This Valentine's week, as you examine significant relationships in your life, take a close look at your company's management team. Are the views of those operating your business still in line with your company vision and mission?
“As a company grows, a shift can occur as the owner transitions from exercising a lot of control and begins to delegate to management," says business consultant Beatrice Chestnut of The Chestnut Group and author of The 9 Types of Leadership. “If managers have different personality styles and world views than the founder, a misalignment can occur between the original vision and the management team's priorities."
Organizations evolve, and that process is a natural part of growth, adds Brad Deutser, president of Deutser, LLC, a consulting firm that advises leaders and organizations during times of transition, growth and crisis.
“The highest-performing organizations are those that grow from the inside out. When organizations are anchored by a strong culture, they are more effective at scaling and driving performance of their people and business."
Signs of a Flickering Owner/Management Team Relationship
“Like any relationship, core values, beliefs, behaviors and expectations between owners and management can become misaligned," says Deutser.
“Professional managers can inadvertently hurt the brand and violate the brand promise through standardization," says Michael Houlihan, co-author of The Entrepreneurial Culture. “It's up to the company founder to ensure that customer expectations are exceeded. When owners delegate to management, they must practice constant vigilance to protect the customer experience."
—Brad Deutser, president, Deutser, LLC
New hires should be briefed on the company vision by management, to continue building positive customer relationships. But if you start noticing communication breakdowns, lack of engagement or conflict amongst your management team members, it may be time to reconnect on your company vision.
Tips for Reconnecting With Your Management Team
If management isn't clear on the mission or the main strategies and tactics that should drive the work, you and your management team may need to realign your vision.
When there is a disconnect between what you as a business owner want and see for your business and your operations management, Deutser believes you have a clear choice. “Leadership can either change the people or change the people," he says. "If management can be motivated to change views and align with the organization's mission and purpose, then realignment can occur," he says.
“To facilitate alignment, the leader and management need a roadmap that originates from the core of the organization," continues Deutser. “Leadership must be purposeful, with clearly defined expectations and metrics for the organization and employees. Clarity of thought, clarity of purpose and clarity of mission are all critical. If you know what you want and where you're going, others are more likely to follow."
Staying focused with a clear vision and creative marketing plan when you delegate to management can help differentiate your idea from the million others out there, agrees Charles Sankowich, CEO and founder of Friendthem, a social network app that allows users to connect across multiple social media platforms. “Passion for your business is also important, because it's contagious."
Continual interaction between business owners and management can also be vital. “When leaders are not engaged with their operations team, they will see misalignment brewing," says Deutser. “Fostering relationships on a regular basis—during status quo and times of change—is necessary to ensuring you continue to enjoy working with one another and stay aligned."
“When you delegate to management, getting both parties on the same page requires regular, straightforward discussions about whether the owner and operator have shared goals and values," says Paul Thornton, the author of Precise Leaders Get Results. “Small gaps can be worked out. Big gaps require a candid discussion and decisions on how to proceed."
All relationships have challenges. Considering the time and energy you've put into your relationship with your management team, you may want to do whatever you can to prevent a breakup. Avoiding irreconcilable differences often takes communicating and a willingness to compromise. Riding out the rough times can lead to a stronger union in the long run.
Read more articles on building your team.