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Managing Up
The less then perfect manager
Micromanager
Characteristics
• Overcontrolling
• Makes you doubt yourself
• Driven by your boss’s internal anxiety – not you!
• Not all micro-management is the same
Various degrees of
micromanagement
• Very High Standards
• Ask for rework to
meet standards
• High attention to
detail
• Don’t stifle you
• Pathological Micromanager
• Give little or no
independence
• Desperate need to be “in
charge”
• Overly involved
• Focus on small (often not
very important details e.g.
font size) and miss the big
picture
What to do
about it?
• Pushing back may lead to a break in trust and an
INCREASE in the level of micromanagement
• Try to understand what is causing the behaviour:
• Under too much pressure?
• Is this their natural style?
• Is this micromanagement rewarded by the
company culture or their boss?
What to do
about it?
What to do about it?
Make Up-front agreements:
• Before the start of an
assignment or project
• Agree on standards and basic
approach
• What role will each of you play?
• What criteria will be used to
measure success?
• Express your recommendations
and ask for their input
Flattery can also work:
• “You are more strategic at your
level, so you are better off not
getting involved in all this low-
level stuff. I am sure your time is
worth more than this.”
What to do
about it?
• Keep your boss in the loop:
Update them regularly, using their preferred
communication style and method
Update without being asked, be proactive
Share details that you know they are
interested in or anxious about, this might
save you rework later
Incompetent Boss
Characteristics
Promoted for the wrong reason
External appointment
What to do
about it?
• Self-reflect:
• Are you jealous? Resentful?
• Do you have a personal bias that is skewing
your judgement?
• Assume positive intent:
• Maybe there are stressors you are not aware
of
• Learn more about your boss
• Demonstrate empathy
• Don’t demonise him or her
What to do
about it?
• Get a fresh perspective
• Find wise and unbiased counsel to talk to
(mentor, coach, trusted confidante)
• Explain the facts and how it is affecting you
and your work
• Ask for advice
• Don’t keep repeating the same story of
woe to anyone who will listen, find one
person and vent in one direction only
What to do
about it?
• Find out what they are good at – leverage that
e.g. relationships
• Manage your expectations to avoid frustration
• Get specific about what help you need or
direction you seek
• Don’t fall into “victim mode”, take action and
reframe negative situations into opportunities
• Manage your mindset and what comes out of
your mouth – remember to lead yourself and
others
What to do
about it?
• Step Up:
Offer to step in to cover the gaps e.g. put the plan
together
Adopt a “just do it” myself approach – if you don’t get
goals from your manager, set them yourself and ask
for approval; if you don’t get feedback, do a self-
assessment and ask for comments; if you aren’t clear
on your priorities, select what you think are the top 3
and confirm them in a meeting and/or over email.
See this as an opportunity for you to stretch and grow
Demonstrate ownership
Find ways to
make it work
• Take care of yourself:
Find other people to give you feedback
Identify a mentor in the business
Engage an external coach to help you think
through approaches
Look for humour in situations
Don’t carry resentment and frustration
Step back to get perspective
Too Nice Boss
Characteristics
• Avoids conflict
• Doesn’t advocate for you
• Overcommits to clients (afraid to say no)
and stakeholders so overloads the team
What to do
about it?
• Focus on getting the best results for the
business
• Ask lots of “what if” questions:
• “What if this happens… might it be a
good idea to….”
• Use tentative language:
• “I might be off base here but….”
• “This might sound crazy but…”
What to do
about it?
• Step in:
Offer to take on a role or task that could help
create structure or mitigate the impact e.g. be the
time-keeper at a meeting OR summarise facts and
impact in an email that is very clear
Gather facts and data, write drafts, create the
business case to support requests that your
manager might be reluctant to make
What to do
about it?
• Step Up:
Complete self-reviews and send them in
email before performance discussions
Build rapport before raising concerns
Avoid strong emotions and deal with facts
Too Many Bosses
Characteristics
• Caught in a matrix structure
• Project manager and a line manager
• In country and out of country
• Challenges:
• Overload
• Conflicting messages & priorities
• Loyalty
What to do
about it?
• Know who your ultimate boss is:
• Who makes your compensation decision?
• Over-communicate:
• Make your calendar accessible to all
• Give updates proactively and use the cc
function to keep other bosses informed
• Let everyone know what is on your plate, be
proactive when you see issues ahead
• Do a weekly update in a 1:1 or group email
What to do
about it?
