How Do You Deal With A Micromanager?
by Eric Boehme
What can you do if you discover that your boss is a micromanager? Working with a micromanager is generally a losing proposition. You may feel you can learn to live with the tyranny, but there are consequences.
First, decide if you want to continue to work for this person. If you can find another job you like with a different manager within the company, your answer should probably be "no." If your answer is "yes" then you must make changes. You must respect your abilities and talent enough to ensure that you are being fully utilized. If you do not respect yourself, you will be miserable. The onus is on you ultimately.
If you have decided to continue to work under the microscope and have no other immediate alternatives you must make a promise to yourself. You must commit to "managing up." If you do not know what that means, I have written several posts that will explain what it is and how to do it effectively. You must commit to working through the issues appropriately with your boss. I really emphasize appropriately. Inappropriate behavior on your part will and should get you fired.
Rule #1- Stay emotionally neutral in all discussions with your boss. Do not raise your voice. Even if you are ready to scream, keep it inside. An emotional outburst on your part will give a micromanager all he needs to continue controlling everything you do.
Rule #2 - Ask if you can be direct with your boss. You should ask permission to be "frank." Why? Many micromanagers are not mature enough to have a direct conversation. So if the conversation goes south, you can always remind your boss that you asked if you could be direct.
Rule #3 - Give concrete examples where you "feel" you have been treated inappropriately. This is the hardest part, but the most important. You should prepare for this part of the discussion very diligently. The examples must be recent. They should be the best examples you can think of where the micromanager cannot refute what actually happened. If it is totally fact based the only way a micromanager can deny what you are saying is by manipulating truth. That is another whole issue.
Rule #4 - Your goal should be to change one behavior. That's right, just one at a time. That is all your micromanaging boss can probably handle. This will be an incremental process, so get ready for a commitment. An example would be for you to get your micromanager to let you be responsible for one task completely without his approval. Focus on things that you do that you know should be your responsibility completely. Your boss should not have to put a stamp of approval on it. Even sell the idea as removing something off his already unmanageable schedule.
Rule # 5 - If you are not getting anywhere with your boss during this process you must decide to escalate this up to the next level. But remember, micromanagers tend to hire micromanagers, so assess your boss's boss. Even if he is a micromanager you still must give that manager the opportunity to address your concerns. This is critical. It is only fair that you treat your managers as you want to be treated. Even if you do not think it is fair or necessary. Trust me on this.
Rule # 6 - If the management team does not address this issue, your next step is Human Resources (if you have an HR department).
If all goes sour and you have no HR, start dusting off that resume and pounding the pavements. You do not belong there.
Eric Boehme may be contacted at http://www.beatyourowndrum.com/career firstname.lastname@example.org
16 year veteran in Inforamtion Technology Management. My blog, "The Blogging Boss" is dedicated to helping people with their careers. I deal with management, time management, career development, work.life balance and many other career related topics.