In a financial services company a business unit was undergoing a serious and sudden productivity crisis. The reports showed the numbers which validated the plummeting performance and the company’s president wanted to know the reason of the productivity crisis and what would be done to fix it.
After the review of the report, the vice presidents and the managers were asked about the authenticity of numbers in the report. They were questioned if they had verified the information by closely working with the team members and monitored their work throughout the day. In response to this, they said that they check the productivity report every day and give weekly targets but do not monitor the individual’s work on a daily basis as they do not want to apply micromanagement.
Micromanagement is viewed negatively by team members and managers alike and its fear comes from a misconception of what management is all about. Most managers in non-lean service organizations believe that management means managing people to do the work on time and correctly. If that does not happen, someone is to blame. Lean, however, teaches us that role of managers is to “manage the process so that team members can be successful.”
When management is viewed as a system to control people, then looking closely at what we do feels like too much control. However, if it is taken as teaching, then it is unimaginable that a manager would stay at arm’s length, only paying attention to team members when they are not making the numbers.
Managers in lean service organizations apply the process of micromanagement, which involves various measures, so that team members can be successful. In service organizations, to continually improve the process and achieve successful outcomes for customers, managers must apply the process of Micromanagement: that is, they must understand at least daily how they are doing compared to where they want to be.