With all of the CEOs I’ve worked with, one of the biggest challenges they face is themselves. In other words, they get in their own way and micromanage their teams. It’s a hard habit to break since they are used to handling so many responsibilities when they first started the company. But as their company grows, they have to start giving up more responsibilities to their employees. Micromanaging your team sends the wrong message and creates a toxic atmosphere. If you want your company to grow, you must create an atmosphere conducive to growth.

Build the right team

The first step is to hire the right people, then groom, and develop them. When you’re confident in your team, you feel comfortable stepping back. Stepping back allows you to spend more time providing strategy, vision, and passion for the organization. What you SHOULD be doing!

The CEO is the visionary, and shouldn’t focus on the daily operational miniscule tasks. I know, easier said than done – and I’ve been guilty of it myself over the years. It all comes down to building the right team, and believing they can do the job.

Loosen your grip

The rock band .38 Special has a song entitled “Hold on Loosely,” which talks about a girl, who’s affectionately known as “baby.” As the song relates to business, think of the “baby” as your company and employees that drive it. I know for a fact that CEOs of small- to medium-sized companies think of their company as their “baby.”

Just hold on loosely but don’t let go

If you cling too tightly

You’re gonna lose control

Your baby needs someone to believe in

And a whole lot of space to breathe in

It’s so damn easy

When your feelings are such

To overprotect her

To love her too much

 — .38 Special, “Hold On Loosely”

CEOs need to hold on of course, but “loosely.” You can still have control, but delegate most of the work. Have meetings, checkpoints, or dashboards to keep you aware of what’s going on with your “baby.”

Allow your team to flourish

If you cling too tightly, you are going to lose control because you are telling your people you don’t believe in them. What’s more, they can’t breathe because you are stifling their creativity. Your company simply can’t grow if you don’t give your employees space to learn and grow.

Just as an expert jockey knows when to loosen the reigns a bit to let the horse run hard and be a winner, your team needs to know they can run and do great things for your company too.

Keep your A-players happy

The biggest detriment from micromanaging is that you’ll lose your A-players, and be stuck with B and C-players. You don’t want that to happen. Every successful company is filled with A-players…spend the bulk of your time with THEM, train your B-players too, and work those C-players OUT!

At one of my previous jobs, I had a micromanaging boss. I once wrote an assignment for him, and he recommended changes. I incorporated the changes, and resubmitted. He then changed HIS changes back to my original submission. “Why am I wasting my time?” I thought. I was so miserable and frustrated with his leadership style, that I couldn’t take it anymore and eventually left the company.

Just remember this:  OVER protecting your company — your baby — will only stop it from growing, much like “helicopter parents” stifle their children’s growth. Starting TODAY, “Hold on Loosely”, but don’t let go. With the right grip, watch your people and your “baby” grow beyond your wildest dreams!

Brian’s Musical Inspiration:

RIFF: Don Barnes of .38 Special came up with the title. It was something he heard Dinah Shore say on her talk show when she had a guest on talking about giving her husband space in their relationship.  Speaking about the range of influences that show up in this song, co-writer Jim Peterik said: “The bridge was straight out of the Doobie Brothers songbook. If I look at that song, it’s kind of a meld of a lot of influences of mine from that time. The eighth notes are very Cars-like from that time and the bridge was “What a Fool Believes” upside down.

BAND ON WIKI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/38_Special_%28band%29

WEBSITE: http://38special.com/

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdLIerfXuZ4

“You’re not the same person I interviewed!” “Who are you, and what did you do with him/her?”

This is a painful situation for a CEO. You’ve had a big hole in your executive team, you find someone you think is the answer to all of your problems, and it happens. You realize this person isn’t who you thought they were. They either don’t have the skills you thought they did, or maybe they came from a larger company and you thought they’d be able to adjust to your small business…but they are used to having a staff and haven’t had to roll up their sleeves and do some of the work themselves vs. delegating to a staff like they used to do.

