Like most business owners, I have a deep passion for and an obsession with my business. One thing I have noticed over the years is that most entrepreneurs have something in common: we tend to be micromanagers.
I admit to this, and by working with my clients I see how hard it is for most business owners to let go of the reins and give some of the power to employees. I have determined there are three main reasons why business owners have a really difficult time giving employees the latitude to take charge and make decisions.
Related: Trust Is a Must
The number one reason entrepreneurs resist delegating authority to employees is lack of trust. It’s hard work to build a mutual, trusting relationship, but by putting an emphasis on trustworthiness during the hiring process it can help establish your expectations from the start.
Once you feel an employee is ready to take on more challenging assignments, start with small but important duties and work your way up to delegating more demanding responsibilities. Once an employee feels trusted to take charge, you might be surprised to find out you suddenly have more time to think big instead of trudging around in the weeds.
Another reason business owners don’t delegate is because they don’t want to be forced to acknowledge that someone else might do the job as well as - or better - than they do. That’s a very hard pill to swallow for entrepreneurs. After all, how could someone else who did not put their own blood, sweat and tears into the business understand and manage it as well as you?
Entrepreneurs are great at starting businesses, but few people are brilliant at everything. I am not an accountant and I am really glad I have people to help with that! I am not the best at managing my own time, and I have a great staff member who keeps me on schedule. Without these people I would not be as effective as a business owner.
Related: Trust Your Team
The final reason entrepreneurs are slow to empower employees is fear. Entrepreneurs have put so much of their own lives into their businesses they are afraid an employee might make a mistake and put the business and its financial future at risk.
Fear of making mistakes can destroy your business, especially if you are so afraid of mistakes that you never venture outside of your comfort zone. Some business experts recommend letting employees take more responsibility and even make mistakes, but advise taking the baby-step route. Give an employee an assignment that has little bearing on the future of the company, something so minor that if a mistake is made, it won’t be noticed.
That’s fine if you want to use that strategy. But most employees know when they are being given a minor task to do rather than an opportunity to shine. By giving true responsibility for an important job to a trusted employee you accomplish several things: you show you have confidence in that employee, you show you are willing to try something different and you give the gift of trust - something your employee will never forget.
Personally, I learn best through experience, including making mistakes. Most great leaders admit they have made many mistakes in their careers, and even point to mistakes as being important learning experiences that helped them become better leaders. As one of my favorite entrepreneurs, Dale Carnegie, said “The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.”