If you are struggling to manage certain members of your leadership team, it could be because you are turning to the “tried-and-true” management styles you have always practiced. Unfortunately, you are likely working with “non-traditional” professionals who are becoming increasingly resentful the more you try to manage them like your typical hourly employee.
At least three times over the last couple years, I have seen CPAs leave public accounting to fill a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) role. They accept the job and expect to excel. They are excited to aid in their employer’s future growth. However, a few months into the position, I hear that they are unhappy, have a hard time staying productive and feel restricted. If this is how they are feeling, you (the business owner) probably have more than a few questions yourself; including why doesn’t this relationship seem to be working out and is your new employee just not capable of handling the demands of this new role?
What is likely happening, however, is that you are used to managing traditional, hourly employees. Unfortunately, this type of employee management method does not translate well for non-traditional, salaried professionals.
What Makes A Professional, Salaried Employee Different?
Your CFO, especially if they are entering your company from a public accounting firm, is accustomed to working long hours during certain times of the year, frequently engaging with community leaders and business professionals and, in general, acting as a brand ambassador at all times. These professional men and women are “always on” and have a hard time adhering to the traditional work day. In fact, by confining productivity to 8 a.m.-5 p.m., you will never realize the full potential of your CFO because their productivity will be stifled and their desire to serve as a brand ambassador after 5 p.m. will diminish. If you want to be sure that you are getting the greatest return on your investment, remember that your most productive salaried employees are the ones who have the fewest barriers. Examples might include an occasional starting time after 8 a.m. or ending their workday before 5 p.m. It may also include longer or shorter lunch breaks.
If you plan to bring a nontraditional employee into your company, be prepared to think outside of the box. For example, instead of managing your leadership team’s hours, consider managing their objectives, which will ensure their motivation will be spent furthering the organization’s initiatives at every opportunity.
Don’t take this to mean that you should give them complete freedom to roam from Day 1. Instead, use the first several weeks to get to know each other. During this time it’s perfectly acceptable to hold them accountable for being present during certain hours of the day. As they continue to learn more about your company and get their feet wet, they should have opportunities to prove their value and work ethic. Once they do, and once you have a good idea as to what they are capable of achieving in their new role, you should be able to trust them to adhere to deadlines while excelling in all aspects of their position.
When your professional, salaried employees are awarded the ability to be more flexible in their jobs, you will not only see that the work that has been assigned to them gets done, you will notice a distinct improvement in the quality of their work and their ability to perform in a more professional and proactive manner – which is why you hired them in the first place.
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By Ryan Dumermuth, CPA, CFP