So you have been promoted to management of your organization.
Now you have a “bigger” title, more money, and greater responsibility. You like the title. You definitely like a bigger paycheck. But just what are you responsible for as a member of the management team? You know the tasks of your department and you know how important they are to the organization. But what is your role as a member of the management group and what does a management team do, anyway?

Who is the Management Team?
In most organizations, the management team comprises the top people in the organization who report directly to the CEO, Executive Director, or other person who is responsible for the overall management and success of the organization. While every organization has its own way of defining who is included, typically the management team includes those people who are responsible for the key operations of the organization. Key operations can be defined as the primary tasks or services that provide value for customers of the organization. Think of key operations as those basic core aspects of what the business does-how it fulfills the mission or purpose of the organization.

In addition to including the key operations as a part of the management team, it is common to include support functions such as finance, human resources, marketing, auditing, information services, etc. It should be pointed out that these support functions could also be incorporated into the operational units if the operational units are so unique that they require their own support services.

What Does the Management Team Do?
Of course this is the subject of a great many questions and jokes among many who are employees within an organization. There is no one answer to this question, the range of responsibilities will vary with the organization, the expectations of the Board and customers, and the leadership style of the CEO.

Among the responsibilities of a management team include:

Overall success of the organization:
What this means is that the management team is responsible for the entire organization, not just the department or function that she or he supervises. The management team member must not just advocate for resources for their department, but consider the role their department plays in the entire organization and be able to act and make decisions that will ensure the organization’s on-going development and success. The amount of perspective and input by team members will vary depending on the CEO leadership style, but it is helpful to think of your role as looking at the organization from the perspective of the CEO.

Translating the mission and external environment (customers, regulators, etc) into daily actions:
Different organizations will have different roles in the development of mission statements. For example, for some organizations the development of the mission will be that of the Board, for others developing the mission will be the responsibility of the management team. Regardless of who develops the mission, most management teams have to make sense of it and communicate what we do on a daily basis. A useful question for the management team to ask itself regularly is: How is what we are doing/discussing right now impacting or not impacting what our mission is? If what you are spending time on is not key to the mission, then why are you spending valuable management time on it?

By asking this question, you can sharpen management team meeting agendas and focus time on the issues that are key to the entire organization.

Defines what it wants to be as a team and makes decisions:
These two concepts are inter-related. A management team needs to determine the level of group development it wants to achieve and the group skills it wants to have. Further it needs to decide on what issues it wants to make decisions as a group, and on what issues others need to make decisions. Not all decisions are appropriate for a group decision, nor does a group make all decisions best. However, too often management team meetings do not clearly identify what the issue is and determine whether or not a decision is needed by the group. Furthermore, too often management team meetings are used to report out information, rather than to make decisions.

On complex issues that are appropriate for a group decision by the management team, adequate information is needed prior to making decisions and sometimes decisions can be made without this input. However, effective group decision-making also requires that management team members take responsibility for both expressing their viewpoints on the issue and seeking to engage in a process that will result in a decision that is in the best interest of the organization. Here is where all the communication skills, conflict skills, leadership skills come into play. Making good decisions is hard work. Making good decisions as a group is even harder work, but group decisions are more likely to take into consideration perspectives that we wouldn’t have considered alone. Effective group decisions are likely to be better decisions and have greater buy-in and support.

Communicates, Models, Leads:
Sure, but what do these words really mean? It is that simple, and it is that hard. Whatever you do as a team says what is important to you. If you model encouraging and working with difficult issues, conflicts, differences then others will see and more likely replicate that behavior. If differences of opinion are not raised, encouraged, or discussed, then…well, you know what happens.

Remember that communication involves both telling people what you want and listening. Too often management team members interpret the communication role as telling others what decisions have been made, what to do, and when to do it. This is a part of the management team communication role. But remember to regularly ask questions of the employees and customers, what do they need? Want? What ideas do they have on how we could improve what we do?