• Get your bosses to talk to each other
• Bring them into one meeting
• Explain the conflict and enlist their help
to problem solve or prioritise
• Establish boundaries
• Diarise quiet time or focus time when
you can do deep work
• Before taking on new assignments,
remind your manager that you need to
assess how it fits into your overall
workload & what might need to be
deprioritised
The benefits
• More feedback
• More exposure
• Greater network
• Greater autonomy
When you have a good
relationship with your
boss
Whether they are brilliant or bad…
Giving
feedback
• Wait to be asked for feedback
• “Are you open to some feedback?”
• Provide feedback that is aimed to help them be
at their best
• Use the feedback framework to guide you:
• What? “ I noticed in that meeting that…”
• So what? “the impact might be…”
• Now what? “I wonder if it might be more
impactful if….”
What?
So
what?
Now
what?
Giving
feedback
• Wait to be asked for feedback
• “Are you open to some feedback?”
• Provide feedback that is aimed to help them be
at their best
• Use the feedback framework to guide you:
• What? “ I noticed in that meeting that…”
• So what? “the impact might be…”
• Now what? “I wonder if it might be more
impactful if….”
• Use tentative and curious language:
• “Help me understand what made you do it
that way?”
• “I have some ideas on how to handle that in
a different way if you are interested….”
When feedback goes badly
• Don’t take it personally
• Your job is to give feedback with the right mindset and approach
• It is the receivers job to decide what to do with it
• When your manager is in a good mood, not under pressure, reflect on
the feedback experience:
• Last week I gave you some feedback and from my perspective it seemed to
annoy you / frustrate you. That wasn’t my intention. Did I misread your
reaction?
• Would you like feedback from me?
• Is there any specific feedback that you would find helpful?
Summary
Be proactive
rather than
reactive
01
Proactively
communicate
02
Manage your
mindset,
assume positive
intent
03
Seek outside,
unbiased
partners to vent
at
04
Focus on the
opportunity a
bad boss
presents
05

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Managing Difficult Bosses and Micromanagers

  • 1. Managing Up The less then perfect manager
  • 3. Characteristics • Overcontrolling • Makes you doubt yourself • Driven by your boss’s internal anxiety – not you! • Not all micro-management is the same
  • 4. Various degrees of micromanagement • Very High Standards • Ask for rework to meet standards • High attention to detail • Don’t stifle you • Pathological Micromanager • Give little or no independence • Desperate need to be “in charge” • Overly involved • Focus on small (often not very important details e.g. font size) and miss the big picture
  • 5. What to do about it? • Pushing back may lead to a break in trust and an INCREASE in the level of micromanagement • Try to understand what is causing the behaviour: • Under too much pressure? • Is this their natural style? • Is this micromanagement rewarded by the company culture or their boss?
  • 7. What to do about it? Make Up-front agreements: • Before the start of an assignment or project • Agree on standards and basic approach • What role will each of you play? • What criteria will be used to measure success? • Express your recommendations and ask for their input Flattery can also work: • “You are more strategic at your level, so you are better off not getting involved in all this low- level stuff. I am sure your time is worth more than this.”
  • 8. What to do about it? • Keep your boss in the loop: Update them regularly, using their preferred communication style and method Update without being asked, be proactive Share details that you know they are interested in or anxious about, this might save you rework later
  • 10. Characteristics Promoted for the wrong reason External appointment
  • 11. What to do about it? • Self-reflect: • Are you jealous? Resentful? • Do you have a personal bias that is skewing your judgement? • Assume positive intent: • Maybe there are stressors you are not aware of • Learn more about your boss • Demonstrate empathy • Don’t demonise him or her
  • 12. What to do about it? • Get a fresh perspective • Find wise and unbiased counsel to talk to (mentor, coach, trusted confidante) • Explain the facts and how it is affecting you and your work • Ask for advice • Don’t keep repeating the same story of woe to anyone who will listen, find one person and vent in one direction only
  • 13. What to do about it? • Find out what they are good at – leverage that e.g. relationships • Manage your expectations to avoid frustration • Get specific about what help you need or direction you seek • Don’t fall into “victim mode”, take action and reframe negative situations into opportunities • Manage your mindset and what comes out of your mouth – remember to lead yourself and others
  • 14. What to do about it? • Step Up: Offer to step in to cover the gaps e.g. put the plan together Adopt a “just do it” myself approach – if you don’t get goals from your manager, set them yourself and ask for approval; if you don’t get feedback, do a self- assessment and ask for comments; if you aren’t clear on your priorities, select what you think are the top 3 and confirm them in a meeting and/or over email. See this as an opportunity for you to stretch and grow Demonstrate ownership
