I was recently working with a business owner and the conversation turned toward the amount of stress that she was under. This was real stress, the kind of anxiety that puts people under. As we talked, it became clear, the root cause of this stress was not a lack of time, but rather the need to focus on so many different things. We were in the midst of building their strategic plan, so we had been discussing some very significant decisions about the organization’s next year and beyond. There was no doubt the risk level and complexities of the organization were increasing. The conversation quickly turned to the need to hire a new manager in the next few months-- but what were they going to do about the void that existed now? So, in the matter of 5 minutes her focus was on 1-3 years from now, 3 months from now, tomorrow, and this afternoon.
An aligned management team will be capable of executing the immediate work in the organization as well as planning into the near future up to 1 year. With the immediate needs of the organization addressed through the management team, the business owner can free up her attention to more long-term strategic planning. In the words of Elliot Jacque’s Requisite Organization, this is referred to as "time-span."
The concept of time-span is increasingly important as an organization grows. The work of long-term planning becomes more significant and complex. There are more pieces of the organizational puzzle and the way they fit together is more complicated. More dedicated attention in this capacity is required for the organization to fulfill its destiny.
Too often, the rationale for developing the management team is so the owner can remove herself from the organization and let it become an annuity for her to maintain a lifestyle. This strategy only works if you’re able to replace the role of the visionary that the owner was fulfilling. For most small businesses, the financial calculation of maintaining a lifestyle and paying another visionary doesn’t work.
So, the purpose of an aligned management team is to allow the business owner to focus on being a great visionary and leader. This includes:
- Developing and living the culture
- Becoming an ambassador to the local community
- Staying informed in the industry
- Providing a clear vision and path for the evolution of the organization
This is complex, hard work and is often a low priority for a small business owner. Through the early years, the business owners spend the majority of their time executing production, service delivery, or sales tasks instead of doing the visionary work. The result is organizations that begin to sputter and be filled with drama.
A transition needs to be made to allow the organization to evolve. Step one of that transition is to invest in building an aligned management team.
Our next article will focus on what your aligned management team should look like.
This post originally appeared at Aligned Operations