Nurturing FP&A Superstars | FP&A Fridays, LIVE from Clubhouse

Media Thumbnail
  • 0.5
  • 1
  • 1.25
  • 1.5
  • 1.75
  • 2
This is a podcast episode titled, Nurturing FP&A Superstars | FP&A Fridays, LIVE from Clubhouse. The summary for this episode is: <p>Take a deep dive with Rowan, Chris and Glenn on another FP&amp;A Friday to uncover how to identify and nurture an "FP&amp;A Superstar", as well as how to manage and motivate all levels of a team. Find out how becoming&nbsp;a leader that connects people to the mission of the business will help&nbsp;high performers shine brighter, and help&nbsp;you know when it's time to let those who aren't behind the purpose of the company move on.</p>

- Welcome everyone, FP&A Fridays. I have Chris Ortega, Glenn Snyder. Welcome gentlemen, really excited to be chatting to you today. We've got a really fun topic. We're gonna be talking about managing teams and how to get a high-performance culture going, and how to really elevate superstars in your team and how to coach maybe C players to B players, B players to A-players that sort of topic. And let's focus today on FP&A folks. I mean, we know that there's a lot of trends in FP&A you see a lot of folks coming from the accounting side, they end up doing really well in that accounting role. And then they're like, oh, I want to get closer to the business. And then they come across to FP&A and that presents some challenges of course, in terms of what they may have learnt or what they may not have learnt. And how do they move on and adapt. Glenn I know you've probably been the most experienced manager of this group. So I'd actually really like to start with you today. So welcome to the stage Glenn Snyder.
- Thank you very much. It is a challenge sometimes, especially when you have people going from accounting, which is very much focused on, Hey, you got to follow a certain and there are very strict rules you have to abide by. And then you move over to FP&A. Whereas you start with a blank spreadsheet and go build something from there. I always used to have, when I used to teach at San Francisco State University, and I would get students who would say to me, I don't know if I want to go into finance or accounting. And I tell them, I said, oh you know well, in finance, there's a lot of creativity. You're building stuff that never existed before in accounting, you have very strict rules you have to follow. If you wanna be creative and you go into accounting, you end up in jail. So I said, hopefully that helps determine what path you really wanna go down.
- Do you like wearing orange jumpsuits?
- Yes, because you'd go to jail. You don't pass go either. You go directly to jail.
- That's right. And so a lot of what happens is how do you go over and change that mindset? How do you go from, I know what steps I need to follow to this is completely ambiguous. I'm starting with a blank spreadsheet. There's a thousand different ways I can approach this. Sometimes, I mean, as today's topic, we're talking about how to manage people and motivate people. Sometimes that can be very scary for people who are used to a very structured environment to go to very unstructured. And as a manager, you have to provide guidance. You have to understand what level are they really at? If they are very new, they're very insecure about their own abilities. You're gonna wanna be more hands-on. You don't wanna be a micromanager, but you want to go over and you wanna help them through each step so that they gain the confidence. And they see success at each different level. If they are more comfortable building models and going through stuff, you wanna just be more hands on, point them in the direction, say, Hey, this is what we need to get to go build something that gets us there. And sometimes there's a lot of in between. The one thing I would say when it comes to managing people is everyone has their own style. But if you go over and say, Hey, team, you need to adapt to me as a manager. You're not a very good manager. You need to recognize the skills and the abilities of the people who you are managing. And you need to adapt your style, to make sure that you are gonna be the best manager for them, because that's how you're gonna get the most effective results out of your team.
- So let's talk about that because as team leaders, first thing you wanna do is you don't wanna build a bunch of clones of yourself. You wanna bring in people from very different backgrounds, from very different skill sets and talents. In finance, that's often difficult because there is just a natural pathway for people. Most people have come through some sort of accounting and CPA process and so the colleges may have just, the curriculum basically breeds them into being a certain type. Now that's not true of marketing. So I'm asking you guys the question, 'cause we get all sorts of folks. All sorts of creative folks, all sorts of data-driven folks into the marketing org, is that an actual challenge as a manager where everyone, not everyone, most people have come from the world of accounting into FP&A, is that an actual challenge that you face as a manager?
- Chris, do you wanna start and I'll chime in after?
- Yeah, I think this is a common thing. And a lot of managers make this mistake of, looking at CVs and looking at resumes and saying, oh, look, they check all the boxes in the experience. They've worked with this tool. They worked with that. And I always tell people like it managers to think about, because it is wrong when you're exactly. It's difficult because you have to have that person that knows you as gap IFRS, it's a very technical role that you just can't come from like marketing and be like an accountant being I think you can make the transition FP&A. But when you're looking for, I always tell people, don't look at the experience. Don't look at they let a month-end close. What is the core competencies that you want for your team? Everything that I've done. And I've made the mistake in this. I've made hiring mistakes where I said, they've got the experience. They let a month-end close. They know international. They know IFRS, they got their CPA. I checked all the boxes to make sure we have like a person. But and I learned that I got to look at the core competency. So when I go about structuring for a team I say, okay, here are the core competencies that I bring. What do I need for the role? If I'm looking for an accounting person, I need someone with attention to detail. I need someone that delivers results. I need someone that can manage multiple projects. I need someone that's collaborative. And I structure my engagement. I need someone that values business partnership. So it's less about like, do how to do a depreciation entry in Oracle? So I think like most teams need to make sure that they're thinking about what are the core competencies and that's how you get that diversity of your skill sets on your team. Everybody knows how to speak the accounting and language, but at least you build that skill portfolio because there's areas like attention to detail, that's I struggle with that. So when I need to have attention to detail, like I need to click on a whole another hat. I need to take the Lamborghini to gear two, and I need to be like, okay, I'm in a school zone now. And I need to make sure that I'm not hitting potholes, that I'm going 25 miles an hour in the school zone. So that would be my recommendation.
