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How to build an effective management system

If you’re a dedicated business owner, you’re working tirelessly, day in and day out, to make your business run and produce consistent, predictable results. You might often say to yourself, “Why can’t I rely on my people to make sure everything works? Why am I the one constantly holding everything together?” The answer comes down to management—in the way you develop your people to grow and thrive, and the systems you create for them to perform to your standards. If you can’t step away and depend on your people and systems to keep successfully chugging along, you lack an effective Management System.

When we first meet with new clients, we routinely hear things like: 

We’re able to find exceptional and capable people, but none of our internal processes are documented. So if I don't do it, it doesn't get done right. 

I need to train people to be middle managers so people stop coming to me for everything.

In the time it takes to explain how to do something, I could easily do it myself.

Without the basics of a Management System that documents all the work that needs to be done and allows you to step out of the Technician and Manager positions, you can’t expect your team to ever be self-sufficient. The good news? It’s achievable to create one! Here’s a quick overview of all you need to know.

What is a Management System?

Management is where people and systems intersect. If you have a Strategic Objective for your business, every element of it implies an activity that someone in your company performs to achieve the desired results. So, your Management System creates the structure and direction that your team needs to achieve those results. It includes your organizational chart (and the functional strategy embedded within it), as well as every tool and process you need to systematize your operations and promote your employees’ individual growth. Having all of these elements in place is the only way your team can truly deliver results—with accountability.


Systems foster personal success and accountability

“Won’t systems make my employees feel like they’re just gears in a machine?” 

This is a concern we often hear from business owners—that systems will take away individual freedom and accountability. But this is absolutely not true. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Systems are meant to free your people. Imagine what it would be like if every employee in your company knew which result(s) they owned? Or, what it would mean to each employee if they could see exactly where they fit into your overall vision? 

Systems allow the routine things to take care of themselves so that your employees can focus on things that matter, and can be more innovative and creative. It not only raises performance levels, but also allows your people to be more confident and invested in company goals. You’ll see them holding themselves more accountable, which makes it easier for you or your managers to better support them.

The basics of building an effective Management System

Here’s a short overview of the main processes with this system so that you can start thinking about and implementing them in your business.

Set the standards for your way we do it here

Identify the standards—from your overall Strategic Objective through every small subsystem—for how you and your team do the work of your business. This also includes your standards, agreements and protocols for how the people in your business  communicate and work together. That way, you can build trust and accountability throughout your organization.

Define your organizational strategy

For this, you’ll need to develop an organizational chart that displays every position in your business and how they interrelate, as well as a strategic plan for how those positions work together to deliver your Strategic Objective.

Write Position Agreements for every role

This isn’t a job description. It’s a basic agreement between managers and employees for each position’s individual accountabilities, standards and the resources they’ll need to succeed.

Have regular employee-focused one-on-ones

Weekly Employee Development Meetings give each team member the chance to express anything that may be getting in their way. This is structured development time—both for an employee’s individual growth, as well as managers and employees to build effective relationships.

Hold a regular company meeting

If you don’t introduce and regularly revisit your vision and strategic development process for the business, don’t expect your team to know it. Whether it’s weekly, monthly or quarterly, host a valuable all-team meeting to share critical high-level updates so you can gain their full commitment to move forward with you.

Systematize your operations

Ideally, your business will consistently run how you want it to—but that takes some doing. First, you need to identify the big picture systems your business needs, and the subsystems that comprise them, so you can see every activity that makes up your business operations. Then, design and document each system so that any current and future employee can step right in and run it.

Create operations manuals

Once you’ve set the standards for your way we do it here, create position-specific manuals and a team handbook so that every employee know the functions of their unique roles.

In short, your Management System is the foundation for how everything in your business actually operates, so it’s well worth your time to thoughtfully develop it. Connect with us if you’d like help getting started.

Tricia Huebner

Written by Tricia Huebner

Tricia Huebner is EMyth's VP of Coaching Emeritus. As one of the leading experts in all facets of the EMyth Approach, her 20 years of experience at EMyth included leadership roles in program development, coaching, coach training and marketing. Tricia’s commitment to helping business owners came from her own upbringing in a family of small business owners. In her time as a speaker and trainer, she addressed business audiences throughout the U.S., and internationally in Canada, Europe and Africa. Throughout her career, Tricia designed programs for the Small Business Administration and consulted with Fortune 1000 companies, and personally coached more than 200 small and mid-sized businesses, helping owners create businesses they love leading and lives they love living. She retired from EMyth in 2022 to pursue her own business within the wine industry.