Running your own business can be very rewarding…it can also be very frustrating for a number of reasons. Sometimes you feel you are running to stand still. Everyone is caught up in the day to day, fire firefighting and it can be difficult to see the woods from the trees.
You sometimes wish for the opportunity to stand back and critically look at what you are doing. You would love to challenge your team about what they are doing but you don’t know where to start. It is often said that “If you don’t know where you are going then any road will do”. Now it is time to plan, set objectives, assign responsibility and develop accountability in your business.
The Management Team Programme is a high impact programme for the owners and senior management teams in the S.M.E sector. The programme is heavily subsidized by the Department of Education and Skills. There are only 4 programmes left in their allocation and now is the time to sign up before the year ends.
What is the Management Team Programme?
The government received a McKinsey Report some years ago and it raised concerns that the management capability in the SME sector was beginning to fall behind our competitor countries. They responded by introducing a number of measures including the Management Team Programme.
This programme is designed specifically with the owners and senior management teams in small to medium businesses in mind. It is not theory or academic. It is practical and deals with the real issues in business. It is delivered by a team of people who have real experience in business and proven track record.
We have delivered a large number of programmes over the last number of years and some common themes have emerged.
1. I have yet to meet any company where people complain of having too little work. Yes, people are busy but are they busy on the right things? Firefighting becomes a way of life for some people, you get a buzz from it, you create local heroes! They say every good firefighter carries around their own box of matches. The Management Team programme addresses this issue head on.
2. The two things missing from most companies is Focus and Discipline. By this I mean that companies jump from one thing to the next. But through the programme you will discover what it is that you really need to focus on. Then you need the Discipline to follow through. The structure, the regular reviews and the Key Performance Indicators, these are some of the tools you need.
3. You may already have regular management meetings, targets, KPI’s etc. but are they the right ones, are they getting stale. If there is a lack of energy around these items, then it is time to freshen up.
4. You are listening to yourselves talk so much that you are no longer listening! Sometimes having the outsider come in and ask the obvious questions can be challenging. For example, one company was killing itself providing next day delivery to its customers. When I asked how many customers really need next day delivery there were very few. By changing to next day delivery by request the company freed up a huge amount of resources. Or for example which customers are your gold star customers? Which customers would you be better off without? These are challenging questions and I often meet resistance but unless the answers make sense to me then I will keep asking!
5. The organization or structure has remained the same for some time. It can be difficult to really ask yourself if your management structure is fit for purpose. Who is contributing, who could contribute more? If we were to restructure could we optimize performance by some fresh thinking? What about succession planning or people development?
These are some of the common themes or questions addressed by the programme. There are others, some specific to individual businesses. But fundamental to the programme is asking the right questions of your management team and some questions you may not have thought of. More importantly having the courage to answer these questions honestly and having the Focus and Discipline to see things through.
If you sometimes struggle to see the woods from the trees, then this programme is for you.
John Raftery is Senior Partner and Executive Coach at LEAP