- So I have a kind of some aspects, very, very similar to Chris. I a hundred percent agree with Chris. It's about the core competencies, but I look at it as not just what role are you hiring for, but what's the next role after that, too. And to go a little further to say, how are they gonna develop? Do I have a place for them to learn and grow? Because I'll give you a really good example. I had a friend of mine, at Charles Schwab and he was the finance director. He hired somebody very specific for a project. She did this project. It was like a nine month project. She did a fantastic job. He took her off that project and moved her into a finance business partner role. And she failed miserably because that was not her skillset. And they ended up having to manage her out of the company because she knew how to do one thing. But she had a hard time being that flexible where, the business really needed somebody who could come in and adapt to them. So for me, I go over, I don't really focus on, oh do they have an accounting background or did they do this job before I look at things like, how strong are they at communication? How fast do they pick things up? How strong the learner are they? Are they afraid of technology or do they embrace technology and say I'm gonna play around and see what I could come up with. How proactive are they? Those are the things that I can't teach. I can't teach someone to be proactive. So I that's really what I'm looking for. I could teach somebody to build an Excel model. I could teach how to be a business partner. I can't teach them to learn quickly. So those are the core competencies that I really look for. But the funny thing is that I don't think that there is a, feed from colleges or from accounting that comes into FP&A. I had people work for me who have been engineers. I've had people who have been history majors. I mean, it's more about what are you interested in? Are you interested in solving problems? Are you interested in helping take a company or a business line to another level? Are you interested in that strategic thinking, but with finance discipline. Those are the things you have that interest you'll be successful. I don't care what you majored in, in college. I've gone over. I've had director of mergers and acquisitions when I was a Franklin Templeton, was a history major. The guy I reported to at Franklin who was head of portfolio management trading, what's a philosophy major. It doesn't matter. I've had multiple people on my teams who have been engineers, who actually were like, mechanical engineers went over and got an MBA and had more interest in finance and they were fantastic. So it's not about what have you done, or what was your background? It's about where you want to go. And what's your interest in how well are you gonna apply yourself to go and be successful in the role?
- I love it Glenn. I love that you talk about that kind of curiosity and that behavior. That's what we're all looking for when we're hiring, but let's kind of now assume that we're not hiring. Let's assume that we've got our team in place and maybe you've got a new job and you've inherited a team. You haven't been able to hire everyone in. And this happens to a lot of folks all the time.
- So much.
- Or you're just joining a company and again you get the opportunity to hire, but now you've got a team and you're there and you've got a couple of people potentially reporting into you. Now you have a team, no one teaches us. Well, I never got taught about team dynamics. No one ever told me that not only as the leader, you're responsible for your own personal career, because you should always be responsible for your own career. But also that now I was responsible for team dynamics. I'm also expected to create diversity of thought, diversity of culture, lots of, diversity on the team, which creates conflict in the team intentionally because you want that conflict to create a great high performing team because challenging each other creates another great culture, but now we're in team dynamics. And then you've got also the individual responsibility of your now meant to be a mentor to every single one of those people, that report to you. And so as a leader, you're like, oh my God, I'm just trying to do my job really well. And now I've got, I'm responsible for the whole team, and now I'm responsible for each of these individuals. And like Glenn said, I truly believe you're meant to treat everyone differently because everyone has everyone has different needs, wants, expectations, ways they like to be managed and different skill sets frankly. I think we've all done those disc profiles those spin profiles. Like everyone's probably done 20 or 30 of them. And you end up kind of knowing where your, talent stack is or your emotional stack is. So let's talk about some of those things. Glenn, I'd love for you to tell me about a time where you've had to coach someone from being, and I think this has probably happened to you I would guess. Where you've had to coach someone from, maybe their behavior is not what you need it to be, and you have to get them to change into being something that may be not naturally their skillset. Like you talked about collaboration and you talked about communication. Some people really struggle with that and they need to be coached. I'd love to hear your perspective on how do you coach someone to do something that doesn't come naturally. And I know you're a good person for this because you've admitted that this is something that didn't come naturally to yourself.
