How to Build a Successful Management Team

How to Build a Successful Management Team

Corporate America is in crisis. A leadership crisis to be exact. It’s the role of executive leaders to provide strategic and operational leadership to the company. They set company goals, develop strategies, and ensure the strategies are executed effectively.

Yet, as companies are facing increasing change, disruption, and market competition, most are experiencing critical skills gaps that prevent them from being prepared for the future of work.

According to a whitepaper by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), 83% of respondents report a skills gap in their organization, with the biggest skills gaps being in communication, critical thinking, and managerial and supervisory skills. Half of the respondents said their companies lacked sufficient leadership talent, and 47% predicted there would be a shortage of leadership or executive-level skills in the future.

To make matters worse, the survey found that organizations aren’t proactive in preparing people for senior leadership positions.

According to a survey by Gallup, more than 77% of organizations report that they lack leadership skills.

To be fair, this is a global crisis. Companies around the world are facing a leadership crisis, according to the 2021 Global Leadership Forecast prepared by Development Dimensions International (DDI). Only 11% of surveyed organizations reported they have a “strong” or “very strong” leadership bench.

According to the DDI, the crisis is due to a failure by companies to provide leadership development and transition training for newly hired and current executives.

Why is there a need for a management team?

Entrepreneurs and business owners work to make their ventures successful. They put their hearts and souls into growing their companies and as they grow, it becomes difficult for them to conduct all executive responsibilities efficiently.

A growing business needs leaders to take control of the accounting, marketing, sales, business operations, staff, technology, and business development aspects.

Management teams help organizations communicate their mission and vision to stakeholders, make the best use of their resources to ensure efficiency, and provide leadership across different organizational functions.

What does a management team comprise?

A management team typically consists of people in senior management or individuals in high management positions. These are people with titles like chief executive officer, president, vice president, chief operations officer, chief technology officer, chief financial officer, chief of staff, and chief information officer.

These executive leaders are responsible for managing the organization, including the various departmental teams. They see to it that company goals are executed and communicate the organization’s strategic mission, vision, and goals throughout the company.  

Leadership teams hold regular meetings to discuss organizational operations and current challenges, and how to tackle them. Effective executive teams also conduct regular meetings with different departmental managers to monitor their progress on the projects under their management.

Executive management teams

Businesses and organizations have different leadership teams. For instance, the leadership team of a large corporation looks different from that of a university or a hospital. 

Also referred to as an executive committee, this type of management team is common to large companies and corporations. At the head is the chief executive officer (CEO) to whom the executive committee reports. Generally an executive management team consist of the following members.

  • Chief executive officer (CEO): This is the head of the company, responsible for the vision and direction of the organization. They oversee the other members of the executive committee and take full responsibility for the company and its operations.
  • Chief financial officer (CFO): This is a senior executive responsible for managing the financial activities of a company, including everything related to financial planning, cash flow, and taxation issues.
  • Chief marketing officer (CMO): The chief marketing officer is responsible for a company’s marketing strategy and its execution.
  • Chief operations officer (COO): This a senior executive that oversees the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of a business.
  • Chief information officer (CIO): A chief information officer is a senior executive responsible for managing and implementing information and computer technologies.

Modern companies also have chief business analysts who are involved in many aspects of the business. Business analysts play an increasingly important role as they provide data-driven business insights to executive teams that guide their executive decisions. However, these professionals don’t have a seat at the table yet.

Building a Team

Building an executive team is not easy. These days, an executive team needs to be a diverse group of individuals with differing strengths, perspectives, and skills, who are nonetheless able to work together as one to achieve the company’s vision and goals.

A solid senior management team is a prerequisite for a competitive and sustainable business. Building an effective senior management team starts with careful recruiting and thorough candidate assessment.

Steps to create a strong senior management team

  1. Interview for the skills, experience, and personality traits you want 

Too often recruitment managers are impressed by a candidate’s impressive resume or educational background. However, these factors won’t necessarily deliver the results you need for your company.

Determine exactly what you need for your company to succeed and look for proof of those qualities in applicants. So, before the recruitment rounds start, be clear on the skills, experience, and personality traits that you need in a senior manager.  

  1. Establish an interview team

Interviewing a candidate for a senior leadership position is best done by a team, not solely by the CEO. Senior human resource personnel, in tandem with the CEO, are best qualified for this task, but if the company doesn’t have a high-level HR team, individuals within the organization can be trained to assess candidates. It’s important to fill senior management positions with the right people, so more than one perspective by people trained to interview and assess high-level candidates is crucial.

