Inbound Comments and Links — July 2008

Stealing a march from the folks over at RelentlessPR, thanks to all linkers and commenters.  Links and comments are the about the only way for me to know if I’m writing something interesting, useful, or at least provocative.  I appreciate each and every one.

NOTE: I’ve registered at as a way of viewing all my comments and links in one place.  It also helps direct folks to your blog.  I’ve you haven’t registered there, I recommend it.



Mis-using Management by Exception

Mike Chitty’s post on “Whack a Mole Management” (here) prompted me to think about how I position and coach on management by exception.

Whack-a-mole is an arcade game in which you try to hit ‘moles’ that pop up randomly on a board using a rubber mallet….  Whack-a-mole management is based on the same principles.  The challenges are the ‘moles’. As each challenge presents itself to managers, they hit it hard and fast with the hammer of position and conventional wisdom.  It’s exhausting, but fun.

Management by exception can quickly turn into “whack-a-mole” management.  Many inexperienced managers fall into the trap of thinking that MBE means only working issues, when it is really a principle for empowering line managers.  This article is a few years old, but I like the way it summarizes the approach (here), especially these five tips for avoiding the pitfalls of MBE:

  1. Combine MBE with MBWA (management by walking around).
  2. Clarify the level of authority for each newly delegated responsibility. Level A might be, “Do it. You don’t have to tell anyone.’ Level B, “Do it. Then let me know about it.’ Level C, “Do it only after checking with me.’
  3. Make sure lower-level managers are comfortable with their expanded authority. Review policies, practices, and procedures.
  4. Enlarge the definition of “exceptions’ to include favorable variances that should be reported to higher management.
  5. Use coaching and guidelines to encourage those who have received new authority. Higher management should show patience when they goof and express appreciation for their successes.
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