Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Communicating versus micro-managing

Had an interesting conversation with a friend recently about managing a team of direct reports, specifically as it related to inter-team dynamics and informal leadership.

My position was that inter-team issues would arise from a lack of communication around where each team member fit within the team. I felt that it is the responsibility of the team's manager to establish role clarity and inter-team communication norms.

My friend's position was that my position sounded too much like micro-managing, which got me thinking. Where does the line exist between effective communication and micro-managing?

To me, the line exists in follow up communications.

If, after expecations are communicated clearly to a team, observation of the team and individual communication between manager and team members doesn't uncover any confusion with expectations, no follow up is necessary. Reiteration of expecations at this point crosses the line into micro-managing either at a group or individual level.

If the team's manager identifies a disconnect with expectations by one member of their team, follow up communications should occur solely with that individual.

Where is your line for effective communications versus micro-managing?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Who's pitching?

Is it you or your PowerPoint? If your PowerPoint is pitching your idea for you, you are wasting your time and your targer audience's time.

My stance on PowerPoint has softened a bit recently as some ideas, software and marketing specifically, do lend themselves to visuals.

Visuals, including financials, should only come into play after your target audience has bought into your idea at a high level. For example, a very common response to any idea pitch is "how much does it cost?" Reality is that unless your idea is free your pitch will be unsuccessful because your audience is looking for an easy way to say "no."

Getting your audience to buy in conceptually, saying for example, "so if the numbers are right, how do you see this idea working for you?" opens a door for you to produce your visuals to confirm in your audience's mind the reason why they said "yes."

Remember that you're pitching your idea to a person whose first response to most pitches is "no." Falling back in visuals or pounding through PowerPoint slides helps them say "no" more than it helps you get them to say "yes."

Having confidence in your ideas, getting high level buy in and then confirming buy in with visuals will give your pitches more chance of success.