Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Are you hit by 'Hurricane Micro-Manager'?

Some years back, it felt like I had won the ‘I’m-Going–To-Be-Micro-Managed’ lottery. My manager had a field day making me realize that every thing that I ever did was wrong and the manager enjoyed every bit of crushing my confidence. Guess what! I was hired for possessing the ‘required’ skills by the very same manager!! At work, every email written (including font size and spacing!) had to be validated by the MM, simple one-line memos couldn’t be circulated without MM’s consent, got criticized on a daily basis for ideas that were sensible (just that it occured to me before the MM!) and in the end the MM had the last-laugh while killing my self-belief. It was time to bail-out!

It took me a while to realize the negative impact micro-management (MM) was having on my work. It killed my energy levels, enthusiasm was rock-bottom, productivity was below-par, non-existent motivation and most importantly it sucked out every ounce of confidence. Some of the words I got to hear quite often were, ‘Structure’, ‘Strategy’, ‘Attention-to-Detail’ – all in the name of severe micro-management. After a while of doubting my own potential, I decided to take the manager head-on and off course it had its consequences. We had our daily fights; I lost some and won some.

I’m quite sure there are more folks out there who are currently under-going or have undergone such managerial treatment. Here’s a possible 7-Step method to handle the Micro-Manager (MM):

#1: Keep the MM constantly informed about your course of action. They want to be in the ‘know’ 24/7. Even if you have an excellent plan, run-it through the MM, before you implement it!

#2: They have a ‘My Way OR High Way’ approach to work. Give them their space. Tell them their idea rocks & then suggest your plan. They need to feel they have the best solution.

#3: Match your ‘priority-list’ with that of the MM. There’s never a day that goes by without the MM commenting on your day-to-day priorities and how you always end-up getting them wrong! Once you understand that nitty-gritty’s the MM’s main concern, you get the rest of the day to address bigger issues.

#4: Don’t wait for the MM to ask or give information! Be pro-active (again 24/7!!) and ask for information like your life depends on it! They love to act like they are sharing top-secret information and you are the chosen one to receive it!

#5: Practice Yoga!! You’ll need tons of patience. Everyday is a new day, yesterday’s plans become history! The end result/goal is always ‘dynamic’ with MM’s. Make sure you maintain written documentation. Don’t make/take any verbal commitments. You’ll get hung, even before you realize!

#6: In a large gathering, don’t ever criticize or dole out feedback to the MM. They hate it! Even if their mistake is a glaring one! As a personality trait, they don’t like to be given feedback, remember they believe they are the best! Choose your words carefully! Again, it will come with practice and after a few sessions of playing ‘Hang-Man’.

#7: When you are convinced that your best efforts to work with the MM have failed, its time to move-on! Since they are bigger battles to be won - bigger than the MM’s ego!

All the best!

- The HR Store