Why you must manage your team

In this second of my series on “who to manage”, I will share my thoughts about managing your team. 

As I headed towards the end of my term as CEO of QSuper, I deliberately had small group meetings with managers a few levels down from me. In a large company, these weren’t people with whom I had been able to spend much time. I wanted them to know the difference between “what” and “how”. 

I began CEO life heavily into the detail – of “what” I had to deliver and master. By the end, I understood far more about the need to lead people. I learnt some key differences between “what” and “how”. 

“What” is the deliverable – did someone meet a KPI? 

“How” is attitude and behaviour. It accumulates to be organisational culture. 

Your first key task in managing your team is to have everyone understand that “How” trumps “What”. 

I am not saying that KPIs don’t matter or that people shouldn’t need to deliver. 

But what I did learn is that hiring and praising and promoting for technical competency isn’t enough. 

As Jim Collins said, get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus. Take someone with slightly less technical competency, but who exhibits smarts and a wonderful attitude. Smart people learn new things. Yes, they do. And for growth and innovation and the very future of your organisation, you need people who can learn new things! 


Because of this, especially at senior levels, I value people who can operate in an uncertain world and focus on the future state of the company and products. Those big rocks. 

So that’s my first tip for managing your team – be clear about who needs to be on it! 

Secondly, in managing people, as I mentioned last blog, are they doing the right work? Have you set the right expectations? At QSuper we had KPIs for both “what” and “how”. And the “How” came from our organisational values. For instance, “courageous” is one of the 4 organisational values. So not only did we consider “what” people had to deliver, but the behaviours to be considered “courageous” were scaled by level. Now I understand this can seem highly qualitative, but it was relatively obvious at moderation time when all people considered exemplary in behaviour were grouped. 

Thirdly, understand you and your team are being paid each day to love and grow your organisation. This makes the decisions and behaviours everyone needs to exhibit crystal clear. For instance, I was talking to a respected person in a workplace who often spoke about the toxic culture there. I coached them on what steps they could take as a respected team member to improve the culture. You don’t just sit by and comment about it – you are being paid each day to love and grow your organisation. 

Finally today, in managing your team, make communication simple and tangible. Share the strategy and good news through stories. Parables have been around for centuries and that’s because they work. I still have people say they remember a talk I gave about 2 decades ago, because I discussed how super affected me and my four sisters. What were some of the stories that formed the background of the company? What were some of the successes? What will a client experience when we’ve built our new product? Make it real! 

So my key learnings on how to manage people are to select them carefully, measure them correctly, and bring them along with you in loving and growing your organisation. Next blog, I’ll cover managing up. Until then.