Time management greatest challenge for CFOs

Prioritize, avoid micro-managing

Nearly one-third (32 per cent) of chief financial officers said time management due to competing priorities was their biggest work challenge, according to a survey by Robert Half Management. Keeping up with technology (24 per cent) and achieving work-life balance (19 per cent) were other common challenges.

More than 270 CFOs from a wide range of organization across Canada participated in the survey.

"Although we see positive signs of economic improvement and business optimism, time management remains challenging for CFOs," said David King, Canadian president of Robert Half Management Resources. "As projects that were once deferred during the downturn are revitalized and plans for growth emerge, senior executives are faced with the difficulty of allocating time, technology, personnel and resources to these initiatives."

To get the most value out of the workday, King recommends the following:

Identify the real top priorities: When every project seems to be top priority, focus efforts on those that will save the most money, grow the most revenue or open doors to the most new business. Encourage staff to use this same approach to manage their time.

Be realistic about internal resources: Delegating another major project to the staff may bring already overloaded employees to the breaking point. Understand their limitations in terms of time, knowledge level and experience — bringing in outside experts to manage the project may result in faster execution and fewer errors.

Avoid micro-managing: Set milestones and regular check-ins, but otherwise let staff run the initiative. Getting mired in details will slow the process for you and others.

Practice the golden rule: Show respect for others' time. Avoid scheduling meetings that, on closer inspection, aren't really necessary. Don't keep staff waiting for feedback and approvals.

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