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Participant in Management
Team Effectiveness Process

Outcomes

Facilitating Communication and Creating Agreements to help a Management Team Become More Effective

Situation
“Frances”, the director of a technical assistance provider to schools, was experiencing challenges managing the internal operations of her organization. In particular, she and her three top managers were not on the same page. We were asked to design and facilitate a process to help the director and her staff work through communication issues and create internal organizational agreements in order to enable them to be a unified team in providing technical assistance to the field.

Approach
Through interviews with the Director and three managers, we identified the issues from all perspectives and established goals for the project:

  • Strengthen communication between the managers and the director
  • Foster understanding and appreciation of the diverse strengths of each
  • Establish procedures for project planning and priority setting
  • Establish delegation processes
  • Foster the effectiveness of their four-person management team in the context of furthering the goals of the larger organization

Working with a compressed timetable, we scheduled weekly two-hour meetings for seven weeks. We systematically worked through each of the goals, stopping to examine and process the impact of their different communication and work styles along the way.

We provided tools: to help the four participants understand their own and others’ strengths, to analyze the assumptions they were making about others’ responses, and to help them communicate effectively with one another. We continued to revisit the project goals and adjusted them as necessary.

Results
At the end of the seven weeks, they had created the following agreements:

  • Communication Guidelines: to establish the environment for good communication, managing different opinions and giving constructive feedback
  • Communication Mechanisms: to make effective use of e-mail and staff meetings, and improve response time to messages
  • Delegation Procedure: to ensure that the Director and her managers agree with how tasks are delegated within the organization
  • How Priorities are Determined: to ensure that a realistic look at resources is taken before a new project is accepted
  • Meeting Template: to assist in facilitating effective internal meetings

The Director reported these changes in a follow-up meeting one month after the project ended:

  • “Communication has improved in leaps and bounds!”
  • “It helps us to know each others’ strengths so we can utilize them.”
  • “The meeting template is helping us tremendously; we are using it in our individual meetings, our Management Team meetings and in our full staff meeting. It helps us to stay on track.”
  • “My managers helped to calm me down after a particularly stressful meeting with the funder, by using the communication tools we had used. I feel more empowered to take a stand in a meeting with the funder knowing that I have the support of my managers.”

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