A couple of weeks ago one of my direct reports (we'll call him Brent) went to my boss to complain that I am micromanaging him. When I heard the accusation, I was flabbergasted, since I don't see myself as a micromanager at all.
Edit: When my boss called me in to talk about it, I was told keep it to myself and not let Brent know that I was aware of his concerns.
After talking with my boss I sat down and talked with each of my direct reports to solicit their feedback. I asked in no uncertain terms, am I doing anything to hamper your success or the success of the team?
Some people had some really good constructive criticisms for me, but nobody thought I was a micromanager. When I brought up the topic specifically, each time the answer was the same: a categorical no.
On the heels of that, I sat down with a senior colleague who has been a mentor to me while I have worked for this company. He shares a workspace with us, so he has a decent amount of information upon which to base his opinion.
I left those meetings with the reassurance that I am not a micromanager. While it helped to buoy my spirits, it really did nothing to change Brent's perspective on things, so I went and did some research.
I read a lot of great questions and answers here, and some of them helped me to understand the problem from the perspective of the micromanaged:
I tried to look at my behaviors to see where I could improve on my relations with Brent. I started using some of the phrasing suggested in the articles I had read, and I tried to make Brent understand that I only wanted to support his success. I've been working at it for two weeks now, and I thought we were making headway.
My boss called today to let me know that Brent has applied for a position at another company. It just so happens that the owner of the other company is friends with the owner of our company. So, he called our owner to make sure it would be OK before calling Brent back.
My boss called Brent and the two talked. Among other things they discussed why Brent is seeking employment elsewhere. According to Brent, nothing has changed. My micromanaging ways have persisted, and he can't stand to work under me any longer.
How can I help my direct report to understand he is not being micromanaged? Is there anything that can be done to salvage the working relationship with Brent?