Most organizations like to talk about their Management Team. You seldom hear about a Management Committee. There are however many variations on the theme, think about Executive Committees, Leadership Teams, Operational Committees and then the nondescript “Board”.
What’s in a name? Let’s not get bogged down in semantics here but look at what we are trying to accomplish. Typically a Team is a group that works towards a common goal and a Committee is a group that represents people from various backgrounds.
Herein lies the issue. Typically a group that leads a company is supposed to work together towards the common goals of the company however in most companies, the leadership is formed by representatives from the various locations, functions, businesses, levels or departments/divisions. This background of the members of the leadership naturally forces them into contributing to the meeting from the perspective of the part of the organization they represent and creates a tendency to evaluate all outcomes of the group to the benefits for their constituency. Some organizations even have various layers of committees and will have leadership groups for various functions and matrix-ed over that leadership representing business sectors and / or countries of locations.
In general: Teams create solutions, Committees come up with compromises.
There is certainly a reason to have representation from all parts of the organization in the leadership but rather to guarantee diversity of input than to safeguard the interests of the various groups. For communication purposes the representation from a broad group in the leadership also certainly has advantages. The issues are created where great team solutions, based on the common goals of the organization are watered down by negotiations with their roots is sub optimal partial goals from various constituencies in the organization.
How do you create a “Teamittee”?
and have your leadership work as a team and communicate in the organization as a committee to enhance buy in from all parts of the organization.
It all starts with a common goal. This goal must be specific enough so that it is meaningful but broad enough so that it will span many years and a great variety of situations. The members of your teamittee need to be committed to this goal and feel that they personally can be held accountable for the attainment of the goal. As a supporting tool you need to ensure that the incentive pay for the leadership group is aligned with the common goal for that group and not aligned with the separate parts or functions in the organization. Having a bonus that may get hurt due to decisions that your team takes, distracts the members of the team.
Next each member of the teamittee needs to have enough authority to be able to contribute, agree and disagree with the work the teamittee will do and deliver without having to check back with the members in their part of the organization. This means that forming a teamittee is not something you can accomplish just with the members of that small group, you will need to have all of them work within their parts of the organization to explain why the structure has been chosen and how decisions will be made.
Finally, by working together, sometimes even in smaller groups, you get the members of the teamittee to build trust and create shared ownership of working through sometimes tough management issues.
The common goal, the agreed process of working and decision taking and the communication of the results by representing the teamittee in their various parts of the organization will eventually lead to a credible leadership group with decisions that will work and, through their effective communication, be understood and accepted in the organization.