- Yeah, it's actually funny when I think about the best situation I could tell you about was when I first started at Charles Schwab, I was the director who was gonna be working with the product management organization, which was a very large team at Schwab. And they gave me one person to report to me who had been around. He had been with Schwab for about 10 years. And but the senior vice president of the group said, they called him the steady Eddie, which is, the guy who's just gonna be, you tell him what to do, he does exactly what you asked, nothing more. And if you don't tell him what to do, he might just stare at his screen all day and do nothing. And so I'm sitting like, oh, okay, great. But hey you know what happy to have somebody. Great, so the first thing I do is I go and I take the guy out to lunch and we started talking. He goes there, he says to me, I really don't see the value of FP&A, I'm gonna start looking for another job. I'm like one day on the job. And I'm like, I'm losing my staff already. Are you kidding me? So I started talking to him and I'm like, well, what don't you like about this? And his impression was that FP&A, because this is what he was being asked to do. You produce various reports and you just send out the report and you get data, you look at it, you write up an explanation and you send it out. And I said, well, how often are you engaging with the business? And he's like, well, they'll ask me questions. And I said, no, how much are you engaging with the business? And he's like, I don't interact with them that much. And so I finally said to him, look, give me six months. And let me see if I could go over and change it. So for the first thing you have to do is when you're coaching somebody, you have to ask for their commitment, because if they are not to follow you, you're gonna have a whole different kind of problem. So you got to start with it, give me this time, period. In this case I was talking to this guy and I said, give me six months. Let me see if we could go over and change the way you perceive what your role is. And I started challenging him. And I said, why don't you go out to the business and ask them about this? Why don't you go over and set up regular one-on-ones? Why don't you do it? And I started challenging him to go out further and further and ask different things. Within two months, he came back to me and said, "I never knew we could do stuff like this. This is really cool. I'm excited." It got to a point where two years later, I promoted him from manager to senior manager and his reputation had completely changed, but that was not something he did naturally. If he wasn't told to go and do something, he just sat there and waited. And I had to go over and coach him to be proactive, to go out of his shell. But the thing is that I held his hand at the beginning and I showed him the impact. And I brought him into meetings and I asked the business directly, how are you using this? And he walked out of the meetings and saying, I never knew that's what it's used for. I didn't know what I was doing, had this kind of impact. So to me, what you want to do is you want to show the impact that FP&A really has show those tangible results. Show why, what you do matters and use that as a motivating factor to get people to change their behavior. Because everybody wants to do something where they're feeling, what they're doing is important and adds value. And so, to me, that's kind of the approach that I would recommend.
- I love that Glenn, it sounds like you gave that, that individually matrix red pill, blue pill moment. And now they're aware of what's going on in the world around them. That's a fantastic story. Chris, what have you experienced in your time managing folks, whether that's, one other thing that you really have to do that I perceive is managing high performance is really tough, Because they've got these high expectations of you, of their other team members and also of their, of their own selves. I don't know if you've got a low performer or a high performer story, but I'd love to hear from you Chris.
- Rowan I have all in-between of them. I'll start with the low performing piece and then we'll get to the high performance side. I think when you got a low performer, you got to understand, and this is where you take the leadership out, and you put the more therapists, empathetic view. You have to understand and walk a day in that person's view. So for me, I think when you're dealing with a low performer, you have to say like, 'cause I think everybody has their push and pull elements that they have. For example, one of the low performers I had on my team, it was a really big jump for her to move into like the business partnership and collaboration side. Even though that was a clear expectation. And even though we're, I said in the interview, she gave great examples of it, but this is the thing when you hire it's a crapshoot. Some people interview really good and they tell you the great stories. You get them in a seat where it's time for them to do it. And you're like, we missed the mark on this. And I sat down with her and I said, "Hey look, help me understand what are the friction elements for you. What are the things about your job that you just are struggling with that are those pooling to you that are that rubber band that's stretching almost to the point where the tension is gonna break." And we sat down and we also said, okay, here's what the role, here's what we need you to do for the team. Here's the role. And basically we had to go through and we did a fit gap analysis to say, look like there's areas about this role that is stretching you way too much that are just gonna constantly cause friction. And ultimately what that result was like, we said, this is probably not the best role for you in the long-term. It's not gonna be the best role for us. So let's find you that role, whether it be inside the business or outside the business, that is more congruent to where you're at. And ultimately what that led into is she's like, "You know what? This is fine." Let's give a period of time and let's work through her fun and then next opportunity. And that was a difficult conversation. And that was for her being vulnerable. That was for me being vulnerable. But I think you have to have those very transparent conversations and knowing what low performers, there's something about the push and pull. And there's also something about it as a leader, you just got to know people clock out, people disengage, and it's hard to know when you're trying to pulse with people, you're trying to connect. A lot of times, you won't get the whole full story and you have to know as a leader that you're gonna get 50% of the truth. And the biggest thing I learned in leadership was like, at the end of the day, you are the bad guy in somebody's story. Irregardless of how great you are, everything that you provide one day you're gonna be the bad guy in that story. And for me that was something to get comfort to high performers, whole nother ball game.
- Before we get to high-performance Chris, I wanted to just touch on one point, you said there, like when people disengage, I think it's really important to recognize that when someone disengages, that doesn't mean they're a low performer either. You may be getting low performance out of a disengaged person, but there is a very big difference between someone who is disengaged and often someone who might be a little over their skis in their role or someone who is just genuinely a low performer, they're two separate matters and two separate methods I believe of how you tackle those issues. Tackling someone who's tackling might not be the word, but helping someone who is disengaged might actually just be all about emotion and might be all around motivation, absolving them of some bad past experience they may have had with a previous manager or recalibrating on expectation management. Maybe they've had a manager that had like really different expectations of them and you've come into a business. And now you've set a completely different expectation and they've just disengaged from it. 'Cause they're like this isn't my path. Versus low performer, which is I think a very separate issue. So maybe that's something we can come back to. I'll let you come back on high-performance Chris.
- Actually before you go there, if I could just chime in real quick on just people being disengaged. What I have found is that when people are disengaged, sometimes it's they're just overwhelmed. They have too much stuff on their plate and you really just need to kind of look through what they're being asked to do. And how do you simplify their role? How do you simplify in a way that it's, they're doing the work that they're excited about? And you look at the stuff that they're also being asked to do that maybe they're not as excited, that they dread doing. And see if you could go and move some of that, maybe to another team member or something, this way you could simplify the role. It doesn't go over and make them into a high performer. 'Cause the role could be, you got to cover all of this stuff, but you start off and say, Hey, let's take a couple of baby steps first. Let's get you excited. Let's get you engaged with this. Let's get some successes. Then we can start adding some of these other points back in and talk about how to make those better. But I think you really have to go over and try and simplify roles when you have somebody who's disengaged.
