6 areas to understand to manage a management team

How to manage a management team

Managing a management team is like managing a soccer team. You need to delegate, to engage, to encourage and to develop your team members to get results. Do it well and you leverage your organization.

In this blog post, I summarize 6 areas you need to understand and to master to manage a management team:

  1. Why do you have a management team?
  2. Who shall be on your management team?
  3. How to develop your own leadership style.
  4. The role of the team members.
  5. How to develop the management team.
  6. To lead the management team.

You leverage your organization and get much more done if you learn how to manage a management team. That is key when you aspire to grow your business.

Why do you have a management team?

Have you ever asked yourself why you have a management team? Do you need one?

Well, at some point you need to let go, to grow. You will need to delegate to become productive, to scale.

“There is a limit number of direct reporting coworkers you can have where you all remain productive.”

To me personally, me and my team are most productive with me having with no more than 6 -8 direct reporting colleagues. In total I have had more than 5.000 people in my organization, organized in teams of 6-8 people. They in there turn have their teams.

Some can lead more people, some less. Few can manage 15 direct reporting persons unless their job description is very similar and relatively non-complexed.

Early startups shall avoid appointing “head of” outside the founders when they only have 5 – 10 employees. It is only when the number of coworkers become too many that you need to appoint executives. You have a management team when you have a handful of staff-leading executives.

Who shall be on your management team?

Unlike fundraising, family and friends shall not be on your management team, unless they are your most qualified coworkers.

A leader shall be qualified for the task. He or she shall also be a people person, enjoying the task to lead, engage, delegate and follow-up on their team members.

Three personas shall be avoided as management team members:

  1. A highly qualified person for the job, but one that can’t lead, engage, and follow-up on team members. A technician that is not a people person.
  2. Great leaders with limited or no professional experience in the field of his or her functional responsibility. Large multinationals employ and foster plenty of such people. Small business need to know what to do as well, not only have people persons as leaders.
  3. People with no team members, experts. A management team is your tool to delegate and to leverage on large resources. It’s a leadership platform to manage large organizations. Experts are elsewhere.

How to develop your own leadership style

It’s a first for everyone to become a manager and feel the need to develop once own leadership. Here are a few tips to newly appointed leaders with staffs to manage:

  • Understand expectations, your team’s field of responsibility and expected deliveries. Align targets with your team’s responsibilities.
  • Design structures for your team to deliver on decided targets. You can do the design in principle and take the final structural decision but involving the team makes them committed.
  • Practice to delegate multi-days or multi-weeks tasks and responsibilities to each or your team member. Be specific on expectations, deliveries and boundaries but give room to maneuver. No one like micro-manaers.
  • Set a routine to follow-up. That is not micro-managing, that is a way to show interest and to get a feel for progress.
  • Trust your team. There are many roads to Rome.

If you are new to leadership, you can also seek a mentor. Either a more seasoned managing colleague or

The role of the team members

There are two roles for the your leadership team members:

  1. Take responsibility for a certain area of the business. Lead and develop the professional work and employees within the area that has been delegated to you.
  2. Take joint-responsibility for overall development of the business that is the responsibility of the combined management team. Leaders that only focus on their own responsibility but not the team responsibility does not help develop the business.

How to develop the management team

If you are the leader of the management team than it is your responsibility to constantly develop that group of people. The engage, steer, follow up but avoid interfering with your team members.

You may have customer contacts of your own, but your main responsibility is to manage and develop your core team. That is being a Chief Executive Officer. It’s your responsibility to hire, engage, develop, support, and if necessary, exchange, your team members.

Your management team development toolbox includes:

  • Periodic expectation and target setting meetings for their respective area of responsibility. Align to the company’s key challenges. Let your subordinated leaders help you define where the need to be in 9-12 month time.
  • Set aside calendar time for weekly or bi-weekly management meetings. In between these meetings you make time for individual follow-up meetings with each management team member.
  • Make sure you see your management team members. By this I mean that you engage in each of your management team members are of responsibility, via that person. Everyone likes to be seen, even the most stubborn of persons.
  • Make yearly or bi-yearly management two-day conferences. These off-site conferences serve two purposes: (1) You co-develop a strategy, business plan, market entry plan or similar. You use all your best resources, and you make them engaged, visible and committed. (2) Spending off-site time together makes you know each other much more deeper than only from the office. That fosters respect, engagement and makes it easier to work together as a team.

To lead the management team

A company is a perfect dictatorship with one leader, that lead the management team. In rare cases you may have two co-leaders.

As the supreme leader of the team, you can’t behave like a dictator thought. People will underperform, leave or at worst just remain being highly unproductive if you’re not a true leader.

This is the toolbox to lead the management team:

  1. Be clear with areas of responsibility, expectations and deliveries. Update when necessary, at least once a year.
  2. Meet your team, and your individual team members regularly. Engage in their areas of responsibility, on an arm-length distance.
  3. Delegate. Do not micro-manage.
  4. Trust your team members. There are many ways to Rome.

How to manage a management team is something we all think about, from time to time. Even the most seasoned of leaders.

There are few teams where all team members deliver at 100% and engage in the team’s joint responsibility. There is always something to do. Do it well and you will have great leverage on your organization. One plus one would be three.

As the leader of the management team, you are the Chief Executive Office. You are expected to take the final decisions, that are not delegated to a team member. But, the more you delegate well and  get’s delivered by the people you have appointed, the more productive the company will be.

Let go to grow, but engage in all areas at a distance.

Good luck. Leverage your organization and let your company grow.

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