Published on February 26th, 2016 | by Nancy F. Clark0
Do You Need To ‘Manage Up’ Your Micromanager Boss?
By Maria Gamb—
Most of the time I write and teach about how to manage, motivate and appropriately communicate to your teams. Just about every time I do a live keynote or workshop there are a few brave souls raising their hand asking me, “I can handle my team but my boss is a nitpicking micromanager who is making the environment tense.” Several others nod their heads in agreement. We then head down the rabbit hole to the land of “managing up.”
Managing up is the term for the ability to set boundaries with your boss as to how you’re going to stay in dialogue, set priorities on a day-to-day basis and establish check in points along the way. Simple, right? Not so fast, this can be particularly difficult to maintain when your boss portrays what is considered a “Tracker’ behavioral style according to the WorkTraits™ compatibility system. They are, in essence, speaking a completely different language and may have perceptions diametrically opposed to yours. That is, unless they are speaking to and working with another person with the same style. This varies with the degree of intensity.
Meghan’s manager is Sally. Sally asks to see every report Meghan and her team creates. Sally also wants daily updates on projects, activities and cc’s on all correspondence. When communicating with Meghan or the team she is super detailed with her instructions, resulting in many of them sucking in their breath deeply and trying not to roll their eyes, as the lengthy instructions are delivered. Sally expects them to be neat, orderly and organized in their process. Any diversion creates the need for yet another meeting and another lengthy dissertation on the correct processes and benchmarks even though the team is already clear.
Meghan is exasperated and frustrated by this behavior, as is the team. She has one of two choices. Flee the scene or learn how to take a proactive approach to this manager and foster trust so Sally won’t be so involved with the team on a day-to-day level. Fleeing the scene often looks like the best option, but I assure you there will always be a “Sally” lurking in your next workplace.
Try this proactive approach to your micromanager:
- They Like Details – When possible, present the plan of action along with the steps that will be taken for whatever each project or opportunity. They think in steps, sequences and order. This is a critical key in unlocking their cooperation with you. Be the initiator of this process and ask them for their input.
- They Prefer Black & White – Present information in facts more than feelings when you are making your case or expressing your position. They are not big risk takers so it’s important for them to base all decisions on facts.
- Systems Feel Safe – They like a systematic approach, because to them, this provides accuracy in your reporting. Accuracy is everything to them. They prefer to have quality vs. quantity.
- Close the Loop – Be prepared to report back with the details of the project, how it’s going, or went, and clearly express closure to the project. Loose ends always need to be tied up. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “We’ve completed the project and tied up all loose ends.” They will ask you more questions, but ultimately you’ll see a proverbial sigh of relief over them when they know it’s tied up in a bow.
- Ask for Feedback & Build Trust – By asking if she has any feedback on how you handled the project it gives you the opportunity to see what may need to be done more efficiently next time. It also reminds her that you did a good job and next time she’ll be more willing to delegate to you. And that’s what you really want, isn’t it?
Consistently, taking a proactive approach, which is in alignment with their behavioral style, helps eliminate unnecessary stressors in the workplace. When you know what another person needs and wants in their exchanges with you, it’s easy to meet those expectations. It also builds trust. They know you’ve heard them and that you can be trusted to work in a manner that is responsible. She will be far more inclined to loosen the reigns and allow you to run the course alone down the road—just be sure to use the same 5 touch points, every time. We all like consistency and predictability, especially “Trackers.”
Maria Gamb is the Amazon Top 10 best-selling author of “Healing the Corporate World” and CEO of NMS Communications, the corporate consulting and training company. Website: www.MariaGamb.com Twitter: @mariagamb