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Big Ideas

Micro vs Macro: Using “Success Factors” To Manage Your Team

“Success factors” are a key element of great macro management. Learn how to set clear goals and expectations so your creative team can thrive.

Every creative leader faces the challenge of building and managing a team. Finding the right folks is half the battle. After you find them, it is your responsibility to manage the team. Great management happens on both a “micro” level and a “macro” level. Micro-management – not the notoriously negative “micromanagement,” but rather what I call the MICRO aspect of management – is all about the day-to-day management that keeps the team on track.

A great MICRO manager asks questions like:


  • What are the deadlines for a particular project?
  • How do we measure progress (and are we making progress)?
  • Is there sufficient feedback exchange?
  • How do we promote more accountability within the team?

But what about the MACRO part of management? Beyond your day-to-day role as a manager, you must also consider each person’s career trajectory.

A great MACRO manager asks questions like:


  • What skills does each employee want/need to develop?
  • What are each person’s career aspirations?
  • How will each person’s role develop over the coming years?
  • Does each member of the team feel happy and fully utilized?

As you can see, the MICRO and MACRO perspectives of management are quite different. But they are equally important.

Our challenge as managers is that we have an inherent bias for the MICRO side. Our operational obsession with near-term progress and great performance at any given moment often inhibits our MACRO perspective. As a result, we may lose people or fail to push our colleagues to their greatest potential.

So what’s the secret to great MACRO management? Defining and then reinforcing “success factors.”

“Success factors” are the specific attributes for each person to be successful in his/her job. For example, a great “Office Manager” is (1) extremely organized, (2) has a great attention to detail, (3) understands the operations of the business, and (4) is comfortable working with different personalities. These four attributes are success factors.

A great MACRO manager states these success factors up front to someone hired for such a job. And then, over time, would consistently reinforce them – and support their development – going forward.

Everyone on your team should know (and agree) on the “success factors” for their role. When you check in periodically with folks on your team, you should restate the success factors and discuss what each person is doing to develop them over time. Industry conferences, workshops, and continuing education all lend themselves to addressing one’s success factors.

Rather than obsess over day-to-day performance, consider your team’s success factors on a consistent basis. By doing so, you will develop one of your own success factors – your capacity to MACRO manage!

How Do You Manage Your Team?

Do you struggle with devoting enough energy to MACRO management? Do you use success factors, or an alternative approach?

More Posts by Scott Belsky

Scott Belsky is the Chief Product Officer at Adobe and is the co-founder of 99U and Behance. He has been called one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company, and is the author of The Messy Middle and the bestselling book, Making Ideas Happen.

Comments (5)
  • Nalabala

    I believe both macro and micro are extremely important in all aspects of life, business, personal, social as well as global. You can actually apply this to any unit of life and definitely succeed if you obtain a balance between both.

  • Manoj Kumar Sethi

    Hi Scott,
    You have well said …
    The relative effectiveness of micro-management and macro-management
    depends on many factors such as nature of work, maturity of team
    members, the complexity of the project relative to experience level of
    the team and so on.

    The challenge is for managers to recognize what is
    appropriate for the team or individual members, and use the correct

    I belong to the IT industry and do know how important it is for the growth of the Company ………!!!
    Thanks for sharing such an awesome blog..


  • Rubiana

    In my view, both micro and Macromanagement is necessary for a manager to follow, but that depends upon the circumstances, ideally a manager should allow the team members to self manage them, even if he follows micro-management the manager should aim at the long term objective of improving the employee’s productivity. Therefore both macro and micro management are necessary at their own places.

    I recently came across a nice post

  • EddyBay

    i came across a question that states what type of manager are you? a micro or macro. not knowing what those terms mean i searched it. surprisingly I’m a macro manager to the T. because of this type of management my team have always been high performer and 80% exceed their targets weekly, because they are all aspiring to greater things and not just thinking about now.

  • luis campa

    I think we should be micromanagers to assure the near term results on the day-to-day activities, and also to manage a solid work frame. In regards to macromanagement I think is more to assure sustaintability on your organization by developing your current resources in order to expand your capacities.

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