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Five indicators to tell if you have the right management team

'Tales from the non-exec’ harnesses the insights and lessons gained from the board rooms of marketing agencies around the UK and abroad from one of the most experienced non-exec directors in the sector, Miles Welch, the founder of Milestone Advisory and former CEO of Digitas and COO of Harvest Digital. Issues such as business strategy, exit planning, growth pains, expansion, culture, leadership, process and people will be covered in the form of tips, tools and advice. Powered by The Drum Network, ‘Tales From the non-exec’ is an essential read for any agency leader looking to grow a better business.

In his seminal book, Good to Great, Jim Collins discussed an inherent need for companies intent on becoming great to ensure that they had the ‘right people on the bus’. When Collins and his research team looked at the data it became clear to them that ‘who was on the bus’ was the first stage of transformation and came before ‘where was the bus going’. This business truth applies to marketing communications agencies as much as it applies to the companies that Collins and his team examined.

Do you have the 'right people on the bus'? It is a necessity for your business to reach its growth potential; you will need to execute good business strategy for this to be possible. As chief executive you have to access all the components of your business setup and can see how every one of them fits into its overall goals and objectives. Those components include the management team that you have in place. In addition to embracing the corporate vision, the management team should be able to create a great working culture and shape the attitude of the whole organisation. It is essential that not only do you have the right people on the bus’ but that they are also committed to helping you drive to success.

Clearly business theory is much easier than putting this approach into practice because that may require personnel changes at a very senior level. It might be difficult to perform this critical assessment of whether you have the right team in place. To help you in that, outlined below are five indicators that will help you assess whether members of your management team should be replaced or simply vetted.

1. Common Goals

First of all, your whole management team has to be committed to the objectives of your marketing business. Do they share the same values as you? You can find out this by simply talking to them and hearing them out. You can also check on their dedication and productivity. Do they go that extra mile to ensure that the common goals of the business are achieved? If all the people in your management team do that then that is a great starting point to grow your marketing agency.

2. Work Ethic

This is very important for the success of your business. If your management team has a poor work ethic, it will definitely reflect on the level of productivity. Assess how they treat and work with each other and with any employees under them or with your customers. This will tell you a lot about their work ethic. If you are in the process of hiring a new management team, you must do your due diligence and fully investigate references and track record. This will help you build a great team that will help you achieve growth.

3. Great Strategy

How robust and suitable is the business strategy currently being executed by the management team? Are there any areas for concern? Sometimes problems can occur when operational stars rise through the ranks to join management teams. They are far more effective at getting the job done rather than creating or following an overarching business strategy. You will need to evaluate the team collectively and each individual dispassionately.

4. Implementation Skills

If your management team is excellent at implementation both for your company and for the company’s clients this indicates that members of the team are right to help you grow the company. A brilliant strategy poorly executed will still lead to failure: the ability to execute is paramount. If necessary, hire a new team that will be able to implement great ideas on time.

5. Building Strong Teams

Does your management team build strong teams below them? Remember in the words of Steve Jobs, “A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players. “If they do then the rest of the company should be thriving with qualified, experienced and dedicated employees. The company’s productivity levels should also be high. However, if your management team has a track record of building weak teams below them then they are unlikely to be the right team to help you grow the business.

There are additional considerations, of course, but the five indicators listed above should tell you whether you have the ‘right people on the bus.’ Are you the right chief executive person to lead the transformation? Will you have to change your leadership style to achieve your growth targets? These are some of the additional considerations we will return to in forthcoming blog posts.

Milestone Advisory supports the shareholders and boards of SME businesses across the UK, Europe and US to achieve long term growth and value. Are you planning for agency growth in the next 1-3 years? We would be happy to help you achieve your growth targets. Give us a call on T +44 (0) 7810 604 970 or send us an email via . We look forward to starting the conversation.

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