Every small business owner does it. It’s not something new, and it’s certainly not easy to stop. Something we see every single day we coach our clients is the negative impacts of micromanagement on their organization. So, what can be done about it? And why should you stop?
The polar opposite of micromanagement is leadership. The two cannot coexist. According to Investopedia, leadership is defined as “the ability of a company’s management to set and achieve challenging goals, take swift and decisive action, outperform the competition, and inspire others to perform well.” This last statement is what we want to focus on for the purpose of this post.
When your team members wake up in the morning, they should feel inspired and happy to enter your workplace and create, achieve, design, and produce. Micromanagement is the best way to stifle these verbs, and create an environment where your team dread going to work.
Learn to Trust
Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself the following question: “Do I trust those who I hire?” and if the answer is anything other than 100% yes, then you need to learn how to trust. This is a much deeper issue than just how you manage your team members at the office. Learning to trust will dramatically improve both your work and personal lives.
If you surround yourself with people you trust, then it becomes exponentially easy to let go and let your team innovate.
We hear business owners all the time say to us: “I do trust my staff, but….” There is no “but.” You either trust them to do the right thing or you don’t. Would you let a surgeon operate on your brain if you trusted him 99%? What about 99.5%? Probably not. So when you hire someone, make sure you’re hiring someone you trust fully. Hire properly, and intrust them in their position.
Set your team up for success
This means when you assign someone to a role, it’s because you 100% trust (see last category if this made you cringe) they will perform exceptionally well and fully. Don’t over assign a project to someone. We see this all the time, when business owners want to “maximize their staff” but assigning crazy roles to team members. They need a website, so they ask Mary in Accounting to create it. Never mind the fact that Mary barely knows how to use the web, now you’re asking her to develop a website!? Empower Mary to be a great bookkeeper, and find a skilled developer to create your web presence.
Clearly define milestones
When you assign a person you trust to a task you’re confident they can fully handle, make sure to clearly define expectations. Utilize milestones and very clearly defined expectations so your team members know exactly what is expected of them. Don’t continually change them, and make sure to ask for their input. When you assign a project, a written MoU isn’t necessary for all situations, but it’s nice to have a list of expectations. Ask your team member if it makes sense, and if it’s too much. Be prepared to make changes based on what feedback you receive.
This is a big one. Allowing principles to make changes is one of the most empowering actions you can take. By giving them the confidence that you will back their opinion and changes, they will in turn do the same to those beneath them. Trying to control every aspect of a deliverable isn’t the way to make someone feel empowered. In addition, if you’re dictating every bullet point of a project, then why exactly does that manager exist? At that point, you should probably just have a flat organization of one king and many pawns.
Yes, this is all easier said than done. However, it takes time. You have to experiment and learn how to step back and take a leadership centered approach to your operations. Remember that your goal is to create innovation and a desire to better everyone and everything. You are not a dictator, and you want people to walk into work with a pep in their step. If these aren’t your goals, then perhaps being a business owner isn’t the best place for you. Being a leader doesn’t come easy, and is something many work their whole lives to achieve.