As the number of employees increases in a business, there is more and more need for a management system and a management leader. In a perfect world, business owners would hire people for specific roles, and they would do their job without needing anything from the owner/manager. But that’s not the real world.
I’ve often heard owners say, “If everyone would just do their job, everything would be fine.” The truth is most people want to do their job, and typically they want to do it well. But employees are followers, not self-sufficient departments or division owners. They need direction, information, resources, support, and feedback. That’s management!
Most business owners are growth-oriented entrepreneurs who always look for new ideas and possibilities. They don’t want the burden of managing people or systems. They want to pursue a vision. They want to build new relationships. They want to create new ways to add value to their customers. They want to identify and explore new opportunities. They want to grow, grow, grow.
Managing often feels like a ball and chain that holds them back. But sooner or later, they hit a wall. The more staff they add, the more difficult and complex communication becomes. The more they feel unmet expectations coming from their team. The more frustrations rise. Then comes the staff turnover and all the challenges that it creates. Bottom line: We can’t keep growing; frankly, it’s no fun anymore.
The solution is actually simple. These business owners need a management system. They need a structure for organizing the work, clarifying objectives and outcomes required, defining roles, and providing the information, resources, and feedback that people need to work effectively and efficiently with one another.
Components of A Sound Management System
Employees get distracted and lose focus. They need a documented mission, a meaningful vision, and articulated values that give them direction and guidance on how to work in this organization. Mission, Vision, and Values; are more than just plaques on the wall. They give employees the high-level clarity they need to work effectively.
They need to be reviewed systematically because employees forget and become confused. I’ve never seen a company over-communicating its mission, vision, and values. A good management system begins here.
This is the North Star. These are the tracks we run on. This is what we all align around to become a cohesive team.
Once we have the high-level direction, we need clearly defined roles. People want to belong, and they want to know what their role is. Role or position titles, job descriptions, and clear accountability structures are essential for role definition.
A sound management system will have an organizational or accountability chart. At a glance, anyone can see the entire organizational structure and where they fit into it. They can also see reporting relationships and lines of authority.
In addition, employees need a job description. At a minimum, this should be four to five bullet points on the accountability chart. In time you will want to develop a more detailed formal job description.
Once created, these documents should be reviewed with the employee quarterly and updated as needed. There’s no reason for anyone to wonder about their role or the roles of others on the team.
Goals and Tasks
Each department and/or employee needs to have challenging but attainable goals. I find that 90-day goals work best for most people. A good management system will have a mechanism for defining, reviewing, and accomplishing goals.
These goals can be stated as S.M.A.R.T. statements (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timed), K.P.I.’s (Key Performance Indicators), or both. Under each goal comes tasks. A good management system will have a mechanism for tracking task completion weekly.
Everyone should know the high-level direction, their role, and the goals and tasks that define their success. This system aims to empower employees to succeed and find meaningful accomplishments in their work. However, these goals must be aligned within the organization for maximum effectiveness.
When speaking to groups about “meetings,” I often see my eyes rolling. Most people don’t like meetings because they feel like they are a waste of time, are negative (e.g., gripe sessions), or are just not productive.
Most people want to be productive and view meetings as the antithesis of productivity. The worst part is that there is no way to improve bad meetings. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Actually, good meetings are our most important tool for accountability, traction, momentum, communication, team connectedness, team health, and attaining results. In his book Traction, Gino Wickman gives five rules for good meetings. Good meetings happen on the same day each week, at the same time, have the same agenda every week, start on time, and end on time.
He also advocates that each participant rate the meeting at the end to ensure that the meeting was valuable to everyone and to identify ways to improve the next meeting. I use this methodology and find it creates high-energy meetings. In the organizations I work with, the employees look forward to the weekly meeting and often make sacrifices to attend.
A sound management system will have an effective, energizing meeting rhythm. Another helpful resource is the book Death by Meetings by Patrick Lencioni.
An Issues List For The Management Leader
Another idea that Wickman promotes is to have a weekly Issues List. This is a running list of topics or issues that need to be discussed and resolved. When a team identifies the REAL issues in the organization and finds and implements ways to solve these issues, then the organization gets better. People feel productive and heard, and team morale and cohesiveness increase.
These bullet points do not define everything about a good management system, but hopefully, this gives you an idea of what is involved in a comprehensive system. Remember, this is a system. We must work on the system and continually improve the system.
Just like you have a marketing, selling, or operational system, you must have a management system.
You may be shaking your head in agreement, but the real question is, how do we make this happen?
This brings us to the second critical need.
We need a management leader. Every growing business will eventually need a leader within the organization who will oversee and run the management system. As I mentioned earlier, most business owners don’t want this role.
But they need someone with the skill, maturity, and passion for managing. And this must be someone that the owner can trust to make decisions and lead the team. You may call this person a general manager, a C.O.O., or a chief of staff.
Gino Wickman refers to this in Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business. in the EOS® framework, this role is called an Integrator. No matter what title you give them, every management system must have a management leader. Without this leader, the system will eventually break down.
However, a strong management leader will make the life of a business owner blissful. The owner will be freed up to do what they love to do. With a visionary owner and an effective management leader, there is almost no limit to where a business can go.
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