10 Things to Never Micromanage

We recently read an article by Darren Dahl in Inc. magazine that listed 10 things business owners should never micromanage. For most entrepreneurs it is very hard to make the transition from micromanaging everything as a start-up to actually delegating some key tasks as the business grows. As the company grows, the entrepreneur has to move from being the doer to being the leader, and that requires delegation and letting go of micromanaging. From our own experience, this is a very difficult transition. Even just identifying tasks that should be delegated can be difficult.

Inc. asked dozens of entrepreneurs and small business experts to list what they thought were the top 10 items that, despite every temptation to do so, they should not micromanage. Here’s how they responded, listed in the order as presented in the article:

  1. Accounting
  2. Human Resources
  3. Social Media
  4. Busy Work
  5. IT Issues
  6. Customer Concerns
  7. Meetings
  8. Creativity/Design
  9. Purchase Decisions
  10. Tracking Time

This might seem a little self serving… but notice what was first on the list. What the Inc. article said was “that understanding the numbers behind your business is critical to the success of your business, but the entrepreneur should steer clear of tackling the day to day tasks in assembling them.” We couldn’t agree more and have already blogged about the importance of entrepreneur accounting literacy – interpreting and understanding the finances of their business and the importance of getting the bookkeeping and accounting task done right, even if that means outsourcing, without ownership trying to micromanage the process.

Take a critical look at the list from the standpoint of a small business with limited internal personnel resources. Small businesses inherently have financial limitations that make it difficult to hire and staff positions of technical or professional expertise. This fact makes accounting, human resources, social media, and IT prime candidates for outsourcing on a contract basis. Each of these tasks represents an area that if it is not done right can cause the business major problems and financial liabilities.

If the accounting is not done correctly the business owner may be making important financial decisions based on bad information, or not making decisions about pricing, cash flow or cost cutting because the information was not presented or not understood.

In the case of HR, digging into the details of health care packages, retirement plans, employee manuals or employment law should be left to specialists. Social media is an area that is changing constantly and if not kept up with can end up hurting the marketing efforts. Social media is an area that we’ve personally researched and come to the conclusion that the only way to do it right is to outsource it, which we are currently doing. As far as IT, let’s face it, how many of us have wasted hours of time trying to fix our own IT problems only to call in the experts to finally get it right. Find an IT firm you trust that has an outsourcing program and go with it.

Clearly the best way to start to let go of some of the more technical but crucial tasks is by outsourcing to experts. The article by Inc. even mentions this, stating that tasks on the list should be delegated to others inside or even outside the company. One of the biggest hurdles to stop micromanaging and delegating is the trust factor – can you trust it is being done right and on time? By outsourcing, the business owner has the peace of mind (after due diligence of course) that the task is being taken care of by experts, and is being completed at a much less total overhead burden than trying to complete the task with internal resources. More importantly, this is now another task that is off the business owner’s desk and top of mind, so she or he can focus on more important strategic core activities.

Use outsourcing to help you start to pare down the list of items that are micromanaged. Eventually only core strategic action items should be all that is left on your small business list of things you do micromanage. What’s left on your list of tasks that you micromanage? Has outsourcing been a solution to delegate some of the technical tasks?