Have you a challenging management team?

This is the type of question I am sure will raise a mixed reaction – from managers who instantly picture a particular employee, who is a ‘challenge’ to manage to those that feel their time is taken up by having to manage a ‘challenging’ team.

But the question I am asking is – do you have a team that will positively challenge, a business idea or direction?  I suspect that for many the mere thought would be something to discourage – but I challenge you to read on and think again.

Firstly, don’t think of ‘challenge’ in an aggressive, confrontational sense – relate to one of the lesser used definitions; A demand for explanation or justification; a calling into question: a challenge to a theory.  Suddenly it seems more positive.

Direction and strategy come from the top, the board and directors – however delivery comes from the next layer of management and their respective teams.  At the level of delivery there is a need to work through the detail of the strategy and a series of questions need to be posed and answered. How will it be delivered, by whom – which areas of the business, through what processes and by when?

This is the point where I am often engaged by an organisation, to work with the management team on the delivery. A business can’t come to stand still whilst the ‘how’ is agreed – the manager needs to be able to balance the day to day and look ahead, an area we explored in an earlier blog.

It’s in the balancing act I often find that a manager could take the easier, less time consuming route – the route that presents the answers to the questions in a manner that the ‘team’ will say ‘yes’ – no room for ‘challenge’, only agreement and move on.

Now I’m not advocating the thumping of fists on a meeting room table, raised voices and bad feeling  – but I do encourage you to open up the process and build in the time to make it two way and invite your team to discuss, debate and agree. You have a team of experts – let them work together to use their knowledge and experience to shape the best solution.

So, challenge is positive when put into context – a team that sits round the table and challenges new ideas – collectively explores the opportunity ahead. A manager that encourages their team to ‘challenge’ will have a team who are bought into a strategy and more willing to deliver with belief.

Start your new year with a challenge ‘ing’ team.