Step Back to Move Forward – Five Reasons NOT to Micromanage

Whether you are the owner-operator in your business or an executive with a talented team, your business will be postured to move forward when you consciously move back.

Here are some reasons you should learn how to monitor without having to be “in” all the time:

1. You hired people to do stuff. Let them do it. And let them do it their way. Don’t insist they do it your way if the end result is the same. Who knows – maybe it will even be better.

2. If you insist on things being done your way, no one will be able to make a decision without first consulting you. Depending on how many “consultees” you may have, this could be a 24/7 job. That leaves very little time for strategic thinking and guarantees sluggish growth.

3. Your employees will never grow in their own skill sets because their job is guessing what you would like to see rather than performing or producing.

4. The really great people will leave. They will go to a place that allows them to grow.

5. And then you’ll be stuck doing the day-to-day work while you look to replace your team. See the vicious cycle?

How do you answer this question: What would happen to my business if I were run over by a bus (or won the lotto – your choice)?

Your goal should be able to answer “My business will continue to thrive because I have put the right systems in place and have the right people managing them.”


Do The !*& Math

I just finished judging three business plans submitted to a local university contest. It was great fun to read how these young folks want to make money, create a happy world, and save the environment all at the same time. It was discouraging to evaluate the financial analysis.
Each team of three “founders” had at least one graduate with a BS in finance, business, management, or the like. The other two founders were typically experienced in the craft of the business. Not a one of these contestants produced a financial statement indicating an understanding of cash flow, equity, and (gasp) profitability. In one case, the math was even incorrect.
I know we quit creating winners and losers in our kids’ sporting events in order to be able to teach that everyone is a winner. And I know that winning and losing as an adult often times (rightly or wrongly) is based on the accumulation of money. Did we take the “Everyone is a winner” attitude too far and forget to teach them how to count, hoping perhaps that if we de-emphasize money we can all feel like winners in the real world? Are we too focused on sustainability and community to figure out how to make a living in our businesses? Or have we just quit demanding the basics in our college programs?
Small business is the backbone of the American economy. I have spent over thirty years supporting business owners in their quest to create profits and consequently jobs. They are my heroes, and their contribution to our collective well-being is grand in both scale and social value. Somehow the thought of a business actually making money has become a bad thing, with social considerations touted as more important. But society can’t benefit without a strong economy, and a strong economy comes from thriving, profitable business.
Maybe I am unreasonable to expect that a BS in business would confer an understanding of basic business economics. Maybe I should be more supportive of the young entrepreneur’s dream to make the world a better place by offering their talents despite an inevitable failure. It just becomes confusing to me as to where in that process these young dreamers get their “I’m a winner” trophy.
Let’s do all of our kids a favor and teach them how to do the math. In and of itself, the numbers carry no judgment.

Illusions from the Red Carpet

This is a photo of Lisa Vian Hunter – my friend and client – walking the Red Carpet and Macy’s in NYC. Lisa is a contestant on the new NBC show “Fashion Star” and she invited me to join her for the Premier Party. Of course I said yes! We put on our beautiful custom dresses, hired our makeup and hair done to perfection, and fretted over what this experience would bring.

It wasn’t disappointing in its intensity. More cameras than could be counted, reporters screaming for attention, and microphones dangled just about everywhere.

The interesting part is that this event occurred in a very small room on the 11th floor of Macy’s in Harold Square. An old building whose grandeur hasn’t been polished for a good long time.

Yet the photos would lead one to believe that the surroundings were spacious and inviting – maybe down the middle of one of the fabulous main floor aisles – and definitely lined with adoring fans. Or it could be that is just my imaginings of what a red-carpet walk should be like sneaking into my view of reality.

Perhaps I should be more careful when I watch media presentations, knowing that I am only seeing the good stuff. Or perhaps I should just enjoy it for what it is worth – entertainment meant to titillate.  I suppose since there is nothing at risk in the entertainment realm, I can safely keep questions and cynicism out of the experience.

But I definitely feel a bit wiser to the real world, and expect that my questioning may be deeper when evaluating things that actually matter. Like marketing materials or sales pitches.

Eat Your Peas

He didn’t stop eating his peas for one minute. Despite the fact that his stroller had just been wheeled into a crowded elevator full of new people, he kept picking them up and moving them from tray to mouth. Obviously prepared for a walk outside, his attempts to look at his fellow riders were thwarted. When he turned his head in curiosity, he found himself looking straight at the inside of his hoodie.

Tray to mouth. Hoodie. Tray to mouth. Hoodie.

A cycle developed that was eventually noticed by one of the taller humans he had brought with him. The tall one reached out and pulled back the hood, exposing the entire panorama of stupid smiles adults can conjure up. With a gaze that was now free to roam about the car, he treated us all to a beaming smile of greetings and appreciation. Then he went back to his peas.

There are two morals to this story.

Don’t stop eating your peas no matter what the circumstances,  and Always travel with someone who will pull back your hoodie when your vision is obscured.

Local Designer News

Great article about Lisa, and my five short minutes of fame!

Strength Based Goal Setting

No need for me to blog when Gallup has said this so well. A must read.


Ladies and Gentlemen in the Elevator

When the elevator stopped at the bottom floor, it was a given that all of its occupants would be exiting. I was standing next to a well-hatted gentleman from a generation before me. When the doors opened, he acknowledged me with just the slightest of movements; a barely perceptible sideways-glance followed by a tilting of his head downward.

His following stillness was both his part and my cue.

Charmed and willing, I embraced my role in the ritual. I nodded to him to indicate my “thank you”. Then I walked out Ladies First.