How To Prevent Workplace Heartbreak Key #2
Heartbreak Prevention Key #2 -
How To Prevent Heartbreak From Micro-managing Whether Doing It or Receiving It
Are you guilty of cultivating a climate of fear and anxiety in the people who report to you? They know you’re going to be scrutinizing everything they do, and with nearly predictable regularity they can expect to hear how they should be doing it differently, how they didn’t approach it the way you wanted (even though you never spelled that out before hand), and how they must get back to you shortly with a “new and improved” methodology or end-product.
On the other hand, are you guilty of putting up with this kind of micro-managing—not just on occasion, but regularly? You complain to your like-wise complaining teammates. You swallow what you’d like to say to your manager when s/he nitpicks your work. You tell yourself you need your job and you better not complain or you could be visited by HR and offered a severance package.
Either way, micro-managing isn’t good for anyone, much less the success of your company! So what to do?
As The Manager:
In our experience very few managers at any level have received extensive, much less appropriate managerial training. And the further up the management ladder anyone goes, the more their skills and emotional intelligence are taken for granted rather than examined and improved upon. So, let’s start with compassion for managers who micro-manage because very often they are in need of actual, solid, trustworthy managerial skills. They usually mean well, have the best interests of their employees and the company in mind, but don’t know any way to “cover the bases” but to act out their worry and possessiveness of each and every project.
In order to transform this approach, which will be appreciated by everyone involved, here are managerial skills you can learn to implement starting now.
*** First, please understand that “the other person is not you.” That means that when you make assignments, spell out the goals of a project, and/or emphasize the critical nature of something new you are all about to work on you MUST keep in mind that not one of your team members listens the way you do, thinks the way you do, or works the way you do. They are not you and you must make sure they understand you by checking with them at the start of an assignment to assure clarity of expectations.
than feeling the need to hover over your employees, create a regular
check-in cadence (which might be a daily stand up, weekly team meeting,
or 1-on-1s at least every two weeks) which will allow you to stay up to
date on your teams’ progress, and allows them to get your feedback at
*** And remember that everyone who reports to you passed the rigors of your recruiting process. They are smart, educated, and experienced. They want to do the right thing. They want to get your approval. They want to help make the company more successful. And they want you to back off and allow them to flourish while they provide you the excellence they can provide.
(This is not to say that sometimes you will have to provide direct and nearly harsh feedback to the person who is not achieving desired results, but that should be a rare event if you are hiring and onboarding with desired goals and clarity in mind).
As The Employee:
If you’ve been in the habit of “just taking it” when your micro-managing manager gets in the weeds with you and your work, please rethink this. Rather than “just taking it” you can use this experience to grow your voice, your POV (point of view), your professional brand. You may think I just got “airy-fairy” and you’ll get fired if you speak up, but hang tight. I’m not going to advise anything that will get you in trouble. Quite the contrary.
*** Remember that your manager really does want you to do the right thing, to satisfy what will allow you all to go forward as powerfully as possible, in other words to succeed! But your manager never mastered the art of exceptional management and is actually nervous to the point of worrying about everything, including you and your work style/output. So first, rather than harboring a fear of your manager, take it on to help your manager trust you by being open to revealing your POV very early in a project.
*** This means that you will need to practice speaking up. As I said, it’s time to grow your voice, to practice being very clear about your POV re objectives and work style so your manager can understand where you are coming from throughout the project. When you show you care about your manager being informed and in the loop, you will have gone a long way toward helping your micro-manager relax and trust you.
*** And while you practice
developing your voice and your POV, be aware that you are also
developing your professional brand—in other words being specific about
how you approach your work, your team-mates, your success. The more you
are clear, the better you can spell out what your manager can expect to
receive from you, the better you can deliver in a timely manner, and
increasingly allow your micro-manager to see that you are a true
professional who will not allow detailed interference or hyper-judgment
of your work product. This benefits everyone involved. (And if you
cannot achieve respectful treatment from your manager, you must leave
and go where you will not be oppressed or suffer any other kind of
What can you add to these keys to avoiding heartbreak when a micro-manager is your boss?
Judith Sherven, PhD and her husband Jim Sniechowski, PhD have developed a penetrating perspective on people’s resistance to success, which they call "The Fear of Being Fabulous[tm]." Recognizing the power of unconscious programming to always outweigh conscious desires, they assert that no one is ever failing—they are always succeeding. The question is, at what? To learn about how this played out in the life of Whitney Houston for example, and how it may be playing out in your own life, check out their 6th book.
Currently consultants on retainer to LinkedIn providing transformational executive coaching, leadership training and consulting as well as working with other corporate and private clients around the world, they continually prove that when unconscious beliefs are brought to the surface, the barriers to greater success and leadership presence begin to fade away. You can learn about their core program “Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous” here.
Their 7th book, short and to the point, “25 Power Speaking Tips That Will Leave Your Audiences Wanting More,” is available on Kindle here.
And if you are involved in marketing, you may be interested in their 5th book “Love Your Customers and They Will Love You Back.”