Thursday, August 25, 2016

What is your signature worth-some musings as a professional

Recently, I was reading a book by Parag Saigaonkar wherein the below passage struck me-it relates to the author being asked to certify homework completion of his son, and his asking to see the homework before certifying. The author muses that
Reflecting on this incident, I realized that I do sign off on a lot of other things as well, especially at work – one of the responsibilities I have as a principal in the firm. As a firm signatory, I have the ‘privilege’ of signing a lot of important documents …… at least they look impressive. What does it mean to lend my signature to business-critical documents? What weight does my signature bear? What are the consequences of not reading in detail every legal word? What value do I put on my signature?
SAIGAONKAR, PARAG. THE PERFECT STORM (Kindle Locations 1682-1685). Westland. Kindle Edition.

As finance professionals, whether it is signing an audit report, letter of representation, approving an expense, greenlighting a project etc, we often need to rely extensively on work done by others.  For this, we need to ensure we are through in every aspect and review the critical points, to avoid devaluing our signature. 
At the same time, we should remember our role as internal consultants and not be bureaucratic in holding up decisions because we want to tick all the boxes all the time. 

As Vaibhav Manek puts it in his BCAS presentation on 'Aligning Human Capital-people as strategic assets'
  1. “We exist because of our clients; The customer is not an interruption of our work; he’s the purpose of it”- Mahatma Gandhi 
  2. Professionals must have “a connect” with the client • To win a client’s confidence, give him the chance to talk to you, person to person, about his needs and his expectations • Make it easy and comfortable for the clients to share his secrets • 
  3. Professionals must adapt a mindset of joint problem solving, instead of trying to win or prevail
  4. People with different views must learn from each other
  5.  Make effective decisions, conform to an execution framework, focus on priorities, have a growth orientation, think with a solution mindset and multitask between production and management. 
  6. Technically brilliant people should be respectful to their peers and must share their knowledge and expertise 
  7. Sharing of ones’ knowledge is critical to have the team come up to terms with the thought process of the team leader 
  8. Team members must have a constant quest for learning and upgrading themselves

Points 3-8 are especially relevant to facilitating smooth reviews of work. Works should be done diligently as per approved checklists with self review, and once done this way, review would be smooth. Yet, one should not lose alertness and be blindsided by a black swan.

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