As part of our blog collaboration with Stellacon Business Coaching, we are discussing how you can build a top-notch management team.
The right management team can transform your company from good to exceptional. Though a business can achieve a certain level of success with one strong leader and a group of doers, an organization with a top-notch management team can attain incredible results.
So, what’s important? Let’s start with culture. As the leader in your organization, your actions and behaviours will drive the culture within your business. The culture comes from you. Have you spent enough time thinking about the culture you want to have in your business? If not – you should.
This ties in nicely with revisiting (or creating) your vision, mission, and values. Why does your company exist? This is your mission. Where do you want to take your company? This is your vision. And finally, how do you want your team to act? These are your values. You need to think about these and crystalize them so that you can share them with your team and then make decisions that support them. You should be referring to these and speaking openly about them on a regular basis – otherwise they are just words on a wall.
Building a great team also comes by ensuring that you hire people with the right skill sets – and not just based on technical skills. Sure, they need to have the technical skills to get the job done but you want to ensure they have the right soft skills too. The bigger your company becomes the more critical this becomes. Each member of your team needs to be a good fit in terms of the right attitude, they should demonstrate leadership, and they should take ownership of their area of responsibility.
And ask yourself – are they adaptable? Do they have good problem-solving skills? Are they good with people? These things matter. You need to recruit people who have these abilities or develop your team within.
When it comes to building a team, diversity is key. This comes to play in terms of thinking and in skill sets. If everyone in the room thinks the same way, then it’s going to be very hard to be innovative and it will limit your company’s ability to achieve its full potential. You need people with different but complimentary thought processes.
If the #1 person in an organization is more, “Sales” oriented then the #2 person in the organization might best be more, “Operationally” oriented – and vice versa.
Every business has a unique foundation based on its owner. Let’s take a software company for example. If the owner is more technically oriented, the company might have a great functional product but it may have an awful looking interface. It might be difficult for a customer to use, and ultimately, the company may find great difficulty in bringing their offering to market. Working capital may be primarily directed to product development with not enough emphasis being put on the user experience, marketing, or even managing cash flow.
Conversely, if an owner is more sales oriented, they may have a great interface and have no challenge in getting customers to trial the software but based on its functionality, they may find it hard to convert customers from trial subscriptions to paid ones. Capital may be primarily directed to marketing at the expense of proper product development.
In one case, you have a highly functional product that looks ugly and gains no traction. In the other, you have a slick looking product which lacks substance and despite gaining traction with free trials, it gains no traction in paying customers. Balance in skill sets is essential.
Effective communication within your business is another crucial factor. It’s how you keep everyone on the same page working towards a common goal – your vision. You need to continuously foster effective communication. If people only say what they think their manager or the owner want to hear, then they are doing you a major dis-service. All members of your team should feel comfortable in bringing forward ideas and concerns. Ideally, you should be fostering a culture of creating solution providers rather than problem reporters.
Hand in hand with communication is active listening. Listen to your people. Consider what they say. You don’t have to agree with them and if you don’t, then help them understand why. At the end of the day, it’s more important that they feel that you listened; even if you don’t agree.
Carrying on, strong teams come together and become even stronger when everyone is working on a common goal. People need to know the goal and then just as importantly, they need to understand how they contribute to it.
In addition to company goals, you’ll want to set individual goals for each member of your team. These should support the company’s goals. Having goals allows team members to set priorities and objectives so that they can achieve their goals. Remember, a goal without a plan is simply a dream.
Furthermore, if you don’t have a shared understanding with your people in terms of objectives and priorities then people will tend to do what they think is important or what they enjoy doing rather. This may be very different from what you’d want them doing.
When it comes to goal setting, don’t be afraid to challenge your team. A team that is challenged outside of its comfort zone is a team that will develop and learn so much more.
An essential part of team and individual development is ensuring that you’re providing ongoing, continued feedback. Are they doing well? Tell them. Are they doing poorly? You need to tell them. Based on your lack of feedback they may believe they’re doing a great job. You need to tell them. If you ever get to a performance review and anyone is surprised – then you haven’t done a good job in providing feedback.
Developing a strong management team starts with you. It’s based on a well thought out strategy and execution of the fundamentals described above. It requires a systematic and planned approach. The success of your business lies in the hands of your team and there are no limits as to what the right team can accomplish.
Graham Acreman is President at Stellacon Business Coaching. Graham has built some of the top performing sales and operations teams in North America. He helps small and medium-sized business accelerate sales and manage growth.