Where systems or processes are concerned, it really is essential that everybody use them uniformly. Imagine an assembly line. Each station on the line must perform its function in a very precise way, each and every time, or stations further down the line won’t be able to do their work. But for the most part, management challenges don’t lend themselves to an assembly line approach. They tend to be unique situations that require specially crafted solutions. However, that’s not to say that there couldn’t be two or five or a hundred specially crafted solutions that would all work equally well.
For most of us, the joy of work is in figuring stuff out . . . doing or trying things that haven’t been done or tried before. When we’re told, “Here we are at A, and you need to get us to D,” that’s a great assignment. Right away we’re thinking, “I wonder if there’s a way to get directly to D without going through B or C. Or maybe it would work better if we went from A to C, then back to B and finally to D.” On the other hand, if we’re told, “Here we are at A, you need to get us first to B, then to C, and then to D,” all the joy, excitement, and creativity just went out of the assignment.
Micro-managing can tear the heart right out of an organization. Leaders set a broad direction and then get out of the way. Tell your people what to do, but let them figure out how to do it. They may not complete a task the way you would have completed it, but so what? As long as the end result is what we wanted, who cares whose method achieved that result? Besides, that’s when innovation happens and breakthroughs occur . . . when someone takes a fresh look at a situation and decides to address it in a way that no one has thought of before.