Sometimes you find that they aren’t a culture fit or even worse…they are downright toxic!

So, what happened…how did you miss it during the interview(s) and “dating stage”? That question reminds me of The Who’s famous rock song:


Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)

I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)

Tell me, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)

‘Cause I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)


— The Who, “Who Are You?”

Tips for Finding the Right Fit

The biggest reason companies get stuck with the wrong employee is that they don’t interview the right way. I’ve seen executives glance over the over the resume five minutes beforehand, and ask questions solely based on the job description. You’re destined for failure with that method.

Instead, you should put some time and effort into devising questions that will aid your company in finding the ideal personnel fit. Shift the focus away from where they worked and went to school, to answering the following questions:

  • Does this candidate fit in with your company’s culture? Try this. Write down you company’s core values. Now ask the prospect how they exhibited one of your core values at one of their prior employers. By the way, this is also a great tool for your EXISTING employees…have them mention in weekly meetings how they exhibited a corporate core value in the past week or how one of their peers did.
  • What exactly does your company need the candidate to do? Tell them you want them to increase sales by 10% in 12 months, or increase margins by 5%, or cut expenses by 3% while still delivering at least the same number of widgits with the same or higher customer satisfaction ratings. Get specific…and make them MEASURABLE!
  • What has the candidate done in the past that can apply to the job today? Get specific and go deep! Ask the candidate what they’ve done that is exactly or very near the same type of work or same deliverables YOU need from them. And, find out what their role was. Did they come up with the idea, lead the team, do the actual deliverable themselves, or what? Don’t stop digging until you know exactly what their role was in it.
  • If the candidate hasn’t done a similar task in the past, then how would they handle a common situation that arises in your company? Sometimes, they haven’t done EXACTLY what you need them to do, but something similar. See how creative they are.

You can listen to their thought processes during the interview and determine if they would be a right fit for your team. If you don’t consider how they play a role in the bigger picture and how they will interact with your current team, then you could end up with an employee who feels like a stranger.

The interview is just the beginning. You need to have a good onboarding process too. Keep your eyes and ears open to see how they interact with you, their peers, and the people who work for them. If you find out early on it’s not the right fit, at least you know now and not months or years down the road. The old saying for small businesses especially…”Hire slowly and fire quickly.” Small business CEOs don’t have the luxury of carrying people, especially executive team members.

Give Toxic Employees the Boot

I’ve had CEOs I’ve worked with who have fired people as quickly as the first week on the job! A couple that come to mind are one who was telling everybody she met one-on-one in the onboarding process how screwed up everything is at the company and how it should be done. GONE! Another new hire who was a sales person told the CEO they had met with a prospect the first week. Well…that prospect was a friend of the CEO and had NOT met with the person. A not-so-little lie the first week on the sales person’s employment violated the core value of trust. GONE!

These mistakes do happen, even when you follow a good interview process, but you can minimize the bad hires by asking questions about core values, making sure the candidate knows exactly what you need them to do, and digging deep in your questions to make sure they’ve done these things in the past or at the very least, are able to articulate how they would handle similar situations they will encounter at your company.

Hopefully, this will mitigate the chances of you having to ask them “Who Are You?”

[Author: “I suppose I could also have used The Who’s iconic song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” for this post too, eh?]   🙂

Brian’s Musical Inspiration:

RIFF: After the 1976 tour, Townshend took most of the following year off to spend time with his family. He discovered that former Beatles and Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein had bought a stake in his publishing company. A settlement was reached, but Townshend was upset and disillusioned that Klein had attempted to take ownership of his songs. Townshend went to the Speakeasy where he met the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones and Paul Cook, fans of the Who. After leaving, he passed out in a doorway, where a policeman said he would not be arrested if he could stand and walk. The events inspired the title track of the next album, Who Are You?  Sadly, drummer Keith Moon died a month after this album was released.

BAND ON WIKI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Who

WEBSITE: http://www.thewho.com/

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdLIerfXuZ4