Delegate and Let Go – Overcoming Micromanaging Tendencies

Your job as a small business owner is to set the vision and course for your business, while ensuring the day-to-day


operations continue as planned. A strategic plan that sets out your goals, objectives, and timelines is necessary in order for you to gauge where your business is and where it needs to go. The steps in-between let you know if you are making appropriate progress or if you need to pivot. When you’re micromanaging, you’re not focused on the things that move the needle in your business. In order to focus on the future, you must delegate and let go. 

Start Small

Letting go of the reins can seem a bit overwhelming at first. After all, your business is the baby that you’ve raised from birth. Now that it’s time to graduate to the next level, letting others take on portions of your responsibility is like sending your first born off to college. It may help to start small and delegate smaller tasks first if you’re not used to letting go. This will prevent your employees from being overwhelmed with a lot of new tasks and will help you loosen the reigns while still setting the course. As employees display the ability to do the task that you delegated, move on to the delegation of larger projects.

Ask, Don’t Tell

After you’ve trained your employees, try not to nag them about how they’re performing the task. If you find an error, ask questions to see if they can find the error on their own. Then coach them and come to a joint decision as to how this task will be completed to avoid errors in the future. What works for you may not work for someone else. Everyone has their unique way of doing things, and their way may work better for them. If employees are ethical, getting results and meeting deadlines, then let them be.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Let employees have creative freedom and empower them to make decisions. You may be surprised to discover that this can foster loyalty and pride in their work. They may feel more empowered to provide new solutions and efficient methods of performing their role, which may free them up for additional tasks.

Don’t forget that everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Use errors as learning and coaching opportunities to help build a strong and healthy working relationship that is beneficial to everyone involved.

Perform an Exit Interview

Any time an employee says they are leaving the company, ask them why. This can provide insight into issues that you’re unaware of. Perhaps your wages don’t compare to the same positions in other companies. Maybe they believe that the job is too difficult and that processes need to be improved. Perhaps the culture or environment that they’re working in is causing anxiety. Listen to what they’re saying. Then, ask other employees for their feedback and input into the stated issues so that you can improve the work environment.

It may be necessary to offer further training on job roles or teach a class on working with others and accepting differences in culture, sexuality or race. If you need advice to correct issues consider hiring a coach, mentor, or consultant to help you through the process.

As your business grows, you can’t be everywhere doing everything. Your job is to set the vision and direction while ensuring the smooth operation of your business. Don’t become a micromanager. If you are one, consider implementing a few of these tips to create a better working environment and a better business outcome. I can help you streamline your business processes. Call me today.

10 Ways to Tell if You’re Micromanaging Your Team

Everyone wants their business to succeed, and every business owner knows they can handle all the tasks associated with the job Conceptual illustration. Business man controlling other business man like a puppet on a a capable and efficient manner. But, is that the best use of your time? Worrying about whether tasks will be done on time or correctly may lead you to believe that staying on top of things means frequently checking in with employees. This does not always lead to success and can, in fact, create the exact opposite effect.

What is Micromanaging?

Micromanaging is controlling every part of a task. It’s checking in incessantly with employees to make sure they’re performing the job exactly as you would. Multiple email reminders, questions regarding progress or frequent trips to employee desks all classify as micromanaging.

While it is understandable that you want the task done quickly and efficiently, micromanaging generally impedes progress by reducing employee confidence in their abilities, creating undo stress and fear. It may also leave them with an impression that you don’t feel like they are capable of doing the job. This can cause a high turnover in employees, increases stress, and can cause anxiety that impedes with your employees’ work and personal life. It’s counterproductive and it hurts your business.

How to Identify if You’re Micromanaging

If you’re not sure if you’re micromanaging, take a moment to reflect. Here are 10 clues that may help you determine if you are:

1. Employees ask you basic questions that leave you wondering why they didn’t just answer it for themselves.

When an employee is well trained yet still comes to you for the smallest answer, this generally indicates that they don’t feel comfortable making decisions. They may have the impression that you don’t trust them enough. Fearing that they’ll make a wrong decision and lose their job drives them to seek constant approval before they begin a task or at various stages throughout the process.

