All of us at some point in our careers are probably going to deal with a micro-manager leaving us frustrated or disempowered.
Understand the Different Communication Styles
Florence Littauer in her book “Personality Plus at Work” talks about the importance of understanding our preferred method of both giving and receiving information. But more importantly, to understand the communication style of the person that we’re talking to. They may well have a different style to us.
As an employee, reporting to a manager, you are well within your rights to communicate your preference for how you would like to receive information. Likewise, we all have a preferred learning style, how we like to take on board new information or skills. Most of us are visual, some of us can be kinaesthetic or auditory.
If you are aware of your own personal communication and learning style, you’ll be more aware of where you are likely to miss information being supplied to you.
Likewise, your manager likes to receive information in a way that is different from you. Frustrations will develop if you are providing information in your preferred method, however, they may prefer it in another way, feeling they are not getting all the information they require.
Learn How to Assert Yourself
Assertiveness is not about being overly confident or being aggressive. Every one of us has the right to assert our own wants and needs. However, we need to be able to communicate this in a way that is professional, or with a level of emotional intelligence.
One way of asserting yourself is the ‘soft no’. That is, rejecting a request without being aggressive, confrontational or passive in your response. Language like, “How urgent is this for you?” or “If I get this to you by Friday will that be okay?” or, “Is this something that needs to be done by me or could this be better managed by someone else?”
Suspend Your Disbelief
Sometimes you may come into conflict regarding your belief on the way in which something should be done. You might be asked to do something that you disagree with or believe can be done a better way. Firstly, ensure you communicate your alternative way of doing something and your rationale for doing so.
Communicate your opinion while being mindful to not use emotional or aggressive language. Just put forward your opinion, your belief, and your ideas around an alternative or the reason you don’t agree with something moving forward.
The next step is to take on board the instruction that the manager is giving you. Even though it may feel uncomfortable, follow the process that they’ve asked you to do.
There are two possible outcomes.
- You are proven wrong.
The process that you’ve followed has actually been the better one, and in doing so, you’ve learned something new.
- you are proven right.
Having already communicated your beliefs in a professional manner, this gives you good standing to be able to review the situation and put forth your ideas once again.
It can be a difficult pill to swallow, going against your instinct of what you think should happen, but it can create for a greater outcome.
Set clear boundaries
I recall working on a major event with a micro-manager. This was a big event and normally the work at hand would come under my responsibility. However, due to the enormous nature of the project, he wanted to own the work that would create the most glory. An important part of the process required that we allocate tasks and set clear boundaries, ensuring that each of us were very clear on job responsibilities
This became necessary once I found that he was starting to treat me like his personal assistant. Rather than managing and supervising me, he was offloading his responsibilities to increase the spotlight on him. By setting clear boundaries, I was then in a better position to question this.
He also wanted to approve my work and to assert his control. Once again, setting clear boundaries and clear procedures I questioned what work he needed approval over. Long story short, his ego decided it needed to be every piece of project work. Ultimately, this was his undoing. NOTHING would proceed on my work desk unless he first approved it. It exhausted him and he ended up relinquishing the role as my manager.
So, the key to this is beat them at their own game. However, this only works by getting, very clear on the boundaries, protocols, procedures, and process
Questions you need to ask in setting up your boundaries are: “What’s within my job? “What’s not? “What am I taking ownership of? “What am I not taking ownership of? “What do you need to see? “And what don’t you need to see? “How do you want that communicated? “When do you not want that communicated?”