Micromanagers can be a challenge to work with. One must learn the right approach in order to maintain good working relationships with these individuals.
According to career experts, here are the most effective ways to deal with micromanagers:
Coach and Consultant | President, Beyond Better | Author, “Powered by Principle: Using Core Values to Build World-Class Organizations“
Proactively address your boss’s concerns—in other words—micromanage their anxiety
It’s frustrating to be micromanaged for many reasons:
- It makes us feel untrusted like our boss doesn’t believe we are working hard.
- It also feels as though they don’t have faith in our ability to create a solution and accomplish it.
- It reduces autonomy and takes up time that could better be spent executing rather than responding to requests for assurance.
Overall, it’s hard not to find it insulting and burdensome.
When I talk to my clients about their frustration with being micromanaged, I usually ask them to think from the perspective of serving a difficult customer. But instead of an ordinary, external customer, this is a difficult “internal” customer.
Your boss is your most important internal customer.
Whenever we are providing customer service—internal or external—the starting point is with trying to get into the world of the customer. Only from that perspective can we successfully allay their concerns. So, try to go into the world of your boss.
Get curious about why they are micromanaging you.
- What is driving it?
- Are they under pressure from above?
- Do they have standards that can’t be met?
- Have you (or someone else) failed to deliver or left them high and dry without the necessary work product?
There are lots of other possibilities.
While it may not be appropriate to directly ask (unless it is, in which case ask), it is possible to assuage their worries. At the very least, if your boss is micromanaging, she’s definitely worried about whether something will get done correctly and on time.
So, address those concerns. The more proactively you approach that, the better. In other words, micromanage their anxiety.
Here are some steps you can take to relieve your boss’ worry:
- When asked to do something, ask questions. Find out the ultimate goal of the project or task. The more your boss sees you grasping the why, the more she will trust you to undertake the what.
- Instead of simply agreeing to get something done, craft a clear and reassuring response that includes a plan. It may be useful to even put it in writing. If you’ve been asked to (say) produce a report, don’t work in silence. Produce a plan and give it to your boss. It might include the steps you will take and when.
- Include the timing of updates in your plan. How often will you check-in, and what will you report?
- Don’t wait to be asked when you will do X, Y, or Z. Write a morning email that says what you will be getting done today.
- Write an afternoon email reporting what you did and what you will be working on tomorrow.
- Request information that will be important to get the project done.
- You may also want to create a Monday and Friday report to recap and report next week’s priority.
Yes, all of this is extra work. But, it will go a long way to satisfying your micromanaging boss’ anxiety. More importantly, you have inverted the micromanagement function.
You are micromanaging your boss’ need for control and transparency.
It sounds weird to say so, but we train our bosses just as they train us. If you become so conscientious about ensuring your boss is fully in the loop, at some point, their anxiety will diminish.
They will stop asking what you’ve done or how and begin to relax in the sure knowledge that you have everything in hand.
Career Coach | Professional Resume Writer | Founder, Thrive! Resumes
Have a proactive communication about workflow, decisions, and outcomes
Many times supervisors micromanage because they are responsible for outcomes but don’t have complete control over them. One solution to this problem is calm, proactive communication about workflow, decisions, and outcomes.
“Fred, the Carlson project is due on Friday. I’ll be finishing the text on Tuesday and adding images on Wednesday, so it will be completed by Thursday evening.”
Give the micromanager a sense of control by providing them with options
Give the micromanager a sense of control by providing them with options in a calm, neutral tone of voice. “Tom, we can make this background blue or orange. Which do you prefer?”
Sometimes both options are equally good, and it’s merely a matter of taste. Other times, one option may obviously be better—but ideally, your boss will make that decision.
“Ron, if we give this valued customer a refund, they’ll continue to do business with us for years. Or we can refuse the $100 refund and lose a $20,000 account. What should I do?”
This has the added advantage of protecting you from the repercussions that may be inevitable if you make the decision.
