My boss is a micromanager

Dear Sarah-Jane,

I work as head of a customer care department in a food producing factory. My team of 8 people is extremely motivated. They know that I am always available for advice and assistance. In fact, I don’t need to steer too much. They are all experienced and know how to collaborate almost self-organising.  They do have quite some degrees of freedom. Performance of my team is on and above expectations. If I may say so myself: my department is an example of cooperation!

BUT: recently a new supply chain manager was appointed. Someone from ‘outside’ with a lot of technical skills. Good for the growth of our company.

I have my doubts… and they mainly lie in his management style. I would rather call it micro-management. He checks every digit, every decision, every email to customers. It feels like breathing down my neck. He doesn’t seem to understand that I lead this team successfully for 8 year?

This takes too much energy for myself and my team.

I would like to ask him to trust me a little more and let me do my job. But I'm not sure how? Can you advise me please?

A disillusioned team leader.

Dear disillusioned team leader,

You long to get back the degree of autonomy that energized you and your team. it means you long for (regained) confidence. However, I guess you understand that your new boss wants to prove himself. And that he there hasn’t been enough time to get to know what you can offer!

First of all: ask your boss to meet for half an hour, for example during lunch or before you get home. Be open on the subject, which is a short or intermediate evaluation of your working relationship.

Connect first by asking about his first general impression of the company.

What strikes him, positive or less positive?

Make it clear that you have an independent attitude which motivates you most. Also, that you are eager to learn from his experience, open to feedback. Maybe he has some points for improvement?

Listen to what he has to say. Be grateful for that feedback. Don't defend yourself!

Then agree on a few specific actions: what and how will you measure. When? Ask him to not address these points until the moment of evaluation. Ask, if doesn’t succeed, how you can give him a signal. Make sure you earn his trust with these points.

I know: it takes courage. You will gain his trust in little steps. The key is to consistently demonstrate your skills and leadership.

If it doesn't work, then you might realise: maybe he just not able to let go. 

In that case, you should consider whether you want to continue to tolerate this energy dump. Or you can look at it differently. Or: are you still in the right place?

Don't give up too soon!


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