The Chief Financial Officer at a mid-western farming co-op was
excellent when it came to the spreadsheets. She understood future
forecasting, money at present and future value, and fiduciary
responsibilities. For the most part she was excellent at her job.
Yet there was one little thing that aggravated her boss -- she gave away
a lot of money. While many managers would terminate an employee like
this, leadership dictates a different course.
Leaders find root causes of employee failures and then find ways to
redirect them so each employee is engaged in the organization's goals.
The co-op used very specific activity-based costing for its charges.
Competitors rolled some of these charges into general service fees,
giving the impression these activities were free. At face-to-face meetings
the farmers would object to these charges, citing that other co-ops did
not charge them. The CFO would immediately reverse the charges,
thereby eroding the bottom-line.
A careful review of each trait identified by the assessment revealed
nothing until a comparison of multiple traits uncovered an obvious
solution. In the farm country of the Great American Prairie people learn
to be hospitable and to play by the rules. This CFO had learned these
lessons well. When someone claimed the charges were unfair, she did
the hospitable thing by reversing the charges. However the assessment
also pointed out she had a strong sense of compliance. In other words,
she would not break the rules
Her coach intervened and saved her job. He redirected her thoughts by
getting her to view review reversal requests as a matter of compliance,
not hospitality. She agreed to give it a try. Surprisingly, it had an
immediate and complete impact on the way she perceived reversal
As this is being written it has been more than two years since the
assessment was reviewed. The CFO remains in her position and has
reversed just three charges – which were the result of input errors. Not
only has the co-op has realized a triple digit return on their investment,
they escaped the cost of hiring and training a new CFO.
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"Dr. Max" shares his success stories by looking at the symptoms of a
business problem or opportunity, his diagnosis of same, his prescription
for success, and the prognosis for the future. For more case studies,
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