Three steps to building a better top team Posted In: Business Start-up and Growth, Project Management 29 Mar 2011

This is a summary of an article by Mckinsey the Management Consultancy; the findings of their research with 100’s of CEOs.

Below is a summary of the three steps to building a stronger, more effective top team.

1. Get the right people on the team . . . and the wrong ones off

Who should be on the top team is the responsibility of the CEO; it’s a key resource in their armoury of ways to effectively run their organisation. Solely relying on pay grades or an executive job title is not an appropriate approach to selecting the team.

The CEO must establish what the team as a whole is to contribute to the organisation and then look at the individuals in that team to provide an objective view as to whether together they have the make up to achieve the milestones.

2. Make sure the top team does just the work only it can do

Don’t let your top team spread themselves too thin. They must be focussed on the areas where they can make a difference and leave the detailed execution to their better placed management teams. If the top team have not identified their priorities they are setting themselves up to fail; they have to be able to focus on the key goals of the team or risk being caught up in too much detail in areas where others are better placed to resolve the issues.

A CEO must recognise this and balance the individual needs and career goals of the individuals in their top team with the aims of the top team itself. The CEO must be able to spot when meetings of their top team are not focussed or drag on too long because they are trying to cover too much as opposed just the most important issues. In essence the issues to be focussed on are those that effect the whole company and not just one function or region.

3. Address team dynamics and processes

The CEO must be able to assess if their team are engaged in productive collaboration, i.e. if the team dynamics are functioning properly. If they are not, dysfunctional behaviour amongst the top team reduces the chances of the team achieving their goals.

The CEO must be aware of specific challenges such as:
i) opposing views on how to address an important strategic challenge
ii) unproductive discussions preventing the top team from taking meaningful action, resulting in other employees becoming dissatisfied and costs spiral out of control
iii) different departments taking counterproductive and sometimes contradictory actions

The CEO must understand why the team are not collaborating effectively. They can use various tools including: Top team surveys, Interviews with team members, 360-degree evaluations

Once the CEO is aware of dysfunctional behaviour in their team, they must make it their priority to resolve the issues at hand. It may come down to misaligned corporate goals with the team’s goals or individuals departments objectives. In which case the teams support systems or processes may need to change to ensure the alignment of team and organisation.

A well run and effective top team has a positive impact on the whole organisation. Productive collaboration gives the team a lasting performance edge.