I received an e-mail this morning asking me for help in dealing with a micromanager. To make matters worse, this person turns ten minute meetings into two hour sessions. I thought I would share my reply since this seems to be a problem that is common throughout organizations.
While doing research for my book, Suddenly in Charge, I heard story after story about bosses who were managing their people’s every move. So much so, that I wondered how they had time to get their own work done.
Micromanagement is about lack of trust. The person doing this doesn’t trust that others will do the work the way she would. Your job is to build trust. You do this by doing what you say you will do and when you can’t, letting your boss know immediately why promised work may be delayed.
Regarding the time sucker issue. Chances are your boss doesn’t realize the impact these meetings are having on her people. You might consider the following: Look at why it’s in her best interest to keep to the time allotted. For example, you could say, “Jane, I’m wondering if you would consider providing us with a more realistic ending time for our meetings. By that I mean, if you expect the meeting will last more than the ten minutes allotted, perhaps you can tell us exactly how much time will be needed so that we can schedule our calendars accordingly. By doing so, this will allow us to be fully present when we meet and will help us do a better job of servicing our clients.” You could also point out that by doing so, she too will be able to leave work on time so she can get to her evening MBA class.
Adjusting to the situation at hand is the best way to deal with a micromanager, as it is rare that your boss will adjust to you.
What has worked for you when you’ve been in a similar situation?