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Ken Keller: The heart of your business: the management team

Brain Food for Business Owners

Posted: June 3, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: June 3, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Heart attacks in the United States happen about every 34 seconds.

The heart is a very efficient muscle except when it becomes damaged.

The human heart is to the body what the management team is to a company. How healthy is your “company heart?”

Is your management team strong and effective, or damaged and struggling?

Management guru Peter Drucker wrote that a manager’s job consists of five key parts.

The first part is that he or she is responsible for determining the overall objective of the group, setting goals for each member of the group and making the decision as to what needs to be done to reach those goals and objectives.

This begs the question: Do your managers know what your plan is and how each of their departments fits into that plan?

Do your managers set objectives for each individual who reports to them? What are the department goals? Have you, the leader, reviewed these plans and provided feedback, or simply trusted that your management staff has done this task?

The second part of the manager’s job is to organize. The manager divides the work into achievable chunks and decides who must do what.

Do your managers have a plan for achieving the goals that have been set, both as a team and individually?

The third part of the manager’s job is to motivate and communicate. The manager creates a team out of the workers, so they can work together toward a common goal.

Have you, as the owner, coached your managers as to the best practices on motivating people? Are you checking to see that communication flows openly between employees and managers?

Are you practicing these activities yourself?

The fourth job is for the manager to measure, creating yardsticks, targets and goals, and making the decision as to whether individuals and the team achieve them.

Are your managers advising their people of where they stand in relation to goals set? How often is this communicated?

Does a formal, written appraisal system exist? When was the last time you, the leader, actually read a written performance appraisal created by a manager?

Finally, a manager develops people. Employees today are individuals who must be trained and developed to achieve full potential. 

What are your managers’ development plans for the employees who work for them? What is your plan, as the leader, for developing your managers? Do you have a plan?

The heart is hidden inside the body, protected by a strong rib cage. People with cardiac issues often don’t realize their heart is not working the way it is supposed to because the symptoms appear unrelated: a little light-headedness; tiring easily; insignificant pain in the chest.

Most people assume everything is OK until something dramatic happens or when symptoms are investigated further.

The same is true with management: On the surface, most management teams are seen as “running well.” That is usually not the case in reality.

The usual problems with a management team include blockage of information, poor work flow, undefined processes, slow decision making, lack of follow through, lack of communication, undefined goals, too many layers, failure to measure progress of teams and individuals, and focusing on the wrong priorities.

That doesn’t include not having a plan, not sharing the plan, not measuring progress to plan and not caring if there is a plan.

As happens in the heart, a single poorly performing manager in a critical position can fatally damage the organization.

It may take years for a damaged heart to give up, dying slowly each day. Or it could happen suddenly, seemingly without warning. The same is true of a management team.

How healthy is your management team — the heart of your company? It could be failing, and you might never know it.

Time for a checkup as you head to the middle of the year.

Ken Keller is CEO of STAR Business Consulting Inc., a company that works with companies interested in growing top line revenue. He can be reached at Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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