2. Employees copy you on every email.

This red flag usually indicates that employees are trying to show you that they are working hard. They want you to be aware of every minor detail of the process because they believe you want to be involved at this level. They are trying to get the information to you before you ask them for it in an attempt to reduce your need to constantly look over their shoulder or ask for frequent updates. Since you chronically check in at every step of the process, they assume that they are saving you time by copying you on everything under the sun.

3. Employees rush to the exits at 5PM.

Employees who start to pack it up 15 minutes before the end of their shift, start becoming agitated in their movements or behaviors, start speaking quickly, or glance at the clock every 2 minutes can’t wait to leave. While almost every employee is happy to see the end of their shift, anxiety and agitation, hyperactivity, or nervous behavior near the end of a shift indicates that your employee is stressed in their job and can’t wait to vacate. This does not bode well for employee retention.

4. Your turnover rate is higher than your competitors.

You offer a decent wage and benefits package, your office equipment is efficient and comfortable to use and you have a great social committee on site to encourage community within your organization. You feel like you have it all, but you can’t figure out why you’re constantly replacing employees.

If your employee turnover is higher than the average for your industry, you may be micromanaging. No matter what you offer as competitive wage and benefits, no one is going to stick around in an environment where they feel like they are being watched by the Secret Service. Work-related stress and anxiety are responsible for many illnesses and problems in people’s personal lives; they’ll only take so much of it before they move on.

5. You spend a lot of time reworking other people’s work.

Constantly reworking the work of others when they’ve completed the task makes employees feel like you’re impossible to satisfy. Is there something legitimately wrong? Is there an incorrect calculation, missing data, or is the font of the document in Wingdings and illegible? If not, then you’re probably fixing things that don’t need to be fixed. There’s a difference between fixing a legitimate error and being picky because you’re micromanaging.

6. You feel a sense of pride when correcting others.

Do you get excited and feel pride when pointing out an error that an employee made? Error correction should be used as a tool for further training. If it’s a rare occurrence, ask the employee to correct it and let it be. If an employee makes repeated errors, there may be a training issue. One way or the other, enjoyment from correcting errors isn’t going to win you loyal employees who strive to do their best.

7. You spend all of your time in meetings and then tell people what to do instead of sending them to the meeting.

If your employees have the qualifications necessary for you to hire them, then they’re likely able to attend meetings related to their job. While it may be necessary for you to attend the meeting anyway, you shouldn’t rehash the entire thing again. If something is unclear during a meeting, ask a clarifying question so that your employees can hear the answer. Otherwise, trust employees to attend meetings related to their job.

8. You do most of the work.

Do you stay up late at night completing projects and tasks that your employees are capable of doing? If you find yourself doing most of the work, you’re probably a micromanager.

9. You ask for frequent updates when once per week would be fine.

Constantly asking for updates distracts people from completing their task and makes them feel like you don’t trust them. This can cause delays that are significant enough to cause employees to miss their deadlines. Look at a task and set a realistic schedule for updates. Tell employees to inform you right away if anything affects the deadline. Otherwise, wait for the update you scheduled.

10. You’re always wondering where your employees are and if they’re working.

If you’ve set realistic timelines and goals for tasks and they’re completed on time, then your employees are doing their jobs. It’s perfectly fine to run a report to check quality and quantity of tasks completed by your employee on a weekly or monthly basis. If the numbers start to dramatically change for an employee, then ask if there’s an issue causing the change. Is a piece of equipment broken? Is the employee feeling under the weather? Was your original expectation too high and unattainable over the long run? Evaluate the process to see if it’s working, then ask why an employee’s production has dropped. If targets are being met on a regular basis, stop worrying about if your employees are working.

Once you’ve determined that you’re a micromanager or have micromanagement tendencies, the next step is to delegate. In my next post, I’ll share tips on how to get the right people onboard and contributing to the bottom line by hiring, training and firing according to your culture.