So now you have your agency with at least one new hire. It’s time to set that new hire free to do their job. If you’ve always done everything yourself, it’s very difficult to let go when you hire someone to take over certain tasks, so you can concentrate on revenue generating activities (RGAs). Even if you hated doing necessary but non-RGAs, you may still think you could do a better job than your new hire. That’s probably true, but the whole purpose of the new employee is to free yourself to grow your business.

What’s also true is that micromanaging causes people to resent you and be unhappy. I have read literature about actively disengaged, unhappy workers, and one of the causes is micromanagement. During my corporate days I have been micromanaged, and let me tell you, I never felt secure and trusted and was always stressed out. Micromanagement is counterproductive to the original reason you hired the person in the first place: To enable you to concentrate on revenue generating activities.

Here are six ideas on how you can feel better about letting go:

  • Just because they don’t do it your way doesn’t make it the wrong way: Employees need to learn how to do things for themselves.   It is hard to set them free, though, because they will never do things exactly the way you do them. Oftentimes they will not do things as well as you do them. If they get the intended result in a reasonable amount of time, just let them be. Different people work differently. But sometimes they will find a better way if you just leave them alone.
  • Stop hovering: If you are constantly on top of them, they will resent you and be unhappy. If you give someone a task, give them time to complete it on their own, and to come to you only if they have questions or need clarification or help. I am not sure how many Spongebob fans we have reading, but imagine how annoying it was when Spongebob was trying to get Squidward to go jellyfishing, “Are you ready yet? How ‘bout now? How ‘bout now? What about now?” Standing over the person’s shoulder will just stress them out, make them feel like you don’t trust them, and ultimately cause them to be actively disengaged, disgruntled, or just plain quit. People need room to breathe and to feel trusted and valued. If you want the relationship to work, stop hovering.
  • Figure out if they respond best to a written list or verbal instruction: One way to avoid hovering is to give them a written list. I know this works well with my 17-year-old son who does office work for me and lots of chores around the house. If I come to him verbally, he gets overwhelmed, forgets to do things and feels put upon. If I hand him a written list, he attacks the list, checks things off, and gets it done without complaint. And I don’t hover or comment if I observe him doing things differently, I just look at the end result.
  • Never make them afraid to approach you with problems: One of our employees just told me that even if we are unhappy about a situation, we never make her afraid to come to us with a problem, so she does not feel she needs to hide it and have it snowball. If you constantly berate your employee for problems or mistakes, they will fear you and hide things from you. Then your client relationships suffer, and ultimately your relationship with the employee will suffer as well.
  • What are the consequences of an actual mistake? What is the true cost of failure on their part? Maybe doing a cost/benefit analysis to see what the true cost both monetarily and to your shipper relationships really is will make you realize that the benefits of having a productive, happy employee contributing to the growth and maintenance of your freight agency outweigh the costs of an occasional error. If you let people make mistakes on their own, they will learn from them and become better employees in the long run.
  • Consider the investment in training if you then lose them: I’ve seen people spend months training an employee, only to then micromanage them and drive them crazy over the edge to quitting. Then they have to go back to doing the work for which they hired the person in the first place and stop doing RGAs. Then they are back to square one or they give up and never grow their businesses.

The whole purpose of hiring people as you build your freight agency is what? To free you up to do revenue generating activities like prospecting, getting additional lanes and loads from existing customers, and figuring out what else your customers need. Micromanaging is counterproductive to all of this and results in a lot of unhappiness, stress, and heartache when the person leaves. Having been on the receiving end of and observing it in corporate as well as hearing about it in my own business, I hope I have convinced those who have micromanaging tendencies to reconsider for everyone’s well-being.

In my next blog, I will tell you about mastermind groups and how they can help you run your freight agency better.

– By Cheryl Biron, President
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