If you feel like your work has been put under a microscope, turn a critical eye on yourself first.
When you’re frustrated with your boss, it can be easy to place the blame on him or her, calling them a micromanager.
But often, the situation is more complicated than you might think – and it can be helpful if you turn a critical eye on yourself first. That’s the situation my client was in.
“Lindsey” told me she felt like her manager, “Carol,” had begun micromanaging her work, asking her for more progress updates than normal and wanting to see more project details than she had previously requested. Lindsey had gotten used to Carol being more hands-off when it came to her day-to-day work. Now, things had changed.
The question I asked Lindsey to consider was, “Why do you think your manager’s behavior towards you has changed?”
This wasn’t an easy question, because it required Lindsey to do some internal soul searching. She also needed to be honest with herself about any potential behaviors that could have been the root cause of the relationship change.
What eventually came out in our discussion was that, several weeks prior, Lindsey had failed to warn her boss about issues that had come up in her largest project. Those issues had to do with another department, and Lindsey had blamed the other department’s manager for making the project team miss several deadlines.
It was soon after this, that Lindsey noticed Carol’s behavior change. From Lindsey’s perspective, all she saw was that, suddenly, her boss was micromanaging her.
After I suggested that she sit down for a heart-to-heart discussion with her manager about the situation, Lindsey learned the truth. The way she’d handled the situation had led the other department manager to go to the boss of Lindsey’s manager (Carol) and complain, making Carol look bad.
By not going to her manager to discuss the situation and talk through potential solutions to avoid missing the deadlines, Lindsey had created a bit of a political nightmare for her boss. The situation had eroded the trust of Carol’s higher-level manager in Carol and her team, as well as created conflict with the manager of the other department.
In a word, Lindsey had lost her manager’s trust. That’s why Carol’s behavior had changed and she had begun getting more involved in Lindsey’s daily activities.
While their heart-to-heart discussion didn’t immediately repair the broken relationship between Lindsey and her boss, it was a step in the right direction. It also gave Lindsey the opportunity to apologize and ask what she could do over time to help repair the trust she had lost from her manager.
If a situation like this ever happens to you, where your boss starts displaying micromanaging behaviors toward you, take a step back and try to determine why their behavior changed, turning a critical eye on yourself first.
If you’re a manager and you have an employee with performance issues or a behavior situation has occurred, take the time to sit down with the employee and talk about what happened. Help him or her understand the situation from your perspective. Then discuss your expectations for what should have happened and how things will need to change in the future, because employees deserve ongoing performance feedback and need to understand why you must monitor them more closely if there’s been an issue.