Sam absorbed another company, opened a new division, hired a sales trainer, and brought in a traditional ad agency to increase leads. But after two years, his profit margin and annual sales and business growth was stagnant.

Frustrated with the lack of progress, Sam reached out to the Wizard of Ads for help. It took Sam 24 months to acknowledge what I had told him during our first conversation. After a 30-minute conversation, I said, “Yeah, we can help, but you don’t want us to.”

“What do you mean? Of course, I want you to!”

To which I responded with, “We’re going to accelerate what’s already going to happen and today, you don’t have the foundation of people to support what you want to make happen. If we work together, we will drive you into the ground; you don’t have a consistent employee base [because you have a 47% turnover rate].”

Addressing Employee Turnover and Stagnant Business Growth

When a consultant is direct and honest, there is a moment of silence, and you could have driven a Jeep in low gear through it.

“Here’s the thing, Sam, you’re going to struggle to grow until you find ways to keep your employees. Why do you suppose you keep losing people?”

I’m not sure how many reasons Sam shared about why employees leave his business, but none were about leadership or culture.

Employees want leadership.

Employees want opportunities to grow and the opportunity to add value to the world.

Employees want people to help them become a better version of themselves, and where they work is the most common place for all of that to take place, let alone get paid for it. The challenge is when the ability to grow, add value, and be autonomous is not provided, people leave and find it elsewhere, resulting in stagnant business growth. 

The Pitfalls of Micromanagement

As Sam’s business started and grew, he wore his “I have to do it all” hat (a.k.a. micromanage). He micromanaged his team, requiring them to seek his approval for every decision, even after telling them to “do whatever it takes to make the customer happy.”

This micromanagement leadership style caused three primary problems:

  1. Employees felt untrusted, undervalued, and wanted more autonomy.
  2. Sam experienced high turnover rates (because who wants to run everything past their boss after being told, “Do whatever it takes?”).
  3. The business couldn’t grow because much of the energy needed to grow customers was spent on hiring new employees.

While Sam’s micromanagement had helped him grow his business, it drastically slowed him down as his team expanded. Sam continued to operate as if nothing had changed, but it had.

Up to this point, Sam used his micromanaging skills to successfully grow his business. And that is something to be, and should be, celebrated. But somewhere between employees two and three is where Same needed to upgrade his leadership.

The Power of Trust and Autonomy

By telling his employees to keep the customers happy while asking them to run things past him, his employees felt they were not trusted.

Trust is the foundation of every relationship. His employees did not feel like they were contributing. They felt little autonomy as every decision was verified by (a.k.a. made by) Sam. The thing is, all Sam was trying to do was protect what he’d built… his company. How his words and actions subconsciously impacted those around him was inconsequincial. In his mind, he was trying to do the right thing by his customers and wanting to build a solid reputation.

“What got you here, Sam isn’t going to get you there.”

“But I don’t micromanage my people!”

“Have you asked?”

“Well, no.”

“Great, let’s start there. I have ways to get honest feedback from your employees. Do you want to start there?”

The Transformation: Sam’s Leadership Journey and Business Growth

Sam and I are still in contact. Three of his eight employees left before he gained the feedback he was looking for. He’s hired four new employees and is starting a bench for future hiring opportunities. By changing how he leads, his business has grown by 81%. He has happier employees, and nobody has left since.

It’s crucial to recognize that you, as a leader, have more power than you may realize. How you lead and how others perceive your leadership directly impacts your business success.

You can email Paul Boomer at when you’re ready for guidance with:

  1. Employee retention
  2. Concerns about micromanagement (for yourself or an employee)
  3. Adapting your management style as your business grows
  4. Building trust between you and your team along with team-to-team or;
  5. Seeking feedback and guidance to help you or your leaders identify areas for improvement.