I often hear Owner Managers asking how they can get more accountability from their senior team. They wonder why some of their managers are not stepping up or showing more pro-activity. After all, the purpose of having a management team is to allow the owner to step back and to work more “on” the business than “in” the business.
When an owner is developing a management team, there are two choices, to select managers who have grown up through the business or to hire externally. Each has its risks. Here a few thoughts to ensure your managers are set up for success and have the confidence and competence to make their best contribution to the business:
1. Set clear expectations
As you frame up the roles you’d like you managers to fill, make sure you document your expectations. Consider thinking of these as the tasks you’d expect from the manager, the relationships you expect them to manage and the projects you are hoping they initiate. You may want to describe what you’d expect to see in each of these areas by the end of their first month in role, the third month in role and the sixth month in role. Review these monthly both to review their progress and to reprioritise if necessary.
Be sure to include the key areas of values and behaviours. How do you expect your managers to treat your customers, their teams and each other at the management team level? Being able to be explicit about these behaviours will help new managers hit the ground running.
2. Communicate the fundamentals of your business model
It’s important that each of your managers understand the fundamentals of your business model. Where does the business make money? What affects the gross margin line? What does an A customer look like? How can they affect balance sheet indicators such as stock, debtors or work in progress and make sure they understand cashflow!
Even if a manager is very familiar with your industry, don’t assume they understand these key drivers of business success. Once they do understand, they are going to be able to make good quality decisions about where to spend their time, and how to spend your money.
Read blog: Developing Your People: Best Practices for Building a Stronger Team
3. Encourage a ‘whole-of-business’ view
Most of us grow up in business through a particular discipline, such as engineering, accounting, operations etc. Therefore, your managers may have a good understanding of their own discipline but not necessarily the other parts of the business that drive your economic engine.
With strength in a key area, it’s easy to for them to focus just on their own team or department. Managers are often rewarded for doing just this. If you can get your management team to collaborate and think across the whole business, and to take joint accountability for the performance of the whole business, this can significantly improve decision-making and business performance.
4. Set leadership expectations
Expect your leaders to build high performance teams. They need to set clear expectations for their team, to motivate and engage them. Good communication is key so that staff understand where they fit into the bigger picture and how they can best contribute to the business.
Many managers have had very little exposure to how to lead and manage people so you may need to consider some leadership development.
5. Spend time with your managers
Management teams do need to spend time together. Have regular meetings with clear agendas. Consider whether it’s a strategic meeting or an operational meeting and what you’d like to achieve. Regularly review meeting effectiveness and challenge yourselves to improve.
Do have some informal events too as being a high performance team requires getting to know each other well.
Finally, give your managers regular feedback so they can grow their confidence in their contribution to the business.
This blog is written by Jo Clayton, an experienced director, general manager and consultant who works with The Icehouse as a facilitator on Growth and Customised programmes.