Managing a Micromanager

Getting your questions makes my day. I have had questions about working for micro-managers in the past but today’s question is a bit of a twist on that. This was about being the boss of a manager who has to have it done their way. They asked:

Have you had to let a person know that they’re stifling their employee from doing their job because it’s not being done the way they’re used to doing it?

There’s a lot going on here, more than just a little micromanaging. The mentality is that there’s no better way to do it, and that any other way is the wrong way.

It is a hard shift to make from individual contributor to manager. You can no longer control the results directly. You are now evaluated based on the results you get with and through other people. That’s hard to accept and adjust to.

If you’re a leader of someone who’s micromanaging, it’s your job to help them see what their role is now in that work. Many times you’re promoted because you were able to execute your job well and understand that you need to hand that job over to someone else. How that previous role operates is no longer your focus. It’s up to the next person to decide, and they may come up with a better way of doing things.

As leaders, we sometimes need to be reminded that being open and honest are key pillars in creating an authentic connection. Sometimes the best thing you can do is offer a space for this conversation to objectively look at the behavior of both parties. More often than not, you’ll see that micromanaging isn’t intentional.


Want to start off on the right foot? Try this conversation model:

  • Ask. Start with getting the information. Ask for their perspective.
  • Elaborate. Offer your two cents and insight to get everyone back on track.
  • Empower. Validate and expand on solutions. Ask how they feel about the next steps.
  • Collaborate. Work together to see the solution through with additional ideas if needed.

Take a deep breath. Don’t shy away from tough conversations! While they may be difficult, they most often yield progress…

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