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No ‘I’ in team: The collaborative management model

For employers of all types, the notion of a single leader dictating orders from on high has increasingly fallen out of favor. As concepts such as diversity, equity and inclusivity have flourished, management-level employees now generally expect to get a say in how work is done and even the organization’s strategic direction.

With this in mind, more and more employers are turning to a collaborative management model to set strategic priorities, adjust work practices, improve HR policies and look for growth opportunities.

Form a leadership team

Successful collaboration starts with a new mindset. Whether you’re a business owner, nonprofit exec or agency head, the first step is to stop thinking of managers as employees and instead regard them as members of a leadership team working toward fulfilling your organization’s mission.

To promote collaboration and make the best use of your human resources, clearly communicate your strategic objectives. For example, if you’ve prioritized expanding into new territories, make sure your managers aren’t still focusing on extracting new business from current sales areas.

You also must be willing to listen to managers’ ideas — and to act on the viable ones. Relinquishing control can be hard for many business owners and top organizational leaders, but keep the advantages in mind. A collaborative approach distributes the decision-making burden, so it doesn’t fall on just your shoulders. This can relieve stress and allow you to focus on areas of strength or those you might have neglected because you’re so busy.

Focus on development

Even as you move to a more collaborative management model, and include managers in strategic decisions, don’t forget to recognize their individual skills and talents. For instance, you and other managers could have uncertainties about a new marketing plan, but you should trust your marketing director to carry it out with minimal oversight.

To ensure that managers know they have your confidence, conduct regular performance reviews where you note their contributions and accomplishments and set challenging though attainable goals. Moreover, help them grow professionally by providing constructive, ongoing training to develop their leadership and teamwork skills.

Be a team player

No matter what your organization’s mission, you’re more than likely engaged in a “team sport.” That is, if you assemble a strong leadership team around you, your odds of success go way up. And don’t stop at the management level — gathering input from every level of the organizational chart can pay great dividends. Contact us for help assessing the profitability impact and potential of your managers.

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