Genial Relationships and a High Performing Management Team

There comes a time in the life of many small companies when outstanding performance leads to growth. The small company no longer consists of the founder and a handful of employees. At some point, it becomes apparent that the founder cannot manage every aspect of operations, much as they would like. The company now needs a management team.

Forming any management team, let alone a high performing management team, is a challenging task. What follows is not a complete guide to the process of forming a management team, but a few ideas that I believe may be lost along the way. Among them are: a genial relationship among managers and commitment by the managers to each other, and to the company.

In the age of demanding executives, it would seem that the way that people relate to each other is less important than it might have been one time. I don’t have to mention names for anyone to think of one executive or another that is highly demanding with their team and less than cordial when their demands are not met. Despite the fame of these highly successful people, I believe it to be the exception rather than the rule.

In the instance of a small company management team, I believe that a “genial relationship” among the team is a crucial element to be high performing. Now, I don’t expect that a management team will restrict their social circle to the team, nor that every member of the team must be best friends, but I do believe that if any member of the team is not well disposed to every other, then there will be problems. By genial, I do mean that when members know each other, their strengths, weaknesses and style, it is much easier to develop the cohesiveness necessary to be high performing.

That is where commitment comes in. I do not describe commitment as a general feeling that one has towards others, but rather the specific things that each member of the team commits to one another and to the company. For example, the management team members must commit to clear communication with one another. Finding out about problems indirectly can be the cause of dissension on a team, so each member ought to commit to going directly to another team member when there is a problem. When team members know each other well and share a genial relationship, it is possible that communication can concentrate on a problem, rather than a person.

Management team members ought to commit to the company strategy. This does not mean that there should not be discussion or disagreement on the development of the strategy, but that such discussion, disagreement and eventual consensus around strategy should focus on the business, not the relationships among the management team.

Finally, management team members ought to commit to the success of each other and the recognition to each other’s success. Becoming successful by pulling another team member down is rarely the path to long-term success for oneself. Helping another team member that is struggling strengthens the whole team. Success is rarely a one person achievement, so that recognizing the participation of another management team member and their employees in one’s own success will lead to a more sound management team.

2 thoughts on “Genial Relationships and a High Performing Management Team

  1. Good article, thank you. Management teams, like any other group that comes together to accomplish something, have to competently cover three areas: The Political Realm (decision making, use of power/authority); the Technical Realm (effective flow of work.. a tight value chain); and the Social Realm (the quality of interpersonal relationships and the requisite skills to engender productivity and a healthy work climate). These realms blend at some point and, infused with role modeling from leader(s), shape the culture. Not paying attention to the Social Realm, as you point out, is missing a crucial area that can easily hinder a team’s evolution to high performance.

    So how does a group evolve it’s social realm to be most effective? Effective communication skills are a must. So is the ability to not get caught up in politics to the point of distraction. Social growth best evolves through processes of differentiation and then integration. People have to have opportunity to voice their differences in healthy ways before they can integrate around what everyone wants to see happen/make happen. In order for everyone to be able to say ‘yes’ and reach consensus, they also have to first be able to say, ‘no, I can’t live with that’. When teams develop the collective communication skills and then trust to differentiate, they can then integrate through consensus. And in doing so, grow the team and make them a stronger, more effective and competent leadership body.

    Thanks for the article.

    • Shem,

      An interesting comment on the process of how teams form. THe management team meeting must be a safe place to say no, when necessary. They also need to focus on the task at ahnd, and not on the person.

      Thanks for commenting.


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