I work at a small company with a very loose structure -- roles are not very clearly defined. It's an engineering company and I'm soon going to take over managing the handful of engineers. Though I'll be a new manager, I'm not too worried about it because for the most part these guys manage themselves pretty well.
One problem we have, however, is inefficient use of time. I'm not talking about getting on Facebook or doing personal stuff. I'm talking more about taking on tasks that they think are helpful but actually are a distraction.
For example, an engineer might be answering some technical questions for a customer when the customer asks for a quote or for some more information that requires a lot of time to collect. Some engineers feel the need to answer these requests personally, but quoting should be done by our customer service person and nobody should be spending hours collecting information for a tiny customer.
So what's a good way to communicate this? The engineers think they're doing good by striving to help our customers. That's a great attitude, but the fact is sometimes tasks are more efficiently delegated and sometimes they aren't worth doing, especially when an engineer has so much else on his plate.
What's been suggested so far is to set a "30-minute rule" where the engineer should handle anything less than 30m however he wants, but that for anything longer he should ask me what to do. I'm afraid of micro-managing and this policy rings my alarm bells.