Dealing with a micro-managing boss?


You talk about leaders not micro-managing but I have an executive boss who just won’t leave me alone.

Because he used to do my job ten years ago he thinks he knows how it should be done – but the world has changed.

What can I do to get space to breathe?

First I suggest you take the time to understand and explore what’s behind his micro-managing: what is it that he is concerned about that will or won’t happen if he doesn’t? If you don’t understand this then nothing you do will have any effect.

Try a mixture of guesswork, experimentation, asking others if they know and asking him direct questions to reveal his thoughts. It might not be easy if you don’t have the best working relationship but it is so important if you want things to change.

Once you have the answer (or a possible answer), use this information to reshape how you present yourself and what you focus on. When you seem to be getting somewhere then concentrate on taking actions that mitigate his concerns and position yourself as a safe pair of hands.

Then go off and gather hard data on how the world is different today and use the data to re-educate your manager, also establishing through this process that you know what you are doing.

Don’t simply say “this is how it is”, tell the story from how things used to be through the changes that explain the current situation.

What is it that he is concerned about that will or won’t happen if he doesn’t?

If the problem is that he wants to do your job rather than his new role, then your job is to help him find a new interest that excites him and support him in the change.

You might be tempted to think “that’s not my job” but don’t do that – your real job is not to be too proud to do whatever you need to do (within the boundaries of your moral compass) to get what you want.

Posted in Leadership.

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