Thursday, April 16, 2009

Designing work for senior management teams.

Managing at senior executive levels today involves four fundamental tasks:

- first, monitoring and influencing the environment to develop new business opportunities:

- second, articulating, modeling and creating ownership for a vision of what the company aims to accomplish in the future:

- third, attracting business leaders, matching them with the right assignments and holding them accountable for results: and

- fourth, investing, distributing and balancing resources across the company’s portfolio of businesses.

These are all collective rather than individual tasks. If they’re to be managed effectively, learnings acquired from enterprise-level work teams need to be transferred into the executive suite. In today's rapidly changing world, you can’t run the business from memory any more.Designing work for senior management teams starts by identifying the tasks that are unique to the top level of the organization.

People accustomed to managing a particular function often think that their own outputs are the same as the outputs of the group that they manage. The challenge is to help them discover what the senior management team as a whole produces. Start this voyage of discovery by analyzing the current business context and the contributions of the management team as a whole to the success of the business in that context. During this examination, expectations evolve about what work is needed and who's best suited to accomplish it. Individual roles can then be developed by negotiating these expectations.

Experience suggests the steps to use in developing senior management teams are as follows:

- Share individual understandings of the current business context and then collectively agree about important trends, potential problems and emerging opportunities.

- Review what the senior managing team currently produces and evaluate its relevance in relation to emerging business developments.

- Identify any new outputs required from the senior management team to assure that the company will continue to be successful in the future.

- Examine the processes required to create these outputs and agree about how the management team should work together to support these processes.

- Redesign and reassign the current roles and responsibilities of senior managers as needed.

- Define new accountabilities and negotiate new performance and recognition agreements.

- Continue to provide the management team with the skills, information and guidelines they need to operate successfully.

As usual, tomorrow is poetry day. Then, more on teams next week.

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