As a small business owner, you need to delegate tasks in order to get everything done. But does it bother you to see that people choose to do things differently than the way you would have done it? Do you find yourself stepping in to give extremely detailed instructions rather than trusting employees with the work? If you answered "yes", you're showing the signs of micromanagement.
Why You Should Avoid Micromanagement
Micromanagement stifles creativity and growth among your employees. There's more than one "right" way to do things, and people can take different paths to the same destination. Your employees need to feel free to take initiative with projects rather than waiting for you to tell them exactly how to do it.
When they have a chance to take control over the tasks you delegate and to receive positive (rather than nit-picky) feedback from you, they'll gain pride in their work and show you more trust and respect.
Here are some tips that can help you reel in your tendency to micromanage.
1. Tell People What You Need
As you give instructions to an employee, focus on what the end result needs to be, not necessarily how to get there. Let the other person ask questions and figure out a process that works for them.
At the same time, don't leave them in the dark about the tools available to them, especially if this is the first time they're handling a particular type of request. Consider asking a more experienced employee to write a Standard Operating Procedure for creating reports for consistency.
2. Try to Stay Humble
If you micromanage, chances are you think you could do a better job at assignments than your employees. What if you're wrong? Your employees might actually do a fantastic job or streamline a process if you gave them the chance to do so.
Stay humble about what you're capable of. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Let your employees show you their strengths.
3. Teach Concepts and Values
Your company culture values certain characteristics. You probably want to have high-quality images and graphs in documents you create, or you want any written work to be error-free. Teach these basic concepts and values to your employees versus micromanaging the process. That way, you won't even find much to nit-pick in the first place.
4. Have a Hierarchy for Communication
You should have some trustworthy employees who do a good job and meet your approval quite often. Promote them to managers and have all communication come through them. Allow them to delegate as they see fit.
This will prevent you from micromanaging all the other employees, but you also need to take care not to micromanage your managers.
5. Chart Results and Document Processes
You may feel at ease if you know that you're still achieving great sales and have plenty of satisfied customers even when you take a step back from micromanaging. Be sure to track results and keep a record of all workflows and processes.
If you find that your team is falling short, create a guiding document to help them understand how they can do a better job, but let the managers present it to the employees.
Your job as a small business owner is to set up your entire business for success. You should be able to go on vacation and truly relax without worrying that the business will grind to a halt. This can only happen if you loosen your grip as a micromanager and trust your employees to do a job well-done. When they know you respect their work, they'll take more pride in it, encouraging a cycle of trust.
Cathy Habas specializes in marketing, customer experiences, and behind-the-scenes management. Cathy has contributed to sites like Business and Finance, Business 2 Community, and Inside Small Business. She served as the managing editor for a small content marketing agency before continuing with her writing career.