How To Fix Your Control-Freak Boss
I read an interesting article today in Fortune Magazine on how to cope with, and even fix a control freak boss. I’d like to share it with my readers.
The problem posed to the magazine by a reader was one that I’m sure most of you can relate to:
“Dear Annie: We used to have a great team here, until our boss was replaced by a manager brought in from another part of the company who is now trying to control our every move. He insists on telling everyone what to do and how to do it in minute detail (even though we’ve all been excelling at our jobs for years). No detail is too ridiculously tiny to escape his scrutiny, and he’s constantly issuing new rules and guidelines, some of which contradict each other.
As a result, some of us are just taking the passive-aggressive approach and ignoring him, which means he bears down harder on the whole group. I could give you examples that would curl your hair, but the point is, it’s driving us nuts. Is there anything we can do to change his behavior, or do we just grin and bear it until the next boss comes along?”
I want you to have a think about what you would advise this reader. What seems the most sensible approach to fixing a control freak? The answer produced by Albert J. Bernstein may surprise you!
He actually advises frustrated employees to not show their annoyance, to not confront their boss and critisise their controlling nature, because this will cause the manager to worry even more.
He goes on to explain that managers become control freaks because they are extremely frightened of failure, and how it will reflect upon themselves. Because of this, they fail to trust others in using their own methods to complete tasks, and thus they become a frustration-inducing control freak (This is why proper delegation is one of the traits that features in my: Seven Habits of Incredibly Successful entrepreneurs article).
He specifically offers the following solutions, that offer ways to reduce the fear your boss holds:
- Give plenty of reassurance. This involves grasping a clear picture of what your manager expects from you at the start of a task. Take extensive notes that can leave no doubt in their mind that you fully appreciate his vision.
- Offer progress reports before they ask for them. Control-freaks will be comforted by plenty of information regarding your progress, so make no attempt to hold this information back. Indeed you should be pro-active in delivering such information on a regular basis. This will help prevent your manager from feeling they need to swoop down on your at a busy time to demand an update.
- When your boss tries to change your work, asks if this means the end goal has changed. This is a powerful weapon that can potentially stop control-freaks in their tracks, and indirectly cause them to question their own behaviour. If the goal and method was agreed extensively at the beginning (you can pull out your notes to emphasise this fact), and you have a good track record of accomplishing tasks with that given method. Then surely a change in method is unnecessary.
- Maintain this behaviour over an extended length of time. Our aim is to build the trust that the manager has in your work, so a quick flash in the pan will do little to change their attitude towards you. Only after several weeks or perhaps months of this behaviour, will a control-freak realise that you ‘are one of the few he can trust to get on with it’.
These are certainly an interesting set of points, do you agree with them? Have you stumbled upon a different method of coping with controlling co-workers or bosses in your time at work?