- Yeah. And I think this is a great point. We just roll with it. Disengagement in the remote environment now is a huge issue. It's a huge issue. There's a lot of people that have burnout. There's a lot of people that they're tired of being on zoom, talking to the same team members or anything like that. And they just, one of the biggest challenges I think we have as leaders is we have to connect people. I had someone work on my team and he always gave me this data he says, "Chris, one thing you're really great at is connecting everything that I do to like a bigger calling or a bigger picture." Like a lot of times disengagement happens is because that person is in the forest in the ground level and they don't see what's outside of it. And sometimes you got to sit down with them and say, here's how what you're doing. What you're working on, what his results are driving. Here's what is driving. And sometimes it's unlocking that to say, oh man I'm driving, because I'm doing this invoicing on a tactical level every day, that's leading to revenue that we can have that be complete accurate, which is going to an external party or going to our board or going to the SCC, it's connecting the dots to people. And that common trait that I've seen with disengagement is people don't understand the force amongst the trees. They gotta have that mindset. And as a leader that is your job. You got to connect people to, here's what we're driving towards. Here's what we're doing. Here's where the difficulties we're having. And a lot of times, I was an individual contributor just like Glenn was. And I remember I would get disengaged. I would be like, and I was that disengaged person. I was still performing at a high level, but I was on autopilot. It was like, I would give myself challenges just so I could like challenge myself. And I remember a leader sat down with me and there was the first time in my career. And he's a mentor of mine, highly respect him. One of the best influential people I've ever had a chance to work with. And we had a conversation. He says, "Chris man, you're delivering, you're doing everything, but I feel like you're in cruise control." He's the one that gave me the like the Lamborghini analogy. He says, I feel like the Lamborghini is in cruise control. And I was like, "Yeah, it is." He was like, "Well, how can we get the Lamborghini on control and get it outside of school zones?" Like, how can we do that? Because we got to get you, people can see it and it's noticeable. You can be on a team meeting and know this person's clocked out. But it's understanding that bigger picture. It's connecting the dots on. Maybe it's a reposition him in other projects. Or maybe it's just asking them to say, Hey, what are some things you see in the business or in your role that we could be doing better? That's a great question to start. Like what could we be doing better? How could I be doing better as a leader? What are some areas that you see in the business that we could do better? Oh, well I see this area. Okay, what do you need to go into that area to go work on this project or work on this initiative? Well, I need this, this. Okay, let's work on a plan to get you that so you can go work on this area or make this improvement area. A lot of times it's doing that and it's having that conversation and being vulnerable on both sides. So you got to have that level of comfort, but disengagement is a huge, huge thing that a lot of people are facing. I mean, I faced this with teammates. So those are some steps that I do to really like address that disengagement aspect.
- One of the difficulties right now, to your point, Chris, around the virtual world, that where a lot of people are still existing in with disengagement, is it's the first time for managers where they haven't had people in their office. So for me, it's a little bit different. I've been part of remote work for a long time now. So this is kind of actually a restoration back to Rowan's normality. So I've been part of a lot of remote teams in my career, I remember when I first moved to London, it was just me and the boss, but the whole HQ was back in a completely different time zone and a completely different, they were back in Australia and I was in London that was 24 hour flight. We weren't gonna meet up that often. And so as you go through this remote world, what's really important is for a lot of people they're missing those like little moments where, you grab someone everyone's just, maybe grabbing a drink in the water cooler or whatever, or sitting down for lunch, you don't get those opportunities to say, oh, by the way, I saw that thing you did great stuff. Or hey, I heard about this conversation you were having, let me like riff on that a little more, those little kind of virtuosos, spontaneous moments. Sometimes that's a moment of feedback. Other times that's a moment of kind of congratulations of reward, where you wanna tell someone something. And it's really hard in this world where you've got to set a 30 minute meeting to have a conversation with someone. And it also just doesn't come across as meaningfully if it's like a text over teams or slack or whatever your team collaboration tool is, Like it's a little less meaningful. So I think as a manager, you've got to find ways in this current environment to really shout someone out, to really over-index to it. Because if there's little things that you wanna congratulate someone for or reward them for, they're gonna have to really feel it in this world. And that might be sending a physical gift that might be, we here at Planful, we have a shout outs channel and, managers shout out their teams or we shout out people cross-functionally, and it's a really great way to demonstrate, I see you. And people haven't kind of felt seen for a while. And so you've got to find those moments. So I'd be interested Glenn in how you're challenging that now and how you're doing that in this environment. And you've probably, you've been part of some big organization. So I imagine remote isn't new for you either.
