How to Stop Micromanaging Your Family Business

It can be difficult  for family business owners to stop micromanaging their employees. After all, they built the business and nurtured it for years! Who knows the business better than they do? And, the family name may be attached to the company which adds to an owner’s drive to succeed. Even other family members and nonfamily managers can be prone to micromanaging  because of strong financial and emotional ties to the business similar to the owner’s, or  trying to gain the owner’s approval and trust. But  excessive micromanaging can become  detrimental to employees and company morale and productivity. If your family business faces this situation, you need to address it.

Identify “Bossy” Bosses and “Control Freaks”

Because micromanagement may take different forms, it can be difficult to pinpoint. Some managers who continually put employees under the microscope quickly earn a reputation as “bossy” or a “control freak.”

Although some employees may feel confident in their role in the company to bring the issue to the attention of management, others may feel too insecure to speak out.

In instances where  two or more employees, particularly in the same department, have brought complaints against a certain  manager, the owner may need to investigate. If employees voicing the complaints work well with other supervisors, or if several staff members have the same issue, it should raise a flag that the problem lies with management.

Other signs of micromanagement are the need to review and approve everything, frequently getting buried in details and wasting time on small issues (which can lead to procrastination on more important matters), and having a reputation for being difficult to work with.

Of course, in areas where attention to detail and accuracy are paramount (such as in financial management and reporting), managing employees closely is justified.

Shift to a Leadership Mindset

Putting a stop to micromanagement requires you to shift from the role of a taskmaster to that of a leader.  That will require you to focus on developing a business process that empowers employees to perform their jobs.

This would include giving employees the tools to succeed, such as project guidance before they begin a task, and encouragement to devise solutions to common problems.

You should  set priorities by being selective about where to spend your time and energy. Concentrate on high-value, high-risk areas of your business that require your close attention and approval, and let others perform the tasks they have been assigned.

It’s critical that you step aside and give employees the chance to prove their skills and further develop their abilities by letting them do their own work and learn from their mistakes in lower risk areas. Also, free yourself from the responsibility of monitoring employees’ strengths so you have time to help them overcome weaknesses. Encourage employees to assume “ownership” of their responsibilities and account for their actions by tying their compensation and opportunities for promotion to performance goals.

Also, help employees feel comfortable by giving constructive feedback and suggestions. For instance, hold team-building meetings and one-on-one lunches to discuss work related issues. If your staff is large enough, also consider doing an annual employee survey.

Ensure Effective Management

As a family business owner, it’s critical that you ensure your management team is effective. Among other things, this means eliminating micromanaging. This can be a challenge, but the payoff in terms of employee engagement and productivity can be well worth the effort.

© 2015

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