Straight Answers to Real Questions
Question: I’m the controller of an $800mm TSX listed company and my assistant controller is going on maternity leave for a year. Normally I’d hire a contractor to fill in for the duration, but the CFO has put a moratorium on any contract hiring. We’re already running pretty lean so how do we ensure her absence doesn’t greatly compromise the overall performance of the department?
Answer: There’s no way that a year’s leave isn’t going to affect your department in some way; you just want to try to minimize the effect. Your first move should be to thoroughly analyze what exactly the assistant controller does and then consider the following options:
- Break the job down into its component parts and farm them out to other managers, including and especially you. Everybody’s going to grumble a little bit but if you divvy up the chores fairly and take on more than your fair share, your senior staff shouldn’t put up too much of a fuss.
- Put someone into the job whose current position is more easily covered off by others. The bad news is that you’ll have a hard time getting that person to go back into their old job. The good news is that they should be of more use to you when the twelve months is up.
- If your organization has the corporate or organization infrastructure to accommodate it, you can use this as an opportunity to do a bit of organizational reengineering. It’s possible that you can permanently blend this job into existing functions without causing undue strain. When your assistant controller is ready to come back to work, you can bring them back into an equivalent position where they can add more value to the organization.
There are no perfect or obvious solutions in this situation but if you’re willing to be creative, you should be able to get through the year with flying colours.