There’s one management issue on which there‘s almost universal agreement: The senior team in an organisation needs to be ‘aligned’. Why? Because, fissures at the top become chasms of disagreement further down the organisation. It’s a no-brainer. So, in practice, how do senior teams ‘align’ and stay on track?
No Simple Answer: While there is no simple answer, I’ve developed a mechanism to help senior teams align. The specific example detailed below was developed with a ‘technology company’. Over a full day meeting (+ some additional time to ‘polish’ the language), the senior team agreed a ‘scorecard’ for how they would behave. The original was desktop published and looked ‘prettier’ than the example shown below, but this is what they agreed:
We have a shared commitment and understanding
- Meeting our common goal is ‘Job # 1’; individual agendas are subsumed by our overall company goals
- We demonstrate support through our behaviour in sharing resources, putting our people, time, money into the areas of most need
- A win for one is a win for all; we celebrate each others achievements
- If anyone on the team fails to meet their individual objectives, we all have part ownership of this; none of us is as good as all of us…
- Our reward system reinforces our commitment to team success
- High quality relationships underscore our team effectiveness
- Authentic relationships are based on openness and candour
- We support and challenge each other, using constructive feedback as a key management tool
- Seeking support is not a weakness; offering support is not an intrusion
- Healthy competition re: performance measures coexists with genuine regard for the well being and self-respect of our colleagues
- We have confidence in each manager’s work team and people
- We continually challenge and confront issues
- Diversity of opinion is a key strength which adds value to our decision-making
- Conflict is aired face-to-face rather than in writing (unless this doesn’t work)
- All issues are surfaced and addressed, even where these are tough and painful; we speak openly to resolve differences
- We acknowledge our individual departmental goals and understand that this can promote friction; dissension over issues is a sign of team health
- We encourage open 2 way communications and don’t shoot the messenger; mistakes offer us an opportunity to grow collectively
- We fix it and forget it; business success is based on looking through the windscreen (not the rear view mirror); we say our piece and then get on with it!
We work through defined, rational processes
- We all know our ‘Role in the Show’
- We measure and report on our progress
- Decisions which impact other managers are discussed (where practical); if not, they are communicated ASAP.
- Where a relationship breaks down, first port of call is to the source to resolve; issues ‘still in dispute’ get resolved by the SMC (senior management committee)
- In disputes, the ‘customer comes first’ (and we fix it later)
- We show a united front to our staff and customers
- We are seen by staff and customers as a team; no-one will do anything which has an adverse impact on this
- As a team, our commitment is to all aspects of the business strategy
- Our team will be a role model which others will admir
- Bottom line : We do the business
- A determination to succeed, to promote excellence, underscores everything we do
- We achieve our goals; budgets are personal commitments which are set as a floor of achievement
- High performance is encouraged and recognised; under performance is recognised and addressed
- We commit to continued personal growth and development (recognising that something’s are difficult to change!)
- Together, we can be great; untogether, we don’t stand a chance….
So What? Would something similar add value in your organisation? What’s great about this listing is not whether you agree or disagree with the individual points made (I’m sure you could improve it). But, think about the commitment of the senior team in terms of investing the time to construct this – and they were already a brilliant team. Like the old saying: “The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there” – great management teams are crafted through hard work and attention to this – often ignored – part of organisation life.
PS Funny Moment of the Week: Guy I know got married recently. Reception held in the Grand Hotel in Malahide. He’s about mid 40’s, so wasn’t in any rush to tie the knot. Big, formal wedding. As he emerged from the wedding car, the hotel porter said: “Ah, good morning. The Father of the Bride.” The rest of us thought it was hilarious. You couldn’t make it up.
PPS: Lighter Moment 1: A business magazine in the US ran a contest asking for quotes from people who had real-life Dilbert-like managers. Here’s some of the winners. You couldn’t make it up…
- “As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday and employees will receive their cards in two weeks” (Microsoft)
- “What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will encounter” (Lykes Lines Shipping)
- “How long is this Beta guy going to keep testing our stuff”? (Programming intern, Microsoft Development Team)
- “E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business” (Accounting Manager, Electric Boat Company)
- “This project is so important that we can’t let things that are more important interfere with it”. (Advertising Mgr., UPS)
- My sister passed away and her funeral was scheduled for Monday. When I told my boss, he said she died so that I would have to miss work on the busiest day of the year. He then asked if we could change her burial to Friday. He said, “That would be better for me.” (Shipping Executive, FTD Florists)
- “We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees” (AT&T ) Check our website http://www.tandemconsulting.ie or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.