I often see small business owners who get confused about being “engaged” in their business with being a “micromanager.”
“I’m NOT a micromanager, and that’s a big reason I wanted out of the corporate world and into my own business” is a common statement.
So when does being an engaged small business owner cross the line to being a micro-manager?
It’s been said that a successful farmer has his footprints all over the farm (no idea to whom to credit, but I think Bob McNair gets at least partial credit – http://www.forbes.com/lists/2010/10/billionaires-2010_Robert-McNair_ZDPI.html ).
Is there a fine line between micro management and active engagement? No, but there is a huge difference. I don’t know many people that relish the idea of being a micro-manager – it’s a lot of work, it’s often counterproductive, and your opportunity to focus on the “big picture” is blown away.
So how does the small business owner get their footprints in more parts of the farm?
Being active is different than being around. A business owner can be around but not actively present. He can be available but not a contributor. Without a genuine interest in the people around him, and an investment in those people as contributors towards their mutual goals, then being around is likely inhibiting growth and production rather than adding to it…
Staying engaged with employees, with initiatives, and with solutions creates an environment that enhances your awareness of who is contributing to the team and your ability to future proof your company by anticipating and resolving challenges before they diminish your enterprise and income. Engagement doesn’t mean knowing every detail and taking over every interaction – it means listening enough to know what the real world issues are, then helping find solutions to build a productive culture.
It’s not always good times and celebrations, but being there as a positive influence in good times and the not so good times says more about the small business owner than any tirades and tantrums do when things get rocky – and things do get rocky. Bringing energy and enthusiasm into the situation gives others at least the opportunity to both change their own attitudes and see other opportunities in their circumstances.
The challenge to these things is sustaining honesty, trust and sincerity… Any of these traits can backfire when they are not sincere, or are parceled out inconsistently. Practice and get feedback from those you trust on your progress to being more available, more engaged, and more of a cheerleader for your team.
There are plenty of tools (much less expensive than your time) to help you manage activity (typically the heart of micro-management)… Managers or senior staff can manage the tools that report the activity. Let them be micromanagers if you MUST have them. Side note: setting constructive goals with employees, creating usable performance reviews and metrics, then holding each person (employee and supervisor alike) accountable for quality performance management, should take care of the issues requiring micro-management…
It is difficult If not impossible to motivate a group of people all the time. However, your activity, your engagement, and your positive enthusiasm will certainly give everyone the opportunity to CHOOSE to be more motivated, more inspired, more open to change, and ultimately more productive.