Micromanaged and Overworked: What Can I Do?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors: I am the Head of Operations at a hospital and the pressure is as imagined. This administrative role involves ensuring the business and process end of the Organization is in form. I am also in charge of business development for the Hospital.

I have been burdened with a checklist which the Medical Director demands to see everyday (this is because I have not been diligent with it). The problem is this checklist is not completed through a reported format. It involves me directly unearthing a thousand and one possible process errors committed by any of our medical and non-medical staff in the previous day – from billing to drug request process errors. By the time, I get through correcting things and informing Department Heads, the day is almost gone.

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Work better With Micromanager …

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about micro-manager:

What is a good way to deal with a micro-manager? I try to understand their perspective, but I am very independent person and expect a higher level of trust. I guess the “micro” isn’t as bad as the “manager” – I have a hard time letting someone that doesn’t show very much respect have any level of authority over me. Advice ?!

Signed, Much Managed

Dear Much Managed:

Management theory reasons that subordinates who are less skilled and/or immature need closer supervision. From your self-description, I assume that you see yourself as competent and able to do your job with little or no oversight. Yet you do not provide enough particulars for me to know how long you have been on the job, your level of skills, or do you give examples that you can self-manage. Therefore the advice I give must be generic and possibly not relevant to your job situation. Take the suggestions that apply; discount those that don’t:

1. Review your job description and employment agreement. What skills did you display in your first days at work? What did you lack? How repetitive and variable are your assignments? How are you given instructions; Orally?,In writing? –By demonstration? Was an interim pattern established for telling you when a job was on track and given final approval? During the first few weeks a job history is developing. What was yours and how did you tell your manager that he/she was giving you good, enough, or too much oversight? In short, have you made clear to your manager how you want and don’t want to be managed?

2. Exactly what does your manager do that bugs you? How often does she/he ask how it is going? Does she/he invade your workspace by pointing or taking hold of your work materials? Does she over explain? Change instructions?

3. Have you had a time-out review of you work? Was the appraisal positive? Do you have copies of job evaluations? These should be tangible evidence of how your work is viewed. It should also be an opportunity for you and your manager to converse about what each of you are pleased or displeased in your working relationship. If you haven’t had such a head-to-head talk, your manager dependent on reading your mind or on nonverbal signs that you like of dislike what she/he does.

4. Examine your own attitude toward authority. Do you see why it is the age-old pattern of how organizations work? Superiors have four choices of how to relate–in varying situations to tell, sell, consult, or ignore. Can you list those assignments that you can do without monitoring? Can to list those that need careful instruction? Can you acknowledge that for some assignments you have to be sold on them? Are there projects for which you would like to be consulted and then can develop a time-line that you can post to keep you manager informed of their progress?

5. Is it possible for you to see your manager’s motives as well intentioned? Can you help make his/her job easier by volunteering information rather than resenting oversight? Might you have a more positive feeling about her/him if you saw your job as making him/her look good?Do any of these thoughts apply? You have a voice? You are one who feels she/he works best if respected and trusted to work independently? Have you the guts to make a case for respect and trust? Think though how you want to be treated and put that thought into words.

Habits of management are learned in childhood, in following the lead of others, and in on-the-job encounters. Of course you are aware of to whom you report. Of course you know the chain of command (in a military sense). Of course you are aware that all organizational life is interdependent and political. Of course you see that your workplace depends on team work; in boss/bossed pairs, in small groups, and in interdepartmental relationships. Of course you know that the test of whether you add value is how well you satisfy expectations of internal and external customers. So rather than complain about being micromanaged, or managed at all, can you make you thoughts and feelings known in a positive professional way? I think you can. Working together with skilled hands, hard head, and warm heart takes and makes big WEGOS. If you can convey that kind of attitude and spirit, I predict that micromanagement frustrations will be transformed to exciting interaction between your manager and you.

William Gorden read more

Partners, But One Micromanages Me!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a boss who micromanages and undermines:

I work at a major brokerage firm as an Account Executive. My main responsibilities are running the day-to-day operations and administrative work for two partners that I have been with for over five years. I have been loyal throughout this time period, and they have been very generous and understanding especially during my divorce. I currently do have a problem with one of them. The senior partner for whatever reasons has become very close like family and makes most of the decisions. He is kind and considerate, and during my tough period he and his wife took me under their wing and helped me immensely. Sometimes, I find it difficult to separate personal and business and get emotional, but for the most part I maintain utmost professionalism.

The junior partner has also been kind, but in the last 6 months to a year he has micro managed me to the point of trying to sabotage me. His priorities are not in line with the business and he is gruff and to the point obnoxious. He will never admit that he is wrong and tries to undermine me any opportunity he can get. I am one to admit my faults and mistakes, but I refuse to take responsibility for his lackadaisical attitude of only delegating and not getting involved in any projects, but he is the first to critique me and the first to run to the Senior partner with what I supposedly am doing wrong! How do I handle this situation with poise and grace?

Signed, Need Poise and Grace

Dear Need Poise and Grace:

Thank you for sharing your concerns with us. You are in a tough spot, but there are some things that you might want to consider to help you through it. There’s no way to know what impact your relationship with the senior partner has had on the junior one and his relationship to you. There may be jealousy, resentment, a feeling that you have received more emotional support than needed, that you do not separate personal and business situations enough, that you have become a personal friend of the senior partner while the junior partner feels he is not, that you have assumed more status than he thinks is appropriate, and so forth. You may never know about that for sure. It does appear that the organizational chart has been somewhat blurred because of the personal relationships.

You are essentially the office manager and administrative officer for the two partners, so the junior partner may feel you report equally to both of them. However, it seems that he almost views you as competition. He is, I would think, your supervisor, but I’m not sure that is the way you feel about him. Whatever the causes and problems, it appears you two are likely not going to have the same relationship you have with the other partner. It may be that the one partner is not performing as well as optimal, but that is between him and the other partner. I only mention that to say that partnerships are stronger, because of the financial and business ties, than even good friendships with Account Executives.

So, you had likely better focus on your work and not let the issues of the partner’s work distract you unless it is directly related to your own. Do you have regular meetings with the partners? That might be a time to bring up concerns and ask for the input of both, without blaming the one. Or, ask to meet with the junior partner about some of the issues and express your concerns. Ask the junior partner to go with you to discuss it with the senior partner, if that’s the only way to bring something to a conclusion. Or, just make sure you are doing the right thing and let him be the one running to Daddy, not you. (That’s what it sounds like he is doing!)

The best way to show poise and grace is to stay above the manipulations of someone who is the opposite of how you want to be. You apparently are well established with the senior partner, so I don’t think you need to be fearful of your job. If you are doing the right thing, that will show. If not, you can find out and change it. The main thing is to not get caught up in arguments about it. Nearly always in work situations with partners like that, one person is much easier to deal with than the other. The problems are frustrating and irritating, but do not sound job threatening. If you feel that your job might be at risk, you may want to first talk to the junior partner, then tell him that you see no other option than to talk to the senior partner about your future, since you worry that the environment is such that you won’t be able to keep your job if things continue.

I still go back to the situation that has been present during your personal upsets. Perhaps now that it’s over, the junior partner will feel that things are back to normal and the hierarchy is stable again, so he no longer has to put you back in your place mentally. I think that may have been the motivation for a great deal of this. Best wishes as you work through it. You may never have as positive a working relationship with this person as with the other, but at least you may find a way to have a civil, working relationship that is free of the obvious conflict you’ve felt lately. WEGO is our symbol for building an organization-wide partnership

Tina Lewis Rowe read more