Micro-Management and the Five Levers of Accountability

Management is a fascinating thing and is generally defined within two extreme styles:

  • The macro manager. A visionary, strategic leader who is so far from micro- management, they are not connected to the critical details that need to be executed.
  • The micro manager. A leader who is so far into the details and weeds that people feel like their hands are being held and their fingers moved.

Most highly effective leaders, depending on the situation, move along the spectrum between these two styles. Most good leaders who micro-manage tend to do so when:

  • Someone on their team isn’t delivering, as expected
  • They haven’t developed essential delegation and strategic-thinking skills, as they’ve progressed in their careers from doers to leaders
  • There is lack of crystal-clear expectations or a system to understand how people are doing. You feel as if you’re throwing someone out into the middle of the ocean without anything.

Get the facts

We often find that expectations are about as clear as mud. And it’s unfair to evaluate someone – particularly for someone who has been tagged as an underperformer – without objective data.

So, when we start working with a new executive team, we make sure that expectations for each person is crystal clear – and then see how they deliver – before we form opinions on their level of performance. It’s also a way to verify the CEOs perspective on key people’s performance.

Five Areas of Accountability

To evaluate the performance of an executive, we make sure five things are clarified about their:

  1. Financial accountability – their areas of responsibility on the income or balance sheet
  2. Operational accountability – the KPIs for the operational health of the part of business they manage
  3. Strategic accountability – the specific goals they and their team are responsible for executing, each quarter
  4. Team development accountability – specific actions they are going to take with each of their team members to either sustain or improve their performance and contribution to the team
  5. Behaviour accountability – outlined by the values of the organization.

I have rarely gone into an organization where all these accountabilities are crystal clear – and it’s such a critical piece for leaders to get right. Without them, it’s a failure of the leader or organization, not the team member.

The goal is to give your team members autonomous accountability: an incredible amount of autonomy paired with an incredible amount of accountability.

Objective Evaluations

With these in place, there’s less need for overly involved, micro-management.

  • The executive or leader knows exactly what they need to do to self-manage, and what needs to be done to meet priorities.
  • An executive’s performance can be objectively evaluated based on facts, not opinion. You’ll know if a lack of results is due to a lack of clear expectations and communications or capability.

You also need a structured system – in monthly and quarterly meetings, and annual reviews – to manage and review progress on goals and expectations.

The Challenge 

  • If you think you might micro-manage or have people who don’t meet your expectations, look to see if you are crystal clear on all five points of accountability.

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Lawrence & Co’s work focuses on sustainable and enhanced growth for you and your business. Our diverse and experienced group of advisors can help your leaders and executive teams stay competitive through the use of various learning tools including workshops, webinars, executive retreats, or one-to-one coaching.

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