Is micromanaging costing your business? BNET recently took a look at this common problem, spotlighting BrightStar home-care franchise founder Shelly Sun. Sun, who had been working 90-hour weeks to lead new initiatives to help her franchisees, was shocked when a franchisee satisfaction survey showed that franchisees were very dissatisfied with the company’s leadership.
What more could she do, thought Sun? She was already putting her family second to the business. But after talking to her franchise advisory council, Sun discovered that the franchisees actually wanted less help from her—not more.
Sun had fallen victim to a common problem among women entrepreneurs: micromanaging. While having difficulty delegating tasks is a common issue with all entrepreneurs, it’s especially so with women. I’m not sure why this is—maybe it’s the fact that we tend to be “helpers” and want to take care of our staffs. Maybe it’s because we’re natural multitaskers, so adding “one more thing” to our plates is natural for us. Or maybe it’s that many of us want to be liked—so instead of asking people to learn something challenging or take on an unpleasant task, we just do it for them.
If you’re a micromanager, you may be squirming guiltily in recognition right now. If you’re not sure, assess your micromanaging tendencies by taking a good, hard look at yourself. For one week, jot down what you do all day (not just the big stuff, but the little stuff). At the end of that week, sit down and assess. Were the projects you spent time on things that only you could do? Or were you unnecessarily duplicating other people’s work? Maybe you need to check up on your staff’s progress once a week—but do you need to do it every day? Are you still handling tasks that could be done by an assistant?
Getting feedback from your staff is also a good way to find out if you’re going overboard. Years ago, one of my business partners learned the hard way that she was too much of a micromanager when she got some brutally honest feedback from an employee during a performance review. She realized she had to “let go” and trust her staff to do what they were trained to do—rather than fussing over every detail of how they did it.
Feedback was also crucial in helping Sun turn around her company’s performance. Today, BrightStar is projected to bring in $115 million this year, up from $24 million in 2008.
Weaning yourself off micromanagement takes some time and effort. You will need to set aside time to train your staff in things that they can do without you. And you’ll need to “loosen up” and trust that they can do it. But in the end, the work will pay off in more time for you, happier employees and higher profits for your business.
Need help fine-tuning your management style? You can talk to SCORE mentors online or in person.