When Management Gets Ambushed By Small Things

Don't shy away from addressing details and establishing systems.

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Michael Wade

We shy away from details because we don’t want to micromanage.

At the same time, we are reluctant to create systems because we don’t want to be bureaucratic.

And then we wonder why we get ambushed by small things and why our performance is inconsistent.

The details do not take care of themselves. Someone needs to check them. Unless we have put a system in place to do so, we are the likely monitor. We know that, and yet the stigma of micromanagement is so great that we deny the importance of details and pretend they will be magically addressed.

Systems sound boring. It can be so time-consuming to establish guidelines and procedures. If we don’t devote that time, however, we doom ourselves to reinventing the wheel and drift into the sort of irritating, morale-busting micromanagement that could have been prevented with a system. The sign of an effective system is that a high caliber of performance is attained regardless of which employees are involved. Standards are set, procedures are followed, and a predictable outcome is achieved.

To address details and establish systems while avoiding unnecessary micromanagement and bureaucracy is the challenge. The excesses, however, do not mean the concepts are inherently bad. The devil may be in the details, but the angels are in a creative balance between micromanagement and systems. As the systems grow and skills are developed, micromanaging should be rarely required.

Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.