Again in 2012, Ben Horowitz published an posting titled “Good Solution Supervisor/ Bad Solution Supervisor.” We borrowed from his structure as we assessed a important role in a quickly-developing company’s finance group: the controller. (See our earlier column, Good CFO/Bad CFO.) Special many thanks to Aman Kothari, Darko Socanski, and the Bessemer Enterprise Companions CFO Advisory Board for their contributions.
Discovering the suitable corporate controller for the scale and stage of growth for your group is important. If your corporation is a smaller, quickly-developing group, a “big company” controller could be unable or unwilling to roll up their sleeves to lean in and assistance handle your most critical issues. If your group is more experienced, an outstanding, fingers-on smaller corporation controller could have problems creating a sturdy staff and thinking and acting strategically.
The “goldilocks” controller has the suitable blend of techniques and passions for your existing worries with the ability to scale the corporation in the small-to-medium phrase. As an group scales it isn’t uncommon for the controller to either be upgraded or for a main accounting officer to be hired above them to assistance bridge gaps.
Whether you have to have a more nimble, fingers-on controller or a large-photo, strategic controller, right here are some widespread characteristics to consider in the range and evaluation method.
A superior controller can build and lead a sturdy accounting staff. He or she hires the suitable people today for the role and for the staff and corporation tradition. A undesirable controller is challenged on this front — he or she mis-hires and winds up accomplishing all of the do the job by themselves, then complains about it to all people who will hear.
A superior controller organizes for achievement. He or she designs their group in a way that optimally supports the small business now and that can be flexible to meet transforming small-to-medium phrase desires. A undesirable controller hires bodies to “get the career done” and doesn’t have time to believe about what will come up coming.
A superior controller works by using their innate understanding of every single staff member’s aspirations and constraints to get the greatest out of them. A undesirable controller just can’t tell the big difference amongst superior talent and undesirable talent. He or she is fearful to upgrade the staff since of the further do the job they’ll have to have to do during the changeover period.
A superior controller sets clear expectations with the staff and follows up. He or she sets plans for by themselves and their staff concentrated on continuous method enhancement. He or she asks lots of open-finished issues and learns from the responses. A undesirable controller does factors the way the last controller did them with no at any time inquiring why. Bad controllers have no have to have to request issues as they currently know all of the responses.
At a smaller corporation, a superior controller enjoys currently being fingers-on and is satisfied with that as an ongoing portion of their career, comfortably performing equally as a preparer and a reviewer. A undesirable controller in this dimensions corporation resents getting to do the depth do the job by themselves and doesn’t bother to evaluate the do the job of subordinates.
A superior controller “owns it.” He or she is inclined to do no matter what it requires to get the career completed and will do the job shoulder to shoulder with the staff during those people very long shut or pre-audit evenings. The undesirable controller punches out immediately after their eight several hours irrespective of what is likely on in the place of work, leaving the staff at the rear of to fend for by themselves.
A superior controller is brief to unfold the credit history and slow to unfold the blame. He or she requires pride in the team’s successes and owns their failures. The similar slip-up doesn’t come about again since it gets to be a teaching instant and a lesson is discovered. A undesirable controller requires credit history for others’ successes and blames some others when factors go mistaken. There is no teaching and the similar mistakes come about above and above again.
A superior controller is super company-oriented and assures that the finance staff provides outstanding company to its consumers (the rest of the business). A undesirable controller doesn’t believe that that finance has any consumers and ignores the desires of the other departments.
A superior controller communicates effectively, equally in finance and to the broader group, understanding that he or she is portion of a collective staff that only succeeds alongside one another. A undesirable controller operates in a silo and doesn’t really encourage collaboration.
A superior controller understands procedures, devices, and their fundamental facts and will do the job carefully with engineering and IT companions to get the greatest out of their engineering equipment. A undesirable controller doesn’t apply devices tasks since he or she just can’t obtain the time. Bad controllers keep up the migration from QuickBooks since they like the overall flexibility to be ready to go back to edit closed durations.
A superior controller results in precise monetary statements on a predictable agenda and has a program to make improvements to upon their timeliness and comprehensiveness. He or she understands that finding to a a lot quicker month to month shut implies that the staff will have more time every single month for method enhancement, making the up coming month to month shut even greater. In a much larger private corporation, the superior controller has a program to cut down month to month shut to a general public corporation timeframe though also preserving the sanity of the staff. The undesirable controller works by using the full month (or more) to shut the guides, leaving no time for method enhancement and leaving the staff perpetually in a point out of exhaustion and strain.
A superior controller inherently understands and is fluent in the majority of the operational and complex accounting concepts appropriate to the small business. At a smaller corporation, the controller may well not have the similar depth of complex accounting information but he or she will even now be fluent in the important concepts so as to know when to request further issues or flag issues. The undesirable controller assumes that the auditors will determine out all of the complex accounting issues in the audit so he or she minimizes their effort expended on investigating them.
A superior controller builds a sturdy and constructive performing connection with the audit partner and is unafraid to interact in trustworthy and open dialog all-around important inner issues. Good controllers converse generally and share the widespread target of “getting factors right” and preventing surprises. The undesirable controller dreads each discussion with the audit partner out of concern that his or her incompetence will be exposed.
A superior controller is ethically and morally grounded and is unafraid to problem and interact with some others at all degrees of the group in conversations about ethical issues. A undesirable controller lives in concern for their career and so will disguise from difficult issues.
A superior controller tasks gravitas and can partner effectively with executives and some others throughout the group. A undesirable controller is unpleasant when interacting with some others and it displays.
A superior controller seeks out mentorship and advice and is concentrated on self-enhancement. A undesirable controller just “does their job” as he or she doesn’t have the bandwidth to do any more.
Adam Spiegel served as CFO for a series of general public and private substantial growth engineering organizations including RPX and Glassdoor. Previously he used above a ten years as an expenditure banker for the Credit Suisse 1st Boston Know-how Team and Prudential Securities, completing transactions valued at above $eight billion. He now mentors CFOs and advises other executives of substantial growth engineering organizations.
Jeff Epstein is an working partner at Bessemer Enterprise Companions and a lecturer at Stanford College. He specializes in marketplaces and small business-to-small business application organizations. He serves on the boards of directors and audit committees of Kaiser Permanente, Twilio, Shutterstock, and several private organizations.