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Monday, April 1, 2013

HOW INFORMATION AFFECTS MICROMANAGEMENT

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

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

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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



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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce.  All rights reserved.

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