In this week’s Ask a Trainer guest post, Mary Abbajay offers advice for understanding what makes a micromanager tick.
I started a new job at the beginning of the year. There are many aspects of the job that I like, but there’s one big thing that’s driving me crazy: My boss is a horrible micromanager! I’ve always preferred to work independently, but my boss is constantly asking for updates or giving me instructions about details that don’t really matter. It’s driving me crazy. Do you have any advice for how I can work with a micromanager?
Everybody hates a micromanager because nobody likes to be micromanaged. The thing to remember about the micromanager is that they probably have a higher need for information, inclusion, and control—in essence, a need for what we call certainty in the workplace. When their need for certainty brushes up against your need for autonomy, that's going to really feel icky.
When you work for a micromanager, don’t take it personally. It just might be their need for certainty. But if you’re the only person on the team who’s being micromanaged, then you should take that personally because that is about you. That means you’re not giving them something that they need. So, find out what they need, which is usually information, inclusion, and control. Be proactive. Flood them with information. Tell them what they want to know before they ask. Offer them regular, maybe even daily, maybe even bidaily status reports. Make sure you check in with them before you start a project to find out if they have any proclivities around that project and any special wants or needs. Find out what kind of font they like. Find out what the color scheme is on the document.
You’re going to hate doing it. I’m not going to lie—it’s not fun. It’s going to take a lot of extra effort, but it’s the only way to get your autonomy. You have to meet a higher hurdle of trust-building and certainly building with them before they give you your autonomy. It’s sort of like an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You have to give them their certainty before you get your autonomy.
It’s also important to keep in mind that micromanager bosses don’t necessarily have a lot of motivation to change their work style if the organization isn’t asking them to change it. In fact, the micromanager has probably been rewarded for who they are, and they aren’t going to change, so, we're better off learning how to work with these kinds of bosses.
Learn more from Mary Abbajay about managing up with any type of boss on the ATD Accidental Trainer podcast. Her episode will air on December 23.
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