By: Leigh Cameron
The other day, I attended a lecture at the University of Alaska Anchorage entitled, “Building Your Management Team,” by entrepreneur and UAA professor Forrest Nabors.
Dr. Nabors has worked on management teams at two major corporations and over time learned that management teams are what can make or break a company.
He began his lecture by telling the audience about his experiences at both companies. The first one was a very successful, highly sought after company. They had a team of highly skilled individuals, everyone was quite experienced, and they turned down multiple generous offers to be sold. As far as that company was concerned, they were worth more than anyone was willing to pay.
Then Dr. Nabors decided to leave that business to help start up a new one. The team had little capital and relied heavily on investors to get the ball rolling. Business was on the rise and the company was doing well. Then an unforeseen turn in the stock market hit the company like a ton of bricks. The company was in crises, and had stopped receiving much needed money from investors. The staff had pretty much dwindled down to the core management team, who were receiving little or no pay.
What’s ironic is that the first company ended in failure and the second company is still thriving today.
Why did the first company fail in what seemed like exceptional conditions and the second company thrive in bleak ones?
According to Dr. Nabors, it all had to do with management teams, “People are everything. A management team is everything to a company.”
The first company had a team of highly functional and experienced individuals, but nobody wanted to work together. In troubled times, the team argued about how the company should move forward. No one could agree on anything.
The second company’s core management team had little experience in the industry and each role they held was unfamiliar to them. Dr. Nabors recalled being placed in the role of VP Sales, an area he had no previous experience in. However, they all worked together like a well-oiled machine. Nabors explained that everyone worked so closely together in crisis that they became like a family.
Dr. Nabors ended the lecture with a few key points to consider when building your management team:
*The most important thing to keep in mind is character.
Decency and indecency are infectious, so choose a team that will be decent to one another.
*Place less emphasis on functional and industrial experience
Experience and knowledge of the field is definitely a plus, but sometimes, finding an individual who is able to think on their feet and have the mindset to conquer difficulty will benefit the company more in both good and bad times.
*Place more emphasis on determination, quick wits, and courage of convictions.
Crisis often reveals true inner strength/weakness, it is important to choose individuals who aren’t going to give up when times get hard.
*Bonding social capital gives a business tremendous economic advantage
In the examples of the companies mentioned above, the first company fell apart because the team couldn’t work together and the second company thrived because the team formed a family-like bond after experiencing crisis.