As a freshly minted graduate from an engineering college my first job was in a steel plant. One of my core responsibilities was to stand for hours together in front of a big panel board and monitor it. The panel board was an automated operating system that would tell me about the functioning of the entire plant, at a glance. With a blink of a light, the panel would tell me the exact locations which had problems and needed attention. It made it seamless for me to identify the problem and then fix it in a jiffy. So, my earliest lessons in micro-monitoring came from a panel board in a steel plant. The panel board taught me that it is prudent to monitor the most important things, and not everything.
That’s the power of micro-monitoring. It tells you exactly what to fix, where to fix and thus improves your execution skills. Over the years I have realized that the key to driving a successful business with effective leadership is to adapt the positive habit of micro-monitoring.
If you want to do good execution, you need to fix the problem, and to fix problems, you need to monitor it from close quarters. Therefore, micro-monitoring is one habit which helps you understand the pulse of the organization.
Now, the key is not to confuse between micro-monitoring and micro-management. I am advocating micro-monitoring and not micro-management. “Micro” is, of course, the five letter word in management speak, conjuring up images of dreadful “micro-managing” bosses. Such people observe to control excessively the work of subordinates, gives too much attention to minor details, telling employees what to do and how to do, every tiny bit of it. This is the worst form of leadership which stifles individual initiatives, innovation and fosters mediocrity creating an organization of dwarfs.
Micro-monitoring is not about interfering in somebody’s job. It is a phenomenal tool as it helps you understand things that are happening on the ground in organizations of today which are fast, agile and responsive.
It allows you to understand what is really happening in your business, with your people and your competition, and helps you to take the right decisions. It is not about getting into somebody’s territory. It is all about understanding the real pulse of an organization through right questioning and right engagement practices.
There are host of things in an organization, but micro-monitoring is about focusing only on the elements which will have a lasting and revolutionary impact on the organization. This can be done by sharpening one’s skills with an ability to assess and distill down to understand the smallest and important things at the ground level. Hence, it’s not about the number of points you monitor, but about the right points that you need to monitor. Once you know what the right things to do are, you fix them and can build the desired foundation for the business to go to the next level. Any transformational journey is always on the bed of micro-monitoring with the right inputs at the right time. Therefore, micro-monitoring actually helps you empower – once you understand that things are doing well you start trusting the abilities and build the solution around to get the right outcome.
Thus, Micromanagement and Micro-monitoring are two different pillars of running a business. Micro-monitoring has today become perhaps one of the best ways of operating as it makes you agile, proactive and responsive, while facilitating seamless flow of information. Micromanagement on the other hand is very disruptive which de-motivates people, loses steam and alignment, and leads to sycophancy. Hence, it is up to the leader to adopt a desirable way – my way would be to successfully micro-monitor.