In the early days of getting your business up and running, everything fell on your shoulders. From sales to fulfillment, you bootstrapped the systems that brought you the success you’re experiencing now. Fast forward to today, and you’re grateful to have a team supporting your growth…
…And yet, sometimes it feels like everything still falls on your shoulders. Even with employees and contractors in your corner, you’re stuck feeling like an ATM of answers. Your team members think they can walk up to you and punch in a code to get support. Meanwhile, you’re exhausted, overstretched, and tired of having to spit out solutions around the clock.
Nothing runs smoothly without your input, and on the worst days, you may even wonder why you’ve hired a team if everything still ends up on your plate.
So what gives? Is it just that your team is incompetent? Is it that you truly are the only person who can possibly wear all the hats in your business? Not likely.
Instead, it’s far more probable that there’s a sneaky culprit to blame… Micromanagement.
Even for the most well-meaning business owners, micromanagement is an easy trap to fall into. What starts as a simple desire to make sure business runs smoothly can quickly devolve into an energy-sucking practice that leaves your team overly dependent on you—and leaves you feeling resentful and stretched too thin.
If you’re struggling with feelings of overwhelm, frustration, or even exhaustion in your business, this article is all about breaking free from the habit of overmanaging your team so you can finally step back into your role as visionary and owner, and unlock that coveted sense of freedom all entrepreneurs desire.
What Is Micromanagement?
Have you ever had a manager who always seemed to be looking over your shoulder? Someone above you in a company who didn’t trust you to do the job you were hired to do and instead fixated on catching every little mistake? Or someone who, no matter what you did, always seemed to have an idea about how you could do it better?
This is classic micromanaging. Often stemming from a place of perfectionism or control, micromanagement takes supervision to a whole new level. Instead of delegating work and trusting a team member to make it happen, a micromanager may feel the need to oversee every step of the work to make sure it’s done the way they’d prefer it to be done. They may frequently criticize, chastise, or intervene in their team’s workflow.
However, this traditional definition of micromanaging has some pretty negative connotations. In working with hundreds of business owners over the years, we’ve realized that while the VAST majority of entrepreneurs have some micromanaging tendencies…
…for 98% of them, it’s totally unintentional.
How does this happen? Simply put—you’ve trained your team to come to you for all the answers. They have no choice but to lean a little heavily on you, and you (seemingly, at least) have no choice but to prop them up more than you wish you had to.
This is perhaps the biggest factor contributing to your overwhelm and exhaustion. When you feel the need to manage every little thing that happens under your roof, it’s impossible for you to step 100% into the role of visionary and leader of your company.
The Fine Line Between Constructive Criticism and Micromanaging
If your job is to lead your team, how can you differentiate between providing constructive criticism and micromanaging your employees? Often, this difference boils down to your level of involvement and the perspective from which feedback is provided. For example:
- If you notice an employee making a mistake and immediately jump to the assumption that “it would be easier to just do it yourself”—this is indicative of a micromanagement mindset.
- If you notice an employee doing something differently than you would have done it, take a step back to ask yourself whether they may be onto something or whether this could be a teachable moment—this is more aligned with a positive, constructive feedback cycle.
- If the idea of leaving your team to work towards a goal unsupervised makes your blood pressure spike—you probably are used to being a little too involved in their daily workflow.
- If you make yourself available for feedback but ultimately feel confident sharing your vision and leaving your team to execute—this is a sign of healthy leadership in your organization.
Resonate with any of that? If you tend to find yourself stuck in doership (as opposed to leadership), your impulse to micromanage may indicate some bigger cracks in your business’ foundation.
Why Do Business Owners Micromanage Employees?
Ultimately, the impulse to micromanage stems from a lack of trust and a lack of proper training. More than likely, a business owner or supervisor who micromanages:
- Never invested the time to train their team to think independently. As noted, you likely trained your employees to come to you with questions. They rely on you to make big decisions and solve challenges when they arise. As a result, you’ve locked yourself into a place where you have no choice but to overmanage.
- Feels out of control in their business and maybe even their life. If you’ve experienced rapid growth or substantial employee turnover, you may be struggling for stability in your organization. This lack of stability makes it all the more tempting to get overly involved in the daily operations of your business.
- Is accustomed to leading less experienced employees. When you first opened your doors, you hired the team you could afford—which probably meant a bunch of newbies. Now, you’ve likely started to pad your team with more qualified individuals… but you’re still operating from the mindset of managing inexperienced team members.
- Struggles with insecurity or poor self-image. Maybe you secretly wonder whether you’re really good enough to achieve the success you desire. Or maybe you have a difficult time viewing yourself as a leader rather than another worker bee in your business. Any lapse in your own self-confidence will trickle down into a lapse of confidence in your team’s ability to execute effectively.
- May have experienced a financial calamity or times of unexpected duress. If you’ve ever been in a situation of significant financial stress, your brain is primed to need to keep a closer eye on what’s happening within your business. It’s natural to be hypervigilant regarding mistakes that could lead to another setback… but overcoming this urge is going to be key to moving forward.
- Sees signs of weakness in the business strategy. If you’re hyper-aware of flaws in your processes, systems, or strategy, you’re far more likely to overcompensate by trying to control even the most minute details of running your company.
