How to build strong management teams - Nathan Winch
The importance of a strong management team.

Management teams make a business. It’s as simple as that. A business is only as strong as its management team – drawing on their skills and ability to define, organise and deploy strategy, then analyse and optimise outcomes. Identifying problems and how to resolve industry specific issues and navigating complex regulatory landscapes. But how do you build strong management teams?

I believe building teams is one of my core skills. In our business at Winch & Co, we have made several, key appointments over the past 12 months that have been instrumental in our growth. Such as my Operations Director, Shaun Swinburn in March 2021, and my Commercial Director, Debra Hart in March 2022, as well as several new starters during that period at various levels throughout my company. Effectively, making myself somewhat redundant this year! But that’s a good thing – I now focus on the bigger picture, something that someone with OCD finds difficult when you are usually dragged into the details – something that doesn’t happen anymore, especially with over 100 employees and over £10million of annual revenue – it would send my OCD crazy!

In any business, big or small, the central entrepreneur or founder has a dilemma from day one. How to manage and/or operate their business. The two are not the same, so at some point, how do you build strong management teams that can manage and run your business so you can focus on higher level strategy definition? Well firstly, look within. Do you have key, stand-out individuals already in the business? For me, I have identified Managing Directors from existing teams, promoted and empowered them and they have since done a great job. A second way is to look to competitors, who are key managers that are undervalued and deserve better? I have found another Managing Director that way, too. Thirdly, traditional recruitment methods, such as Indeed. I have found successful managers this way as well.

Then, it’s about empowerment and support. We usually up the salary of the people we promote, and offer competitive rates of pay for those external hires. We always offer company cars and generous uncapped bonus structures. If they add value, then so do I.

A key hire for me was my Commercial Director Debra Hart, who will be a conduit for Winch & Co and its investment portfolio. She will mobilise and manage our Managing Directors, reporting to my Operations Director who then makes many of the key decisions, only checking in with me if absolutely necessary or with bigger financial decisions, such as the acquisition of a company. This has really kept me ‘bigger picture’ which has changed my mindset completely. I thought I was good with my time before, now I am ruthless.

In our game, I don’t always have experience in the sectors in which Winch & Co operates, so we have to either inherit that knowledge with an acquisition, or find it. I generally do both, in that order. You can always buy in management and sector knowledge if all else fails. It’s much easier to inherit it with the pre-existing culture of a business, but provided the key individuals have good people skills (which every manager should) then you’ll have success with both.

In conclusion, what’s important are the following skills in an individual:

  • People skills, do they get on with everyone?
  • Crisis management, are they a cool cucumber?
  • Good industry knowledge and understanding
  • Good with numbers, commercially aware
  • High level of commercial acumen
  • Experience working in teams
  • Drive and enthusiasm

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Nathan Winch Private Investor

About The Author Nathan Winch

British entrepreneur and private equity investor with over 12 years experience. Having started, scaled and sold companies in medtech, SaaS and FMCG, Nathan’s specialities include concept commercialisation, supply chain mobilisation, acquisitions and horizontal integration.