Getting a Micromanager off Your Back 

By | October 16, 2014

Kool Derby

Micromanagers look for opportunities to tell you to get to work, even though they’ve probably done it many times before. They get their sense of worth by giving orders. They love busy work, spending most of their day checking things off their lists.

Interestingly, micromanagers are less interested in the results of the work, and more concerned with the process. When possible, they call meetings to discuss requirements that everyone already understands.

A meeting allows micromanagers the opportunity to shine. They walk in with a slick-looking planner, and a few #2 pencils. Upon reaching your spot at the table, you will find an agenda. Since you already know the work required from you and your colleagues, you focus mostly on the last item listed: Adjourn.

Make Them Feel Important

The best way to get along with managers who want to watch your every step is to make them feel important. You can tell them you appreciate the effort they are making, and that the constant reminders help you stay on track.

Here are a few comments that might work:

  • “Dan, I appreciate your email this morning regarding the proposal. I noticed that you left a voicemail before lunch to remind me. I will make sure to get it done by COB today. Have a wonderful day!”
  • “Jane, I did leave 15 minutes before 5 pm today. The training ended a bit early, and I wanted to beat traffic. As you know, I usually work 30 or 40 minutes longer each day. However, I understand that 5 pm is the end of the day, and will make sure to stay here until that time.”
  • “Randy, I’m sorry that I forgot to get your approval before scheduling the meeting with our project team. The customer contacted me this morning, and I needed to run a few items by the team. The issue was minor, and I knew you were meeting with the director, so I didn’t want to bother you. I understand your policy of getting approval before calling a meeting with more than three people. The meeting lasted only 10 minutes, and the customer is happy with our response. Regardless, rest assured that I will get clearance from you in the future.”

Focus on Your Work

No matter how hard you try, it’s near impossible to change the micromanager’s modus operandi. They are going to manage the only way they know, which is constantly looking over your shoulder. Because they are vigilant in their approach, they are qualified for middle management positions. In essence, they are excellent checklist people, and top management understands that these individuals serve a useful purpose.

From your standpoint, stay focused on your requirements. Just as important, though, understand that getting along with micromanagers is important to your success. You must learn how to coexist with them.

Working with micromanagers adds a new dimension to your workday. Be aware of the policies, and do your best to follow them. However, you must continue to be innovative, creative, and agile. For the organization to prosper, it is essential to have individuals who are willing to cause waves here and there.

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