My boss is a serious micromanager! There are times when he literally stands over my shoulder and not only watches me work, but “directs” my work. I love the work I do and I really want to keep my job, but my boss is driving me crazy. So crazy that I have already drafted my resignation letter! How can I talk with my boss about his management style? - Ready to Resign
Dear Ready to Resign:
I have worked with my share of micromanagers (supervisors and bosses) who do not trust their employees to carry out and complete the day-to-day job functions they were hired to do. I understand that when employees are not given the space and autonomy to do the job they were hired to do, it can make for a very uncomfortable and unproductive working environment, not to mention a very long workday.
But just because your boss is managing your every move, it doesn’t mean you have to resign or ignite a job search, especially if you enjoy the work that you do. Before you take such drastic measures, you should try to figure out why your boss is a micromanager and if there is a way to diffuse the situation.
First, examine yourself and your work ethic. Is there something you have done that gives him reason to micromanage you? Think about your work performance, attitude, attendance, etc. It can be hard for many people to admit that they may have done something to inspire extra scrutiny from a boss. They are so irritated by being micromanaged that they fail to see their own contribution to the situation. This makes it even harder for an employee to correct behavior and/or make necessary changes that could resolve the entire situation.
If you can honestly evaluate yourself and can’t find a reason that provokes your boss’ behavior, then maybe he is a micromanager by nature, in which case he may treat other employees the same way. It doesn’t make it right, but at least you know it’s not a personal attack on you. In this scenario, it becomes your responsibility to figure out how to best work with your boss if in fact you want to keep your job. I know this is not the answer that you may want to hear, but there are times when we have to learn how to deal and work with difficult people.
When I was faced with a similar situation, I got to the root of the issues that made my boss a micromanager. I realized the biggest issue was “trust.” I worked for a small company and my boss was also the owner and founder of the organization. When you have 150 percent invested interest in the success of the company, you tend to micromanage almost every aspect of the company. Even after you hire employees, it’s hard to let go of control and trust the employees to have the same stake in your business. Understanding why a boss is a micromanager can help you better deal with the situation and better understand your boss.
Sit down and have an honest conversation with your boss about the way you work and communicate. Be confident and upfront, but be sure to check your attitude and irritation at the door! Try to come up with ways to keep your boss informed and in the loop about your work and activities. A weekly update or summary report may give your boss the peace of mind he needs to know you are on top of your job and let him know that he can trust you to perform without looking over your shoulder.
Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It (due out Spring 2011), Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at www.tamararallen.com.