- No, I've had teams who aren't where I'm located, but I've always been in the headquarters area except for my current role where there's only three total people in the bay area. And I haven't even met one of them yet. So I've been in the role for well over a year, but my entire team, except for one person is in India. I've never met the people who work for me. And I know last year I took the team through a lot of changes. We did a re-org, we restructured the team. We challenged people with what they were doing to do things in a completely different way. And there was one point, and this was by the way, this is totally on accident. I had no idea, I was actually doing this, worked out better than I thought, but I wanted to do something for the team. So I called up, I was talking with the HR manager in India and I said, "I'd like to just send like a box of chocolates or sort of something to everybody." So we go on to India, Amazon, and we find something that would be pretty good and we send it out. Well, as it turns out, what was sent there was also like this red ribbon or something within the box with the cookies. And it arrived the day before a celebration where you give out these red ribbons to people. And it was like, it had meaning I had absolutely no idea. So that was just dumb luck that I landed on that. But everybody on my team reached out to me like, "Oh my God Glenn, how did you know? This was so thoughtful and everything." Yeah, okay I'll take credit for it. But it was just one of those things where it ended up, I didn't even charge the company. And by the way, when you go over and you gonna do a gift for your team, if you bill it back to the company, it doesn't really mean as much as if the team knows that it's coming out of your personal pocket. So, I mean, if you're going over and you're spending five bucks, 10 bucks on something for everybody, I recommend just pick it up as your own tab, because that means it's really coming from you, not the company. And so when my team received all of this, they were thrilled, they were excited. A lot of them were like, "Oh my God, my daughter just loved the cookies or whatever." Hey great but it was an excitement that they had, and there was an appreciation that they felt because they had never gotten something like that before. So that's one thing, another thing that I would point out and I used to do this every holiday season. So like first or second week of December, I would take my entire team, whether the people were working for me, my boss and my admin out to a very nice two hour lunch and it was just on me, not bill back to the company, because I would always go and tell people I could only be successful because of the work that they do. And that's why it's my boss was included in that as well. Yes I would typically get nice bonuses because of the performance I would have. And that's a company driven thing, but this was me saying, I can't do what I do without you guys doing what you do. And I really appreciate it. So having a lunch or a dinner, and then what I would do when the teams were remote, when I would travel or something, like I had a woman when I was working, when I was at Schwab, a woman was working for me in Denver. And I wasn't gonna fly out to San Francisco just for that one dinner. So instead I took her and her husband out to dinner the next time I was in Denver and we just had a nice dinner together. Those little efforts are really meaningful to people. And so the whole thing is that it's about, and Rowan you talked about this is that little saying that you have or something that like when you're at the water cooler, but it's reach out on a personal level and make that personal connection. Whether you're giving them a gift, you're giving them a compliment. You're just talking to them about some feedback, making some time, those types of things carry so much more weight.
- So much.
- Than just sending out an email and saying, great job.
- Facts, facts.
- I love it, Glenn. I think that's the part about creating team dynamics and team leadership that we talked about before. So, there's the ability to create that team culture and those rituals, like if you think about what we're actually doing often, so we're pulling together random people and we're creating a tribe. We're creating a team and teams have rituals. Like you look at every great sporting team, they have rituals. You look at every great high performing culture. They have rituals that they go through. And it's part of our psyche as humans to want to have these things. We just had summer solstice. That's something that a lot of people celebrate because it's a moment in time and we need to mark and reflect those moments in time. Otherwise things just kind of get a bit boring and get a bit mundane. So the other thing that I think that, what you talked about there is you created those rituals. It was in September. It was before a big season of planning and you created that ritual. And everyone probably knew that, hey, Glenn's gonna take us out to a really nice long lunch. And they were probably excited by it. And so that's another thing that's really important for me as a team lead is kind of creating those rituals. What are those habits? What are those things that you're going to expect to do? And your team expect from you? Because if you don't create them, people are seeking something that they don't have. Chris, do you do anything similar to that?
- I do so many rituals where do I start. One of the coolest things that I used to always love to do with my teams is we have a lot of external business partners. We have bankers, we have writers, we have compliance people. We have all across the board. We had a lot of different vendors. And one cool thing I used to love to do with my team is I used to love getting the vendors to take us out to lunch. I used to love it like Chase, Chase bank wanted to do business with us, and they were chomping at the bits. And I was like, yeah, you know what? We can do all this email, but like, let's go talk over lunch and take us to like this hundred dollar steak place for lunch. And my team was always like, Chris, how do you get these people to do it? I'm like well, they're taking us out. And we would sit there not wasting their time. I'm not wasting their time, but that was one of our rituals. We will always get people to take us out for free lunch. And everybody in the business was like, "How does finance, accounting get they always go to these really nice lunches?" And I'm like, "There's not a dime cost into the business." do that. Another ritual that we would have during the remote environment is, I would buy my team lunch every Friday. I use door dash, I get their address. I say, pick what you want. And I would door dash him every Friday. It was a ritual that we had every Friday we would get together, we will have lunch. We would talk about stuff. So it wasn't that environment that we were all together. It just was like, "Hey guys, I'm gonna buy lunch for you." We'll get together. We'll talk about anything we want to talk about or we don't. And there were times we'd be sitting on the meeting and I'm playing video games while they're on the lunch and they're talking and we just had that time. Another thing I would do is I would see my teammates, even outside of my team, I would have like random jokes that I will put in our slack channel for our entire, at Emarsys group. And I'll be like, "Hey, who's joking." And I'll be like, all right, I'll send them like a $10 starbuck's gift card, or anytime it was somebody's birthday, I would send them a $25 gift card. And it just be there in the, it just small gestures like that. And Glenn hit it on the head. I made sure that all this staff with my teams directly or indirectly, that this was coming from me, if that's the key thing. And I'm not saying I'm like going in debt doing all these different things for your teams or whatever, but I wanted to make sure, like, I'm doing this, not as the accounting finance AP leader of , I'm doing this as Chris Ortega and I'm doing this because I wanna do it for you. And I don't want anything back from you. I'm doing this for you. So, I mean, yesterday we had a as we get back to open it back up and we're having, our town hall meeting. I said, it's important for me to show the team that I'm back in the office, like how town hall used to be. It used to be, we all sit in the room, we have so much fun. We're high fiving. I'm cracking jokes. People were saying, Chris, I bet you can name every employee. And I go through and I'm like, boom, boom, boom, boom, naming everybody, everybody's like, how the hell does this guy know everybody? I'm like, I take it as a leader to know every single person I'm talking with and what you do. And that was important. And they were like the feedback that we get from the team, but just the leaders being in the office on video to show that we're in the office. Everybody was like, Chris man, that felt like old times, that felt like a year and a half ago. That was fun. That was exciting. Like seeing you there. And like, it felt like we were there. So you, you got to do the best you can to create. And it's difficult, but you have to do the best you can to create that environment and that reaching out and that connection. I mean one thing I do, that's a ritual for me that everybody knows in the organization is like, I'm the meme king, like memes that you can send out. I send that stuff out in emails. I send it out in slacks and everybody's like, Chris is like the meme overlord. And I just do that. So you gotta find those things that keep it fun. And for me, it's like, when you do that, as a leader, people know that they can relate to you. You've created a link to them that they know is like, oh man I can go talk to Chris about fitness or that meme was awesome or anything like that. You almost break down the barriers of like, oh man, this is a big leader that I can't even talk to. And then once you break that down, people knows like, oh man, Chris is one of us. Chris he's not like somebody in the ivory tower that I have to schedule like 15 minutes to get on his calendar. He's one of the teammates. I think that is so important as a leader. But you also have to balance that because you are a leader, you have to know the judgments. And I have failed in that area. And probably ways we can talk about it all on FP&A, but you gotta have that balance. So I think for me, that's how, that's the perspective I brought to it.
