Leveraging the Power of Your Company's Managers

The strength of every business is its people. But if your top managers aren't getting the most from their respective teams, your company is operating at a competitive disadvantage. Here are some ways you can ensure you're leveraging the true power of your organization's management to get maximum results.

Reinforce Collaboration

Start by applying a collaborative approach with the goal of creating a shared understanding. Develop and clearly communicate your company goals and priorities to management team members, so they'll work together and make decisions in line with your stated strategic direction.

How to Leverage Your Company's Leaders

If a company goal is to target a product or service to a new market, for instance, don't have employees spend all their time and your resources on existing markets. Actively work at keeping your managers involved in setting your objectives and reinforcing them at the team level.

Collaboration has other benefits as well. More individuals participating in decision-making can mean more creative and well-thought-out decisions.

A collaborative approach also distributes the decision-making burden, so it doesn't fall on just your shoulders. Particularly as a business grows, sharing responsibility for decisions becomes vital to facilitate progress and seize opportunities.

Nurture Knowledgeability

Improving management's decision-making capabilities also means developing knowledge about your company's overall market and environment. The management team must know the company's operational functions, market positioning strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and competitive threats, and market forces and trends —including supply and demand.

Developing a base of insightful knowledge about your operations and market environment is commonly referred to as "business intelligence." Gathering business intelligence provides management with relevant information needed to make sound decisions. This knowledge will also help managers anticipate and quickly and efficiently react to changes.

Fortunately, many software applications facilitate data collection, storage, analysis and reporting. For example, you can use enterprise management software to develop business intelligence for such operational functions as human resources, financial, supply chain and customer relationship management.

Assess Everyone

Creating an effective management team also requires managers to learn to tap one another's skills and collaborate on solutions to challenges and on decisions that affect your strategic direction.

To unite your managers into a power team, begin by assessing performance. This entails a confidential review of interpersonal and other leadership, technical and business issues that may be affecting your team's effectiveness. To make the process objective, assign the task to an outside consulting firm specializing in executive or organizational assessments.

Assessments may be customized based on your business's needs. They generally consist of some combination of in-depth, face-to-face executive and group interviews and online or written evaluations. The purpose of the feedback is to provide insights into:

Feedback is generally provided via written reports and debriefing sessions on both an individual executive and overall team basis.

Retreat for Learning's Sake

One way to make use of executive team assessment feedback is to send your managers on a retreat. Doing so should help managers bond and learn to leverage one another's skills and knowledge for the organization's benefit.

Executive retreats typically follow a more intense format than staff team-building events. Options are limited only by a team's creativity, physical abilities and budget. In any case, the end goal is to break down functional silos and communication barriers and establish unity.

To fully realize the potential value of the above activities, you must follow up. That means combining the feedback from the group assessment with the experiences from the retreat into an action plan for improving the team back at the office.

Care for Them, too

Outside of a weekly or monthly meeting, managers have a tendency to go their separate ways. And that's understandable — their respective job duties and the goings on within their own departments more than likely keep them plenty busy. But don't lose sight of the fact that your management team is an elite unit of savvy business people who warrant some care and nurturing of their own.

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