Manage the Micro Details


(By James Bahm) I’ve worked for my share of micromanagers and one thing they all had in common was, among other things, insecurity.  They were afraid that no one would be productive unless they micromanaged every detail. A sales manager told me that when we’d talked some time after I’d moved to another company.

If you are micromanaging your staff, stop immediately.  If you believe that micromanaging is the only way to get results, quit what you are doing and go to the nearest big box store and try babysitting teenagers while they’re in for a four-hour shift.

Micromanaging is the quickest way to drive talent away, decrease morale, show your team the depth and breadth of your disrespect, and decrease motivation.  If your office feels like there is a revolving door outside the sales bullpen, and those who are still on staff seem to be “out sick” more and more often, then it’s a good bet a micromanager is the one leading the team.

Your company hired adults to do a job only adults can do.  Let them do their job.  Get out of your own way and show them how much you believe in their talent.

How then is one to lead a sales team?  Teach your staff to manage the micro details.  Do the little things right.  Develop a work habit and ethic where those micro details are so ingrained they can do them in their sleep.  What does that look like?

Here are five things you can do to manage the micro details and four of these are things micromanagers are likely to never do.

  1. Block off your calendar.
    If it’s a part of your day, put it on your Outlook calendar.  I have every minute of my day scheduled.  Answering emails, meeting with clients, lunch, returning emails at the end of the day, meetings, training, and continuing education classes, return calls to clients.  When I do something that wasn’t scheduled, I add it to my calendar when I complete it – when a customer calls and we go over their order, or they want to make changes to something.  A client meeting doesn’t always occur face to face.
  1. Answer an email as soon as possible.
    When a client sends me an email or a text, I return it as soon as I can.  Sometimes I can reply once it comes in, at other times, it may have to wait a few hours.  Every time I meet with a client I set communication expectations, and I suggest you do likewise.  I return all messages within 24 hours unless someone reaches out during a holiday or over the weekend.  And if I’m out of the office, I have my autoresponder active letting them know when I’ll be back.
  1. Answer questions that are asked.
    Both this one and the one before it are two things micromanagers rarely do, yet they expect you to return their email and answer all their questions before you take your next breath.  Nothing is worse than sending an email and asking a question only to not have your question addressed.  Customers feel the same way.  If they ask questions, answer them.  If they call and leave you a voicemail, return it.

Never let a lead or a referral sit more than 24 hours.  The longer you put off replying to their message, the less likely you are to gain or keep them as a client.

  1. Explain your order process as if you want a 6-year-old to understand it.
    Einstein said that if you can’t explain something to a 6-year-old you don’t understand it well enough.  For most things a good rule of thumb is don’t use 30 words when 10 will do.  In this case, don’t use 30 words when 100 will eliminate follow up questions and remove all doubt and confusion.

Again, this is something micromanagers never do.

  1. How Can I Help?
    Make that question one that you ask every time you return a call or answer an email.  Make your client feel as though you genuinely want to help and let them know you are there to help them through every step of the process.  Remind and encourage them that any question is welcome.  We’ve all asked a question multiple times because we were busy writing a previous answer down or taking notes on what they said, and we sometimes miss something that is said and need it repeated.  Customers are the same.  If they ever do ask you a repeat question, never tell them you already answered that.  Simply give them the answer again.Yes, micromanagers rarely let you know they’re there to help you and God forbid you repeat a question because if you do, they’ll let you and the entire team know it.  Instead of answering it, they’re more likely to berate you for not paying attention the first time.

    Brigette Hyacinth said, “Micromanagement is a complete waste of time.  It sucks the life out of employees, fosters anxiety, and creates a high-stress work environment.”  She’s right.

Micromanagement has no place in any office.  Of course, micromanagers lack the ability to innovate and grow, and are too insecure to change their ways.  And that is too bad for the adults who want to work and excel.

Bottom Line: Everyone has great days, and bad days.  Make sure you manage the micro details every day and the results will follow.

James Bahm has over 30 years’ experience in broadcasting, sales and marketing, and recruiting and hiring. He is the author of Don’t Yuck My Yum – a Professional Development and Sales & Marketing book – which is available on  He can be reached via email: [email protected]


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