Micro-Train, Macro-Manage

You have enough on your plate without having to hold your employees’ hands or peer over their shoulders. In fact, the ideal scenario is to follow Lee Iacocca’s strategy: “I hire people brighter than me and then I get out of their way.”

Of course, in practice it’s not that easy. My own version is “Hire smart and hire right, and you’ll be a mentor rather than a boss.” Here are some tactics and strategies for making this work.

Invest in training, save on managing. Let’s assume you’re bringing on board people who already have expertise in their functional area (entry-level training is a whole different beast). You still need to make sure they are proficient in your systems and processes. Even more importantly, they need to understand and embrace your company’s values and ethics. That knowledge will serve as a compass as they continue to learn and grow in your organization. It sets them up to make decisions independently. Instead of spending a lot of time managing them, invest a little quality time in coaching them.

In addition, take advantage of the trend in the training and development space toward self-directed learning. Provide access to your robust internal “university,” or to vendor-provided training.

Shut Your CEO Hole. When an employee — let’s call her Maria — comes to you for guidance, it’s tempting to blurt out a solution. Instead, hold your advice until Maria asks, “What do you think?” Just describing the problem may help Maria figure out the solution. You can provide a point of view to add an extra dimension, but avoid simply solving the problem.
Be consistent. It takes a little longer, but every time Maria (or anyone else) asks for help, push her to come up with her own solution. It may not be the one you had in mind, but from the leader’s point of view, the process of getting to a solution is more important than the solution itself. Pretty soon your people will be coming to you with solutions rather than problems.
Then and now. An addendum to the “hire smart, hire right” axiom is that you also won’t need a lot of infrastructure. The workplace is changing. In the 1960s you had to pay the salary of someone who would decide whether or not an employee could take time off in order to take her son to the dentist. Your people should be able to make that decision for themselves.

If fact, in a virtual environment like we have at Decision Toolbox, any employee can work any hours — as long as the work is getting done, we don’t care. But you can only do that if you have established yourself as a macro-manager. To get there, you have to be secure in your vision and your own leadership skills. Then you need to hire right, and establish processes that promote independence.

Kim Shepherd
Kim Shepherdhttp://www.dtoolbox.com/
AS CEO of Decision Toolbox, Kim Shepherd leads the company’s growth strategy, primarily through developing partnerships, alliances and as an active member of the Los Angeles and Orange County human resources community. A recognized thought leader by HR organizations nationwide including the Human Capital Institute, Kim is a regular speaker at national and regional events on various business models. Kim joined Decision Toolbox in 2000, and brought her unconventional approach to the company she had admired as a client. Today Decision Toolbox is 100% virtual, with more than 100 team members working remotely across the U.S. This company is a Certified Women’s Business Enterprise. This unique business model has played a key role in the company being awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Decision Toolbox was also named one of the "Fastest Growing Private Companies" by the Orange County Business Journal in 2012. In addition, they have been named 3 years running to the INC 500/5000 List of Fastest Growing Private Companies and have been a 7-time recipient of the HRO Today’s Baker’s Dozen for Midmarket and Emerging Markets. Calling Kim unconventional is an understatement – her former endeavors include 10 years as a TV and Foreign Correspondent, a stint at Club Med and a near miss at a spot on the Olympic ski team. Kim is an active member of the Adaptive Business Leaders Executive Roundtable and the National Association for Women Business Owners (Orange County Chapter). She served on the Executive Board of Trustees for Girls Incorporated of Orange County and is also the Board Chair for Working Wardrobes. She is also a former member of Impact Giving. Kim is the recipient of the National Association of Women Business Owners (Orange County Chapter) 2013 Innovator of the Year Award, the 2014 Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year, and the 2015 Family Matters Award from WomanSage.
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Chris Pehura
Chris Pehura

There is a time to micro-manage and a time to not. But it is always the time to self-micro-manage.

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