According to The Cambridge Dictionary, micromanaging means ” controlling every part of a situation, even small details”.
Over 17 years of consulting to a broad range of industries, including banking, industrial services, tertiary education, elite sport, developers, public transport, health, insurance, agriculture, all levels of government, broadcasting, retail, and hospitality (there’s more, but you get the picture :), a consistent theme is the lack of clarity about decision making.
When people are unclear about their role, what they are responsible for achieving, and how they will be accountable for achieving those results, decision-making is non-existent.
And, when people think that “voting is how decisions get made around here, ” that may be OK at your local sporting club, but it isn’t OK for organisations that aspire to high performance.
Clarity, responsibility and accountability
If you are not clear about your role and what you are responsible for achieving, and you are not accountable for those results, then you will be so far from a high-performance culture it isn’t funny!
When you are clear about your role, including what success looks like, you should micromanage yourself to the nth degree.
What does this form of micromanagement look like?
Effective leaders never stop collecting data that will assist them with their decision-making. This is called business intelligence. And business intelligence drives decision intelligence.
It is a never-ending activity.
Imagine a decision funnel. At the top is where data enters your funnel. Every conversation, every meeting, and everything you read, see, and hear about your role goes into that funnel. Everything. When you micromanage yourself, you do the work to ensure you know what is going into your decision funnel.
For example, suppose you will make a decision that effects people in the organisation. In that case, a leader who micromanages their decision-making will ensure they have spoken with the affected staff. They will have sought their input because it is vital for decision-making.
How could you make an effective decision if you didn’t speak with those staff? You would miss ideas and innovations that could drive a better decision.
On the other hand, if you think your data collecting involves hosting a single meeting on a topic to make a decision, you are kidding yourself. Presenting your issue and your solution and then asking, “Does anyone have a different view” is unlikely to work if this is the first time the people in the meeting have heard of the issue.
If, however, you have been consciously collecting data, speaking with the right people and then you host a meeting, then an effective decision can be made.You would show them the information you have collected, reference conversations and other meetings and paint a picture explaining what information you are using to decide. Importantly, everyone would know that you own the decision and it is your decision. Think about it. How often is it clear who is going to make the decision? This MUST be explicit.
On most occasions, you won’t need another “meeting”. Make the decision. Time matters. Business and decision intelligence matter!
For this approach to work, you must be clear about the decisions you are responsible for making. This means that any decision that you make is YOUR decision. If it works, then good for you. If it doesn’t, you must get support to correct it as quickly as possible. You will be accountable for fixing it. The blame game doesn’t get a chance to get moving because everyone already knows it is your fault. Learning cultures can handle this level of accountability.
Marketing and sales example
Let’s look at sales and marketing. In my experience, they seem to be at each other’s throats. Poor cooperation and the blame game are high. Why? Neither of them is micromanaging their own decisions. Instead, they attempt to micromanage each other, which doesn’t work.
And folks, it seems to me this space has gotten way too complex.
You could be selling cosmetics, cars, real estate, and everything else. The same problem exists.
The marketing team’s job is to create leads. That is the beginning and end of their job. Leads, leads, leads. The measurement of a successful marketing team is the number of leads it generates and how well it cooperates with the sales team. Period.
The sales team’s job is to take the leads, qualify them, and close the deal. The measurement of a successful sales team is how many sales they close and how well they cooperate with the marketing team. Period.
I’m yet to find an organisation measuring the level of cooperation between marketing and sales as a key performance indicator for those teams (please contact me if you have an example).
If you look up the definition of “marketing lead”, good luck. The definitions are all over the place! No wonder marketing and sales struggle to get along.
When clarity is lacking at this level, more problems occur that reduce cooperation and spark the never-ending blame game when things go wrong. The data entering the decision funnel is restricted, and responsibility for creating success and accountability goes out the window.
Marketing and sales are inevitably paid according to sales. This creates confusion. Marketing should be paid for the number of leads they generate and how well they cooperate with sales (which means they generate leads according to the qualifying data that sales track over time).
Sales should be paid for the deals they close and how well they cooperate with marketing by sharing the characteristics of qualified leads. This enables marketers to tailor their activities to generate a higher number of leads that qualify.
The Marketing Manager’s role is to micromanage their decisions on how to generate leads and how to give the sales team the information they need to qualify leads and close deals. They are to ensure that each marketing team member is clear about their role and the decisions they should be micromanaging for themselves.
The Sales Manager’s role is to micromanage their decisions on qualifying leads, feed this information to the marketing team, and close deals. And they should teach each sales team member to know precisely which decisions each of them should be micromanaging for themselves.
Then this information should be shared so everyone knows who makes which decision.
This issue is NOT restricted to marketing and sales.
At this very moment, this decision-making problem exists within your organisation.
When you understand that you have to micromanage your decisions, you teach this principle to everyone in the organisation. No matter their role, ensure they have role clarity, are clear about what success in their role looks like, and hold them to account for those results.
Here’s the kicker. Role clarity means each person understands who they have to cooperate with throughout the organisation to succeed. This should be included in measuring success and creating accountability for cooperation.
Imagine each team member having the power to make decisions within their remit. It sounds simple. But it is amazing how rarely it exists.
The final element of this approach is that people learn who is responsible for what. If a problem or issue arises where there isn’t clarity about who should be the decision maker, get those people together and decide who should be making the decision. This approach requires you to use hierarchical power. While some won’t like it, it is always better to be clear about who owns a decision versus being unsure because all that does is drive down responsibility and accountability.
Micromanaging your decisions using this approach releases you from the 20th Century form of micromanagement, where you attempt to control everyone and don’t allow them to make decisions. All that does is make people de-motivated and slow everything down.
Too many people have lost the art of decision-making. Thankfully, you can learn how to do it.
Reach out if you would like to learn more.
By Gary Ryan