There is no magic success formula for becoming a CFO. However, once you become one, the first 90 days are critical, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). During this time, it's important to ask questions and to truly listen to the responses. Working with your organization's HR department is a critical component of CFO responsibilities. Therefore, new CFOs need to take the time to determine who is important, to know the business model and to understand the organizational culture.

CFOs can establish the critical relationships and build a foundation of trust through their listening skills. Listening can enable new CFOs to identify the organizational culture, what model drives the business and what the major human capital management (HCM) and overall business issues are, and how to address these issues.

Your First Steps as CFO

According to the WSJ, the critical first steps as a CFO consist of three components. The first is to jump in head first. You must fully immerse yourself into the organization in order to absorb the corporate culture, learn what the organization considers important and determine what truly drives the firm. The second is to seek help when needed. You are not expected to know the answer to everything, which is why you have direct reports and functional peers. Determine who these individuals are and ask for assistance. The third step is to build relationships.

Align HR Goals

According to Business Insider, CFOs should share key metrics with their HR team to ensure that HR understands the organization's talent requirements. Therefore, you must first clearly understand what the organization's goals and objectives are, and then determine key business metrics that are pertinent to the HR function.

To minimize any resistance to change, listen to your HR team to find out their objectives for the next few years. Work with HR leadership to shift and realign those goals if you deem they're no longer a match. For example, is high-level customer service the focus or is increased technical acuity? In addition, you can also work with HR and finance leaders on your team to develop clear financial or performance-based metrics for HR that directly tie into the overall business objectives.

Drive Business Success

That which is not measured cannot be assessed. Determining the quantitative HCM and other goals for HR and tying them to overall business objectives may help your business succeed. If retention is key to leveraging your organization's existent knowledge base, then HR must prioritize employee retention. If the goal is to increase customer service personnel and provide training and support to enhance the customer experience, then employee satisfaction and training-related metrics must be utilized. Furthermore, you and your leadership team must help HR identify and make adjustments when the results are not as anticipated, just as you would do in the other departments and business functional areas you oversee.

As a new CFO, focus on listening and asking questions as you actively pursue the building of trust and the deepening of relationships in all functional areas. To improve and leverage HCM to accomplish stated business objectives, HR must be one of the core areas.

Stay up-to-date on the latest human capital management insights for finance leaders: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

Tags: leadership