Is Your Management Style Killing Your Business?

First-time entrepreneurs and small business owners are prone to micromanage. It’s natural that you want to make sure that everything is done to your exacting standards. But did you know that micromanaging your employees can be very damaging to your business?

Are you a micromanager? Is your management style killing your business?

What is micromanagement?

A micromanager is one who just cannot let go. You want to know what your people are doing all the time, and you become involved in their daily tasks. You control people’s working day and you won’t let people manage their own time. You are obsessed with knowing what is happening at any given moment. So much so that you request regular updates and reports of progress.

What damage can micromanagement do?

Would you want to work for a boss who is constantly looking over your shoulder and telling you how to do your job? Neither would most people.

If you manage your employees poorly, you are likely to see the effects in:

  • Higher absenteeism

  • Worsening performance

  • Lower-quality work

  • Sliding revenues and profits

Eventually, your people leave for new jobs. A Gallup poll of more than one million workers in the United States found that 75% who left their jobs did so because of a bad boss. The type of boss who throws their weight around, talks down to employees, and drills their staff in every task they do. Micromanagers.

The biggest damage that micromanagement does to a small business though – and your success as an entrepreneur – is that it stops you from looking at the big picture. You get so bogged down in the detail of every single daily task that you have no time or energy left to focus on business strategy.

You micromanage because you are fearful

Most micromanagers are not sadists. They don’t lean on their employees because they want to cause pain, harm, and stress. Most bosses who micromanage do so without intending any of this. They are simply afraid.

What is it that micromanagers fear so much?

First, they are afraid that something will go wrong, and they lack control to correct it. A manager can’t simply step in to fix a problem. You must encourage your people to make the fix. You have more authority, but less control.

Second, micromanagers fear that their authority as an expert in what they do will be challenged if it’s not their name on a completed task or project. For small business leaders, this may translate into a fear that a customer will deal directly with your employees who are doing the work – thus cutting you out of the loop and losing your business.

The Harvard Business Review found two of the main reasons that managers micromanage are:

  • The desire to feel connected to lower-level employees

  • Discomfort with overseeing others do their old job

Are you micromanaging?

There are a few clues as to whether you are micromanaging. If you notice yourself doing any of the following, you need to act:

  • You feel the need to sign off on every task

  • You are obsessed with receiving progress reports

  • You find it hard to delegate

  • When you do hand off tasks, you provide instructions that are so detailed they cause confusion

  • You don’t believe that anyone can do the job as well as you can

Here’s what I know

When you first start out in business, it can be almost impossible not to micromanage. After all, it’s your investment and livelihood on the line. Your employee can always go find another job – the difference between failure and success holds much greater meaning for you.

At some point though, you must learn to let go and trust your people. After all, why did you hire a cashier – to stand over them all the while they are working on the cash register?

The art of delegation must be learned. If you notice that you are exhibiting any of the traits of micromanagement as I’ve outlined above, learn to step back. 

Take it slowly at first. Delegate the small tasks to build your confidence in your employees. Ask your employees for their input and suggestions on how they could do things better – and reward the best ideas. Gradually, build your confidence in your people on the path to doing what you should be doing – leading your business, not managing it.

If you have a problem with letting go, trusting your people, or developing the big picture that will help your business to grow bigger and faster, feel free to get in touch. Let’s get you away from micromanaging and on the track to growth.


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