Managing for Success

Are You a Micromanager?
by Judy Blaskowski & Laddie Blaskowski

If any of these symptoms describe you, then you are probably a micromanager. It is also likely that your business is desperately reliant upon you for survival and that you are trapped by your business.

In a small business, a micromanager is an owner who tries to manage every aspect of the business by himself. While this type of management is usually what it takes to start a small business (especially during its first year), it will also stifle the business' growth if the owner continues it over a long period of time.

Furthermore, the lack of growth may not be the only ill effect of micromanagement. When an owner is involved in every aspect of the business, his or her ability to focus on any one area is diminished and signs of pending problems are often missed. And since there is never a break from the business, owner burnout is a common consequence, which often leads to business failure.

If you are a micromanager, or have a tendency to micromanage only parts of your business, you need to change if you want your business to thrive. Only by letting go will you create a business that can operate without you -- which will ultimately provide financial freedom. Businesses that are capable of operating without the owner are also more likely to survive a transfer to the next generation or will sell for a greater value.

If you want these types of benefits in your business, you will need to do the following:

Create a Clear Vision for the Business

In order for you to create a business that doesn't need your micromanagement, you need to decide how you want your business to operate. What is most important requirement for the business to succeed? How will the business run? Who will be responsible for what? How big will the business be? How will the employees be managed? The clearer the vision, the easier it is to achieve.

Develop a Plan

Once you have a clear vision, establish a plan to achieve it. Decide what the priorities are and when each one needs in order to be accomplished. Then, decide what would need to be in place before you could turn over part of the decision-making process. Identify the steps needed to achieve each objective, when each step will be completed, and who will be responsible for achieving it. The answer to the age-old question, "How do you eat an elephant?" is still "One bite at a time." The same goes for your plan. Decide what steps need to be completed in order to achieve the plan and accomplish them one step it a time.

Hire the Right People

Far too many micromanagers proclaim that they are unable to hire the right people because they can't afford them. The truth is, in most businesses, you can't afford not to hire them. If you hire managers who do not have the experience to make decisions or knowledge to evaluate problems, you should be nervous about turning over the reins to them. In essence, you have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your management is unable to manage; therefore, you must be a micromanager.

By hiring the right people, you have solved half the problem -- but your task is not completed. In order to expect someone to make decisions that you would consider sound, you need to train your employees, both internally and externally.

Internally, you need to establish the guidelines by which decisions can be made by others. Who has what authority? How should a purchasing decision by made? What are the guidelines when making decisions about employees? Once the guidelines are determined, all employees -- especially managers -- need to be taught those guidelines, making it clear what their authority is.

In addition to internal training, external training also needs to be used. Find programs that portray the same type of management philosophies you use when running the business. Then make the training available to your employees, either through outside programs or using training materials you can purchase. Hiring and training the proper people will provide greater profit for the company in the long run.

Establishing Procedures and Developing Reporting

In order to break free from micromanaging your business, it is necessary to establish solid procedures and controls. Although it may seem as if the fewer procedures and systems you have in place, the more freedom your workers will have, the opposite is true -- and almost always leads to greater chaos.

When a company establishes set procedures on how specific parts of the business will operate, it is easy to train others how to operate those areas of the company. In addition, if it is made clear to management how you expect an area to function, step-by-step, it is easy to identify whether it is operating the way you want it to. Further, systems and controls make it easy to train employees and keep any one individual from becoming "too valuable to lose."

Once the procedures are established, create a reporting structure that provides information on whether the operation is functioning according to your standards. Reporting is the final step that allows you to determine how well an area is operating, without watching every employee or second-guessing every decision -- i.e., micromanaging.

There is no immediate solution to micromanagement. However, owners who take the plunge find that once they begin, the process builds on itself. If you can let go of one part of the business, you can focus on other important parts. As a result, you will have more time to create the systems, develop the reporting structure, and find additional qualified people to manage other parts of the business. While you may need the help of others along the way, eventually you can create a business capable of surviving on its own.

This article has been written and reprinted with permission from Judy Blaskowski and Laddie Blaskowski. For more information, please visit their website at

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