Managing a Micromanager

We’ve all dealt with that client, the one that feels the need to have their hand in every decision, down to the smallest detail.  As a project manager at User Insight, details are my specialty; I keep everything on track for both the internal Ui team and our client team. Dealing with a micromanager is challenging and exhausting.  From one project manager to another, here are three steps that I take to alleviate some of the stress and ensure project success.

1. Over Organize: The best way to earn trust is to out plan and out organize.  I start with a detailed project timeline; make sure every meeting and every delivery date, even the time of day it will be delivered, is included.  No detail is too small.  Clients appreciate the attention to detail and it starts the project off on the right foot.

2. You’re the Expert: For any client who is passionate and takes his or her work seriously, they are bound to be anxious about every aspect of a project.  Embrace that passion and mirror it with your own. They hired you for a reason; reassure them when needed of your expertise and give relevant examples to back up suggestions, which will help clients feel more confident in them.

3.  Anticipate Needs: Proactivity and empathy help give me a huge advantage when dealing with a micromanager.  I listen to client feedback and learn what bothers them so I can anticipate that situation and address it before issues arise in the future. Usually, after working with a client for a couple weeks, I can predict what they want before it’s even asked.  If you get to them before they get to you, it will save you a great deal of time in the long run.

Just as the research and strategy team at User Insight puts themselves in the customer’s shoes, I try to do the same with our clients. I don’t always know what they are dealing with on their end; I try to be understanding and conscientious to their needs and establish mutual respect. Building rapport with a client allows me to stand up not only for myself, but for my team, so I become the voice of reason and the advocate for what’s best for the project.  After all, you want the project to be a success just as much as they do.

When all else fails, on those really hard days with a client, do what I do…think about the dirty martini waiting for you at home!