I was caught on a plane once with the One Minute Manager book, by Kenneth Blanchard. I recommend that book, it’s easy to read — about one short plane ride’s worth — and easier to absorb. And I feel like it boils down to setting expectations with people and then following up, afterwards, with reviewing performance against expectations. You can add a lot of padding around that basic idea, but essentially it’s one of those obvious ideas that’s easy to say and hard to do.

The One Minute Manager by Kenneth H. Blanchard, Spencer Johnson
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Your plan-as-you-go business planning process can become a really valuable way to make that idea real, in your business, and part of your management. What I’ve found through the years is setting expectations and following up is one of those basic principles like, say, healthy diet and regular exercise. It’s easy to understand, everybody agrees that it’s good to do, but not everybody manages to make it happen. It’s a matter of actually doing what we know we want to, what we know we should.

Honestly, in my years¬†as a company builder, it was really hard to follow up. I think it’s a natural process that you end up liking the people you work with, and, as business owner, you tend to work shoulder-to-shoulder. They aren’t direct reports or subordinates, in your mind; they are John and Teri and Vie and Cale. They become friends.

So, in the plan-as-you-go world, that need for setting expectations and following up becomes part of the process. Your plan includes the metrics people need so they can know how they’re doing. The core of management follow up happens because you have a forum, a comfortable place for that hard-to-do follow up. Your plan is built on metrics for your people, and you look at those metrics regularly. Following up gets easier.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.