The Micro CEO

As a middle manager, of any sort, you are in effect a chief executive of an organization yourself. Don’t wait for the principles and the practices you find appealing or valid to be imposed from the top. As a micro CEO, you can improve your own and your group’s performance and productivity, whether or not the rest of the company follows suit. Andrew S. Grove

Customer expectations have risen because increasing competition has led to higher and higher standards of quality and service. Such a business environment puts intense pressure on senior management. Senior management, in turn, passes this pressure through the organization structure to middle management, first and second-line supervisors or team leaders.  Meanwhile these supervisors and team leaders are faced with another set of problems with the people they lead. Workers are demanding higher levels of job satisfaction and a better quality of working life.

What is best practice?

Best practice, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Perhaps you have seen many a promising innovation do more harm than good to the complex arrangement of systems that make up your organization. After all, we all have a limited capacity for trying new things, especially when we see numerous initiatives come and go without any lasting positive effect.

Many a consultant is ready to promise that their approach, aimed at solving part of the problem, will provide a total solution. However, total and continuous performance improvement and best practice relies on more than just measuring performance or developing goals or putting in a new system. If you are to achieve sustained performance improvement and best practice, nothing short of a purposeful, total and systematic approach will suffice.

Sacher Associates has identified the following ten essential components of team performance that are strongly evident in all high-performance teams and are basic to achieving best practice.

A Unified Sense of Direction

I recently renovated my website and in the process, I reviewed the number of hits received by each of my nearly 40  blogs. The one with the most hits, 15% more than the next best, was one I wrote back in 2012, entitled A Unified Sense of Direction. My mind went back decades to my days as a student at the University of Cape Town in South Africa where I was studying a  Business Science Degree. In my honors year tutorials, the course required me to analyze one real company per week from disciplines such as Marketing, Finance, Human Resources, Production etc. To me, they all seemed to have the same problems: 

"No unified sense of direction and an inability to translate the strategic plan into the everyday activities of the people doing the work, disengaged unmotivated workers, an ineffective and unaligned measurement system, lack of role clarity and focus, a mismatch between the competencies demanded by the organization and the competencies supplied by employees, etc." 

The secret to greater productivity is getting the basics right, especially in terms of people management. The teams and organizations that perform best have a relentless focus on the permanent fundamentals; like establishing a unified sense of direction. That is why I  have spent the years since university, identifying, perfecting and successfully implementing the 10 essential components and systems of team performance. The original blog I wrote back in 2012 is as follows: