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The Problem Of Micromanagement

Good leaders understand at the end of the day, they are accountable for their business.

Good leaders also understand that to grow a successful business, they can’t do it all. We need the skills and talents of others. That means trusting the people to whom we delegate responsibility.

What happens when we delegate, but don’t trust?

It’s called micromanagement.

After years in corporate food services management, “Beth” took early retirement and bought a franchise business in the restaurant industry. She was very excited to join this particular franchise network: the product was fun and the working environment fresh and happy. So much that across the country this franchise boasted an employee retention rate five times better than the national average. Applications always exceeded job openings.

Beth thought nothing would be different for her as she went about hiring her initial part-time staff of 25-30, mostly high school and college students.

About six months after the grand opening of her business, Beth began to lose staff. Because of the franchise brand recognition in the community, the vacancies were quickly filled. Yet she continued to lose staff. She began to complain to the franchise company that she “just couldn’t find good people” to work.

Messages from Beth’s current and former employees began arriving at the corporate office. Enough that they sent some “secret shoppers” to observe what was going on in the store.

They discovered the problem wasn’t the staff. It was Beth’s suffocating micromanagement.

Said one former employee, “I love the product and making people happy. But Beth wouldn’t let me do my job. She had a comment for everything I did. No disrespect, but I already have a Mom who tells me what to do. I don’t need another one.”

Another former employee reported, “We know our job and we’re good at it. But you’d never know it by how Beth treats us. She never praises us and always criticizes us.” A current employee said, “She’s a helicopter boss. Somehow she manages to hover over all of us at once. I hate saying it, but everything in the store runs smoothly when she’s not here. ”

As leaders we justify our micromanagement. “I’m being responsible to see that things are done right.” Or, “It’s quality control.” We think we’re helping our business but we’re really hurting it. We’re not allowing our staff to learn and grow. We’re not allowing them to take necessary risks that contain the next level lessons.

As Beth learned the hard way, the end result of micromanagement is a stifled staff and a stagnant store. If the people behind the counter aren’t allowed to grow, the bottom line won’t grow, either.