Micromanagement (Bad!)...Micro-awareness (Good!)

In trying to avoid being branded a “micromanager,” have credit union leaders lost sight of micro-awareness?


Recently, the CU*Answers network brainstormed about the concept of software dashboards — tools that keep credit union leaders up to speed on what’s happening in their organizations. We’ve been developing tools that go beyond a simple speed indicator to a robust set of features that let you act on what you are seeing, immediately and at the speed of day-to-day interactions with your members.

As the CEOs debated these ideas, I notice a curious trend. In our push to avoid being branded as the dreaded “micromanager,” have we as credit union leaders started heading too far in the other direction? Are we actually less able to make quick-to-market adjustments, just when they are most needed? Are we losing sight of something I call “micro-awareness?”

Micro-awareness is returning to an in-the-weeds awareness for taking action. Micro-awareness is using data in a new way as part of the day-to-day culture of an organization, far beyond record-keeping or auditing the organization’s overall health (think ROA). Micro-awareness gives leaders a quick sense of something that might need to be done now to react to a new opportunity or meet a new challenge.  Micro-awareness relies on layers of team members all pulling in the same direction, searching for the right answers, and agreeing on what to do next. 

Consider e-Alerts, which most credit unions have embraced as a powerful member service tool.  Members get a quick, in-their-face notification about something that might require immediate attention: “Your balance is getting low! Might want to transfer some money now!”  eAlerts are easy to grasp, compatible with a busy lifestyle, and potentially life-changing when they help avoid unintended overdraft fees. Or take RSS feeds, the Internet’s way of nudging you to pay attention to things you’ve decided are important. Can we as credit union leaders learn from these examples? 

You’ve all said to your team at some point, “You have to get my attention in situations like this!”  Now think of your data and the computer as an employee and repeat that statement. What are those situations that need your attention? When you walk in to your office in the morning, how can you know right away whether today is shaping up to be a good day? (It’s the 15th of the month: how many loan apps should the loan team have processed by now?) Imagine being able to get a quick view of where you are, how fast you are going, and potential crises on the horizon so you can make a call, send an email, or turn the place on a dime if needed. 

Beyond the big big-picture aggregation of an organization’s trends (think 5300 Call Reports), we might reenergize our organizations simply by keeping in better touch with the details — the ones that could mean the difference between today being a good day or a bad one. Think about the trickle-down effect on an organization if all the teams know the boss is engaged and paying attention to indicators and expecting everyone to be ready for an immediate reaction. 

At our annual CEO Strategies conference this November, CU*Answers will brainstorm with credit union leaders on the tools that could help us better focus on the details that matter. Can we act faster and more confidently and do it at the lowest possible cost for gathering and analyzing the data?



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