Category Management Teams:  That LAST Word is the Most Critical


It’s the most obvious thing staring us in the face and yet probably the most ignored.  Almost ALL Category Management is done through teams.  And yet, very little attention is paid to them.  It is assumed that teams will come together and function effectively and we all know that nothing could be further from the truth.  The creation of High Performance Work Teams is both an art and a science and it requires even more effort than crafting the most complex Category Management strategy.

Let’s start by distinguishing between mere groups and teams and the latter is characterized by:

  • Belief that working together leads to better results
  • Accountable as a single unit
  • Dependent on one another
  • Unique skills blended with shared skills


In fact, it’s these characteristics that create the dynamics that produce extraordinary results from teams.  Successful teams have some common characteristics and the good thing is that they can be replicated on every team – it requires intent and effort.  Here are a few of them:

  • Effective Leadership
  • Shared values
  • Vision and Alignment
  • Clear Roles and Responsibilities
  • Celebrating Differences
  • Effective Communication
  • Integrity and Trust


While the above are the ones we most often think of, for truly HPWT to exist, here are some of the more advanced attributes:

  • Sharing Power
  • Depending on one another
  • Cooperation vs. Competition
  • Synergy of combined effort
  • Constructive Conflict
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Creative Thinking


There are also some essential roles that are required on every successful High Performance Work Teams.  I have personally been on a number of these types of teams and it is  truly magical to see them perform.  These various roles are assumed by different members of the teams at different times as needed.

Team Leader:

  • “Owns” team meetings – sets the objective
  • Assures the team contains the right team members / meeting participants
  • Provides support , information and resources
  • Sets the tone – is the role model
  • Encourages creativity
  • Facilitates decision process
  • May sometimes assume the role of facilitator


Team Facilitator:

  • Guides the meeting process
  • Makes it “safe” for everyone to participate
  • Harnesses group activity
  • Records group ideas and decisions
  • Acts as timekeeper
  • Brings team back on-track when needed


Keeper of the Plan:

  • Manages the overall plan for the team
  • Tracks team progress against the plan and reports variances
  • Understands dependencies and ensures they are being attended to
  • Provides linkages to other parts of the project related to planning
  • Responsible for budget, resources, etc.


And what really sets these teams apart is the role of the Keeper of the Team:

  • Keeps the team functioning at an optimal level
  • Focuses on how the team is interacting
  • Ensures the team is following its’ meeting ground rules
  • Ensures the team is adhering to its’ principles
  • Procures appropriate intervention / training where necessary


While the other roles are important, this role is critical and one that is most often over looked.  I know that we keep coming back to this topic of effective teams but it’s because we keep running into client situations that keep reminding us of how important this topic is.  The need for this is at every level in the organization – probably most at the senior most leadership levels.  Unfortunately, that is also the level where it is the most ignored.  Looking for better Category Management results?  Make sure you have High Performance Work Teams and then get out of their way 😊!!!


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