Maybe you haven’t worked for a micromanaging boss, but no doubt you’ve heard about them. Employees buzz about these bosses over lunch, complain about them around the water cooler, and chew them up around the family dinner table.
At the least, for the individual reporting to such managers, frustration leads to deep-seated resentment that often triggers a job change or career move.
You may recognize some of these behaviors from bad bosses. If so, you may find the antidotes that follow each description helpful to keep projects on track—and to stay sane.
These micromanagers never seem to focus on the positive. Instead, their first comment calls attention to your inconsequential mistake. For example, they ask for trivial back-up data that you failed to bring with you to the presentation.
Or: They imply that maybe you have misunderstood the politics surrounding a situation and therefore have written the related email with a more aggressive tone than appropriate.
Or: Rather than the positive result of your project, their focus is always on your “failure” to distribute your project results to all the “correct” people.
These micromanagers may
So if you work for a micromanaging boss, your first two challenges are to develop trust and help your boss feel secure. Tall order!
Effective leaders assign a project, state the goal, provide the resources, communicate any warnings or safeguards, and state any required check-back points along the way. Then they let you go about your task until it’s completed.
Micromanagers, however, haven’t learned how to delegate. Instead, they assign a project, blindfold team members, and then lead them through the process. Result: A huge waste of time for the micromanagers themselves and frustration for the team members.
Although great leaders learn to hire people smarter than they are in key disciplines, micromanagers feel less confident. Often, they feel out of control around brilliant staff members and colleagues.
So they have to keep reminding people that they are the smartest person in the room. They communicate that know-it-all attitude in various ways: by doing all the talking, by refusing to listen to new ideas, by lots of I-told-you-so lines and with a plethora of war stories.
Ultimately, your own strategic decisions about “managing” your micromanager determine your success—and satisfaction—in the job.
Learn more ways to work with a micromanageing boss in Communicate Like a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire, and Get Things Done