Micro-management exists, still
It has been a year since I decided to absolutely change the way I work, delegate, communicate, and outsource the things I have to do.
As you know now, I am living in China. People here tend to micro-manage a lot. But, probably due to the education system, employees actually expect to be micro-managed in return.
Basically, a manager is expected to be giving specific tasks, clear processes, strong guidance. He/she will also limit initiatives and avoid room for interpretation. But it works pretty well, as long as people from both ends of the managing rope follow the same process.
Working in China, you quickly catch on some good or bad habits along the line of this type of management. But I have to be thankful for 2016. In my process of “unlearning“, I finally “understood” and “embraced” a concept that I was following for some time: Accountability.
(I wrote a longer piece here on everything that made my year with my tops: podcasts, books, concepts, trips…)
Micro-managing has never been my thing. I don’t need to be the one coming with all the good ideas, and checking all the details. I am just a “do-er” and I make sure that things are moving forward. But again, that can only work with people who own the matching piece to this puzzle.
As far as I can remember, I never really had someone telling me what I had to do every day. I knew where I was heading (most of the time), and what needed to be done to get there.
Recently, I realized that one of my recurring frustration, was when I was expecting something to be done by someone else and that nothing was happening. It always got me very disappointed.
In the book “Scaling Up”, Verne Harnish talks about the importance of accountability. The idea is actually to take your accounting documents and put a name in front of every single line of incomes and costs in your reporting. Each line should have someone accountable for and it should not be only the same person.
It is important to have a clear understanding of the tasks required and have processes for it. I did that from the beginning. It eased up the process to later bring freelancers and associates on board. I made it clear for them to know what was their purpose in this chain. The people working with me are fully accountable.
Being accountable for your own professional path
I look at it like if each of them was kind of running his/her own little enterprise. Even though it is only 1 translation per week or a lot more for them, they are in here for 3 main reasons: cash, flexibility, and freedom.
This work-style is possible only because everyone else along the chain is doing his/her part. People around me have to understand this concept. I don’t believe anymore in offering life support solutions with salary and benefits.
The world has shifted. With the rise of freelancers around the world, it is clear that people are willing to work and getting paid for what they do.
Those who like to hide behind their cubicle will definitely have a tougher time.
It works both ways
A few months ago, a former assistant/translator who was freelancing for me 3-4 hours a week decided to take on a more demanding mission and decided to put my project aside. It was only fair. I was probably not fully satisfying her expectation in terms of money, projects types or size, … and that’s when I understood that in this kind of work-style, the accountability works both ways, and I am fine with it.
In my chain of work, I am the one bringing projects and clients, finding outside-of-the-box solutions. But none of this would be generating cash if the rest of the people involved were not able to deliver their parts. And when we stretched it too much, my work is also to bring someone else, sharing the same values, to the chain.
One of the key components to this success is to have a good management tool (I use Trello.com for now) and clear steps in the processes of execution. Someone that needs to leave the “team” will then easily be replaceable.
Try it, it should bring a very different kind of piece to your work-style and let me know!