4 Ways To Deal With A Micro-Managing Boss

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I’ve always viewed a boss’s job as developing/coaching/mentoring the people in his/her organization, knocking down barriers to their success (usually meaning the pukes at the corporate office) and making sure they were fully equipped and enabled.  From there, if you’ve been good at hiring great people, you treat them like adults, stay out of their way and let them do what you hired them to do.

No one likes a boss who is constantly in your grill, checking up on you way too often and involved in a level of detail that really should be yours not theirs.  That’s “micro-managing” and not only is it annoying as hell, when a boss micro-manages they effectively do three things to those they supervise:

1) Subvert them 2) Kill their motivation 3) Create self-doubt in them.  In other words, micro-managers are just plain awful and unbearable bosses who will likely lose all of their employees over time.

If you’re under the supervision of one of these “oatmeal north of eyebrows” controllers, what can you do aside from meeting them in the parking garage tonight and kicking their ass (while perhaps preferred, that’s not my recommended path for career advancement)? 

That’s an especially difficult question if you don’t want to just leave your job.  But, if you can find ways pacifying your micro-manager’s stress, you may be able to eventually get the level of freedom in your job you both want and deserve.  Here’s some things you can do:

*Determine Which Micro-Manager Boss You Have Based On Their Behavior – There’s often three types:
-Lofty Standards – These are managers, Steve Jobs was one, who have extremely lofty high standards and want to retain a large degree of control. 

-Control Freaks – These are compulsive and uncontrolled micro-managers who have a need to make it clear to everyone around (even themselves) that they are large and in charge, they’re the boss and you’re not.  From them you’re going to receive little freedom, they’ll insist that they be involved in every single detail.  They’re literally obsessed with control.

-Inexperienced Or Fundamentally InsecureThey are “relatively” new to his or her role, usually haven’t been managing others more a 3-5 years.  With inexperience comes insecurity because they have need to understand every single thing each of their employees is doing in order to sleep better at night and stay out of the gun-sights of their own manager, who they’re afraid of. 

*Increase Trust – A micro-manager’s worldview is that “if you want it done right you have to do it yourself.” They trust no one.  Painful as this may be, you need to make an earnest effort to continually earn your manager’s trust by succeeding in the dimensions that she cares about.  Put simply, over-deliver.  You not only need to produce results but need to do it in a way that doesn’t increase your boss’s stress.  If a project is due Thursday, turn it in Tuesday and make sure it’s more than they asked for when you give it to them.  When asked to be somewhere at a certain time arrive early and fully prepared. When you consistently go above and beyond, some micro-managers will eventually begin to trust you.

*Over-CommunicateMicro-managers are driven by anxiety. Nobody does things as well as they do.  Therefor, managing others and being responsible for their results actually drives them crazy – literally.  You can often tackle this with a ridiculously high volume of communication, keeping them informed of your status and progress. You can schedule check-ins that make him feel part of the process –
*Anticipate Their Requests – The trick is to always stay a few steps ahead of them. This means anticipating the granular-level criticisms they’ll no doubt have before they express them and having bulletproof responses at the ready. Demonstrate to them that a more hands-off approach is warranted when it comes to managing you.

So here’s the net, net.  Unfortunately you’re reporting to a manager who is not normal.  Even though they hired you they don’t trust you because of their own hang-ups, NOT yours.  You have to understand what keeps them awake at night, what their insecurities are and relieve their concerns with over-communication and over-delivering.  Give them a continual flow of more than enough tangible and demonstrated reasons to trust you.  

Failing all of the above, stay calm and avoid the use of car bombs.  You have two choices.  One, pursue a position under a different manager in your company (I’d suggest approaching doing this through Human Resources).  Two, update your resume and get out of Dodge. 

If this all sounds like what you’re dealing with and you’d like to chat, give me a call and we’ll work through it.  It’s what I do and I’m here for you.

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