I could tell that things were not going well when I saw Justin walk into our local Paneraâ€™s. â€œHey buddy, let me buy you a coffee and you can tell me all about it.â€ We hardly sat down when he started to pound on his boss. â€œMy new boss, heâ€™s such an idiot! Totally incompetent!â€
â€œOk Justin, how about if you give me your bossâ€™s name and letâ€™s talk about this.â€ I said. â€œHis name is Mike and he has been making my life miserable these past two months. I really feel like throwing in the towel.â€ Justin replied. I asked: â€œSo what is this guy doing that so upsets you?â€ Justin snapped back: â€œHeâ€™s a total micromanager. He must ask me 6 times a day, what Iâ€™m working on. I canâ€™t breath anymore.â€ â€œA micromanager?â€ I replied. â€œIâ€™ve had a couple of those over the years. I feel your pain.â€
â€œSo let me ask you this, Justin: Have you taken the initiative to talk to Mike about the situation? Does he even know that you are unhappy with the way he is managing you?â€ Justin came back: â€œNo, because Iâ€™ve been doing my best to try to avoid him.â€ â€œIt doesnâ€™t sound like there is a whole bunch of trust built up between the two of you, is there?â€ I asked. â€œYou can say that again.â€ Justin answered.
â€œJustin, you do realize that Mike wonâ€™t be your boss for ever, donâ€™t you? Either you will be moved or he will get a different job.â€ â€œAnd, youâ€™d like to stay with this company, right?â€ Justin replied: â€œSure, I believe I have a great career ahead of me at Venture and if it werenâ€™t for Mike, the thought of leaving wouldnâ€™t have even crossed my mind.â€
â€œIâ€™m happy to give you my 2 cents worth if you want it. I am a bit older, you know, and Iâ€™ve had a few micromanagers that I had to deal with. What do you think?â€ I stated. â€œBill, thatâ€™s totally cool. I wouldnâ€™t have puked my guts out to you if I didnâ€™t want some wise counsel.â€ Justin affirmed.
â€œFine, then here are a few things you might want to think about and maybe even act upon. â€œ I said. â€œTo start with, Iâ€™d try to cut Mike some slack. You donâ€™t know the guy, his history or if heâ€™s dealing with his own issues, right? Justin agreed. â€œMicromanagers are usually under some kind of pressure and right now you donâ€™t know where that pressure is coming from. Maybe Mikeâ€™s boss is a real jerk or Mike is totally insecure in his new role.â€ â€œOk, I get that,â€ Justin said, â€œbut thatâ€™s not my problem.â€ â€œOh yes it is, my friend, because your on the receiving end of Mikeâ€™s pressure.â€ I countered.
â€œJustin, let me ask you this: do you see any patterns around Mikeâ€™s micromanagement behavior? Is he this way earlier in the morning, when he comes from a meeting with his boss or a client?â€ Justin thought a bit about this and then said: â€œUsually itâ€™s more toward the end of the day. He wants to know what work or projects have been completed and whatâ€™s still pending.â€ I replied: â€œSo would it be possible to give him a quick e-mail, say at 5 pm, and give him this information? Iâ€™m not talking about a 3 page report but rather 3-5 bullets.â€ â€œSure, that wouldnâ€™t be hard to do.â€ Justin agreed.
â€œI really think Mike just wants to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks.â€ I said. â€œLetâ€™s see how he responds to these daily updates. Odds are, heâ€™ll gain confidence in you and realize that youâ€™ve got all bases covered.â€
â€œAnd hereâ€™s my last piece of advice for today: Youâ€™ve got to seek the conversation with Mike. Donâ€™t avoid him. If he is doing something that is really getting under your skin, then youâ€™ve got to man up and let him know about it. But do it in a nurturing way. Donâ€™t be a jerk about it. You never know, he might even thank you for the feedback.â€
â€œHey, Justin, Iâ€™ve got to run. I hope that was helpful. Next time youâ€™re buying the coffee!â€