There’s a fine line between making sure everything goes according to plan and, well, micro-managing. Producers and agents have complained that Apple AAPL, +0.23% executives, including CEO Tim Cook, are proving “intrusive” and “difficult” to deal with as the company gears up to introduce its own stable of original streaming content, the New York Post reports.
The executives have reportedly been very particular about content and technology; meanwhile, executives who want family-friendly content have also offered several notes. “Apple’s nitpicking over content and technology has led to delays,” the newspaper reported. (Apple did not immediately return a request for comment.)
‘The best way to handle a micro-manager is to understand that they are running on fear, and you can be the one to take away some of that fear.’
—Cynthia Shapiro, author of ‘Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know’
Cook and his predecessor, the late Steve Jobs, have been often described as perfectionists. That quality, some experts argue, can come with a price. They may need to be involved in every stage of the process to make sure nothing goes wrong. (Cook may have learned his lesson when Apple Maps launched in 2012 and received backlash from users for giving wrong directions.)
Career coach and “Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know” author Cynthia Shapiro told MarketWatch that her No. 1 most-asked question is how to deal with a bad boss — and 9 times out of 10, that boss is a micro-manager. “The best way to handle a micro-manager is to understand that they are running on fear, and you can be the one to take away some of that fear,” Shapiro said.
The Wall Street Journal’s career columnist has advice for employees in such situations: “A boss can’t micromanage everyone on their team. If you are someone who aligns on expectations and sets things at a reasonable level and constantly over-delivers, then the natural reaction of someone who micro-manages is to withdraw. They just don’t have enough time in the day.”
Still, it’s not exactly an unusual problem in the workplace. Nearly half of employees in a Society for Human Resource Management survey said that autonomy and independence were “very important” to their job satisfaction. Indeed, job autonomy is linked with positive outcomes like greater work satisfaction, increased overall wellbeing and stress reduction.
Here’s how to ward off an over-attentive boss breathing down your neck, according to experts:
1. Find out what makes them tick. “You have the power to get this person to calm down or leave you alone or at least make your life easier if you push the right buttons,” Shapiro said. Put on your “Sherlock Holmes hat” and learn what they truly care about, stress over or hate, she said. “If you can figure that out and be the answer to that, you will be the one they reward, protect (and) promote.”
2. Communicate. “What this boss needs more than anything is tons of information,” Shapiro said. Gauge your level and frequency of that information on the degree to which they’re micro-managing you, and determine whether they prefer updates in auditory or visual form.
3. Provide regular updates. Follow up after meetings to confirm details, leadership expert Todd Dewett added, and provide updates before the manager comes asking questions. “Be proactive in how you push out information about your progress, so that maybe they can gain some incremental comfort,” he said. “It’s about preempting their need to come micromanage you.”
Assure them they don’t need to worry about you and make them realize you know they have a lot of responsibility.
4. Avoid confrontation. “Pitting that person against you will make an enormous enemy of that person,” Shapiro said. “You have basically become their worst fear: If they think that they’ve lost their team, if they think that you don’t respect them, they’re going to be terrified and they’re going to react way too strong.”
5. Tread lightly when addressing the issue. Broach the subject privately, Dewett said, “under the guise of trying to deliver correctly the work that they want.” You might ask if they took issue with some aspect of your work product since they checked in so frequently. “You’ve said to them, ‘You’re micro-managing; is everything OK?’ — without saying, ‘You’re a problematic micro-manager.’”
6. Remind the boss they’ve got bigger fish to fry. Assure them they don’t need to worry about you and make them realize you know they have a lot of responsibility, said Monster.com career coach Vicki Salemi. “You’re basically telling them, ‘I’m on your side, and I know you’re busy, so don’t even stress out about this.’”
This story was originally published Jan. 5, 2018, and has been updated.
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