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What is the best approach to reorganizing/changing roles of old-timers?

We have a tenured staff that's running accounts payable in a very old-fashioned/outdated process, after several attempts that failed to make changes to the process, my supervisor and I decided we need to put someone else on the position to be able to effectively update the accounts payable, whether internally or externally. We are identifying new responsibilities for the current AP person in Accounting operation, but concerned about the change will not be perceived well, the competencies to perform all the new tasks effectively, and possibly hurt the department in the long term if the transition didn't go well. Any advice?

Answers

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Analysis. Like it or not, the person KNOWS the vendors, how much and frequency of purchase and the terms. He would also know the contacts. I bet he/she can find ways and means to lengthen your ap days and save a few $$$ along the way.

I know that this role won't take up that much time but I would also give the person some roles and processes that have already been made efficient.

Anonymous
(Regulatory Reporting Manager) |

sort out all the vendor issues

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

We approached this from a continuous improvement perspective. As executives we know change is difficult for people and we valued the people in the positions, just not their perceived closed minded approach to "This is how we've always done it."

To combat that we created the new process and then showed the person how much more efficient and effective it would make them, the process and by freeing up their time they could help us in other areas of the business. For us, the people involved loved that we were taking the time to "help" them be stronger and really liked the fact that we were investing in them, their role and trying to make their job easier. They also loved taking on something new.

As a result we were able to push the continuous improvement model and they were completely bought into it. They no longer saw it as a threat but a way for them to be more valuable in the business and provide future growth for themselves as they are much more valuable when they can look at a process and recommend improvements.

Sarah Jackson
Title: Associate Editor
Company: Proformative
(Associate Editor, Proformative) |

I agree with Emerson and Christie.

McKinsey took an interesting look at the ROI of employee development and found a 4x return to the employer:

The return to the employee can be infinite:

http://www.proformative.com/course-subscription

Anonymous
(Associate) |

I have a followup question Christie. What if the people involved have a limited skill set? They've done one job one way for many years, and that's the extent of their job skills. Anything extra will stress them and cause push back.

Anonymous
(Regulatory Reporting Manager) |

Thanks, I have the same question in mind.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

"What if the people involved have a limited skill set?"

What have you done to add skills?

There is this meme that is always on linkedin re a CFO and a CEO about training...... the CEO says, "what if we don't and they stay?"

Let me be clear, if an employee does not have the will to add more skillset then at some point in time, have to decide if the employee is worth it. However, YOU (the company) should also do your part...even taking the initiative.

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

Even people with limited skill sets can typically be taught a new method. As leaders it is our job to ensure we have efficient processes and proper resources to do them.

I would sit down with the person and explain the "whys" for the new method, encourage them by telling them you have no doubts they will be able to make the transition and then walk them through the process. Don't give opportunity for push back.

I had someone who never used excel before learn how to follow a process using a Macro to dispute records for us. It was like nothing she had ever seen. I knew it would freak her out and she would be hesitant to take on the responsibility. At that point I put my coach hat on. It was rough, it took a lot of time and patience but she learned it and doesi it well - and that made her happy! She had overcome objections and fear and learned something completely out of her comfort zone. I am passionate about growing people and passion is contagious.

Anonymous
(Regulatory Reporting Manager) |

"Don't give opportunity for push back."
Staff might be receptive in the beginning, but slowly push back.
How to prevent push backs in the mid to long term?

M. Feldman
Title: Controller
Company: Private
(Controller, Private) |

I had the experience where a direct report needed to upgrade their skills. Just by asking for reimbursable training cost, I was forced to re-examine my original perception that they were not really interested in advancing their skills. I was still a little skeptical, until they started discussing some of the things they had learned. Long story short, they upped their skills, got a high end of the range raise and ultimately left the company for a better position elsewhere.

Susan Scott
Title: HR Manager
Company: Private
(HR Manager, Private) |

It's really a question of helping the employee gain a viewpoint of enlightened self-interest.

