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