Being the owner doesn’t make you right.

Let’s say you’re in the process of renovating your office space. 

You think the receptionist’s desk should be moved to a 45-degree angle and let the administrative assistant know. When you return to check on the progress, you find the desk is now at a 30-degree angle.

Now you have 3 options:

Option 1 – You explain to your admin person that you have given this some thought and to put the desk to the 45-degree angle as you initially instructed. You believe the reception area looks nicer with the desk at 45-degrees and, most importantly, it is your business, your name on the door, and you are paying this person to work for you and do as you instruct.

Option 2 – You ask why and your admin person explains that this new 30-degree angle gives them more space, allows them to be more efficient, allows for plenty of room for guests to sit while waiting, and they believe it looks overall nicer. Despite this, you instruct them to do as they were told because you believe the reception area looks nicer with the desk at 45-degrees, it’s your business, your name on the door, and you are paying this person to work for you and do as you instruct.

Option 3 – You compliment your admin person for not simply following your orders blindly, for thinking it through, and for doing what they thought was best for the firm, and you let it be.  

I would hope most of you would have gone with option 3. 

But what if the desk at 30-degrees isn’t more efficient, the guests have less space, it looks worse, or it just isn’t what you envisioned? Maybe that’s all true, but isn’t valuing your team’s opinion and encouraging them to act like owners more important? Do you really feel that your opinion is more valid than the person who works in that space every day- regardless of who is ‘right’?

You being the owner doesn’t automatically make you right about everything. It just makes you responsible.

Not everything needs to be done exactly as you want it, and you have to accept that others do things differently than you do. Micromanaging only serves to kill your team’s creative spirit and if your team is paid based on productivity instead of by the hour, what do you care if it takes a bit longer? There’s value in explaining how you do things, but you might be surprised to learn that their way might be faster for them.

As most of you know, after building and owning my own practice for the better part of 30 years, I now make a living mentoring business owners. I make a point of getting to know the team members of the businesses I mentor and encourage them to call me whenever they want. You would not believe how many great employees have quit simply because the owner gave them no flexibility to do things their way. 

So they word the letters and emails a bit different than you would. Let it go.

So they put a file together different than you do. Let it go. 

So they respond to things different than you do. Let it go.

I’ve worked for micromanagers and know just how disheartening it is to have someone continually critic, change, and undermine what I think and do. It’s very discouraging, takes all the fun out of working for this person, and does little for motivation.

There’s a lot of talk about there being no more loyalty in the workplace these days and I find it ironic that many owners treat their team like cattle and don’t even realize they’re contributing to the problem. I’ve been guilty of it and I want you to ask yourself how often you’ve been guilty of imposing ‘your way’ onto your team.

Being the owner doesn’t make you right. Give your team the benefit of the doubt. Will they always get it right? No, of course not. But then, do you?