What is the typical role of a Senior Management Team in organizations?

I work for a small company and we have recently formed a formal senior management team (basically managers or directors of each department, handpicked by the CEO). The team meets regularly, but from what I've seen is mostly a meeting where they update each other on what is happening with their departments and overall goals they have.

I am wondering whether such "senior management team" would do more than just meet and chat for 1 hour every week... how is this accomplished in your companies? Any thoughts on who, how, when, and what?


jhack's picture

It varies, including:

Review of revenues, expenses, and pipeline.
Coordinate and implement strategic initiatives.
Identify and cultivate talent.

Are you in the meetings, or looking in from the outside?


dkuperman's picture

Thanks for the quick reply, John. I am not in the meetings, but one of the sr. managers mentioned that they basically updated each other every week on what was going on with their departments. My impression is that little is being done in terms of strategic planning, long term vision, etc.

As an outsider, I could be wrong, but that is also why I wanted to know how it's done in other companies and to have a better understanding. My goal is to become a sr. manager, so the more prepared I am, the sooner I can be there (and hopefully make an impact).

stephenbooth_uk's picture

Whilst I've not yet been a member of of a senior management team, I have sat in on a number of such meetings as an observer. In my experience the meetings tend to be about 3 things:

* Cross-departmental updates and report back, very high level but can degenerate into mud slinging
* Strategy setting, again tends to be very high level
* Golf, who played with who and who will be playing with who (both within the company and with others outside the company).

The golf is probably actually the most important part of the meeting as what it's really about is networking and building relationships with stakeholders. Trying to break into a new country/region market? Set up a few rounds of golf with suitable people from the embassy/ies, potential business partners already in that country/region and prospective large customers there. A lot of decisions also get made on golf courses.


kklogic's picture

We have two versions of this where I am (op co of 60, 40+ on site). There is the leadership team - which is basically everyone titled Manager and up. This group meets once a quarter and gives updates. We have renamed it Operational Alignment.

There is another group called the Exec Team that is a much smaller circle. Though they spend a lot of time doing updates, they also do calibration of performance management rankings, decide things like if we are moving to another location, etc. I'd say this group deals with decisions that are typically confidential projects initially if I had to boil it down.

ctomasi's picture

Our company as a Sr. Management team. They meet quarterly to discuss high level strategies, progress on annual goals, and financials. My former boss, Sr. VP of Engineering, is a member. He has total responsibility for that business unit. My current boss (CIO) is also involved. He ensures the rest of the team is aware of what IT is working on and what new business requirements are coming that need our attention.

We also have several smaller "Sr. Management" teams such as in IT. The CIO leads, the Directors and VPs participate. I am the only manager level attendee. Since I'm the only representative of my Service Desk department, I attend. We meet weekly to get updates and throw issues on the table. When we come up against issues like talent management, annual objectives, or large initiatives, we do a high-level overview and assign an owner to continue to drive it and give us updates.

bug_girl's picture

We have what I think would fall in that category--each Monday afternoon, we have a meeting between the Unit leaders. Mostly we talk about what is going on in our units, and get helpful suggestions for how to deal with upcoming problems.

In some ways it is also a sort of group O3 for each of the Sr. managers. with the CEO. It makes us save up stuff for Monday, rather than coming to her with each issue. And she hasn't even listened to the podcasts! :D

A lot of it is policy stuff--what are the rules, what exceptions need to be made, can you please lean on someone for me and make them do what I need them to do. We set out action items for the rest of the week and update on ongoing projects.

(Also, I think I need to start a whole new thread about golf and how exclusionary it is. Ugh.)

dkuperman's picture

Thanks for sharing how it works on your own organizations... One other interesting fact: the CEO does not attend these meetings. He expects the team to report back to him if something comes up that requires his attention.

asteriskrntt1's picture

Different Senior Management Teams have different protocols, depending on the culture, size of organization, divisions (functional, regional, service) and where you sit in those various hierarchies.

I used to present regularly to my senior management team, which comprised the most senior people in my division of a fairly big Canadian Financial Services company. After I (or others) presented, they would stay together for an hour or two (as required) and decide whether our presentations were aligned with their priorities and acceptable risk/reward.

They would also report into Head Office (literally one floor up) and give updates on the division's progress in various areas and potential opps/synergies with other areas/divisions.

Overall strategy (acquisitions/divestures/alliances etc.) came from the Board of Directors and senior officers (usually increase revenues/decrease costs - have a nice day!).