- Hopefully HR aren't coming knocking for the Heineken pad may meme that you recently no, I'm just joking. I'm sure you've got a really good Heineken and pad may meme for finance Chris.
- A hundred percent.
- So I know we've gone a little bit more casual and talking about fun stuff. Let's come back to like true team management. What are some of the frameworks that you use to help with those conversations? Because I think, a lot of new leaders are like, how do I give feedback? How do I coach someone to move from, being reactive to proactive? I'll share a couple that I've used. One is start, stop, continue. Which is start doing this. Stop doing that, keep doing this, or continue doing this. That's a really easy framework where you can quickly have a one-to-one with someone and say, hey, here are the things that I need you to stop doing. Here are the things you need to start doing. Here are the things you should keep or continue doing. And another one that we use here at Planful is FIF, which is Fact Impact Future. So fact, I observed this behavior or this thing, the impact of that was in future, you should do this or this should change. And those little frameworks are really, really helpful for new managers, new leaders, because it gives them a way of having a conversation that doesn't scare them. What have you used in your career Glenn?
- To be honest, I really try not to use stuff like that. I kind of go the other way, but the one thing I would say is constant communication. I mean, I make sure that every one of my direct reports, we have a weekly one-on-one and I tell them, I want them to set the agenda. I wanna hear from them. But I look at it as when you're doing a mid-year review, you're doing an annual review. If there is anything that comes up, whether your employee is surprised, you failed as a leader, you need to be giving constant feedback. Anything that comes up. I mean, think with this way, if you procrastinate on doing chores in your house, you don't go over and you don't vacuum your floors or something. If you don't do that for a year, you're gonna go through a lot of, just dust and everything. You're gonna be constantly emptying out your vacuum cleaner into the trash bag. It's a lot more work. If you go over and you vacuum once a month, it's kinda minor, you go through it really quick because there's not as much stuff as built up. It's the same thing with managing employees. You wanna meet with them on a regular basis. You wanna talk to them. You wanna make sure you're constantly giving feedback. So it's part of the regular conversation so that when you get to a mid-year review and annual review, they know exactly what's coming. And sometimes when it comes to like, when people are rating, you have to do the self evaluations. And he said, oh are you exceeding expectations, far exceeding. Are you meeting expectations? It's fine if you're off by one level, because sometimes there's just other things that come into play. But if you're off by two levels, you screwed something up. That means you're not on the same page. And so that's the big thing for me. It's not about, oh, here's what I want you to stop doing or continue doing whatever. I mean, that could, don't get me wrong I'm not knocking it. Different people have different styles. My style is just, open-ended direct conversation for an hour every single week. And sometimes you end up talking about sports, sometimes talk about vacations. Sometimes you talk about projects. Sometimes you spend the entire hour talking about feedback, but the whole point is you have dedicated that hour to each one of your direct reports every single week. And by the way, the other thing I would say, because I've been on the other end of this, if you have those meetings come up and sometimes you got to move those one-on-ones, you got to be a little flexible, but if you consistently cancel those one-on-one because you're too busy. Your employee feels that directly. And they are feeling like, hey, my I'm not that important to my boss because they clearly don't wanna take the time to talk to me. And they keep on doing other things that they feel is more valuable. Do not do that to your employees. Make sure that is their time with you, value that as much as they are gonna value it. And you will have a much more engaged employees. And those conversations will be a lot more valuable and be a lot more honest than if you go over, if your employees are thinking, yeah, you're doing this because you kind of have to do it, or you spend the entire time in your one-on-ones just going through, here's the exact work that I've been doing. It's like a checklist. No, it's let your employee set the agenda. Let them talk about what they wanna talk about. And many times the employee will say, I want feedback on this. I want your guidance on this. I want your coaching on this and you gotta be there. And to make sure you are there for your employee. And that's what that hour is really about.
