihood of building an internal network that has a net-positive effect on their performance:
Prioritize stakeholder relationships.
Build relationships based on credibility.
Clarify boundaries and expectations.
Building team trust
An important component of new CFOs’ success is the team they manage. CFOs’ direct reports can arm them with information about the workings of the organization; help them understand finance’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; and provide a sounding board. But direct reports may be apprehensive about the new CFO, depending on their relationship with the previous CFO and their own career interests and ambitions.
When new CFOs are build trusting relationships with their new direct reports, their teams must feel comfortable providing proactive upward coaching and feedback. CFOs can follow these principles to build team trust:
Focus on getting to know each direct report individually. Ask about their motivators and work challenges, and seek their feedback about the team.
Communicate expectations to employees of what level of value they should bring to the various activities they work on.
Involve the team in assessments, key decisions and goal setting, where appropriate.
Foster an environment of team development.