high performing management team

A high-performing management team…not just high-performing managers

Whether you’re a 20-person business running for 30 years, a 100-person business growing fast for just 2 years, or a well-established business of 2,000 people, if you expect the business to work reliably and independently of the owner, as well as to continue to grow and prosper into the future, having a collection of strong managers is not, in and of itself, enough. That’s right, for the business to continue to grow and flourish, you need a high-performance management team, not just high-performance managers.

Now, of course, you do want high-performance managers. You need to have managers who can take responsibility for their area and deliver strong results from it. Regardless of the specific titles you use, you need a CFO who is great at running the finance operation, a Head of Sales who drives great sales outcomes, an HR Manager overseeing the various HR processes and so on. However, that isn’t enough. Certainly not if you wish to achieve genuine high performance.

In any organization, there is considerable interaction between the different functions. Sales must work with operations to sell the right things. Finance must provide marketing with appropriate analysis, HR must support everyone and so on. This is the first reason that a company requires a management team really working closely as one. Furthermore, the people in any management team tend to be among the most capable and/or experienced people in the company and they each have a different perspective; including the only perspective from their particular role. So there is also great value in having them each bring their individual attention to any part of the business. And, to state the obvious, for the company to succeed at the highest levels overall requires success across all functions – yes, it is in everyone’s interest for everyone to succeed.

As a consequence of these factors, it becomes apparent that the highest-performing management teams demonstrate not only high performance from their individual managers; but also a high degree of joint ownership of the aggregate outcome. In a sense and to some degree, these higher-performing management teams actually operate as singular entities taking collective ownership of the total business.

I should pause to emphasise that this collective ownership should not become permanent collective decision-making – in most cases, consensus decision-making is just too slow. It also should not remove the individual accountability that each manager has for their area of responsibility. However, it should demonstrate a number of other behaviours; most of which are observable and can be intentionally encouraged and developed.

For example, you might observe managers proactive seeking (or offering) to spend 1:1 time with each other to explore their highest priority challenges and opportunities. You will see the entire management team seriously engaged in conversations about company results – not just their team’s results. Managers will establish working groups or other temporary project teams to attach important initiatives and those will include members of different regular teams. You will likely see projects run by one manager and sponsored by another. The conversations in team meetings relating to company-wide activities will be vigorous and inclusive of the entire team – not just the single leader or the loudest voice!

All of these behaviours, and others, can be developed within a team. When they are developed and consistently observable, you are likely to find that you are also observing some stellar company performance!

P.S. Whenever you are ready…

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