Regulations and Micromanagement

Tom Douglas is perhaps Seattle’s most famous chef/restaurateur with 900 employees and 19 establishments, all within a 10-block radius of his original restaurant, the Dahlia Lounge. So, it was interesting when he told the Puget Sound Business Journal the Seattle City Council and the mayor don’t like business. He stated, “They are not thinking like businesspeople, and yet they want to run our businesses.”

He was referring to increased wage requirements (he supports higher wages but objects to different rules for different sized businesses), scheduling regulations, giving workers input on their schedules, sick pay rules, and more.

While it’s easy to say it’s regulations run amuck (it is), it’s a case of political micromanagement. Micromanagement is bad enough on its own but it’s bad when people with authority and smarts in one area (in this case getting elected and probably nothing else) think they know everything about every issue or situation (especially business).

It’s a good lesson for all businesses. People thrive when you let them fly or crash (pretty much) on their own. There’s a huge difference between being a mentor or coach and a dictator. If we assume Douglas is right (and he’s been pretty darn successful), then the politicians are hurting many small businesses.

I’ve told this story before (but it’s such a great example). A client’s actions were known to his employees as “drive-bys.” He would stand over someone, watch them, make a snarly, passive-aggressive comment, and walk away. No guidance, no input, and no encouragement. He’d find the 5% that wasn’t being done the way he wanted it done and ignore the 95% that was being done as it should be done (or better).

“Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you: You just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.” Bob Marley

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