How to Stop Micromanaging & Unlock More Freedom In Your Business
Having worked with hundreds of successful business owners, from beginner entrepreneurs to 8-9 figure company executives, one thing we know to be true is that most leaders feel more comfortable doing “it” rather than teaching & training “it.”
Don’t believe us? Take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself how many times have you said, “It would be easier/cheaper/faster to just do this myself!”
The thing is, you’re not wrong. In a short-term sense, it truly is more efficient to just do it yourself… but where does that get you in the long run?
The difference between those who limit their own potential and those who enjoy the freedom and exponential growth that comes with owning a successful business is that the latter invests time and energy into training a team of leaders.
The harsh reality is that, yes, it will take you more time to train, delegate, and teach. AND—you cannot micromanage your way to your next level of success.
You must equip your team with the knowledge, tools, and mindsets they need to execute—and then learn to trust them to perform their roles up to the standards you’ve set.
What does this look like in your day-to-day operations?
1. Start Small.
Recently, I was meeting with the leader of a 9-figure company who, even at that level, found himself stuck in that “I should just do it myself” loop. While we’d identified a need to train about 10 of his team members to step up to the plate and lead, he felt overwhelmed by the prospect of having to train everyone.
The answer? Not trying to train everyone at once. In his case, we selected just a few team members who were ready for the next step up in their careers and dedicated one quarter to getting them up to par.
You don’t have to completely overhaul your whole team at once. Choose one team member who can handle the added responsibility and invest in them first.
2. Stop Admonishing & Let Them Learn
As the business owner, you might see something going sideways before anyone else does… but you have to resist the temptation to step in right away. What might feel like “saving the day” is actually robbing your team of an opportunity to think critically and exercise their problem-solving skills.
Training your team to think independently is key to shifting away from your current role as Chief Fire Putter Outer and stepping into your identity as a leader, owner, and visionary.
3. Remember: Everything Is An Opportunity
In a perfect world, no one on your team would ever make a mistake… but then, how would they learn, grow, and improve for next time?
As the leader in your business, it’s up to you to cultivate a growth mindset. This means looking at every misstep not as an opportunity lost—but as a learning opportunity gained.
When your team feels safe to make mistakes, they’ll step up and become more creative, independent, and engaged in their daily work.
4. Know When to Offer Feedback—And When to Offer Appreciation.
One super common mistake business owners make is to ALWAYS be coaching. You think training your team requires keeping your teacher hat on 24/7… but it’s important to choose your coaching opportunities wisely.
For more on this, check out our article about the importance of celebrating small wins.
5. Choose Your People Intentionally
If you’re seriously struggling to trust your team, then it may be time to ask a deeper question—do you have the right people in the right roles? Could it be time to reevaluate some of your staff’s responsibilities or maybe even make some new hires?
Jumping straight to blaming your team is never the solution. However, if there are genuine wrong-fits happening in your team, you’ll find it difficult to stop micromanaging until you’ve taken the time to get the right person into the right role .
6. Recognize When It’s Time to Let Go
Speaking of having the right people in the right roles… There will be times when seats and positions evolve and when a role may outgrow the person who’s been in it. When your company reaches a certain level, it’s likely that certain team members may not have the skills needed in your next phase of growth.
When this happens, it’s important not to get stuck trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole. No amount of training can compensate for a misaligned skillset. Take the opportunity to hire someone with the potential to be a leader of leaders, and watch your business soar.
How Chris & Amy Beat Burnout, Built a Power Team, & Broke Free From ‘Doership’ Once & For All
“We met when we were 18 years old and we’ve always been entrepreneurs… [In our last business], we really hit burnout mode and felt like everything kept coming back on us. When we came back into business a few years later, we knew we had to do business differently… We knew we had to have employees, which has been an amazing adventure. Our first year, we predicted that we were going to do $1 Million and ended up doing $3 Million—which was a great surprise, but it put us on a path that we didn’t really know what to do with.
What surfaced back up again was that feeling of burnout. Of not having enough time in the day. We couldn’t break through because we just didn’t have the capacity… We didn’t know how we were going to handle our growth past this point…
[Working with Exit Momentum] was like using a sniper rifle to hit a target, as opposed to trying to hit it with a shotgun. We’re so much more dialed in now… You get a whole different level of maximization… I’m seeing a whole different level of responsibility and accountability with our team. We’re doing less than we’ve ever done and getting way more accomplished, because we’re focusing where we should be and not on all the little fringe stuff… We’re so much more focused in terms of where we actually need to take responsibility.”
Chris & Amy Breen
Deckmaster & Buildmaster
Micromanaging Your Team Doesn’t Make You a Bad Business Owner—But It Does Mean You Have Work to Do Before You Can Reap the Rewards of True Leadership.
If you’re noticing that your business obligations are overflowing and impacting your personal life…
If you’re desperate to unload tasks from your plate but can’t imagine trusting your team to take care of your business independently…
If you’re desperate for change but have no idea where to start…
We’re here for you. Book a complimentary strategy call now and let’s create a plan to take you from doership and overwhelm—to vision, freedom, and fulfillment.