  • 15. Find ways to make it work • Take care of yourself: Find other people to give you feedback Identify a mentor in the business Engage an external coach to help you think through approaches Look for humour in situations Don’t carry resentment and frustration Step back to get perspective
  • 17. Characteristics • Avoids conflict • Doesn’t advocate for you • Overcommits to clients (afraid to say no) and stakeholders so overloads the team
  • 18. What to do about it? • Focus on getting the best results for the business • Ask lots of “what if” questions: • “What if this happens… might it be a good idea to….” • Use tentative language: • “I might be off base here but….” • “This might sound crazy but…”
  • 19. What to do about it? • Step in: Offer to take on a role or task that could help create structure or mitigate the impact e.g. be the time-keeper at a meeting OR summarise facts and impact in an email that is very clear Gather facts and data, write drafts, create the business case to support requests that your manager might be reluctant to make
  • 20. What to do about it? • Step Up: Complete self-reviews and send them in email before performance discussions Build rapport before raising concerns Avoid strong emotions and deal with facts
  • 22. Characteristics • Caught in a matrix structure • Project manager and a line manager • In country and out of country • Challenges: • Overload • Conflicting messages & priorities • Loyalty
  • 23. What to do about it? • Know who your ultimate boss is: • Who makes your compensation decision? • Over-communicate: • Make your calendar accessible to all • Give updates proactively and use the cc function to keep other bosses informed • Let everyone know what is on your plate, be proactive when you see issues ahead • Do a weekly update in a 1:1 or group email
  • 24. What to do about it? • Get your bosses to talk to each other • Bring them into one meeting • Explain the conflict and enlist their help to problem solve or prioritise • Establish boundaries • Diarise quiet time or focus time when you can do deep work • Before taking on new assignments, remind your manager that you need to assess how it fits into your overall workload & what might need to be deprioritised
  • 25. The benefits • More feedback • More exposure • Greater network • Greater autonomy
  • 26. When you have a good relationship with your boss Whether they are brilliant or bad…
  • 27. Giving feedback • Wait to be asked for feedback • “Are you open to some feedback?” • Provide feedback that is aimed to help them be at their best • Use the feedback framework to guide you: • What? “ I noticed in that meeting that…” • So what? “the impact might be…” • Now what? “I wonder if it might be more impactful if….” What? So what? Now what?
  • 28. Giving feedback • Wait to be asked for feedback • “Are you open to some feedback?” • Provide feedback that is aimed to help them be at their best • Use the feedback framework to guide you: • What? “ I noticed in that meeting that…” • So what? “the impact might be…” • Now what? “I wonder if it might be more impactful if….” • Use tentative and curious language: • “Help me understand what made you do it that way?” • “I have some ideas on how to handle that in a different way if you are interested….”
  • 29. When feedback goes badly • Don’t take it personally • Your job is to give feedback with the right mindset and approach • It is the receivers job to decide what to do with it • When your manager is in a good mood, not under pressure, reflect on the feedback experience: • Last week I gave you some feedback and from my perspective it seemed to annoy you / frustrate you. That wasn’t my intention. Did I misread your reaction? • Would you like feedback from me? • Is there any specific feedback that you would find helpful?
  • 30. Summary Be proactive rather than reactive 01 Proactively communicate 02 Manage your mindset, assume positive intent 03 Seek outside, unbiased partners to vent at 04 Focus on the opportunity a bad boss presents 05

Editor's Notes

  1. For example, a manager in a consumer products company dragged her feet when her staff urged her to ask for a bigger budget. So, they gathered the necessary backup, specifying each team member’s duties, and the resources needed to meet their goals. They highlighted how meeting their goals would contribute to the unit’s overall strategy. With that ammunition in hand, the boss approached senior management with greater confidence.
  2. Some bosses want to know that they’re your first priority. If you have more than one boss who feels this way, it’s easy to get caught in the middle,” says Grant. You may need to negotiate between competing demands for your loyalty.
  3. t it’s easy to assume that your bosses are out to get you, but usually that’s not the case. They’re probably just pushing their own agendas, and you’re getting caught in the middle. Try not to feel persecuted. Instead, identify the conflicts and work to resolve them.
  4. No matter how thoughtfully you’ve prepared and delivered your feedback, your boss may get upset or defensive.