Copyright to Michael Feuer, © 2011
Published here January 2012

Editor's Note | Introduction | Too Much Information
Tips 1 to 3: Clarity; Voicemail, Email; and Conversations
Tips 4 to 6: Updates, Self-examination; Negatives
Tip #7: Message Packaging | Editor's Footnote

Tips 4 to 6: Updates, Self-examination; Negatives

  1. Get frequent updates from key people. (Simply put, micromanaging properly applied is OK.) Somewhere along the line, "micromanage" has become a bad word. It conjures up images of bosses who can't delegate, who don't trust their team members, and who don't give employees room to do their best work. No, you shouldn't do your team's work for them, but you should get regular (and of course, succinct!) updates from your key people. These fast-and-frequent communications allow you to keep your finger on your project's pulse.

    When you know what's happening in real time, you can accelerate your project's progress and prevent garden-variety problems from snowballing into disasters of Biblical proportions. During the first 18 months of OfficeMax, I required every store to call my home seven nights a week to give me sales figures, which I recorded in a ledger. This ritual helped me to manage our growth by knowing our daily cash flow, with an emphasis on accounts payable down to the last few dollars. This protocol not only accelerated our growth but set a management style for executives to operate in a similar know-what's-happening fashion. So don't underestimate the power and awareness of the flow of factual information!
  2. Look in the mirror. The Golden Rule - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - definitely applies to leadership in projects. It's always a good idea to treat your team as participants and partners in whatever you're doing ... not just as people to blame when something goes wrong! Remember that they appreciate appropriate amounts of respect and praise, and that they also enjoy being given credit for having the ability to grasp the obvious.

    If you are not getting the results you want, it could be you that is the problem. Leaders, especially those nearer to the top of the organizational hierarchy, sometimes forget how it felt to be directed. Ask yourself how you would want to be told to do something important. Chances are it would not be: "Do XYZ, or face dire consequences" without any further explanation. When you're open about what's at stake and use a logical, positive tone, you'll probably find that your communications take root and grow much better!
  3. Use your negatives sparingly. Say you're telling your team everything they need to know, but you still aren't getting the results you want. What gives? Well, the problem might lie in how you're delivering that cut-to-the-chase sound bite. Think about it: how many of your announcements start with a negative, followed by a litany of unpleasant consequences? For example: If we don't make better progress next month, we'll have to consider canning the project."

    Many leaders think that this style is more forceful and expedient, but it's actually counterproductive. If you make too many of these negative announcements, your team will be motivated only by fear and desperation - at least in the beginning. As time goes on (and presumably, a majority of your threats don't come to pass), your team will come to see you as a knucklehead, and they'll start ignoring your messages completely, or quit themselves.
Tips 1 to 3: Clarity; Voicemail, Email; and Conversations  Tips 1 to 3:
Clarity; Voicemail, Email; and Conversations

Home | Issacons | PM Glossary | Papers & Books | Max's Musings
Guest Articles | Contact Info | Search My Site | Site Map | Top of Page