Cultivating Collaborative Management

Small business owners are accustomed to running their business themselves or with only a few other key members of management. Once a small company grows, it becomes necessary to share responsibility for major decisions with others in the organization. Whether they’re experienced managers or “home grown” talent, these employees should be empowered with the tools and authority they need to be effective leaders. This article discusses how to treat managers as key team members while recognizing their individual skills and talents.

Cultivating Collaborative Management

Turn employees into trusted leaders – Employers should consistently be thinking about what their departments/company will need in the future to ensure success. Create a succession plan that specifies individuals who will be responsible for taking over positions, duties, departments, etc. Whether you’ve recruited experienced managers or developed “home grown” talent, empower these employees with the tools and authority they need to be effective leaders.

Job sharing – Successful delegation starts with a collaborative mindset. Think of your managers as team members working toward the same common goals. To promote collaboration and make the best use of your human resources, clearly communicate objectives so that, for example, managers aren’t focusing on extracting new business from current sales areas when your priority is expanding into new territories.

You also must be willing to listen to your managers’ ideas — and to act on the viable ones. Keeping an open mind and accepting the diversity of thoughts and ideas from others will help to build a more loyal and productive workplace. Relinquishing control can be hard for business owners, but keep the advantages in mind. A collaborative approach distributes the decision-making burden, so it doesn’t fall on just your shoulders and it will help to empower others by giving them a sense of purpose. This may relieve stress and allow you to focus on areas of the company that you may have neglected.

Use mentoring and coaching – Mentoring and coaching are great ways to develop leaders in the workplace. Each discussion a mentor has with his/her mentee is an opportunity to provide education, knowledge and insight. The exchange of information is vital to your organization so that knowledge continues to be passed on. Mentoring is also an excellent retention tool for your current employees. Studies show that employees who feel someone in their organization cares about them stay longer.

Focus on individual talents – Even as you move to a more collaborative management model and include employees in strategic decisions, don’t forget to recognize their individual skills and talents. You and other managers may have an opinion about a new marketing plan, for example, 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. Help managers grow professionally by providing feedback for improvement about their core responsibilities, leadership and teamwork.

You may also find it helpful to hire an outside consultant to conduct an organization-wide review. A confidential assessment of interpersonal, leadership, technical and business issues can help identify both the best team players and the areas for improvement that may be hampering growth efforts.

Keep your ears open – As you learn to trust your management team with greater responsibility, keep in mind that the process won’t be perfect, but resist the urge to rescue. In a crisis situation, your instinct may be to take charge and brush off your managers’ advice. But it’s critical to keep your ears open and be receptive to input from people who may one day run your company.

© 2014 Thomson Reuters

Karen Mattull
Karen Mattull

Karen Mattull is the Chief Operating Officer of Internal Operations and Shareholder for BeachFleischman PC. She is responsible for the strategic alignment of Human Resources functions within the firm’s overall mission and culture.