Help me, I am Micromanaged


suit_bananaI have previously written about the consequences of micromanagement (see links below) and how to deal with a micromanager. In general micromanagement is by far the most popular topic on my blog – and this is basically because people search in despair for solutions to their problems with Google at lunchtime.

A micromanager is a person with extreme need to control and oversee progress. They lack trust on their employees or feel that they don’t give as much as themselves. Their strengths are in eye to details but the flipside is crushing motivation and driving people into despair until they quit their job. Now most people who find this blog knows what a micromanager is, they are searching the internet trying to figure out how to deal with a micromanager.

Let’s start with the beginning. Why are you being micromanaged in the first place? It could be one of these few reasons:

  • Your boss does not trust you to deliver on time or to the expected quality.
  • Your boss feels that he/she lacks information about your progress.
  • Your boss has a researcher brain, with an extreme attention to detail and feels that everybody else is sloppy.
  • Your boss lacks confidence in you.
  • Your boss wants you to quit, and micromanagement is a sure way to do so.
  • You have failed to deliver before and he/she feels that they must supervise you.

The reasons can be plenty, but the solutions are often the same.

What is the micromanagers drive? Control, need of information, lack of trust are some key issues to address. They are most likely worried about the outcome.

There is actually a small chance that you might deserve to be micromanaged. Especially is you have failed to deliver before, or obviously lack the skill to be good. I will address this topic too.

Listen and ask for confirmations
Start by addressing the need for information and the need for detail orientation. Ask for a meeting to review your job or project. Most likely it would be enough to ask for help on a project and they will keep on talking. So be specific. Ask what kind of reports are requested, ask about frequencies and details to the report. Ask about what they expect and how you can meet their expectations. Show them how you think, and ask for their opinion. Ask if they prefer calls, face to face meetings, email status or a written report. This creates trust, and you feed their information need. You also get a few pointers on how to give feedback.

Vocalize your plan and gain acceptance
When you are done listening, tell what you plan to do: Say what you will do first and when you will report. And use this sentence: “I will do [your plan] and I will report the progress to you at [exact time], I will start at [your desired time] and in order to meet the deadline I must be able to work undisturbed. If I need you I will ask you, and you will get a report on time. Does this sound good to you?” – This will comfort a micromanager, well most of them. The important part now is up to you, meet deadlines, report back as agreed and make sure to do it before the agreed times.

A mosquito net just won’t do it, if you have the hovering kind of micromanager around you. However, be one step ahead. When you see him/her approaching, say this: “Just the person I am looking for, I need your input on this project I am working on, do you have time to show me now, or can I schedule a time for a meeting?” You will either be disturbed for 40 minutes or you will be disturbed for 40 minutes later. However, you are in charge. And you display trust in this person and appreciate their knowledge. (The kind they assume you lack) – As soon as you are done, reply with a confirmation and follow up with what I said in the previous paragraph. Ask for a meeting to clarify your project and apply the techniques that you have read about here.

One last quick tip to recommend is to volunteer for task you know you are good at. It is all about creating trust in your efforts and skill.

As I said earlier, you might also be micromanaged because you deserve to be. The good news is that the solution is the same. By asking, telling and confirming you create trust, by delivering on time you also display ability to deliver.

I assume you love your job, or at least will have a hard time finding another job, so the last solution might not be an option: Quit your job. Before you try this dramatic approach think about these two outcomes: 1) What if you are the problem? You will be micromanaged again. 2) There is probably a chance that you will meet another micromanager, even if the chances are well…. Microscopic… Learning to deal with a micromanager will often be a better solution in the long run.

As a last bonus flipside of the micromanagement coin, here is a small treat:

A micromanager is quite often very detail oriented with a high sense of quality, play this to your advantage and whenever you have a task that require this kind of attention, delegate or involve them. They will have a blast helping you, and you will gain more trust.

More from me about micromanagement:

The rule of a micromanager
In this post, I wonder where the micromanagers are hiding. Most people search for information on how to deal with a micromanager. Quite few (none) seek for “how to stop micromanaging” – probably because they don’t know?

Dealing with micromanagement
I already addressed this issue on how to deal with a micromanager in a previous post. It is a great addition to this one.

Consequences of micromanagement
The consequences of micromanagement can be devastating. This post is by far the most popular article I have ever had on my blog. If you want to see the ugly side of micromanagement read on…

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