I created this article series for companies running (or seriously contemplating running) EOS® Traction, Gino Wickman’s Entrepreneurial Operating System® for small-business owners. I run my company on it and found that, while EOS® is extremely effective for management and scaling, the core EOS® materials don’t provide the depth of guidance for the financial component so critical to small-business growth.
These posts are for entrepreneurs who want to polish and improve the implementation of EOS® in their companies by enhancing that financial lens. It can also help accounting and finance professionals be impactful leaders within their EOS® company.
Articles in this series can be found here.
Part of letting go of the vine is actually letting stuff go! If you don’t, you’re still hanging on. This is a real challenge in so many of the situations I witness. Folks are brought to the team to elevate the CEO or the COO or whoever, but then they linger because the handoff doesn’t happen.
The refrain from leadership is often the same. “I just don’t have time to train that person on the process. It needs to get done now, and I’m just better off doing it by myself. I think that I’ll have more time to train them next month…”
In the end, you’re still doing the work, and your new hire is just twiddling his or her thumbs.
Then there is the firehouse approach where we throw everything at the new hire, and they are expected to go to meeting after meeting. They just hear things. They’re getting pounded with information, but there’s no framework around it in terms of what’s happening. The learning is sub-optimized because there’s no plan, and having no context and increases the risk of failure in the knowledge transfer.
To delegate and elevate successfully, you need a clear plan, measurements, and deliberate speed.
Plan to Execute
How do we stop the lingering, and how do we impactfully make the transition happen? The problem is not the lack of time; it is that we do not establish a strong plan with measures of success for the transition of the new hire.
This is where a CFO can step in as a leader to help create and ensure an execution plan for the handoff. The CFO helps the team create accountability around the plan for the handoff and the time you’ll need to dedicate to it.
Create a schedule for your execution plan. Include, for example, shadowing activities like joining in on several sales calls. Without the plan, you’ll miss opportunities to train. And it will take you longer to delegate.
The 90-Day Plan
Now that you’ve decided you are ready to delegate and elevate, what are the measures of success for your transition? How are you going to get there? Sit down and draft a 90-day plan for delegating responsibilities and include expectations for the executive team and the new hire, and your expected results.
For AVL and the businesses we consult with, we recommend the plan be implemented well before the start date for the new employee. Consider involving the new hire in the process.
Tap the New Hire for Input
We have, in several situations, asked the prospective hires to develop their own “90-day plan” including key success metrics as part of our final interview process before we make an offer. It becomes an excellent way to interview because it helps inform us as to whether the candidate understands all the things that need to be learned, owned, and accomplished. Given the opportunity, how would they write the plan to complete them? You can take this plan and have them take responsibility for it.
The conversation can look something like this: “You know what, you’re looking like a great candidate for us. What would be really helpful is for you to put together a plan for your first 90 days, and how would you go about it. What do you need to be trained on? What would you want to participate in? What would you need to learn so that you can become proficient as quickly as possible? Tell us what that looks like based on your interviews here and what you’ve learned about the position.”
It can be an interesting proposition. Maybe it’s a “twofer.” You get to hand off work that you would otherwise have to do yourself. You also get insight in terms of how they’re thinking about the position because they might lean into something much more than you thought they would.
Include Measures of Success
Your plan should also include answers to these questions: “How do we know we’re going to be successful in the 90th day with this person? What are the measures?”
Put numbers to it and work backwards. At what point do you expect the new hire to be completely proficient? It might be longer than 90 days. But then what are your expectations for 90 days? Maybe the measure is that by 90 days you want them to have been part of five sales calls or five sales meetings.
That is a measure of success that perhaps gives them 30% proficiency. But it’s measurable and forward moving. The handoff is closer.
The 90 days is just a placeholder; it could be shorter/longer depending on the role.
Move at a Deliberate Speed
Whatever your measures, you need to ensure you are moving at deliberate speed. Identify in the document what’s required for training and transition. What do they need to be completely up to speed? They need to be on a few sales calls, but what else?
Maybe they also need to learn to create. So, then they’ll need to see two proposals, and learn to develop their own proposals from scratch. Hopefully, they can be proficient in creating a proposal by day 90.
There’s so much going on. But again, it gets back to simplification. If you can simplify and make clear the things that you want them to take on, they won’t feel like they’re drinking from the fire hose. It’s very organized, and the new hire can see the key things that we’re trying to get them proficient in. This is how we’re going to know you’re doing it, and here are the actions that we’re going to take to make it happen. You’re giving them the opportunity with this plan, and hopefully, they are going to take advantage of that.
The entire leadership team has a role to play in ensuring that delegating happens effectively, but the CFO can affect multiple functions. They can lean into HR and getting people productive. They can lean into sales and marketing productivity.
The CFO brings a lot to the equation in terms of how the organization can take a proactive approach and get new folks to become efficient as quickly as possible. Because now you’ve got increased headcount costs, and you want to take advantage of the ones that increase opex as soon as possible.
It’s in the CFO’s best interest to make sure these things are happening. And it’s in your company’s best interest, too.