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It Starts at the Top: Stop Micromanaging Your Employees to Create a Successful Outcome

July 18th, 2023 | 5 min. read

By Jessica Turner

It Starts at the Top: Stop Micromanaging Your Employees to Create a Successful Outcome

I have a question for you (And it’s one that I think about and try to answer often):

What kind of boss are you?

Seriously.

I have had so many bosses over the 25+ years in the workforce and one thing I can tell you with certainty: hovering bosses are the worst!

I used to dread coming into work and having a supervisor, upper management or both come and stand over me while I completed tasks. Or, they would always ask why I did something a particular way, how I drew conclusions, or would just flat out take over what I was doing, not allowing me to learn and grow (Can anyone say “TPS Reports”? Okay, now I am dating myself!).

But another certain truth: some of my best bosses were more than bosses.

They were mentors and great leaders. They had intention when they would ask questions. They would give me tips on how to improve. They are the bosses that taught me how I want to answer the question, “What kind of boss are you?”

So, I am compiling a few of the nuggets that I have received from some great people in the various industries I have been a part of over the years.

And…now that I am a “boss”, these are 10 things I strive to accomplish in my day-to-day.

1. Hire smart

Sure, you can hire someone to fill a hole quickly because you are desperate to fill a position, but oftentimes, hiring like that can cause more headaches than it is worth.

Waiting it out to hire the right person is much better.

This will reduce turnover from people who weren’t the right fit for your company culture or didn’t have quite the right experience. Instead of compromising on either, taking a little more time to find a quality employee, utilizing testing, conducting great interviews with smart questions, and taking the time to find those with the right experience will serve your company better.

2. Set your employees up for success

Training your employees or giving them clear procedural guidance is of utter importance.

If you don’t have any procedures, guess what?…it's your job to help create it, so that you can teach the principles to those that you supervise. If an employee is given a task, yet is left to their own devices to figure it out, the outcome will be inconsistent and may not meet what you have in mind for success.

Rather than setting them up for failure, consider setting a foundation that is solid to start with. This will give your employees a great understanding of the expectations from the get-go.

3. Be flexible and available

Once you do have a process set, don’t be rigid.

Listen to employee feedback. They are in the literal trenches every day conducting the various tasks assigned to them. They have the bead on what is happening and can be a wonderful asset to change something that isn’t working or make the process better.

So, open up your ears and mind and take suggestions that could make your business more successful.

4. Give credit where credit is due

It may be tempting for some supervisors to take credit for an employee’s work. Maybe they have someone looking over their shoulder and want to impress their boss. Whatever the reason, nobody should take credit for anyone else’s hard work. Not only does that breed mistrust, it discourages employees from sharing ideas or collaborating and can quickly lead to employees quitting.

So, give credit when an employee does well. Heck, make a spectacle of it even. Make sure employees know you appreciate them.

5. Pay your employees fairly

I know that not all businesses are the same size and can offer the same pay. Some industries pay quite differently. However, that does not mean you shouldn’t adhere to all minimum wage rules.

Be sure you are not only doing just that, but also take a look at a good salary benchmarking tool to help you discover what other companies like yours are paying their staff based on size, location, experience etc. Communicate and be transparent with pay for everyone, so that they know you value them.

Again, if you want to show your employees you care, this is a key factor.

6. Create an inclusive and drama-free culture

I can’t say this enough.

I have been a part of some very toxic work cultures. And, this usually stems from the top. Either management doesn’t feel they need to talk to employees or people in the company create groups that are exclusive and leave out other staff members.

While an employer can’t require employees to make sure they hang out together, they CAN offer regular events that include everyone. This can be a lunch out with everyone, a company event that includes family (maybe a holiday party) or a simple employee activity where everyone participates.

Pay attention to your staff. Look for signs of distress or trouble and check in with your employees. Ask them how they are. Encourage a culture of inclusivity through policies of course, but also through your actions. If you tone down the drama and set the stage for that, your employees will likely reflect the same.

7. Lead by example

It is one thing to ask your employees to be drama-free, but if you aren’t, how can you expect them to be?

If you go around stirring dissent, talking about other employees, breaking confidence, yelling, or blowing up over small things, how can you expect to keep great employees?

Like attracts like, meaning, if you want a drama-free culture, take a look in the mirror and make sure you aren’t creating a toxic culture yourself.

8. Work hard but have fun

It is so important to be professional and kind, no matter the setting. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a stuffed shirt all the time.

Take moments to laugh with your staff, make fun of yourself, and don’t stress over small things that don’t matter in the big picture.

Take stock of what matters most, creating an environment where employees enjoy coming to work. Good employees will appreciate this and will more than likely join you in the pursuit of making work a better place to be.

9. Create a work-life balance

One thing the pandemic taught us is that even though locked down, we got more time with family, got to actually enjoy being home for a change, and figured out we might be missing this more than we once thought.

As employees return to your business, help them transition back. Perhaps, being flexible with time or working with them and allowing for time off when needed can help the transition. We all had a bit of a shock, and we shouldn’t discount the emotional toll it took on everyone.

So, be patient, kind, and understanding.

10. Set boundaries and stay consistent

While all of these principles are good, take stock of what is right and what works for your business.

Sit down, do the research, have the tough conversations and really focus on what will bring you the most success both with employees, and overall for your business. Then, write out a plan.

Once you do this and set the stage, be consistent. Try not to waver from your ultimate goals. That way, your employees can see that you mean what you say and it isn’t just lip service!

Learn, Grow, and Lead

So, there are some pearls of wisdom from my experience on planet Earth so far.

Don’t feel overwhelmed by it all. Start with something small and build up to creating a great work culture for you and everyone. You will be better off for it in the long run.

Keep answering the question – “What kind of boss are you?” and make small changes to be a better boss.

Pretty soon, you may just answer: You are the type of boss you want to be.

I continue to grow and learn every day from my mentors and my employees, and I am truly thankful for that.

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 This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.