SME/PROFESSIONAL COUNSEL - Human Resources - Shake up the yes factor. Executive teams that think in concert may not be the best.
Working with like-minded people is certainly easier but it does not guarantee an effective management team. In fact, although executive teams whose members think alike often reach decisions quickly, they are more likely to be limited by a narrow range of views.
Building a balanced management team involves looking beyond each person's functional, technical or specialist know-how. It is necessary to think about how similar or different the individuals are in the way in which they make decisions, communicate and manage people.
A combination of different styles can lead to a more effective team, but it can also cause conflict if not managed well. Common areas of imbalance in executive teams include:acting or reacting too quickly instead of thinking or planning first; giving priority to the 'here and now' at the expense of building the business for the future; focusing on what needs to be done and leaving the 'how' to one side (particularly how to bring employees along with the changes); and letting the most talkative members of the team dominate its discussions.
It is particularly difficult to get the balance right in a growing business.
Growth usually signals significant increases in the importance and range of issues facing management. Building a balanced executive team can feel more like a juggling act than a precise science, where the skills and talents of each member are used to the full.
For a climate of change and uncertainty, here are some practical tips:
- Identify your management team's weak spots and use specific people to plug the gaps. Or adapt the way you work to ensure that important matters are not overlooked.
- Take the opportunity to bring in new executive team members to redress imbalances.
- Let the leadership role move around the management team, depending on the task.
- Watch out for signs that the team is becoming too cosy - you might just run off the cliff together.
Sue Green is a chartered occupational psychologist 0118 983 1766.