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HOW INFORMATION AFFECTS MICROMANAGEMENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 1, 2013

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Information requirements gives us insight as to why people micromanage.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

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A friend recently confided in me he had a new Regional Manager to report to. His company is a national distributor of industrial supplies sold primarily to manufacturing companies. He didn’t know too much about his new boss other than he suddenly wanted to monitor all of the sales activity in all of the offices in the Southeast, of which there are several. To do so, he asked the sales force to e-mail him directly all of their daily customer contact lists and sales transactions for the day. In other words, the Regional Manager was interceding and performing the analysis typically performed by the local Sales Managers. The Regional Manager took it a step further and began contacting the sales force directly as opposed to going through the Sales Managers. Translation: the Regional Manager had embarked on a program of micromanagement as opposed to letting the local Sales Managers do their jobs.

This got me thinking about how the Regional Manager was going about his job and the systems supporting him. In specifying information requirements for a company, you have to consider the types of actions and decisions to be supported which can be classified by P-C-O, meaning Policy-Control-Operational. Within any enterprise, there are three fundamental levels of business functions to be supported:

* Policy information – used by executive management to steer the business and includes such things as operating summaries, forecasts, and trend analysis.

* Control information – used by middle management to control operations and report to executives; this typically includes status reports, departmental summaries, quota analysis and schedules.

* Operational information – used to support the daily activities of the business, such as placing and processing orders, checking on order status and a myriad of other activities to support customers.

Information also has the nuance of being time dependent in order to perform the various business functions in a timely manner. Not surprising, a business requires a more rapid response at the Operational level than at the higher levels. To illustrate:

* Operational information is typically required “On Demand” (aka, “Upon request”) or daily. This ultimately represents the basic transactions of the business to collect data. Daily information is also useful for such things as end-of-day summaries, and for formulating daily schedules.

* Control information typically consists of daily, weekly, and monthly summaries so middle management can monitor operations. Random “On Demand” queries may be made periodically, but are not typically a part of middle management’s normal routine.

* Policy information normally includes weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual summaries and projections needed for long-range planning. Again, random “On Demand” queries may be made periodically, but are not typically a part of executive management’s normal routine.

If a manager is spending an inordinate amount of time conducting “on demand” processing, as my friend’s new boss appears to be doing, it means a couple of things: First, in all likelihood, the manager is not delegating responsibility properly and has set his area of the company on a path of micromanagement. Second, it either means the company’s information systems do not adequately serve the business, or the new Regional Manager simply doesn’t know how to use it and, instead, is attempting to reinvent the wheel by devising his own system for obtaining the information. If the latter, he may be working at odds with the company’s systems department, thereby introducing redundant processes and data which may lead to conflicting results (aka, “dirty data”). In my friend’s case, I suspect the Regional Manager is guilty of all of the above.

There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to obtain the proper information to support the business functions you are charged with, but if it results in creating problems of employee morale or invalid information, you have to wonder if the wrong person is running the show.

Managers should do some soul-searching; do they really need that information or are they interfering with the responsibilities of others? My advice to managers is simple: Delegate responsibility, hold people accountable, and get out of their way. “Manage more, supervise less” – Bryce’s Law

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – “April Fool” everyone! – Today is our company’s 42nd anniversary.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  QUICK, WHAT IS THE NAME OF YOUR CONGRESSMAN? – And how about your other government officials?

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7 Responses to “HOW INFORMATION AFFECTS MICROMANAGEMENT”

  1. Bob Mason said

    I can just about guarantee two things about your friends company. One, they promote managers strictly based on numbers with little or no regard for how they actually manage and lead. Two, they do not provide training to help managers learn how to lead people.

    The regional manager probably had a previous manager who didn’t trust anyone and didn’t know how to delegate. We learn what we see.

    Like

  2. aldela65@aol.com said

    In short it’s about being a good “Administrator,” something President Reagan was super at and that this President hasn’t a clue!

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    An S.S. of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida wrote…

    “Right on!”

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    A U.V. of Largo, Florida wrote…

    “Right on. My peeve was always a manager/supervisor who thought they knew everything, but didn’t know their — from their elbow.”

    Like

  5. Tim Bryce said

    A B.W. of Perry, Georgia wrote…

    “Have you ever played the old game of gossip? You set people in a line and you whisper a sentence to the next person in line and so on. The line never comes out the same.

    True. ground level needs certain information to keep the production line going. And middle management needs to know how production if flowing, but upper level if properly staffed with intelligent folks, needs to know it all.

    And if there was one word that characterizes the failure of the human race to advance further than what it has, that word would be “Meetings”

    Any system needs to know the entire process at each step of the way from customer order to delivery. That is the overall information. Each step of the way has a customer and a receiver. From sales to finished product. Not the dollars and cents so much as the flow.

    A company selling folded paper airplanes has a customer, who interacts with a salesman, that salesman needs to know the product backwards and forwards. He also need to know the capacity of the production line and how fast it can fill orders. ( as well as pricing) he also need to know the delivery system. Once he has sold an order he transmits it to his office. The office staff in turn first checks supply to see if the material is on hand to make the order. Once supply assured the office that it has the required material, the office then transmits it to the production line. and so on.

    However, the head of the company also needs that sales information, as the time the sale is made, not a week later or a month later. He also needs to know that the production line is in operation and has no problems. Once he has been assured that the flow is in operation, then he can concentrate on the dollars and cents and how to direct the company.

    There are many many business today that are top heavy with management. At Vought aircraft in Dallas, there were 15 support people for every mechanic that worked on the floor.

    Weekly meetings and reports ate up over 2 million a week. A new CEO came in and chopped that to 1/4 of the support force and most departments answered directly to him.

    This was one on the ball CEO, Through his efforts and minimizing the amount of paper work and reporting, the company started making money again and with less effort.

    Some time ago, I looked back at the push for higher education and found that a lot of our down fall in this country came from educated folks who had no idea of how things really worked. The had all the book learning and supposed management skills as far as what the learned in college. But had little of what was needed to understand the business.

    As I understand it, the push was for the kids to have ti better then we had it, but what was not taken into consideration was that there the workforce will always need more production line folks then it will support staff. The dream of getting high salaries with a degree was great, but the work force in general went downhill.

    Management in a way is like the union and the government, it exists to make more management. The more management, the more meetings and reporting that has to be done to justify the jobs.

    The only way most folks can understand this is to stand outside the business and watch the show. For the most part today management is a comedy of errors. Small business are more mindful of what is needed then big business.

    Now I now that is not what you see from your perspective, but then you enter the businesses on a different level. My viewpoint is all the way from ditch digger to Business owner. Over 50 years of it. Your paper on morality deals a lot with this problem too. especially the ethics of business.”

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “Micromanagement techniques suggest to employees that their managers don’t have confidence in them or the abilities. That feeling must be demoralizing. Managers who express confidence in their employees encourage pride in work and an incentive to go the extra mile. Sounds like this manager is insecure and unsure about his own place and function and is spreading it to others.”

    Like

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