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October 14, 2016

My management team: how to develop your top team around you

Group of people, team pulling line, playing tug of war. Competition, teamwork, strength. Conceptual

Whether you’re building a business or planning to move sideways in your business, you need to have a strong management team to support your leadership.

Your management team need to be onboard with your vision, culture and focus as well as having the skills that you may not possess to help deliver a truly great service that keeps customers coming back for more.

How, then, do you build this team around you? And how do you develop this team to improve the overall performance of your business?

The importance of a clear vision

If your management team are going to share your vision, it’s key that you, yourself, understand where you’re going. A clear mission, a watertight strategy and a practical business plan are all vital if you’re going to make this work.

If you’re going to instil real engagement in your managers, you need to be 100% clear in your own mind what the plan is – and how you want to deliver it.

You also need to consider whether the people you have in the team now are the right ones to help you deliver your future plan. Think through your organisational architecture, think about what functions you’ll need going forward and revise the structure of the organisation so it’s fit for purpose.

Making the business work without you

As the CEO or MD, there’s a big temptation to cling on to managing every element of your business processes. But if you’re going to grow and scale your organisation, it’s vital that you can delegate responsibilities and ‘step back’ from the day-to-day procedures in the business.

You’re there to lead the business, meet with customers and do the business development work that will bring in more sales and more profit. You’re the captain of the ship, so you must think about the organisation being sustainable without you there in the engine room, shovelling coal. Your role is at the helm, guiding the ship through choppy waters.

To do that, you need people around you who have the energy and drive to help you build the business and be part of the leadership team.

It means assessing and identifying the key people who are vital for the business’ future. This assessment can be uncomfortable – we’re talking about a team you may have worked with for many years – but it can also bring great energy. It’s about staying true to your vision, keeping the people who add value and managing the change process in most effective way you can.

Managing the change process

Change can sometimes be a scary thing – there’s a tendency to stick with the status quo because it’s familiar and it gets the job done. But if you’re going to build a management team that truly backs your strategy then change and evolution will be necessary.

Change is often about getting clarity. The way you introduce your new plans and future vision will ensure you have the right people with you, going forward. Be clear, be honest and have integrity when you’re advising the team about the changes you have planned – when people know the bigger picture, they’ll understand the reason for change, even when it means they may no longer be on the ship’s crew!

Engagement is everything. Bring people with you and think about how you’re going to keep them on board with your plan. A unified front will make the whole change process easier, so make sure that you, your managers and your team members are all singing from the same hymn sheet.

Investing in your team’s development

At times of change, it’s important to invest in your people. Listen to their feedback on the plan, communicate clearly and understand what makes them comfortable and what makes them uncomfortable.

Once you’ve taken this information on board, it’ll be much clearer which managers and team members are able to step up and be part of your top team. And that helps you to develop the people who will really add value in the longer term.

Always bring change management back to the WHY. If people understand the story they can manage it better. Involve your team members in the interview or selection process for new roles so that they have a say. If people feel involved, that improves their feeling of ownership in the whole evolution process.

Providing support and potential for growth

Most people understand that they need managers and leaders – and, of course, not everyone wants to be a leader.

Some people prefer to be given a set of tasks, with good instructions and a clear goal to achieve. But what people do need is a leader who can set those clear goals and who supports them and help them grow and develop.

Don’t be afraid of going outside the business to bring in experts who can help develop both the business and your leadership team.

At Inspira, helping business with this kind of development is central to the value we add for clients. We’ve been working with a ‘brownfield’ redevelopment organisation in Wolverhampton for over five years to help them develop their management team.

We’ve brought in civil engineering and remediation experts to support the kind of growth and development that the organisation was looking for. But that sort of change takes time. It takes time to get a new management team in place and get everyone in line with the vision, culture and growth plans as well as having the existing team feeling supported and comfortable.

The different layers within the business

It’s helpful to think about hierarchy and the underlying structure of your organisation.

Think of the company as being made up of several layers. You and the ownership team at the top, your management team below this, your support and admin teams below this etc.

As an owner manager, you have to look at you own skillset and those of the people around you. If your organisation is a family business, think about the step change that’s required when you bring in non-family members to manage your business. It’s highly likely that any outsiders you bring into the business will challenge you on ideas and process, so prepare yourself for this and keep an open mind when they make suggestions.

You have brought these people in to help you grow, so be open to new dynamics and no longer discussing the business around the breakfast table. Be willing to listen to have the support and have external coaches who will help you with the transition.

Get the support and guidance you need

It can be lonely at the top, as the saying goes, but by bringing in the right experts and advisers you can get all the support and guidance needed to help you stick to your vision, build the right management team and drive the business forward with real vigour and confidence.

A great book to read on this topic is Simon Sinek’s ‘Start With Why’, which helps you to understand the company ‘why’, the personal ‘why’ and the change ‘why’. It’s a brilliant read for any business leader who’s looking to evolve their business.

Whether your plan is to grow your organisation, or you’re looking to step away and be proud of what you’ve grown, having the right management team around you is a critical element in moving forward and meeting your goals for the business.

Find out more about how Inspira can support your business vision and change processes.

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