Believe it or not, one of the first things that I look for when I walk into an office is whether anyone waters the plants? While I care about the health and welfare of the plants, what I am really looking for is whether anyone goes above and beyond to take care of little things that are usually not in anyone’s job description. I think it immediately gives one a sense of an organization.
In any company, there are many items which fall outside of job descriptions. No job description anticipates everything that happens (or should happen) every day. And while most job descriptions have an “all other” category, it’s how people actually interpret those catch all statements that determines how an organization functions.
Last month, I wrote about how small mistakes, often at the lowest levels of the organization, can take significant time and energy to fix (and usually at a much higher level in the organization). The same is true not just of mistakes, but of day to day activities that are necessary for an organization to function. Ultimately, it’s people taking care of issues early and preventing them from becoming major problems that allows everyone in the organization to perform at the highest possible level. The further down the organization chart that a necessary activity can occur or a problem solved then the more effectively that organization is able to operate.
Organizational performance is governed by the performance of every individual within it. It doesn’t matter how great a sales superstar you might have in your company, if the people responsible for delivery aren’t doing so effectively, customers will eventually get tired of dealing with the organization’s incompetence and find another source. And if that sales superstar has to step in and “fix problems”, the time spent doing that can’t be devoted to making more sales.
Everyone in the organization only has so much bandwidth. Every time anyone is forced to deal with an issue that could have been handled further down the organization, then they are not operating at their highest and best use. This limits their effectiveness and the company’s ability to achieve its full potential.
As is usually the case, I could cite countless examples of people being forced to dive down into the organization to deal with something that could have (and more importantly, should have) been handled by another resource. As a fractional CFO, my job is to not only to oversee the finance function, but to take things off the plate of the CEO and other executives allowing them to manage items that they are uniquely qualified to handle.
Of course, by this point, it should be obvious that watering the plants is just an example (albeit a visible one) of day to day functions that need to happen smoothly in order for an organization to be achieve its potential. So, when you walk into your office next, do more, so everyone else can too!
If your business could benefit from fractional CFO services, I would welcome the chance to speak with you. Please give me a call at (314) 863-6637 or send an email to
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