Management: Micro verses Macro

Last month, I attended a conference held by the Tennessee Bankers Association (@TennesseeBanker). Their Annual Human Resources Conference, had a great speaker named Brian Townley. Brian, like myself, is charged with leading both Human Resources and Marketing at his bank. After hearing him speak, I picked up his book Inspiring Leadership. One line from his book took me by surprise.

To me, the worse supervisor is the dictator who says, “Here’s what I need and I don’t care what you do to get there.”

Before reading this, I always thought the extreme micro-manager was the worse supervisor. You know, the manager that checks in and ask questions every 10-15 minutes. But after reading Brian’s book, I understand what he is referring to when placing the “Hands Off” Macro Manager (HOMM for short) at the top of his bad manager list.

Consider the following: Two managers, one a micro and the other a macro manager.  Both managers truly care about their staff and they have a passion for their organization.  Now let’s look at the perception their staff may see when it comes to project management.

  • Communication — Both managers are coming from a caring place.  A Micro Manager will stay in constant communication.  Yes, this manager is getting on their staff’s last nerve, but the staff knows this manager “means well.”  The HOMM just wants something done and, in the eyes of his staff, can come across as just seeing the project as just another task.
  • Coaching — Since a micro manager is very involved in the project, they have more hands on time and are more exposed to coach-able events.
  • Motivation — How can a HOMM know what motivates his/her team if they are not involved with their work?

So which style is better?  A great leader is able to take a blended approach based on what best motivates a staff member.  Giving your team enough room to grow while being around enough to encourage and give feedback is a tough balancing act.

Of course this is easier said than done.  Finding the right balance doesn’t happen overnight, but with hard work and commitment, many leaders have been able to accomplish this.  The good news is that once it has been accomplished the team grows stronger, and the manager certainly isn’t compared to Bill Lumbergh.

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Be Flexible

Somewhat of a 2 parter based on the last post (Be Consistent)

In the last post, I mentioned, Mr. Sheddan, my high school band director.  After writing it, I couldn’t stop thinking about the phrase he always said: “Be flexible.”  He consistently used that phrase.  In any given day, the words “Be flexible” would be used at least 10 times.

Adapting a flexible attitude in business is essential for growth.  How else can you grow a business?  More importantly, how can you grow as a person if you are not flexible and willing to accept change?  Sadly not everyone accepts that line of reasoning.  Most people are resistant to change are happy being “creatures of habit.”  That kind of behavior can have a strong negative backlash, especially in business.

  • For too long Borders refused to be flexible.  By the time they were ready to accept a new business model, it was too late.
  • Blockbuster lost profits and fell on hard times due to not being flexible enough to compete with Netflix and Redbox.

Don’t get me wrong, having a strong strategic plan is key, but having a flexible mentality is just as important.  Being focused and flexible allows you to stay on track and leaves enough room for adjustments.  If you are too rigid with your planning and execution, then you could miss out on huge opportunities.  This can be applied to any aspect of life, not just business.

The opposite can be just has harmful.  If you are too flexible without a strong plan, then you are just following trends and chasing the wind; which can lead to disaster.  Again, this can be applied to any aspect of life.

Thanks Mr. Sheddan.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but you were helping all of us learn a valuable lesson by making one simple request.

Be flexible.

Be Consistent

I’ll admit it, I was in the high school marching band.  I’m not ashamed of it, and though it wasn’t as glamorous as being on the football or basketball team, it was just as fun and rewarding.

Our band director, Mr. Frank Sheddan, always stressed the importance of being consistent.  During practice, he would stop the band and ask us to do a section over again while reminding us to be consistent.

Little did I realize how that would make an impact in my career.

In marketing, there are several factors that depend on consistency.

  • Sales: The most successful people in sales will tell you they were able to achieve so much due to a strong level of consistency.  They find a formula for converting sales calls into closed deals and repeat that formula for constant success.  It’s the sales people who do not have a successful consistent system in place that give sales a bad wrap.
  • Customer Service: Finding what works in customer service is essential.  Simple consistent points like, calling a customer by their name and asking if there is anything else you can help them with, may not sound like much; however how many organizations do that?  Now think about how many people in those organizations do it consistently.  You may be surprised, but many people choose to do business with my organization mainly because our staff does those two things.
  • Branding: I’m sure everyone knows that if you are using a different logo each time you produce a different advertisement, you are just spinning in circles; but it goes deeper than that.  Does the logo outside your building match the logo in your advertisements?  Does it match you brochures?  Or your website.

This list could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the picture.  Think about any area of your life, either business or personal, how does being consistent improve that area?

The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous

Maybe it’s all the Mad Men I’ve been watching. Whatever the case, April’s Beer of the month is Schlitz.

When I first moved to Knoxville, there was only one place in town I could find Schlitz. It was at a Kroger across town in East Knoxville. Fortunately in the past few years, more places have started carrying The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous, including a Food City right down the road from my house and a new restaurant conveniently located by my office.

That’s right, Knoxville is Going for the Gusto and bringing back a great classic.

Not to be confused with its Malt Liquor siblings, Schlitz Beer has been around since the mid 1800’s and was one time the top-selling beer in the U.S.

I drank my first Schlitz while living in Chattanooga.  My good friend Jeremy Henderson first discovered that one of the local grocery stores carried the historic brew.  During this time, the reason to get Schlitz was for the nostalgic feeling.  The taste was inconsistent.  In fact, that was one of the reasons my friend Henderson enjoyed the beer.  He felt like he was playing beer roulette every time we bought a 12 pack.  We always enjoyed the taste, but it was hard to convince others to join in on the Schlitz fun.

Then came 2008.

Schlitz recommitted itself to taste by going back to the classic 1960’s formula.  This commitment to change was more than just a marketing campaign, Schlitz met with old brewmasters and were able to recreate the formula.  With just a kiss of the hops, Schlitz now has a great taste that goes down smooth.

So if you haven’t ever had a Schlitz, or haven’t had one in a long time, go for the gusto and find out why Schlitz is the beer that made Milwaukee famous!

Famous Shades

With Google’s news about their new glasses, I thought this would be a good time to share some classic futuristic eye glasses.  Enjoy!

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