Making your Management Review a Success…

3rd November 2017

Often seen as an onerous task to be done at the end of the year, we often fail to put time and effort into the completion of a high quality management review.

“It’s boring/not relevant to me/not my job” – these are just some of the criticisms levelled at the process. However these perceptions create a huge missed opportunity! Quite simply, it’s a critical activity to understand if your management arrangements are working.  It enables you to have a high level of confidence that you know and are mitigating your significant risks.

So why do we fail when it comes to the management review?

I think the following are key issues:

  1. The purpose of management review is not well understood – is it just a process to meet a management system requirement?
  2. Aligning the management review with business planning processes does not occur.  Outputs are not created in time to be incorporated into planning and budgeting.
  3. Are key themes arising from your business monitoring processes selected and presented or is there just an overwhelming dump of data?
  4. Senior leaders do not allocate adequate time to 1) ensure the review happens and 2) allow effective digestion of the output.  Furthermore,  they do not often demonstrate the required behaviour when the review doesn’t occur and fail to deliver clear insights into the risk control of the business.

How can we overcome resistance to, and significantly improve, an essential piece of business planning? There are 4 areas I have identified that are critical for a successful impactful management review:

Purpose:

At the organisational level, I believe the “why” question is crucial.

Why is a management review beneficial to the efficient operation of the business?  Are you clear what you want to get out of it and how that knowledge will be used?

A management review should contain a substantial part of the answer to the question, “is it working?”.  The organisational, systems and hardware arrangements that you have in place to control risk: are they keeping people safe, by choice and not by chance, every day?

Alignment:

If you generate valuable output from your management review months after the conclusion of business planning, what is the likely outcome? Might managers not reasonably ask “What do you want me to focus on?”

The management review does not need to be a once a year activity – splitting it into quarters or thirds could really aid digestion!

Themes:

All too often, the output from these reviews suffer from being overwhelmed by data that could be useful but has not been interpreted.  Emerging themes that centre on risk exposures are not drawn out to allow debate by the senior team.

Clearly a balance is required of what is really significant to the business. It then needs to be added to the business strategy or Road Map.

Accountability and Leadership:

The completion of the review is often driven by a conscientious functional leader rather than demanded as essential by a senior leader.

What does this say about the importance of management review to the business?

Do leaders feel genuinely accountable to complete the review to a high standard? Does it get the same scrutiny as financial data?

In my experience, these are the key elements for consideration.  The specific situation for each business will be different, but taking some time to consider what you are getting from the review is key to maximising the value of the exercise and driving your performance improvement forward.

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