After months of applying, you’ve finally landed your dream job. To your horror, this dream quickly turns into a nightmare when it appears that your boss is a complete control freak.
To get ahead in your career, there is nothing more important than good support and guidance. Not only your colleagues are of fundamental importance, but certainly your manager whose encouragement and trust can give your career a real boost.
Too often incapable managers have the bad habit of being too controlling. There is nothing more demoralising for employees than a boss who checks everything you do to all the minute details as if he doesn’t trust any of his employees. This kind of micromanagement can and will have severe consequences and on several occasions companies have seen good or very good employees leave.
Learn all about micromanagement and what you can do about it in how to manage a micromanager.
What exactly is micromanagement?
When a boss is micromanaging, he tries to exert total control over the activities of his employees, also the ones not directly related to your work. This can even go as far as counting the number of times that you go to the toilet or the number of times you take time off. They will scrupulously monitor whether you are not taking too long at the coffee machine and more of this nonsense. I think you get the gist of what is happening here. Unfortunately, generally micromanagement is not seen as a symptom of a poor organization, but as a symptom of a bad manager only.
The main reason that managers resort to micromanagement is uncertainty. This is about two uncertainties that can fortify each other. The first is the uncertainty of the manager of his own skills as a manager. The second is the uncertainty of the manager about the qualities of his employees.
Uncertainty of his own skills may be attributed to the fact that a manager may have never had the opportunity to practice skills that are important as a manager. In short, the organization and/or the manager are not prepared for his new task. The inevitable result will be that the manager is not able to recognize the qualities of his employees and therefore cannot trust them.
The point with micro managing is that it is a symptom of an organisation in which confidence is lacking at all levels and between all layers of management. In addition, the goals of the organisation are more important than its people, with the result that the people go to every effort to realise the goals. The downside is that people no longer see the dangers that come from outside, they are fully focused on achieving their own goals. But because they do not trust each other and themselves, they move to more micromanagement in the hope of ensuring that they will achieve their goals.
Another symptom of such an organisation where mistrust prevails is an increase in rules and an attempt to motivate people with money to do their work. A manager will then become increasingly dependent on such an organisation and its goals, leading to even more micromanagement.
If an organisation suffers from micro managers talking about unexplained sick leave, then you can safely speak of a failed organisation. The goal of the organisation is in fact no longer met.
It will look like the purpose of the organisation no longer is to make the necessary profit, but the focus will be on sustainability of the micro managing managers and sick leave. One tactic previously used is to move out managers who prove unsuitable for their work, a consequence of the famous Dilbert principle.
Another tactic is to increase the number of rules and regulations that must be met. But there can also be an increase in the number of managers that are involved in the maintenance of the rules. Or there could be an increase in the number of managers who are involved in the solving of disasters by creating more rules that lead precisely to new calamities. These organisations go nowhere.
Employees generally have excellent skills and a wealth of expertise, but because the micro manager knows constantly better and think you can work faster, productivity will suffer. It creates a risk-avoiding culture. Staff will do nothing new or innovative if they feel their manager breathing down their necks, waiting for the moment when things go wrong.
Micro Management will endanger growth; you cannot expect a team or business that is micromanaged to grow. You need support, errand boys and leadership as well within an organisation so that you only need to think about strategic issues.
Micromanagement has a negative impact on morale and commitment. It can lead to high staff turnover and difficulties in finding and retaining talent.
What can you do if you are saddled up with a micromanaging boss?
1 Discus with your boss that he gives you the bigger picture
Supervisors are often working under pressures that we can’t anticipate or understand. Your boss may have been coping with numerous client demands or his own micromanaging supervisor. In this case, your boss had to have his team meet a hard nightly deadline. He should have found a better way to manage his anxiety, but knowing the gravity of his responsibility helped you cope. Ask your boss to share as much as he can about his workload. Ask yourself what you can do to produce the best results for him.
2 Take initiatives
If you have been in the situation before, you can anticipate what your boss will do. Learn to give your boss progress reports before he asks for them. It is easier to compose and send frequent email updates on your own timetable than to field interruptions. You could have prepared your staff before meetings for the likelihood that the vice president would reject your ideas.
3 Ask your boss what he expects from you
It can be tough to communicate with someone who is oblivious about his faults, which is the most obvious of characteristic in micro managers. But it can help to ask him to explain what tasks he wants you to perform. For example, a boss wants every team member accounted for by 9 a.m. You can then coordinate with his team and ask them to call you if they were stuck in traffic or facing other delays. You could have promised the boss that you would report any expected latecomers.
4 Show understanding
After a clash with your boss, ask for a meeting and start by saying you understand that the situation might have been difficult for him. You can say you realise it was probably not the right time for you to interrupt your meeting and go for coffee; you should have asked if it was appropriate to take a break. If you share the blame with him, that can help you move forward.
5 Consider changing jobs
Unfortunately in many cases nothing works. You have tried everything from communicating, empathising and being proactive, but your boss’s bad habits persist. You should then give up on improving the relationship and start to look for a new job.
Conclusion + recommendation
If you decide to move on, this could be within the same organisation, if big enough, or outside your current company, which is preferable when the whole management structure is infected by the same issues.
But why would you change to another company where you could encounter the same or other traumatising problems? Why not start your own business and be your own boss? And even better, why do you not work from home, so that you can work in your own time?
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