After reading former Disneyland CEO Robert Iger’s book, The Ride of a Lifetime, I was struck by a phrase he references: “Micromanaging is underrated.” It was often used by his predecessor, Michael Eisner, and Iger describes how Michael had the ability to see things others didn’t. And when he noticed these things, he demanded they be paid attention to. It may surprise you that I agree with this sentiment.
Let me explain: I am a details person. I stress over little things that others sometimes see as “not that big of a deal.” And, like Michael, I emphasize their importance to others and ensure they are focused on. As a result of this trait, when I insert my opinion into another person’s role or task, some view my focus on the little things as micromanaging.
Here’s the thing though: I don’t just focus on the little things because of some personality quirk or because I like micromanaging. I focus on the little things because I believe they matter. I have seen time and again that it is often the combination of little things that add up to the success of a project or the organization as a whole. Many people are so focused on bigger elements that they lose sight of the little things that are crucial to success.
Many people are so focused on bigger elements that they lose sight of the little things that are crucial to success.
This focus on the little things is also related to my emphasis on doing things well – not just getting them done. I believe we should never settle for “good enough,” but rather we should be striving for the very best. And if you don’t pay attention to the little details, you will end up settling for “good enough” more often than “the best.” To be clear, I don’t believe I have some special sixth sense to see the little things, but I do know I care enough to not let them go unaddressed.
While I believe that micromanaging can have negative impacts and result in people not feeling trusted, the larger question may be, Is what I explain above really micromanaging? It might sound like micromanaging to some, but helping people see how the details matter could also be thought of as mentoring and development. When I see these things, I don’t just demand change – I try to explain why they are important. In this way, my goal is to create a culture where everyone is focused on the little things.
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