As a finance business partner you wear many hats and play many roles.
A lot of your time the focus is on adding more value.
Whether that’s through insight, advice or influence.
From time to time you have to switch to the stewardship role.
Thinking not just about the areas that you support but the wider organisational interests.
Considering the risks of a particular course of action.
Saying things that might be perceived to you being awkward or a blocker.
It’s the part of finance business partnering that people tend to like less.
Equally there’s a danger that you feel you have to shine the light on every negative possibility to be seen to be tough.
In many ways being a finance business partner is like being a leader.
You have to know when to intervene and step back.
It’s a judgement call.
So how can you make the right interventions as a finance business partner in my view.
Understand what those areas you partner with are trying to achieve
I do workshops on business partnering.
One of the most common things that people plan to work on post workshop is better understanding what the areas they partner with are trying to achieve.
It’s not that the delegates don’t have any understanding. It tends to be that they have a surface level of knowledge.
Understand the critical success factors to achieving the results
Getting a good understanding of what those you partner with are trying to achieve is a positive first step.
But you have to go deeper.
There are going to be certain factors that are critical to achieving the results.
In simple terms the things you have to get right to have any chance of success.
These will differ from organisation to organisation.
Once you really understand what matters, it helps you to better assess whether there’s a need to step in or step back.
Think before you intervene
Yes you want to contribute. Yes you want to feel valued. Yes you know your role in stewardship and governance.
At the same time you have to stop and think before you intervene.
Remember every intervention can enhance or erode the relationship.
Every intervention can build or erode trust.
Every intervention tells others about your judgement.
So really think carefully before you intervene.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Is this something that will significantly impact on results.
- Is this something that leaves us open to reputational damage.
- On a scale of 1-10 how big a deal is this.
In reality you aren’t going to get this right all of the time. At the same time being conscious of the impact of interventions is a good starting point.