How to End the Micromanagement Cycle to Push Your Business Forward

Is micromanagement holding back your business potential?

As a small business owner or solopreneur, you’re probably used to running most aspects of your business all by yourself—and that’s awesome! However, as your business starts to grow, the only way to scale is to get some help. When you find yourself getting help in the form of on-site or virtual staff (virtual help is a lifesaver when it comes to scaling, expertise, and keeping your overhead down) you might need to relinquish some of that control you’re so used to having.

But why?!

You might feel that doing it all yourself is part of your road to success, but the truth is that micromanagement is one of the most detrimental habits for a business owner. Staff who are forced to adapt to a micromanagement style are either quietly rebellious or hapless, unable to make any independent decisions. This causes a variety of problems.

First, it’s counterproductive because you, as the leader, have to constantly put out fires instead of focusing on the bigger tasks that only you can perform. And isn’t that why you hired an assistant in the first place?

Second, it prevents you from truly scaling your business because when your staff isn’t empowered to make independent decisions, you cause a bottleneck where all of the work has to go through you.

People often micromanage due to a lack of trust or just simple inexperience. But there are ways you can make sure that you’re managing your small team effectively without traipsing into micromanagement territory.

Equip your Team for Success

First, it’s your role as a leader to set your team members up for success, not failure. It’s up to you to provide all of the detail, training, and tools that your assistant or team needs. Thorough training at the beginning of a new working relationship or at the kick off of a new assignment is important, but then it’s essential to let your staff try to fulfill the project on their own, to the best of their abilities without your help because that’s how they learn and grow to become independent workers who you can depend on.

Of course, be open and approachable to receiving questions and to lend a hand when it’s needed. But that’s different than checking-in with them too often or checking their work or progress aside from specific benchmarks, which might be set out at the beginning of a project.

Learn to Give Feedback… and then Let Go

When a project is finished, provide constructive feedback and direction that your assistant or team member can learn from so that they can understand your expectations and desires and do even better on the next project.

It’s also imperative that you take the time to point out specific areas for improvement. If something isn’t completed the way that you want it done, your specific direction will help them meet your expectations the next time. But once you’ve communicated the message, set them free again and trust them to follow your requests.

NEVER assign a task to someone who you know is not able to meet the demands just to prove a point. Always make sure you give the proper tools to your assistant or team and inspire them to succeed and grow with every project because if they do well, your business will too.

Remember: It’s up to you to set them up for success, not failure. That means that if you assign something to your assistant, it’s because you know they’re capable of accomplishing that task. Whether it’s answering a call, research, or customer service, no matter the task, your assistant or team member should always feel empowered by you to succeed.

Communicate Expectations

Always be clear about expectations. As you think about delegating tasks or a project, make sure you’re clear about the objectives. What does successful completion mean to you? Do you have previous examples you can provide your assistant? Don’t be shy to offer as many tools and resources as you can so you’ll feel assured that the person you’ve assigned the task to has what they need so that you don’t need to micromanage.

It’s also crucial to communicate the timeline and deadline for work assigned, especially right from the beginning of a project. Creating milestones with key dates where you’ll check in on how the project is going is a great way to reinforce your expectations, field questions, and course correct any areas where your new subordinate might have veered off the project track. This is a great opportunity to check-in so that everyone feels comfortable with the progress before the final date. That way you don’t have to worry that something won’t be done right or on time and voila! No need to micromanage.

There Can Be Many Paths to Achieve a Goal

Another great tip to keep in mind is that people will take different routes to the same desired outcome—and that’s ok! Not everyone works the same way. Let your assistant or team member make decisions about a project and how the objectives will be met. Not only will they feel empowered and more excited to complete the task, but trying to dictate exactly how a deliverable will be done can lead to inefficiency.

The fact is that sometimes your creative assistant might be able to find a more efficient way to achieve the same goal. By letting them think for themselves, your business will benefit from new solutions and efficiency improvements. It’s rarely a good idea to control how every deliverable gets done. Your team needs to know where to end, not how to get there.

Your Management Style can Value or Devalue the Way your Staff Feel

Another great thing about letting your assistant or team have control over decisions about a project or task is that it helps them to feel valued. Being a great business owner or leader means you know your team’s strengths. Isn’t that why you hired them in the first place? Give your team a chance to shine and excel.

Sometimes there will be parts of projects that you should do yourself because you excel and shine in certain areas. It shows your team that you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and do some of the hard work too. But most of the time, letting go and giving the right job to the right person will allow them to blossom and strive for excellence. Giving someone that opportunity will do wonders for how they feel valued by you.

Once you learn how to manage without micromanaging, you’ll improve job satisfaction, performance, and attitude.

Now, who doesn’t want that? Plus, effective management feels very rewarding! And it opens the doors of possibility for your business. You’ll spend less time stuck on the small things so that you can turn your attention toward the big picture thinking, planning, and interactions that are valuable for the growth of your business.

Once you master working smarter, not harder your business will have no trouble moving forward. So which tips will you incorporate into your management style to improve efficiency and stay away from micromanaging? Drop us a comment below!

Meet your host

Sandra Booker, Founder of Changemaker Inc. (home to Sidekick COO and The VA Studio) and creator of Scale Society and The Advisory Board, is a mentor, Fractional COO  and growth strategist. She specializes in helping overworked, overwhelmed, multi-hatted entrepreneurs become the CEOs of sustainably scalable, and powerfully profitable businesses. 

After helping local businesses thrive, and receiving accolades in her community (like the 40 Under 40 award) Sandra turned her attention to the world of online service providers, and her clients include familiar names like Chanti Zak, Tarzan Kay, and Laura Belgray.

In her (efficiently used) spare time, she teaches others how to build and grow their own 6-figure virtual assistant practices and is on a mission to create a million jobs by helping her clients and students scale their businesses.

The Great Big List of KPI's

Want more? Check these out!

Dip your toes into transformation with these resources that pack a punch, all on the house.

Get started with KPIs with this free guide that will show you what KPIs you need to track, how many is too many, how to identify trends, examples of KPIs for every area of your business.

Washup & Reset

An annual business review to get you off the “set goal, miss goal, try-same-thing-again” merry-go-round, The Wash-up shows you haw to use the lessons from this year to get the most out of next year.

4D-90 Framework

This process is designed to be completed every quarter so you always know exactly what to do to hit your goals without putting in more time, create a new offer, or adding yet another launch to your calendar.

Budget Template

Struggling to know where you're money's going and whether you can afford that new course you've been eyeing? You need a budget and this template will help.

KPI Business Dashboard

Your easy answer to "What the heck do I track?"  You'll have all of your numbers in one place, and have at-a-glance information so you always know whether you're on track to meet your goals.

Grab your Budget Template