You’re constantly overwhelmed with decision making. You’re constantly taking projects back from your team because it’s not done right. You’re constantly being peppered with questions on minute details and strange little aspects of a job you hadn’t thought of.
If that sounds like you, we might be in the same boat… “Hi, my name is Stephanie and I am a control freak.”
Realistically, control freak tendencies are pretty common in small business owners and not always a bad thing. But giving in to those tendencies all of the time creates issues across the board in a business. Here’s what I mean…
Control freak tendencies often result in a team that feels they have no freedom or initiative.
This creates a huge bottleneck in the company because everything has to go through the business owner. It impedes growth, and ultimately causes the business owner frustration when things don’t get done on-time because every little thing has to be managed by the business owner.
Additionally, it hinders your team from growing as a team. Instead of a true team that relies on each other and performs at a high level to create incredible opportunities that you could have never seen on your own, you end up with a team that doesn’t know how to complete the simplest tasks because they’re used to you thinking for them.
Ultimately, giving into your control freak tendencies in your business creates a stagnant and frustrating company.
Here’s what can be done
There are a few things that I’ve learned to do, that you can apply too in order to get the results you want!
1: Recognize It
They say the first step in fixing something is recognizing the problem, and it’s 100% true.
The hardest part here is not that you have to recognize that you’re a control freak. It’s recognizing how much it’s actually hurting you instead of helping you. We tend to become control freaks as a safety response to having something abruptly and painfully taken out of our control. It happened to me, and honestly? It just makes sense to just pull everything you can under your control so you don’t have it happen again.
But in order to begin to change, you have to understand that this “make my life better” knee-jerk response is actually hurting you.
What that looked like for me
The moments that I really began to recognize how much my control freak tendencies were hurting me, were the ones when I began to feel frustrated at communicating with my team so much.
I was doing so much micromanaging for them to make sure everything was exactly what I wanted, that we were spending all our time communicating. I got to the point where I didn’t even want to talk to them – a very bad place to be, because they need communication with their leader to be performing at their peak.
On the flip side, once I learned to temper my control freak tendencies my team began to blow me away…
There was one time in particular that stands out, because I created a general “create a promotional video for this event” in our project management software and she just took the prompt and ran with it. I didn’t have to say a single thing to her, and the day it was due she simply turned in a mind-blowing video and asked if I wanted anything changed. I was staggered, and beyond proud and happy with what she had done.
If you’re struggling with control freak tendencies, now is the time to start recognizing the frustration and anxiety it is causing you that you don’t need. You could be working with a team that delivers amazing results without you having to tell them exactly what to do. If you aren’t, it might be time to take a step back and see if your control freak tendencies are causing issues in your business.
2: Be Clear Upfront
If someone knows what parameters they are working with before they ever start a project, they are far less likely to ask questions during the project.
Taking time to give your team a chance to get familiar with what you’re looking for gives them the opportunity to find ways to meet your standards that work for them, while also letting you step out of a micromanaging role.
What that looked like for me
I began to take time before I handed off a project to figure out exactly what I wanted it to look like when it was done.
Then I communicated that to the team members.
Bouncing off the example from earlier, the same team member used to struggle with creating videos that I liked.
She would spend hours on the video, send it to me, and it would be nothing like what I wanted. I would give her 24 different little things to fix, she’d go fix them, and then come back and we would find that there were another 17 things I wanted changed. She was stabbing in the dark, and it reinforced the idea in me that my team wasn’t competent which encouraged control freak tendencies in me.
That all changed when I began to find examples of what I liked and didn’t like, and gave those to her so she knew what the end-product should look like. As soon as I started to find samples of what I wanted and made sure I communicated those things to my team, they began to blow me out of the water and I was able to confidently take a step back from managing them so closely.
3: Set Failure Parameters
This might sound contradictory, but it was actually incredibly helpful!
You know that there are always things that get pushed. Sometimes things fail, and it’s not something that’s avoidable. Instead, knowing what is okay to fail at helps to control the damage of a failure. It helps you know that the things that absolutely have to be done, will get done.
What that looked like for me
In one of our monthly team meetings, I straight up asked my team “When is it okay for us to fail, and when is it not okay for us to fail?”
As soon as we had come up with those lists, I began to see a huge change in my team. They began to see how to prioritize different projects and tasks, and the truly important tasks were (almost) never failed again. They knew when they had a project where they needed to ask questions, that they could do so. They began to recognize where they needed to ask questions and where they could take some liberty and initiative.
It has even gotten to the point where I can trust them to make decisions on the more difficult issues if I’m a little underwater. As soon as I tell them that I’m overwhelmed, they step up and take more initiative until I’m clear again.
Having parameters for safe failures has made a world of difference!
Keep in mind…
Being a control freak doesn’t mean you’re a horrible boss or a bad person!
It’s usually a natural response to trauma of some form, but it is easy to let those tendencies run over other areas of your life and that’s where it becomes a problem. It creates anxiety and frustration for you, and holds your business bad. But it isn’t something to beat yourself up over!
If you’re realizing that you resonate with the struggles I’ve mentioned here, it might be time for you to start implementing what I’ve outlined that worked for me. Letting go of my control freak tendencies turned me into a better leader, and eliminated so much frustration and anxiety in my life.
You can do this! And learning to let go productively will remove growth barriers and anxiety from your business.