The Micromanager
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The Micromanager

Some very successful leaders use micromanagement strategies with new hires until they’re sure the person has the right skills, talents and behaviors to take on their duties. They know when to back away and loosen the tightrope of control. The problem, however, occurs if they don’t know when to stop.

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Chris Saraceno is the Vice President & Partner of the Kelly Automotive Group. Visit kellycar.com.

Micromanagement is an emotionally charged term, but the reality is that it’s not always a bad thing. Some very successful leaders use micromanagement strategies with new hires until they’re sure the person has the right skills, talents and behaviors to take on their duties. They know when to back away and loosen the tightrope of control. The problem, however, occurs if they don’t know when to stop.

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These are the dealerships where owners work long hours because they don’t trust the leaders working with them to lead. Not only do these companies see a lot of turnover in upper management, but there’s typically no clearly defined company vision other than making money. If they do have a written vision, it’s rarely discussed or modeled by the leaders. World-class recruits aren’t attracted to these dealerships. The micromanaging owner or boss suffers, as well, because there’s never enough time when they “have” to do everything themselves. These companies suffer a never-ending cycle of frustration, substandard-to-average results and high management turnover.

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Until these dealers and GMs understand the true definition of empowerment and are willing to cultivate, trust and give authority to their leaders, this cycle won’t stop. A true leader inspires those around them. They attract those with the skills and vision to support the company’s growth. Until the micromanager comprehends this, his or her dealership will never dominate their market.

In my experience, the micromanager rarely does this out of malice; they truly believe their managers need their oversight. They have trouble trusting in the people they hired, and often fear their managers just aren’t as talented, competent and committed as they are. True leaders aren’t afraid to look in the mirror, and that’s where breaking the cycle of micromanagement must start. There’s an old saying in the business world: “10s hire 10s; 5s can’t hire 10s.” Talented people won’t work for leaders they see as lacking, so you must make sure you’re up to the challenge.

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Micromanagers who continually control talented, competent leaders inflict damage on their dealerships not only in day-to-day operations but in company’s long-term prospects for growth. Being micromanaged kills a staff’s morale, lowers their self-esteem, increases stress and typically throttles the production they’re capable of achieving.  In the long term, it becomes a challenge to hire quality leaders in the local market because of the dealership’s reputation. It’s a small world and word travels quickly.

Again, when done for the right reasons, micromanaging does have its place. When new managers come into your dealership, they may know how to do the job in the general sense, but need training on how to work within your organization. They need to learn the particulars of your dealership, its people and the roles they fill. At this point, hands-on leadership is necessary — and usually appreciated. Micromanaging becomes toxic when that hands-on style becomes permanent. Once the new manager knows and has become familiar with their position and the people around them, it’s time to let them do the job you hired them to do.

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Chris Saraceno

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