Directors of Finance & Administration (DFA)
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Tips for Mentoring the New DFA

(The Buddy System)

The mentor serves as a welcoming friend and resource to the new DFA. S/he acts as a supportive guide both formally and informally to help the new DFA make her/his way in a new culture and a new bureaucracy.

The mentor makes her/himself available to the new DFA by providing a listening ear and offering assistance on a regular basis. S/he helps the new DFA to be successful by letting the DFA know "what's hot and what's not", what to watch out for, where to look for potential land mines, who to go to for help, as well as the "ins- and-outs" of how to get things done. S/he might review the department's organizational chart with the DFA and make suggestions for change, talk about general staffing issues, give advice or present new ideas, offer suggestions on how to set priorities with respect to strategic financial planning, or recommend ways to work with difficult faculty or a challenging Chair. S/he doesn't in any way replace the senior managers in each of the central School of Medicine Departments but, rather, makes available his/her important relevant experience as a DFA and therefore acts as a potentially invaluable resource to the new DFA. The mentor is a safe and non-judgmental resource.

Suggestions for the mentor:

Partnership Principles

  1. Partnerships
    1. Recognize principles and existing partnerships. Partnerships should be recognized, defined and facilitated. We have defined a partnership as a relationship in which neither party has a reporting relationship with the other, accountability may be shared for the tasks they undertake, they are mutually dependent, and they work together on a micro level to accomplish goals. Current partnerships exist between the DFA (Director of Finance and Administration) and (a) Research Process Managers, (b) Service Line and Clinic/Hospital Department Managers, and (c) sometimes Dean's Office Staff.

      There are three requirements for truly effective partnerships:
      1. The foundation for an effective inter-personal relationship
        • Trust, respect, and recognition of mutual dependence;
        • Credibility and competence of both partners;
        • Regular, consistent, and clear communication
      2. A clear organization/process/job model that defines the partnership
        • Clear and common goals and outcomes;
        • Clear roles, accountabilities, scope of responsibility, and division of labor;
        • Agreement on division of labor, detailed responsibilities, and processes/procedures
      3. Solid management support
        • Understanding and unambiguous commitment by management at all levels to the partnership model;
        • Willingness on the part of management to address resource, personnel, and other problems that may jeopardize the partnership;
        • Recognized and effective conflict resolution processes

        It should be recognized that skills and interests of partners will vary, as will the needs of departments or service lines. To balance the need for a clear organization/process/job model for a partnership and the need to accommodate variability in partners and organizational needs, we suggest:
        • A "default" model be established to define the preferred or "fall-back" arrangement of responsibilities and division of labor for a partnership; this default can serve when there is a dispute or uncertainty, and as a starting point for customization; and
        • Partners be allowed to negotiate adjustments to select parts of the model, subject to management approval; however, there may be key responsibilities that cannot be modified or shifted from one partner to another. Management must recognize and address impacts regarding resource requirements that negotiated changes to partnerships may cause (or else not approve the changes).
    2. Evaluate key partnerships We recommend that key partnerships be evaluated with respect to the above requirements and that any shortfalls be addressed.
    3. Participate in partner hiring and assignments DFAs should be included to the extent possible in the hiring process of their partners. Preferably, the specific DFA who would be partnered with the new hire should be able to interview and give feedback about candidates; where that may not be possible, some DFA should be included in the interviewing process.
    4. Hold periodic forums with partners To encourage continued communication and interaction with Hospital, RMG and other partners, official forums should be scheduled on a quarterly basis between DFAs and each partner group.
    5. Continue DFA involvement in all facets of APR Administrative process redesign should never be carried out without the input of at least one DFA on any Steering Committee or Task Force.

How to Succeed at Stanford

Notes from Presentation made by Michael A. Hindery, Senior Associate Dean for Finance and Administration, August 2002




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