HUMAN RESOURCES

One Thing You Must Do If You Want Your Business to Grow

Recognizing success sometimes means you have to admit that you are wrong.
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Dear Evil HR Lady,

I am a marketing manager for three small companies, all owned by the same man. It was originally one company which went bankrupt, so he split it into three separate businesses. The problem is I feel they try to prove that I am dumb and incapable of doing anything and force me to quit my job.

What do I mean? During the past three years that I have worked there, the owner micromanaged his company president and all three of them micromanaged everyone and did not want me to take an initiative, they just gave me "ready food" and asked me to execute. You may understand how this can kill a manager's mood.

Two months ago I started to press them and ask them to give me free space to take initiative. They seemed to agree and I was doing fine: I improved the ranking of our newly launched e-shop in the 1st page (from the 11th) of Google, sent an email campaign that boosted the sales, but suddenly I felt as someone was playing with me. Instead of giving me more space--at least as a reward for boosting the sales--the bosses started to send me emails with complaints that I do not follow the basic principles (I hadn't heard of them before) and that I am slow. They required me to keep a schedule of work (I don't know anyone else in this company who keeps a detailed timetable) I didn't understand why they chose this moment and this way, written. When I responded in writing, they told me that this is a sign of disrespect.

I feel stuck here,  having to deal with three bosses (one of them son of the owner) and the owner as well trying to prove that I am capable. They now give me directions to make something urgently, I prepare it before the due date, when it's ready they change the directions totally and then they keep complaining that I am not fast.

Should I keep doing my job? Should I do my job as they want or should I leave? Please help me because I'm starting to lose it!

--Micromanaged Marketing Manager

Dear Marketing Manager,

Before I answer your question, I want to focus what the big problem is here, and that is the owner cannot let go. He's hired people to run his companies and he micromanages them. They, in turn, micromanage you (and the other employees), and everyone is so focused on making sure it's done the right way that they neglect to notice what the results are. Instead of learning from the bankruptcy that things need to be done differently, he's ensuring that they are done the same way.

And, so, even though you have demonstrable results (increased Google page rank and increased sales) because you didn't do it the way the owner would do it, it counts against you.

Here is my plea to small business  owners everywhere: If you want your business to grow you must recognize success even if it's not done the way you thought would be best.

Now, I know that the little things matter and those little process type things can make a huge difference in the success or failure of a company. But, when there is evidence that this different way of doing things is working, and not only working, but working better than the way the owner was doing it, it is imperative that these changes be acknowledged and rewarded, not pushed down and punished because it wasn't done the right way. As long as a business owner is more focused on doing it "his way" than looking at results, the business will fail.

And now, to address the marketing manager's question. I can't tell you whether you should leave or not. There are plenty of good reasons for staying in a less than optimal job. After all, we call it work for a reason. If the pay, location, benefits, flexibility, or what have you is enough to counteract the micro-managing, then stay and do it they way they want you to.

However, I recommend that you freshen up your resume, including the outstanding results you've achieved and start looking for a company which will recognize that your ideas have value and that results matter more than process does. It's always easier to find a job when you have a job and so when you an tell that they aren't pleased with you,  it's best to start looking.

Have a problem employee or a people management question? Send your questions to EvilHRLady@gmail.com.

IMAGE: socialeurope/Flickr
Last updated: Apr 15, 2013

SUZANNE LUCAS | Columnist

Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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