Be connected: it’s about the relationship –






In order to fulfill their advisory role properly, finance must invest in the relationship with the internal customer.

As a financier, you are in practice either an operator and operationally involved or mainly an adviser and, if all goes well, only to a limited extent operationally involved. Experience shows that despite brilliant ambitions to be a consultant to management or one smooth operator being in the operational processes, reality is more unruly.

A silent and seemingly lasting frustration is the result. We do our best, but we feel misunderstood and only indirectly involved. As a result, the added value we can deliver remains untapped. It’s worth looking for root cause

Poor communication economy
You do not have to look long for it. The answer can be found in the somewhat ‘poor’ communication that many economies maintain with their functional environment. To be understood in terms of your role, your position and the added value you provide, you must first understand the other person yourself. A sender can only deliver a message if a recipient is willing to ‘tune in’. If it does not work, noise will occur. A healthy connection with your functional environment is therefore the key to your success and the realization of your ambitions.

Let’s be realistic; the average financier is a nice colleague, but does not always excel in communication skills and switching between behavioral styles. We are there for tasks that often have a legal basis and have organized this into processes. The average finance professional likes facts, figures and structure; in short, by guarantees and preferably by predictability. We do not get along so well with a pushy and at times ruthless manager, a sloppy salesperson or a shaky HR department. We prefer to communicate based on content.

But if you mainly go for the content, then it’s like dancing on a string; mildly uncomfortable. The second line, the relational connection next to it, is essential. Suppose you are a market trader for a day. As a financial person, you review the instructions for use for your products, you practice demonstrating and you make sure that nothing can go wrong. Another does not prepare, knows only half of his products and first learns how it works during the first demonstration. He spends his time with passers-by with a very latent demand for his products, manages to appease them and sells his products. In short, with a flexible response to the environment (and a smooth chat) – the relational line – you create the right connection. Let us illustrate with some practical examples from the financial field.

Not a chain, but a silo
Are you looking for one lean If you wear glasses, you will find in many organizations that work is done in ‘silos’ and not in a ‘chain’ with coordinated joints. A creditor administration has great difficulty in timely and proper processing of purchase invoices, feels responsible for this, but gets stuck. Invoices are not properly coded by the vendor, and a search image and an incorrect or unnecessary intermediate account entry are the result. In addition, the buyer is not in a hurry to agree, and late payment is almost inevitable. This results in dissatisfied suppliers with all possible consequences.

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However, the creditor administration is a part of buy to payprocess, ranging from agreements with suppliers, through the submission and registration of orders and processing obligations to final payment. of the supply of products or services. Process responsibility and process ownership do not lie with finance, but with the purchasing manager.

If links in the process chain are not connected, do not take responsibility for their role in the process or do not feel responsible, then you are fighting against wind turbines like Don Quixote. You can not solve this from the ‘creditor administration’ silo. A careless buyer and a careless buyer must be in the ‘game’. Communication and therefore connection across departmental boundaries is a must.

Responds to internal customer needs
Similar misunderstandings can be found in the process of registering reporting as part of the planning and control cycle. As an economy, we find it important to close per. period. We need to know where we stand in order to make adjustments in time, if necessary. We make every effort to be able to analyze figures already eight days after the end of the year, so that we can distribute our reports with analysis by the middle of next month. It must be seen whether we deliver what the results manager wants to know. Actually; if he or she wants to know. The latter is certainly not halfway through the following month if it is important to adjust quickly.

A good connection to the manager in question presupposes a connection to his or her need for information and thus a ‘pull’ from the internal customer. The exercise from the finance function, however, consists of a strong ‘push’. The internal customer receives a quantity of data that contains almost no useful information for him or her. Illustrative is the answer given by almost all participants in my Quick Closing Course to the question ‘what happens if you omit pages 7, 11 and 13 of the next report?’ The answer is that no one shows up. If the right connection is missing, the customer will not get what he actually needs. At the same time, we ask him or her to contribute to the timely collection of the necessary data. Actually; we even design a process for that. But let’s face it, are you wholeheartedly contributing to something that is not of value to you?

Curiosity is core competency
Certainly you as a business controller are an advisor to the management, so you must not only know the request for advice, but also know what concerns him or her or should keep him or her employed, so that you can also provide ‘unsolicited’ advice and where it is necessary to stimulate or influence. The following applies here: ‘one is only understood when one understands the other’. Connection and empathy are especially important in an advisory role, and this is where the previously described ‘curiosity’ comes into play; a core competency for the business controller. What are the motives of the internal customer and what is the need?

These are usually externally driven success factors, such as the labor market, trends in commodity prices or consumer and competitor behavior. who asks outside and future-oriented thinking. By asking the right questions, we should try to figure out how the business works. What do we do instead? We harass this leader with data from the past and hold him or her accountable. At least that’s how the leader feels. Typically Dutch is that we primarily whine about what went wrong. What was good is taken for granted. Persistent negative feedback, however, is particularly detrimental to the connection.

Investment in the relationship
Communication is an important success factor; probably correct for many economies, regardless of their role. Communication is not possible without a sustainable connection. Not just on content, but especially on relationships. It is only really effective if the ‘chain’ works together. So invest time in creating and maintaining connections.

Many readers will be familiar with The 7 Habits of Personal Leadership by Stephen Covey. Three victories over yourself, three victories over your environment and finally how to keep the saw sharp. Have you ever read it; take it off the shelf again. Haven’t read yet? Recommended!

Jan de Kroon is an organizational consultant and director of Improfin Group, a company that specializes in developing and improving financial functions and financial professionals through a sophisticated combination of advice, guidance, education and training and practical support. At NBA OPopleidingen he is, among other things, a teacher in Controlling course for accountants

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