Think Big: Developing a Culture of MACROmanagement

leadership flow chart written...
leadership flow chart written...

Take a moment, if you will, to think about your favorite managers. What did you love about them? What was it about their leadership style that inspired and motivated you to do your best work? Could it be that these managers understood the difference between managing a project and managing people?

Now change gears: Think about your least favorite managers -- the ones who inspired you to hold back, drag your feet or think small. What didn't you like about their management style? What could have been improved? If I had to venture a guess, I'd assume that these managers were more concerned with managing your every move than they were with the successful outcome of the project or company.

The good news is, no matter how great (or not-so-great) your leaders are, there's always something you can learn from them. This was a lesson I learned for myself early on in my professional career.

In 2000, I joined Verizon Wireless as the youngest major account manager in the company's history. For three straight years I surpassed my sales quota by about 200% each month. I was the top salesman in the country, and I never missed my mark.

However, in 2003, my boss (the boss who had encouraged and motivated me to hit my lofty goals every 30 days) was promoted, and an interim manager was brought in while senior executives searched for his replacement.

Enter the micromanager.

The interim manager proceeded to micromanage every aspect of my job. Despite the fact that I was his highest performing employee, he still felt the need to dictate exactly how many phone calls I should make each day, what I was supposed to say to customers, how long my phone calls had to be and what time I had to show up for work -- right down to the minute.

At the time, I didn't understand the impact one micromanager could have on an entire organization or, in this instance, a sales team. But when he transitioned our work environment from one of encouragement and rewards to one of micromanagement, not only was I unsatisfied at work -- I missed my sales quota for the first time EVER.

The silver linings on unfortunate situations like this are the teaching moments and life lessons we all occasionally need. They help us define our future selves and leadership styles.

In my case, I'll never forget how unhappy, unconfident and unproductive I felt working under a micromanager -- and I'll never forget how it felt to miss my quota for the first time. So when I founded TSheets Time Tracking more than five years later, I vowed that I would never submit my team to a micromanaged environment. I vowed that I would never prevent them from doing the best work of their lives by attempting to dictate their every move.

I vowed to develop a culture of MACROmanagement.

I'm not perfect at it (we all have some micromanagement tendencies at times), but I've never forgotten my goal. To set the stage for developing a culture of macromanagement, I focused my efforts on filling my executive spots with great leaders: People who would lead the team to success rather than tell them exactly how to get there.

As a result, our employees are self-motivated and capable of achieving their outrageously high goals without anyone watching over their shoulders.

In fact, it's not uncommon for me to arrive at the office and learn about some new idea a TSheets team member has come up with on their own -- an idea that has already been approved by senior management and executed flawlessly by the team. Because of that, I tend to have some trouble keeping up with all of our projects... just the way I like it! Every time I turn around, someone, somewhere in the company has figured out a solution to a problem I may not have even noticed.

Problems being solved without you is exactly what you can expect from a macromanaged environment.

What does macromanagement look like?
You'll know you've achieved a culture of macromanagement when your employees hold themselves accountable for the quality of their work, the implementation of their ideas, and yes, even their mistakes. They don't require constant supervision to motivate them to do a great job, they're internally driven towards excellence; because they know their ideas can actually make a difference, the company's success becomes their success... and they'll do whatever it takes to be successful.

In a macromanaged environment, exceptional performance, attitude, and support of the culture are rewarded above all else, even tenure. It separates those who are willing to coast from those who are actively rowing. Macromanagement breeds hard workers who are independent and self-motivated. In short, a macromanaged environment sets the stage for big (amazing) ideas -- which are generated on the daily and implemented even faster.

But a culture of macromanagement isn't for everyone.
That is to say, not everyone can handle the absence of micromanagement. Which is why TSheets invests so much care into our hiring process. We need people who can not only survive, but thrive in a macromanaged environment -- people who operate best without being told what to do. People who have big ideas, care about what they create in this world, and do what it takes to bring them to life.

Ultimately, it all comes down to this: We have created a culture of ownership and trust, and that type of culture does not develop through micromanaging. It develops when employees enjoy their work. When they're free to think and take risks and get their work done the way they see fit. It develops when they're given the freedom and opportunity to do the best work of their lives -- and when they are led, not dictated, by strong leaders.

It takes a huge leap of faith to move an entire culture to this type of management style -- do you have what it takes?

If the answer is a resounding, "hell yes!" then it's time to starting thinking BIG -- I'm talking MACRO. This will mean dedication, persistence and you will have to work your face off. But waiting on the other side is an organization and a group of people willing to exceed all expectations.