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Managing Upwards

I've just taken on a new role where some of the expectation is that I'm going to direct priorities for the C-level.  I'm not in the C-level, and while I have aircover from my CFO, her expectation is that I drive this.

Any high-level advice on driving from the back seat?



Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

I want to make sure I understand correctly: You are going to manage the CFO's priorities?

(Director of Global Accounting) |


Thanks for pressing the clarification. It is not about managing her priorities. It is more about:
-Identify areas for change / management in the organization (Sales comp, risk management, pricing, marketing....wherever)
-Develop plans / rationale for change.
-Identify stakeholders (and this is where it starts crossing into managing up).
-Sell those stakeholders into adopting changes, or work with them to develop them.
CFO specifically wants *me* to own and drive. She's of course willing to help, but she has significant outbound stuff on her plate (IR, M&A, etc), and needs me to take the team to the next level.

Topic Expert
Brenda Goudey
Title: CFO/VP of Finance
Company: KDR Designer Showrooms
(CFO/VP of Finance, KDR Designer Showrooms) |

I wouldn't think of it so much as directing priorities for the C-level as identifying opportunities for organizational improvement. If you're able to do a good job selling the improvement ideas, the C-level will likely be willing to accept the changes required.

As with most things in management, the key is going to be good communication.

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

It sounds like you are almost in an advisory role. Frequent, proactive communication with actions, dates, and who you are considering the responsible person for each will be key. Sounds like everyone up the chain is busy. Consider that with communication. Concise and relevant.

Topic Expert
Linda Wright
Title: Consultant
Company: Wright Consulting
(Consultant, Wright Consulting) |

I would also suggest that you have periodic meetings with the C suite to discuss progress, proposals and secure your CFO's endorsement. Does not have to take a lot of time, but the effort will boost momentum.

Ken Mason
Title: Controller
Company: Pascua Yaqui Tribe
LinkedIn Profile
(Controller, Pascua Yaqui Tribe) |

It's challenging fun to be an evangelist in the organization who leads through influence rather than authority. Get to know the C-level players and learn how each will "win" from the changes you will be advocating. Remain positive and convey enthusiasm even when (not if) meetings are canceled, priorities are shifted or other barriers arise.

Good luck!

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

This definitely sounds like you are being asked to help with strategic initiatives and priorities the organization needs! What a great opportunity. Analyze areas you would recommend change and deliver feasible solutions based on factual data. Try to remain as objective as you can. Don't make assumptions, I've seen them back fire more times than not. Be open to feedback, they may love some ideas and may not. Use effective open communication and make sure you clearly understand the expectations. Have fun and good luck with this exciting opportunity!


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