It can be incredibly challenging for owners of small businesses to ease up on the reins when their company expands. After all, business owners will have expended a great deal of time and money getting their company to the stage that it needs employees.
However, employees are more productive when the boss isn’t looming over their shoulder. And, if you micromanage workers, you will stifle innovation. Plus, it will eventually become impossible for the owner to be hands-on with every aspect of a business.
But how can you stop micromanaging a business in which you have so much invested? How can you be sure that quality will be maintained and work will be completed on time? Here are ten tips to help you let go of your compulsion to micromanage employees.
Hire the Right people
The most obvious step towards eliminating the need for micromanagement is employing the right employees. And that might mean increasing salaries and improving employee benefits to attract the best talent. And you might need to take more time when recruiting.
Subject to cost considerations, it is generally best to hire overqualified employees in a growing business. Then, you can have more confidence in new hires, and your employees can grow with the company. You could, of course, fill vacancies with inexperienced or underqualified people. But then, there will always be a need to micromanage your team.
Let Go of Your Perfectionism
It is crucial to remember that your way is not the only way and accept that mistakes happen. Instead, let employees try things their way and only get involved if outcomes are unacceptable.
Try managing by exception rather than micromanaging every aspect of the business. You might want to be hands-on with every delivery to key customers, for example. But you probably do not need to be involved with every single delivery your business makes. You can also check random samples of employee’s work rather than overseeing everything they do.
Focus on Outcomes
Instead of micromanaging an employee’s day, try setting clear targets and assessing performance against those goals.
For example, the goal of a sales manager is to achieve a certain number of sales. How they achieve their targets is mainly irrelevant. So, how many cold calls they make in a day or meetings they set up doesn’t matter. What matters is that the sales are coming in and targets are being achieved.
And suppose a production worker meets 75% of their target in the morning and eases off in the afternoon. In that case, the crucial thing is that targets are being met by the end of the day.
Set Clear and Reasonable Expectations
Of course, you cannot focus on outcomes if employees are unaware of what is expected. So, you need to set clear and achievable targets for employees. And it would be best if you made clear your expectations regarding things like attendance, too.
So, define timescales for tasks rather than demanding that things be done a certain way. And set targets for employees where outcomes can be quantified. It can also help to share with employees your long-term goals for the business. Then you can encourage everyone to pull together to achieve those high-level business goals.
Document Policies and Procedures
There will be some tasks in any business that must be completed in a certain way. And there will be corporate policies that must be followed. The best way to ensure that policies and procedures are adhered to is with adequate documentation, such as job descriptions and company handbooks.
Documenting procedures not only reduces the need for micromanagement but also has many other benefits too. For example, documenting workflows will make it less challenging to cope with employee absences. And establishing safe practices will help to reduce injuries in the workplace.
Treat Employees Like Partners
You may feel that you have more at stake than your employees. But employees have a vested interest in the success of your business, too. So, it will help reduce the need for micromanagement if you treat employees more like partners.
So, encourage employee input into the decision-making process, especially when decisions directly affect them. Consult with employees when setting targets. And ask what you can do to help employees hit those targets and excel in their roles. People working as a team to achieve common goals work better than those working merely to satisfy a boss.
Define What You Need to Know
When you micromanage, you look at every detail of a task within a project. However, the only thing you probably need to be concerned about is the final outcome.
For example, suppose one thousand units of a product must be manufactured each week. In that case, weekly monitoring of output would likely provide all the information you need. But you don’t need to know how many products are being produced each hour.
So, define the high-level information you need to manage your business. And make employees aware of which performance indicators (KPIs) you consider crucial. Then, leave it up to employees to achieve those high-level objectives and report back to you only if there are any issues.
As mentioned in the introduction, many small business owners are reluctant to delegate tasks. But it will help you get used to the idea if you switch to a less hands-on management style in steps.
So, begin practicing delegation by handing down one or two tasks and see how things go. But remember to give clear guidance on what is expected and when a job must be completed.
Then, once someone has demonstrated competence, that task can be transferred full-time to that person. And the employee needs only to report back to you when the job is complete or needs your input.
Create a Management Hierarchy
Once you have a reasonably large team working for you, it will become impossible to have every employee reporting directly to you. So, the next thing to do is to create a management hierarchy.
If you have a team of five production workers, for example, then it would be more efficient to appoint a production team supervisor. Then, you can set and monitor targets for the supervisor. And the supervisor manages their team to ensure those targets are met. You then become a manager of managers rather than a micromanager of employees.
Your existing employees might find your new hands-off management approach a little disconcerting at first. So, you will need to encourage autonomy, innovative thinking, and self-governance. And you must be sure that employees know that you will support them, even if mistakes are occasionally made or targets missed.
You will probably also have to hold yourself back when you feel you are about to tell an employee how to complete a task. But in the long run, extracting yourself from the minutiae of running operations will be good for you, best for your employees, and good for your business.
As challenging as it may first appear, you can stop your micromanaging your employees. And doing so will bring out the best in your team and free up more of your time to steer the business to success.
So, the next time an employee comes to you to ask how something should be done, don’t give them step-by-step instructions. Instead, tell them what you need, when you need it, and ask them how they propose to deliver the results.