Be a Leader; Not a Micromanager

So many shop owners suffer from a killer management mistake: micromanaging.  You don’t typically realize you are doing it until the damage is done.

So let’s break it down.

Rick White Article MicromanagerMicromanaging is a style of management where you, the shop owner or manager, take control of every aspect of a team member’s job. What they do. How they do it.  When they do it.

This approach often stems from one of three places; lack of belief in the person’s ability, a lack of trust that they’ll do the job right, or frustration because expectations are not being met. While micromanagement might seem like a way to ensure that work is done correctly, it hurts more than it helps.

The first concern is this.  When you manage a team member’s activities, YOU own the results.

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

For example, you set a target for Hours per Repair Order, and your service advisor is not hitting the target,

You: “John, you are missing the Hours per RO target every day.  I need you to start making sure there are digital inspections done on EVERY vehicle.”

John: “Yes, boss.”

The following week, the target is still being missed.

You: “John, I need you to start doing discovery conversations with every customer and make sure they are detailed and in-depth.”

John: “Yes, boss.”

The next week, the target is STILL being missed.

You: “John, you are still missing the Hours per RO target daily.  I want you to start looking carefully at maintenance services that may be needed on every vehicle and make sure to sell them.”

John: “Yes, boss.”

Finally, you bring John into the office to have a talk.

You: “John, this is absolutely unacceptable!  You are missing the Hours per RO target every day.  This is going to affect your job.”

John (extremely frustrated): “Boss, I don’t know what you want from me!  I’ve done every single thing you have asked me to do.  You haven’t told me to do anything more.  I don’t know what else to do!”

In the end, if the target is not met, YOU are responsible for the result – not your service advisor. You’ve created an environment with a lack of accountability and a lack of ownership among your team members and the work they do.

Rick Whites Article Be A LeaderThe second concern is that when you take over a team member’s job, you are silently telling them that you don’t believe they’re capable of doing it. This can be incredibly demoralizing and damaging to their self-esteem.

It is essential to remember that people need autonomy to feel engaged in their work and motivated to achieve results. When micromanagement takes over, people lose their autonomy, and this can result in decreased motivation and engagement.

The third concern is that micromanagement can lead to what I call “Daddy Syndrome.”

Instead of teaching your team to stand on their own and develop critical thinking skills, micromanagement teaches them to come to you sooner and sooner to get you to fix the problem for them. This leads to a culture of dependency, where employees rely on managers to tell them what to do and how to do it. While it stifles innovation and creativity and leads to a lack of growth and development for both the team and the shop as a whole, it sucks the life out of you because all you’re doing is putting out fires instead of getting your work done.

However, there are several steps that shop owners like you can take to address micromanagement and create a culture of independence, innovation, and growth.

  1. Clearly communicate goals and expectations

One of the essential steps in fixing micromanagement is to clearly communicate the goals and expectations of their position to team members. Shop Owners and Managers need to explain what they expect from each team member and what the end goal is. This approach helps them understand what they are working towards and how their work fits into the bigger picture.

Clear communication is critical as it ensures that everyone is on the same page, and employees know what is expected of them. When expectations are clear, the team can focus on achieving the desired results and take ownership of their work.

  1. Get buy-in from the team or team member

In addition to communicating goals and expectations, shop owners must get buy-in from their team members. When each person understands and agrees with the goals and expectations, they are more likely to feel invested in their work and take ownership of their tasks.

Getting buy-in involves working with the team to ensure that they understand the goals and expectations and agree with them. This approach helps to build trust and create a sense of ownership among team members, which is essential for a productive and engaged workforce.

  1. Have THEM do the work

Managers have to give their employees the autonomy to do the job their way. When employees are given the freedom to work independently, they are more likely to use their creativity and innovation to solve problems and achieve results. This approach also helps team members feel engaged and motivated, as they are given the opportunity to take ownership of their work.

It’s essential to remember that employees are hired for their skills and abilities, and micromanaging can stifle their creativity and innovation. Shop owners need to trust their team to do the job and only provide support when needed.

  1. When the urge to take over arises, step back and ask questions

Micromanagers often feel the urge to take over when they see a team member struggling or when things are not going according to plan. However, instead of taking over, shop owners should step back and ask questions. By asking questions, managers can guide their team in the right direction and help them find solutions to problems.

Asking questions also helps to develop critical thinking skills and create a culture of independence, where team members feel confident in their ability to tackle challenges. Managers should provide support and guidance when needed, but also allow their team to take the lead when appropriate. One of the best questions to ask is simply, “What would you do if I wasn’t here?”

While it does take more time in the beginning to ask questions, the time empowering your team frees up, pays you back dividends of free time to deal with your responsibilities.

  1. Give feedback centered around results

Finally, managers should provide feedback based on the results achieved rather than the process followed. Focusing on results helps employees understand where they need to improve and what they need to do differently to achieve the desired outcomes.

Feedback should be constructive and focused on improving results, rather than criticizing employees for their mistakes. By providing feedback that is centered around results, managers can help their team feel motivated and engaged in their work

In conclusion, when a leader manages an employee’s activities, it can lead to a lack of accountability and ownership among employees, decreased motivation and engagement, and a culture of dependency.

However, managers can fix micromanagement by clearly communicating goals and expectations, getting buy-in from employees, allowing employees to do the work, asking questions instead of taking over, and providing feedback centered around results.

By following these steps, shop owners can create a culture of independence, innovation, and growth, while still ensuring that work is done correctly and efficiently. Ultimately, the key to effective management is to trust your team, give them the tools and resources they need to succeed, and allow them to take ownership of their work. The pride you see grow in each of your team members is well worth the effort.


Rick White ArticlesRick White is President of 180BIZ, a business coaching, and training company specifically for auto repair shop owners. Rick helps auto and truck repair shop owners go from struggling to stay open to being the go-to shop in their market by working smarter, not harder.

He’s taught thousands to not only make more money than they ever thought possible but also to have the time to enjoy it with their family and friends, a true rarity in our industry. Reach out to Rick by emailing him here: