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8 Secrets to Great Management

What makes a company the “Best Managed?”

How can something so complex be broken down and evaluated effectively? More importantly, how can your company take the leap from doing well to receiving outside validation and recognition that you’re among the very best in the world?

1. Have a Clear Vision

Decisions become much easier at all levels when everyone knows what the group goal is and what their individual roles and responsibilities are. Starting at the top, with your CEO, your company must have a clear, formalized understanding of where you are now as a company and where you want to be in the short and long term. Everything from how you want to grow, what markets you want to expand into, what kinds of products and services you think your clients will want down the road, and a variety of other goals should constantly be discussed, refined, and pursued.  This proactive approach allows you to play a part in shaping your future, rather than being a victim of fate and circumstance. If you have a clear, formal vision for where you want your organization to be in 1, 5, and 10 years, you have a much better chance of achieving your goals.

2. Use Data to Make Your Vision Become Reality

The key here is that you don’t merely need a wish list of things you’d like to see happen. You need a set of goals with formal plans in place to help you achieve those goals. Everyone from your executives to your newest team members should know how they fit into those plans so that you can all help make progress towards your shared goals. 


The best way to achieve this understanding is to leverage data analysis to help make objective decisions and evaluations. In any organization, there is a truly massive amount of data available to help you monitor progress and success both in-house and on the client side. For many organizations, that data goes uncollected and ignored. However, in the best managed companies, data is treated like gold. At a basic level, every employee and every department should know what metrics are most relevant to them so they can keep track of how well they’re doing compared to their formalized goals and benchmarks. Those metrics should be tied to performance and compensation to keep goals and rewards aligned. At the management level and above, this data should be looked at regularly to adjust goals and methods as needed. This approach helps well managed organizations make good choices and enables them to adapt more rapidly in the face of changing circumstances.

3. Trust Your People

Strong leadership and concrete goals are essential, but those goals are nearly impossible to achieve without trust in your team members. The best managed companies trust and empower their workers to make decisions in service of their goals without forcing them to seek approval for every little thing. Importantly, that trust doesn’t mean that team members are left unsupported.

Each team member should receive rigorous training and detailed explanations of their goals, expectations, and target metrics. Trusting your teams isn’t about leaving them alone to sink or swim, it’s about giving them all the tools they need to succeed, then getting out of their way while they thrive. To make this process work, you’ll need to maintain open and frequent 360 communication between management and team members. This allows all employees to be meaningfully heard and gives your managers and executives access to key insights.

4. Take Care of Your People

The ability to attract and retain top talent is a major factor that separates the best run companies from the rest. The best run organizations offer highly competitive salaries, industry-leading benefits, and perks like public transportation, on premises exercise facilities, tuition reimbursement, and most importantly, internal advancement.

Not only does this way of operating benefit your workers, but it also benefits your company just as much. Getting the best talent, avoiding the costly brain drain of losing highly trained employees, maintaining deep institutional memory, and reducing the delays caused by turnover all massively benefit your bottom line. Happy, healthy workers are productive workers.

5. Diversity of Thought is Essential to Long-Term Success

The most successful organizations recognize that there is immense strength in difference. The many different life experiences, perspectives, opinions, views, personalities, and work styles of your teams are essential to your success. Yes, most companies today understand that diversity based on race, ethnicity, gender, and other immutable characteristics is critical, but many have yet to fully realize just how valuable neurodiversity can be as well.

Improvements and insights into workflow, standard operating procedures, client interactions, product development, and sales all come from team members who see the world differently than those around them. Don’t stress out if your team members have major differences; there’s so much to be gained from those differences.

6. Don’t Survive, Thrive

In a year when many companies struggled to survive, the best managed companies thrived. They bought out competitors, made key strategic partnerships, expanded market presence, added manufacturing capacity, streamlined supply chain, and grew market share overall.  This doesn’t mean growth for the sake of growth, done without due consideration. Rather the best managed companies focus on growing in ways that help them achieve their goals. Each acquisition and expansion is the result of adherence to a clear corporate vision and only committed to after deep analysis.

7. Foster a Great Corporate Culture

Without a doubt, corporate culture is the most important item on this list. It is the key to making all of the above work and it’s the cornerstone to sustained success. Well run companies are all about leadership by example. Setting an example is always more effective than just giving orders by themselves. People are more enthusiastic when they feel like their leaders are really on their side. It’s important to note that this process isn’t merely implicit. It really helps to reinforce it with open, clear, and continuous communication.

Well managed companies work hard to ensure that everyone knows exactly what is expected of them, is trained to succeed, and empowered to make a difference. When your employees feel heard, respected, well-compensated, and fairly treated, they buy into the idea that you’re one team that wins together.

8. Everything is Connected

One of the keys to putting the above into practice is to understand that no individual point above can really be executed without the others. You can’t set clear goals if you don’t know what your capabilities are, which you can’t know without good data analysis. You can’t maintain competitive compensation without growth that matches or exceeds your competitors. You can’t innovate without welcoming diverse points of view. You can’t build a corporate culture where individuals give 110% without making your people feel trusted and respected.

From making and executing plans, evaluating progress, retaining talent, and growing your business, the best managed companies understand that people, data, and planning have to come together for you to succeed.

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