Building a management team is not a walk in the park; it comes with all sorts of challenges due to the nature of organisations and the people who work for them.
For instance, a chief executive officer cannot simply wake up one morning and say: “With effect from today, we shall begin to trust each other”. Trust is built over time.
In order to deal with the challenges of distrust, the chief has got to be aware of competencies and capacities of the management team in terms of decision making ability and execution, cohesion, availability, loyalty and commitment, trust, being too operational and less strategic, mutual dependencies, participation and contribution, composition and size, goal orientation, business understanding and communication.
Honesty and transparency within the management team is very important for meaningful progress to be made. One scholar pointed out that “what is not spoken is shown”. This implies that when the management team members do not trust each other, even when they do not say so, it will be shown.
A weak management team implies that the chief is walking on a thin wooden surface, which is bound to break anytime. The era for one-person organisations is long gone due to the complexity and uncertainty of the current business environment. Strong management teams generally have a high level of cohesion.
Although, it may not be possible to have team members who are close in a personal sense, it can be achieved at a professional level. Each management team member should uphold certain minimum standards, including a sense of responsibility, high moral standard, loyalty and commitment to the organisation, keeping track of numbers and overall organisational performance, trust and support, asking the right questions and business understanding.
It is, therefore, important for the chief executive officer to define the kind of management team standards they would like to promote in order to have all the members well-aligned to his/her leadership style.
As it is always said, the management team has to have its feet on the ground and eyes on the horizon. It is possible to get lost in operational issues and completely forget to look at the strategic issues. Therefore, it is important to set a specific management meeting to address the strategic issues.
This could be once a month or once each quarter. It is also important to set aside time to assess whether the management team is operating as expected. It is equally important to demand results and this can only be possible when clear targets are set, right from the start by the chief.
The targets should be regularly discussed with each management team member and, as a group. Team members should not only be concerned about the results of their units/ departments, but also about the greater goals of the organisation.
It is equally important that management team members do not engage in diversionary discussions. For instance, when a member raises an issue for discussion, the team’s intention, first and foremost, should be to discuss the idea presented.
Each team member should be cautious not to discuss important organisational issues with people they do not concern. Leadership implies that the chief executive officer and the management team lead by example.
Challenges should not discourage members, since there can be no winning team if there are no challenges. The goal should always be to win as a team.
By Douglas Opio
The writer is the executive director
of Federation of Uganda Employers