When employees understand that by learning new skills and delivering higher value, they themselves become more valuable to their current or future employer.

Nothing is more marketable than improved skills. As M. Feldman noted, just being willing to learn new skills is impressive.

Anonymous
(Regulatory Reporting Manager) |

Thanks
Changing the mentality before changing the behaviors. Anywhere I can find systematic approach/guidance in doing that?

David Smith
Title: Manager
Company: Private
(Manager, Private) |

I think "changing the mentality" begins with really knowing the person and the employee believing through experience that their boss cares about and understand them.

Would you allow yourself to have your mentality changed by someone who doesn't know you or care about you?

I don't know where your company stands on that, but I would start with an honest-to-god assessment of how folks actually feel about the company and who they work for and why. Then, adapt accordingly.

Change is going to have to begin with you.

Anonymous
(Associate) |

David, I hear what you're saying but in my experience knowing the person and showing you care isn't enough.
In assessing them, some employees are not going to be honest with you. I know it's cynical, but unfortunately true.
I'm beginning to think change orders have to come from the very top. The problem employees will complain as always, but have to comply. After a while they'll get used to the changes.

David Smith
Title: Manager
Company: Private
(Manager, Private) |

I'm not talking about employees being honest with you.

I'm talking about employees caring about what you have to say based on their experience with and trust of you.

In a lack of trust environment, good employees will move on to greener pastures and only the ones who couldn't get a comparable job elsewhere will stay.

Probably not what you want.

David Buley
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Association of Independent Schools of NS..
(Chief Financial Officer, Association of Independent Schools of NSW) |

I agree with all the above comments relating to re-training and prioritising people where possible however if the person can't do the job you want them to do, which means using a more effective tool, then they are effectively redundant and may need to go. But the more important question is 'what do you call 'old' youngster?'

Barry Kruse
Title: Assoc. Dir., FP&A
Company: Raptor
(Assoc. Dir., FP&A, Raptor) |

You didn't say what was wrong with the old process, or why you felt changes needed to be made. In fact, I don't get the sense from the OP or from most of the other responses that anyone feels this old person has anything to offer in terms of experience, knowledge, or other value to the organization. If there is something lacking in the current process, bring it to the person's attention. If the person is unable or unwilling to address that, then you have an issue. But as General Patton used to say, "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."

Brian A. Mahoney, MST
Title: Pastoral Associate
Company: Church of the Holy Spirit
(Pastoral Associate, Church of the Holy Spirit) |

By referring to this individual as an "old-timer" you betray an unsavory bias. Have you asked this veteran employee for their input?

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

I have found every company I've ever joined has a least one Dr No. No we can't do that because... We tried that and it didn't work...

What I've done when I received the dreaded "No" is ask them to do a business case (sometimes I had to teach how to do a business case) and prove to me that they were indeed correct.

Many times they were correct, and many time they weren't. Most times I gained their respect and visa versa.

Both the "former" Dr. No's and I learned a great deal.

These individuals became great allies.

On the other hand, some were intransient. They unfortunately became former employees.

Anonymous
(Chief Financial Officer) |

I, like Mr. Mahoney, find your use of the word "old-timer" concerning. Older, tenured employees are most often seasoned, experienced and extremely knowledgeable in their area of expertise. Perhaps if you changed your perspective on this person and as one suggested, ask the old-timer for his/her input in how to make the changes, the experience would be much better for all concerned. But first, get rid of the label and give this employee the respect deserved.

Anonymous
(Accoutant) |

I found no mention of an "old timer". He refers to a "very old-fashioned/outdated process". I am dealing with similar issues as part of an ERP implementation. The person does not want to learn how to use the software instead of having someone else input data for them. I agree this person has knowledge that is desperately needed in our company about the process but if they do not want to learn to use the system, what can be done that sets the right tone for the entire organization?

Anonymous
(CFO) |

Check the title

Anonymous
(Analyst - Finance) |

Yes, check the title of the OP.

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