No job is too small for finance executives, a new Robert Half Management Resources survey suggests. But if chief financial officers (CFOs) could get one thing off their plates, it would be administrative tasks. Nearly one-third (30 per cent) of CFOs interviewed said that if they could eliminate one responsibility, it would be basic clerical and administrative work. 

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, the world’s premier provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals on a project and interim basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 178 CFOs from a stratified random sample of Canadian companies with 20 or more employees. 

CFOs were asked, “If there was one responsibility you could hand off from your job, what would it be?” Their responses: 

Basic clerical/administrative 30%
Accounting-related 26%
Human resources-related 20%
Managing 6%
Operations-related 4%
Nothing 6%
Other 9%
  101%*

 *Responses do not total 100 per cent due to rounding. 

“All professionals, including CFOs, have some administrative duties as part of their normal work routine. However, senior-level professionals need to use their time wisely, given the current environment,” said David King, president of Robert Half Management Resources’ Canadian operations.  “A key component of sound time management is knowing when to delegate routine tasks that are time consuming and bringing in outside help whenever necessary.” 

Robert Half Management Resources offers executives six tips for maximizing their time:

  1. Set realistic expectations. High standards are a must, but setting impractical goals can cause frustration and waste valuable time. When initiating a project, consider what you would like to achieve if resources and time were unlimited. Then determine what can reasonably be accomplished considering available resources and other priorities.
  2. Don’t procrastinate. It’s tempting to postpone less challenging assignments for more exciting initiatives, but it can backfire if projects start to stack up. Procrastination strains working relationships and creates unnecessary stress as everyone strives to catch up.
  3. Delegate. Distribute more routine tasks to other staff members. Look for opportunities that allow your top performers to gain visibility and build their expertise and decision-making skills.
  4. Keep meetings on track. Distribute a detailed agenda prior to the discussion so everyone is prepared. Meetings should begin and end on time. If information can easily be covered in e-mail or phone, a meeting may not be warranted.
  5. Bring in help. If you and your team are overloaded, consider bringing in outside support during peak activity periods or for large-scale initiatives that are finite in nature.
  6. Recharge. Financial executives are accustomed to long hours and demanding work, but that doesn’t mean they should sacrifice breaks and vacation. Scheduling time for even a short respite can restore energy and a sense of control. 

About the Survey

The national study was developed by Robert Half Management Resources. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on 178 telephone interviews with CFOs from a random sample of Canadian companies with 20 or more employees. For the study to be statistically representative and ensure that companies from all segments were represented, the sample was stratified by geographic region and number of employees. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper proportion of employees within each region. 

About Robert Half Management Resources

Robert Half Management Resources is the premier provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals to supplement companies’ project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 145 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at http://www.rhmr.com/. Follow Robert Half Management Resources at twitter.com/roberthalfmr for workplace news.