Great job, but...work for a micromanager?

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Dear Joan:
I am in a bit of a tough situation. I’ve been working in this mid-size company in a mid-level position since little over a year. Due to a lot of company wide-politics and new initiatives, my team has been marginalized and I’ve heard from many sources that if the company were to have layoffs (which are most probably going to happen soon) my team would definitely be on that list. My work-friends have suggested to me to start looking outside, and within the company too.
 
I’ve started with looking into openings within the company. Here is the tougher part – there is an opening which suits my skills and interests and it’s in a team which is very important to the company, therefore the job will most probably be safe from the layoffs. However, I came to know, from a very good friend, that the hiring manager has a terrible personality and is a strong micro-manager. There are a couple of people who have quit their jobs because of this very reason. I also came to know that she is rude, has very high expectations and loves to control. On the other hand, she is influential and gets things done, therefore her bosses love her.
 
I like the position and the challenges that will come along. I know that I’ll attain new, great skills which will add a lot of value to my resume, but I’m afraid that my new manager's personality might become a big obstacle in my success. My current situation isn’t any good either, but the people I work with now are very laid back. My current manager says that he doesn’t want stress in his life, and therefore, he is okay with our marginalized situation, which I don’t agree with. I also don’t have enough work here and that’s de-motivating me, big time, making me more worried about my job security, and also not having that respect in the company.
 
What should I do? Take a chance and try to make my job situation better, or stick around doing nothing in my current team, and hope that things will get better? I’m looking for opportunities outside the company too, but in this job market, that will sure take time.
 
Answer:
You have two polar opposites as options—neither one is very desirable. You already know that the job you have is not a good fit. The manager is not going to grow you, and his “Don’t worry, be happy” attitude is putting the department at risk. So you are wise to get out.
 
The internal job opening has “run for your life” all over it. However, I wouldn’t take the rumor as gospel. I think you owe it to yourself to find out more before dismissing it as a bad choice. Some options include speaking to the hiring manager and inquiring about the position in an informational interview. You can say you are interested in applying but you want to know more about the job first.
 
During that meeting, ask a lot of questions about the results she expects, her management style, problems she hopes the new person can fix, pet peeves, and so on. Ask her if she minds it if you speak informally to some members of her team, to learn more about the job. Her reaction to your questions will be revealing.
 
Keep in mind that “micromanagers” come in many forms. For example, some people label their boss a micromanager, because he or she is expecting them to change, or improve their performance—and they are resisting.
 
On the other hand, micromanagers are often perfectionists who cannot be pleased. Sometimes they think they are the only one with the right answer—and their control suffocates their direct reports. So in spite of a glowing job description on paper, the life is snuffed out of what could have been a great growth position.
 
The job may be worth taking however, especially if you can get exposure to an area that will make you more marketable in the long run. If you can last a few years, you could enhance your resume for future positions inside or outside the company. But I would only take the job if you feel you can develop enough rapport with the leader, and meet her exacting standards. Micromanagers only back off if they feel they can trust the employee—and “trust” means that the person has the same high standards the leader does.
 
If you discover the new area isn’t going to be a good fit for you, step up your efforts to find something outside the business. It’s better to leave with a lazy boss’ recommendation, than a micromanager’s negative reference.


Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
 
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