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Play it smart: Learn the language of your CFO

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

You'd be wise to align yourself more closely with your organization's chief financial officer.

Why? CFOs are feeling increasing pressure to show how "people assets" are being managed in their organizations. Being friendly with the finance team can help secure funding for your projects.

The CFO Mindset

The first step? Partner with the finance chief by learning the measures and indicators he or she thrives on, such as:
  • ROI
  • Payback period
  • Risk assessment (or failure rate)
  • Cost per unit of service
  • Competitive advantage

Then, pick one of your programs (ideally one that your CFO is skeptical about) and focus on proving that program's business impact and high return. Conversations like that will draw attention to your strategy smarts, and it'll build respect between you.

Make Your Budget About Dollars and Sense

When it’s time to present your next budget, get the C-Suite’s attention with these six talking points. They’ll show top management you mean business.

1. Our budget supports company goals. Don’t assume senior executives can make the connection between the organization’s success and your programs. When you make your budget presentation, spell it out.

2. This budget will yield a solid return on investment. Document how dollars invested in your programs pay dividends in other areas. Not sure? During the budget development process, pick the brains of other operational heads.

3. Every line item adds value. What does each project bring to the bottom line?

4. This spending is key to profitability. Remember, profitability is today’s key measure. Speak in those terms and you’ll catch decision-makers’ ears.

5. Our budget is based on reality. Articulate your understanding of where the organization is and where it’s going. That demonstrates you’ve done your homework—and frames your proposal in real-world terms. Meet with the CFO early in the budgeting process—he or she could become your biggest champion. Show how your budget priorities help move the organization forward. Ask him or her to challenge your assumptions.

6. The details in this budget are bullet-proof. When building your budget, check and double-check every fact and figure. When the honchos start asking questions, you don’t want to have to shuffle through reams of paper to find the answers.

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