What A Management Team Does

Posted on by Fred Wilson & Jason Li


Last summer I wrote a post called What A CEO Does. It was a popular post and I’ve seen and heard people reference it frequently. In that post I suggested that the three things a CEO needs to do is set and communicate the overall vision, recruit and retain the best talent possible, and make sure the company never runs out of cash.

Matt Blumberg, the CEO of our portfolio company Return Path wrote a post yesterday talking about the three things a management team must do.

He suggests these three functions:

  • Create an environment for success
  • Nip problems in the bud, or prevent them entirely
  • Exploit big opportunities

If you want more detail on each of them, go read the post.

I particularly like #1. The best management teams create cultures that people enjoy working in. And from that comes great things. I see that every day. As Scott Heiferman said recently “teams win.”


From the comments

Philip J. Cortes recommended:

On point Number 1:

We have learned to evaluate tasks based on their intrinsic motivation for the individual they’re assigned to. An example of this is we just recently gave one of our developers a massive algo project because we knew that individual wanted to learn more about that space, and was motivated to join our team because of the potential work he could be doing in it.

As a bootstrapped startup, we can’t afford to pay our people market rates, so we have to make sure that almost every task assigned to our people adds to the intrinsic value of working with us – the magic is that we get concrete definitions of what type of work people enjoy doing when we’re hiring, and hire the people we have the greatest needs in. It’s an important win-win, as nobody walks away disgruntled.

And Tereza added to that:

I always ask people at the start — this includes interns — let’s write the resume line item(s) you wish to have when this experience is over and you walk away.

It confirms that we’re on the same page as we’re kicking off, aligned needs.

Plus they know you’re very willing to help them get wherever it is they want to go….provided your needs are met. Sets up a two-way social contract.

As we do interim reviews I use it as a reference. Allows us to discuss very tangibly what it means to have achieve such-and-such resume line item.

And if/when they leave I feel like we have the same story on what our joint experience was.

It’s very simple.


This article was originally written by Fred Wilson on February 9, 2011 here.