- Yeah, I'll admit Glenn, I've really struggled with the consistent one to ones. And until I got a fantastic EA, and actually we did this thing at an offsite recently where everyone said what they're grateful for about an individual. And basically everyone said to we're so grateful for you managing Rowan's calendar. And I was like, oh my God, I'm such a bad person 'cause I couldn't manage my calendar properly. But it is one of those things, you do have to get really good at dedicating that time to your team, to your employees. something I've instituted recently is skip level meetings. And not just meeting with my direct reports and that's harder to do as you get a really big team, but it's important that you're able to actually meet with everyone because the other thing as a leader and as a team lead is you also have a purview across a bunch of different things that maybe your direct reports don't have and you can help, manage all of the, what can often be, feel very chaotic for people. And you can manage those expectations as a skip-level leader too. So really, really important. Chris, what routines do you put in place with your teams or sub-teams?
- Yeah, so for me, it's having a global role and supporting, having direct reports in different times zones and all across the world. For me, it's like Glenn is definitely right. On the performance side, I think we should sunset and take a quick second to RFP the annual performance review process. The same way that we said sunset budgeting. We should sunset the annual review process. It's outdated, it's old. Nobody really wants it. It's just a checkbox. But making sure like what I do for my team, my team conversations that I have, with my America's teams and all the different regions is we kind of go through, I use it for four different things, A to align to what the priorities that we have in the week. So I get everybody and like, what are the priorities that you're working through? I use it as a second thing of cascading as much information as possible.. I believe in over communication. So I've used that meeting to, I have my list and I go through my departments I'm like, here's the updates, here's everything I want to cascade to you guys. So you guys are in the know, it's not about action. It's more about getting information out. The third thing I do in my meetings is I ask this question to everybody and all my one-on-ones, all my direct like regional finance leaders. I asked them, are there any frustrations, roadblocks or concerns that I can help or assist you with? That is so important. So important. If you don't have that conversation about performance, ask them, is there anything that I can do to help and serve you better? Anything, what can I do to help you? That conversation with somebody. And I've had conversations now in my global role where there has been people that never been asked that. They're like, Chris, what do you mean? Like, you're the big boss. Why are you asking me if I can help you? I'm like anything like this goes both ways. And they were like, well, yeah, Chris, there is one thing that you can help me with. Can you help me with this blocker that I'm having on the commercial side? I'm not getting any progress. Perfect. Send me the email, let me know the details. I'll cover your back on that. So much time people just want to know that they can have you to go to and you genuinely want to help them. Please as leaders listen, don't ask that question if you're not gonna do anything about it. Like if you're just asking that and they're asking for help and you're just like, oh yeah, yeah, I'll get to it. But I got these other things like Glenn mentioned, if you're constantly pushing the meetings out, you're basically discounting that person. You're just saying, no, you're not important to me. I have other things to worry about. I keep all of my one-on-ones. I tell like SAP leaders that I'm like, I understand, but I got this meeting so we can catch up afterwards. We can get aligned on actual cycles, but it is intentional for me to catch up with my team and I value this time, so I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I can't do that. And I think you gotta be really, really conscious about that. And sometimes it's one-on-ones and we talk about sports and we talk about economics and we see, it's just all across the board and even sometimes as a leader outside of accounting, finance FP&A I talk to other teammates. I scheduled spot one-on-ones in the commercial team and an operations and client success, and marketing. And there'll be like, and you see it, they get on the call with me, Rowan and Glenn and they're like, they think they did something wrong. They're like, oh man, like finance is talking to me. Like what's going on. And I'm just like, look I wanna get on with you. I wanna know what's going on in your world and how I can better help us serve you. And you see the look on their face. They're like what? You're in accounting and finance and FP&A, what do you mean? I'm like, but I'm here to serve you. You are my stakeholder. You are the person. So I wanna check in with you, see how things are going, how you fill it about things. And you'd be surprised as a leader, how that de-neutralizes you, and now you become not just an accounting and finance leader. You become like an overall go-to there's people that in all functional areas that come and go to me, they're like, Chris is the go-to 'cause I know he's gonna give me good insight, I know he's gonna listen. And I know he's gonna actually put action to his words. Be impeccable about your words, say what you're gonna do and do what you say. Leadership is not rocket science. It's really just that.
- But you also have to be transparent too, because sometimes someone will say like, if you wanna help someone or you ask that question, what can I do to help you? And they put something in front of you and you're like, there's no way I can fix that. And at that point, you just have to say, look, I understand what you're looking for there I did not have it in my power, my responsibility, whatever that may be. I can't unlock that for you. There are barriers to me unlocking that for you. And be transparent about it, whatever that might be. No we can't have that new hire that you want because we don't have the budget to do that. Let me help you understand how we could go and solve this problem, whatever that may be. You're not expected as a leader to have all the answers all the time or have the magic key to the golden kingdom. You can't do all of those things because it's not necessarily, it's actually in your power to prioritize, to organize and to shape the environment that everyone else is working within to the best of your ability and sometimes things that are out of your control too.
- And I agree. Oh, sorry.
- Go ahead Chris.
- I agree Rowan but the purpose of that conversation is that person has a voice.
- You're correct.
- They can express it to a leader. And again, like I'm not solving everybody's problems. That's not your job, Rowan's a hundred percent correct. But you provided that audience for them to tell us like, hey look, I understand you. I hear what you're saying. I see how that's frustrating. But in my current capacity, this is what it would take for me to be able to do this. And this is the effort that now is not the priority for the business. So I hear you and I appreciate you sharing with me, but that's not. That is for me as a person, a leader heard my voice. I got an audience to be able to say that. So it's not always trying to solve the world's problems, but it's providing the opportunity to know what it is.