  1. Hire highly qualified candidates

When hiring professionals for your leadership team, prioritize highly qualified candidates with proven experience and credentials required to perform executive responsibilities.

Consider your company’s most pressing skills gaps and focus on recruiting individuals who can supplement the skills, knowledge, and experience your business currently lacks.

Since there is a dire lack of highly qualified candidates for various senior-level positions, the best solution might be to pay for career development opportunities for your senior employees. Although 83% of businesses say it’s important to develop leaders at all levels, less than 5% of companies have implemented leadership development across all levels. Astute leaders don’t fall in this category.

  1. Prioritize the right rapport

While it’s essential to hire professionals that have the skills, knowledge, and experience to play a leadership role, it’s equally important that the management team members get along. A healthy and supportive team culture can prevent tension, arguments, and disagreements. Team members that get along, work better together and achieve more.

Some companies find employing personality tests as part of a pre-employment screening process helpful. A professional personality assessment can give the recruitment team a clear picture of an applicant’s strengths, leadership style, and conflict management skills.

  1. Establish real skills and abilities 

Asking questions and eliciting possible reactions to hypothetical scenarios won’t provide trustworthy information for determining a candidate’s abilities. Consider including behavioral description questions in your interviews that require candidates to describe a specific event or situation and how they handled it. These kinds of answers elicit more accurate information about a candidate’s skills, traits, and abilities, which leads to more successful appointments.

  1. Be clear on what you want your executive committee to achieve

If you know exactly what the next step is for your company, you can build an effective team around that goal. Once you have determined your goal(s), you can create a list of actions to be prioritized. Creating this list can show you which of your existing staff members may be ideal for the job. Alternatively, it can help you to create a profile for people with the right skills and experience to help you achieve your company goals.

  1. Determine the leadership qualities that you need

Leadership, like people, is not easily defined by a few simple qualities. Make a list of the specific leadership qualities that you know your company will benefit from and recruit for those qualities. Your company culture and the people working for you may require certain qualities in leaders for the best results.

These qualities may or may not include

  • Assertiveness
  • Analytical thinking
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Collaborative disposition
  1. Delegate clear responsibilities

It is easy to expect members of an executive team to know how to get on with their work. After all, they are senior management professionals with presumably many years of experience.

Yes, and no. Most people, even members of a management team, are more likely to excel if they know exactly what is expected from them. Clear goals with specific duties and responsibilities, especially in the beginning, are motivating and can get things off to a good start.

  1. Communicate the company vision

Although this point keeps being stressed in business literature, it can’t be stressed enough. Leadership teams must be clear on the vision they’re working towards. It’s important that the CEO has a clear vision and communicates it clearly. If a CEO is not articulate in explaining the company vision, the executive team may struggle to form a collective vision of it and fail to communicate it to their teams. And when this happens, cohesion throughout the organization suffers.

  1. Put structures in place

All teams, including management teams, need organizational structures to function effectively. Guidelines and structures prevent organizations from becoming unproductive and disorganized. Clear guidelines can prevent indecision among leaders, fostering stability throughout the organization. Establishing guidelines around how the executive team will make decisions, the different executive roles, organizational policies and procedures, internal systems, and how meetings will be conducted is important.

  1. Measure executive team performance

It’s also important to have systems in place to measure the performance of the leadership team. This can be done by creating and evaluating key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are personal and professional goals that keep team members in sync with company targets. The leadership team must meet with the company leader to develop a strategy for establishing and tracking KPIs.

KPIs for the executive team can be informed by company performance measurements such as revenue, customer retention rates, customer satisfaction levels, and sales figures. KPIs for executive teams can also relate to outcomes like employee engagement, workplace morale, etc.

  1. Encourage and enable self-development and growth

The best leaders are those who continue to learn and develop. Company leaders understand this and know it’s essential to create opportunities for senior management to keep growing personally and professionally.

Employees in general, including company leaders, want career development opportunities. Almost half (48%) of leaders want to be educated by external coaches and through developmental assignments. They want structured in-person training involving assignments, preferably by external organizations.

Professional development opportunities empower team members to realize their full potential and deliver sterling leadership that can galvanize the entire workforce to do their best to help the company succeed.

There is another significant benefit to additional training for executive members. The current business climate is extremely challenging, with all manner of unforeseen problems materializing at any time. Appropriate training can equip your team with the necessary knowledge and skills to overcome any challenges that might arise.