Employee Engagement is a Byproduct

Just like productivity, quality and employee retention, Employee engagement is an end result, a byproduct, of doing a number of things right.  Instead of acting to “engage” employees with any number of social events, pizza and ice cream sundaes, work on the fundamentals.  Improve supervision, accountability, communication, job contents, involvement, and the other key factors that in sum result in employees who act like owners.

~~~~~

Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals.  I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.  Contact him at  bob.legge@leggecompany.com

If You Really Want to Stop Being a Micromanager, Do These

Lately, I’ve worked with a several leaders who admit that they micromanage and want to stop.  The problem is that they don’t know how to do it.  I’ve found that changing the manager’s behavior is only part of the solution — the other part is changing the beliefs and behaviors of everyone else –especially direct reports — all of whom have become dependent on the micromanager.

If you are a micromanager who wants to change, here are six practical considerations:

  1. Micromanagers operate at the wrong leadership level.  What has made you successful in the past  — solving problems and getting things done — is not the role of an effective leader.  Let your people handle operational problems, after all, that is why you have an organization.  Stop sweating the small stuff and begin doing your job — creating a vision, formulating strategy to get there, leading the organization, and developing your people.
  2. Micromanagement and trust are negatively correlated.  When micromanagement is high, trust within the organization is low.  And when trust is low, so is self-confidence.  Leaders want organizations that are full of self-confidence, energy, drive, and initiative.  The leader’s job is to build a strong organization to execute strategy.  To do that you’ve got to build both trust and self-confidence among your people.
  3. Striving for perfection is not the way to success.  Voltaire quoted an Italian aphorism “Perfect is the enemy of the good.”  Too often micromanagers want perfection so they re-do work and change decisions.  Sometimes it is important, but do that too much and you sap the energy of your people.  Focus your energy and the energy of your people where the results are the greatest.  The Pareto Principle encourages us to expend 20% of our energy to get 80% of the results.  The effort to get the remaining 20% of results isn’t worth the incremental effort, and it will drive everyone around you crazy.
  4. The micromanager’s greatest fear is that things won’t get done on time or well enough.  It’s a valid concern.  The reality is that when you transition away from micromanaging, it’s not just you that has to change, but everyone around you.  You’ve created a culture where everyone is heavily dependent on you.  You’ve trained  people to wait for your direction, your involvement, your ideas, and your decisions.  You’ve taught people that their work will likely be redone, so rather than take initiative, they learned to become more passive about ideas, decisions and actions.  Given that, you cannot just change your own behaviors, you have to change theirs as well.  You’ll need a new approach to reset values, attitudes, and behaviors and to help people be responsible for taking action and accountable for results.
  5. If you must micromanage, focus it on one key aspect of the business.  Steve Jobs was very strategic, but there was one aspect of the business where he was a micromanager — when it came to the next big thing.  If you have the urge to micromanage, focus it on a key strategic issue — a product, product line, project, strategic customer, or developing talent for example.
  6. Stop taking over.  Learn what to do when people come to you with problems.  Don’t take over because if you do, you’re focus gets diverted from non-urgent but important issues you should be addressing, to urgent and relatively unimportant issues.  Your role is to develop your people, create opportunities, set priorities and remove obstacles.  That’s the real task of leaders.

Changing from micromanaging is a major behavioral challenge but it does not have to be difficult.  We’ve seen many executives successfully make the transition to become effective leaders.  But you’ve got to want to do it, and you’ll need an effective approach encompassing your organization as well as yourself.

~~~~~

Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals.  I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.  Contact him at  bob.legge@leggecompany.com

3 Signs of a Successful Strategic Planning Process

Of course increased revenue, profits, and market share are the real outcomes, but here are three ways you can tell if your organization is focused on your strategy:

  1. Every participant can recite from memory the few important elements of the strategy in 1-2 sentences, or 3-5 key items.  In the most effective organizations, the key strategic elements are very clear and every leader has them top of mind.  If a manager cannot quickly and succinctly state the strategy, the strategy process is ineffective.
  2. The organization is sharply-focused on a small number of initiatives.  The proliferation of projects is a clear sign that the strategic planning process is out of control.  I’ve seen fairly small companies with 50 strategic projects.  That’s not a focused strategy nor is it a focused organization.
  3. Key managers deliver on their parts of the strategy.  They get the work done by integrating the strategic plan into their day-to-day work, instead of making them add-ons.  A lack of accountability indicates that the team did not commit to the strategy.

How effective is your strategic planning process?

Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals.  I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.  Contact him at  bob.legge@leggecompany.com

For Best Organizational Performance, Don’t Benchmark

Benchmarking is a tried-and-true approach for operational processes, but it should not be used to determine how best to structure or lead an organization.  Yeah, I know, finding out what Google and Apple and Zappos do is all the rage, but when it comes to organization design and leadership practices, there’s no evidence that copying what other firms do improves results.  Skip the off-the-shelf solutions and focus instead on these:

  • Your company’s strategic imperatives
  • What your organization needs to do extremely well to execute the strategy
  • The 20% of processes that drive 80% of your value
  • The kinds of talent you need, particularly in key positions
  • And the structure that will best leverage the organization’s capabilities to deliver the strategy.

A flexible operating model is by far the most important attribute to capitalize on strengths and seize new opportunities.

How well is your organization delivering for you?