- A hundred percent.
- And so let me just chime in from the other side of that, as the leader, you always wanna make sure you are honest. You are direct, you are upfront, you are transparent. Make sure that you go over and don't play games with your employees. Don't try and hide certain information. Don't try and say one thing to one person and something else to somebody else, because it will just destroy your career and destroy any trust that employee has in you. And so the best thing to do is to show that employee that empathize with them, that you understand their situation and that you are there to help in whatever way you can. But there are some things, somebody could come back and say, hey, you know what? I wanna buy that 14 bedroom mansion over there. And you're like, yeah you're two years out of college. I just can't help you with that now. It's not fine but you be honest, be direct. And in sometimes the answer is no, but and I'll tell you this real quick is that one of the best conversations I ever had with I was at Visa I was a director. I wanted to get promoted to senior director. And my boss said, oh, I would support you in this. Let me go talk to my boss and so on. She comes back to me and says, "Hey, you need to go in and talk to Johnny." That's the guy who was her boss. I went to Johnny's office and Johnny great conversation. And he said, Glenn, I think you'd do a great job. I just don't see the role that you're in as a senior director. So I'm not saying I want you to go, I love what you're doing. You can stay here you can be in this role, but if you want to be a senior director, we're gonna have to find a job for you somewhere else because I don't see that in this group. That was just direct and honest. And now I had the information to go and make that decision on my own. So return that favor to the employees be direct and honest with them. Don't be afraid of them potentially leaving and going somewhere else, because that might be the better move for them. And the last thing you wanna do is have somebody on your team who becomes disgruntled because they can't get into the area they want because they can't have an open, honest conversation with you as their manager.
- This comes back to what--
- Rowan I just have to highlight on that one man, like for me, Glenn what you just said, like I have faced that. Like I had a high performer on my team. I won't give names, but I had a high performer on my team that we had that honest conversation and she found another opportunity. And I looked at it and I was just like, I remember being back in that situation was like, now I know how my manager used to feel, but at the same time it was like Glenn you're so right. And why jumping on that one I say that's so valuable? As a leader the most important thing that you have to have as a leader is have confidence, calmness and clarity in conflict. Literally one-on-one leadership, the number one thing, emotional intelligence I would say that. You got to have calmness comfort and clarity in chaos. Like when you start to get to that point as a leader, and you start to know like, this is gonna, I mean, the workload that I have now and everything, and like all of that, that was a tough pill. But at the end of the day, I said, Chris, take that head off. It's CEO's say like, what happens if we invest in our. CFO say, what happens if we invest in our people? And they leave. The CEO says, what happens if we don't invest in our people? And they stay. Changed my whole mind about that. So I just jumped in on that one because like, I'm literally day now, living in that.
- I love that. I read a book called, "The Purpose Effect". I think it's by a guy called Dan Pontefract and he was actually at TELUS in Canada and he was the head of workforce and HR. And it was called, "The Purpose Effect". And it was about if you can align the purpose of three key parts of a person's themselves. Number one, their individual purpose, number two the purpose in their role. And then number three, the organizational purpose. If you can get those three things aligned, then that's where you get high functioning, high performing employees. Now sometimes it's really hard for you as a leader to, if someone's not behind the purpose of the company, that's not your fault. They might need to move on to somewhere else. But if you can get them, organized behind their individual goals, plus their role goals, and then the organizational goals, then you're in for a real, you've got great employee, very engaged employee. And coming back to what I think you said at the very top of this episode, Chris, which was it's your job to connect that person to the mission and the vision and show them and prove to them how their work aligns to that vision. And that's aligning to the organizational purpose. And I think Glenn, you said it before where that boss said to you, well my role purpose here is different. The purpose of that role is not to be a senior director role and therefore that's not the place for you to be. And maybe individual's goals are misaligned. Like maybe someone wants to be something that you don't think they can be. And it's important for you as a manager to kind of help them navigate that too. At that human level.
- And one quick thing Rowan is that those things change. So it's not a one-time conversation. It is an ongoing conversation.
- Absolutely.
- Facts, facts.
- And the same as the organizations. So, I'm a CMO, the organization's purpose and the brand purpose and the brand position changes over time. And so one of the biggest things that I have to do at an organizational level is get the company behind the mission and vision internally all the time. And that's a constant calibration because the company changes things change within organizations. And if you're an employee that's sitting around thinking, well, this is just like it was two years ago. That may be true for some organizations, but I can tell from the organizations I've worked at, they're changing every quarter, every six months, every year, for sure.
- One hundred percent.
- And it's really important that somehow you make sure you stay connected to that as an employee and figure out what is changing around me, what's going on and ask the questions. But it's also up to the leader to help continually reinforce what's going on. And Glenn, you talked about it earlier. Transparency is key there because if you're not transparent about what's changing, what's evolving and you're playing these shadow games. You're gonna get caught out really fast.
- That's right.
- All right gentlemen it's the top of the hour. That was a really fun conversation. Thank you so much. I hope our listeners learned a lot. We'll be back every Friday, FP&A Fridays. Friday 10:00 am Pacific, 1:00 pm Eastern. Have a great Friday everyone. Thanks so much.


Take a deep dive with Rowan, Chris and Glenn on another FP&A Friday to uncover how to identify and nurture an "FP&A Superstar", as well as how to manage and motivate all levels of a team. Find out how becoming a leader that connects people to the mission of the business will help high performers shine brighter, and help you know when it's time to let those who aren't behind the purpose of the company move on.