A lot of people in the workforce today may have a boss who’s still new to managing, and could resort to all sorts of zany micromanagement ideas. In the office, that could mean tweaking every idea to perfectly match their vision, and for remote workers, it could mean all day Zoom meetings. Whatever the case may be, the best way for you, the employee to thrive in such a situation is to learn how to manage your manager.
Before we get started, let me say that there are a lot of guides on how to do this online. Some offer great advice, while others perhaps you’ll find things to disagree with. At the end of the day, the relationship you have with your boss is unique, and it’s a matter of assessing the situation and finding what will work best for you.
Get on the same page and aim for the same goals
Unless your boss is the owner of the company, every boss or manager reports to someone else. That means they have goals to reach and targets to hit, and that’s likely what’s on their mind when they are assessing you.
A very important technique I learned a few years ago was to straight up ask my boss “What can I do to best help you right now?” Of course, you’ll have your usual important priorities which have probably been discussed in advance, but straight up agreeing on what the top priority is will make everything easier, and reduce any future problems.
Find out how your boss likes to communicate
Some bosses like to stand around and talk. Others like to use Slack or email. Some like to keep you on Zoom all day. Everyone has different tastes.
It’s important that you, the employee, learn the way your boss likes to interact most, because you might need to use it a lot. If they’re the type that wants to see everything in email, then you’ll be sending a lot of emails. But if they’re not the type who likes to have an open-door policy, barging in to their office several times of day could make you the problem employee, rather than the star.
Regularly provide progress updates
This is why you need to know how your boss likes to communicate. If your boss isn’t a micromanager, they will still appreciate the regular progress report. If they are a micromanager though, this is the key to keeping them happy.
At their core, micromanagers feel the need to keep tabs on everything to ensure nothing goes wrong. The best way to prove to them that you are doing everything right, and proving it means show and tell. Figure out what kind of reporting structure will keep your boss from hovering like a helicopter parent, and take advantage by using these opportunities to promote the great job you’ve been doing.
Be honest about your shortcomings
The fastest way to lose your boss’ trust and turn them into a micromanager is to try and cover up a problem, or make excuses for a job poorly done. They’ll see right through you, and could very well start to micromanage your work or worse yet, look for a replacement.
Proving that your accountable for your mistakes will go a long way to build trust with your manager, and prove that you know what you need to get better at. They’ll trust you more to be honest with all your work and reporting, and you’ll possibly benefit from the coaching they can provide in areas you can improve.
Help them solve problems, rather than give them new ones
It’s inevitable that new hurdles will pop up as your doing your job, and they may not have been part of the original strategy that you and your boss agreed to. Maybe someone else created the problems, or maybe you did; it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you prove you can think independently and provide a solution to that problem without relying on your boss. Whatever the problem is, think of a few solutions, and go through with the approach you think works best, or present the options to your boss if you need some help. The boss will take from it that you don’t need your hand held, and you’ll get a longer leash as a result.
Make the best of it
Maybe your manager isn’t the best fit for your needs, but they got to where they are for a reason. Figure out what skills, be it technical, social or otherwise that they possess where you can level up, and even if you feel their guidance and supervision doesn’t help you in your job, learn what you can while you’re working with them. Making the most of the situation will speak well of you, and could help you in future endeavors.
The next job you apply for will likely require a strong recommendation from your current boss, and they are just a person. By keeping this relationship strong and cordial, you increase your chances of achieving a coveted position in the organization. Treating your boss like a person with value, and not a menacing ogre, could be important to that personal goal.
At the end of the day, the relationship you have with your boss is just another relationship between two people. You might have the occasional headache or disagreement, but finding a way to make it fruitful for both of you is better for you, better for them and better for the organization as a whole.