Ultimately, no one deserves to work for a micromanager. Try these strategies for six months and see if things start to change. However, if your boss hasn’t developed confidence in your abilities by that point, it’s time to look for a new job!
CEO and Managing Partner, Grace Ocean, LLC | Author, “The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership”
Confront the issue or find a better boss
My best advice for those struggling with a micromanaging boss is to leave. Like leopards and spots, these people rarely ever change. So, the choice is almost always between finding a more supportive environment or staying with a horrible manager.
The “Great Resignation,” the voluntary exodus of more than 30 million people, and counting, from the U.S. workforce, has largely been fueled by workers who made a decision to stop putting up with toxic cultures like those created by micromanagers. And it’s about time.
Short of heading out the door, I’d encourage folks to directly confront the tyrant. Use language such as this:
“Boss, when you micromanage my activities, it makes me feel like you don’t trust me, or that you don’t value my work enough to let me complete projects by myself. What are the things I need to do that will result in you giving me the autonomy to work more independently?”
Remember, micromanagers are almost always narcissistic bullies. Sometimes, directly confronting them will cause them to back off – not change, just back off.
Seeking help from HR or going over the bully’s head will not help you. Remember, these are the people that hired them. They are not likely to admit a mistake. Although, they are likely to transmit your complaint to your tormentor, which will only serve to make your life worse.
So, your choices remain to confront the issue or find a better boss. If it were me, I’d choose the latter every time.
Chairman & CEO, The Energists
Micromanagers can be very damaging for an organization, potentially driving high turnover and lowering productivity and engagement among those they manage.
First, it helps to realize where the urge to micromanage comes from. Managers who have these tendencies are driven by a desire for control. I believe this is why we’ve seen an uptick in micromanagers since the start of the pandemic.
The shift to remote work decreased the visible control these individuals have, leading to them trying to exert it forcefully in other ways.
Often, there is an element of insecurity involved, too—the need to oversee every detail of reports’ work fills their time, so they don’t have to focus on things like employee development, process improvements, or other more challenging work.
With that in mind, here are a few methods for dealing with them:
Consistently turn in high-quality work on time
In some cases, proving to the micromanager that you can handle tasks on your own by consistently turning in high-quality work on time reduces their urge to micromanage.
This can at least be an effective way to get them out of your hair as a report—the more they trust you to do your work correctly, the less they’ll be tempted to micromanage.
Challenge them to let go of small things first
This is advice more for leaders of micromanagers. They may be afraid that their team will fall apart if they stop nitpicking every detail.
As their boss, challenge them to let go of small things first—have them take a week off from reviewing every remote worker’s time log or something similar. Once they see their team continues to run just as well without that control element, it’s easier for them to shift their mindset.
Open the lines of communication
It’s good to have a hands-on manager who gives feedback, but the line can sometimes be very thin between that and micromanagement. More two-way communication can be a big help.
Encourage the manager to set up more frequent one-on-ones with reports, rather than nitpicking them over small details on a daily basis.
By putting the feedback into spaced-out, more organized settings, the more nit-picky corrections will likely fall by the wayside. At the same time, a feedback system from reports can help them see that their actions negatively impact the team.
I will say not all micromanagers can be “fixed”—some people are naturally over-focused on those small details, and if that’s the case, they may not be best suited for people management positions.
If the micromanager refuses to change their ways, it may be time to move them to a different role (or let them go to a different company).
Speaker and Equality Advocate | Author, “Step Up: How to Live with Courage and Become an Everyday Leader“
Get to the “why” behind their actions
I think the first step for dealing with a micromanager is always empathy. There is almost always a reason people act a certain way. Get curious instead of critical. Get to the “why” behind their actions.
- Maybe they had an employee in the past who they gave a lot of leeways and got burned.
- Maybe this is their first leadership role, and they exhibit this level of control in an attempt to ensure their success.
- Maybe their boss wants them to have a real-time pulse on the project and expects that information to be available instantaneously.
By getting to know them, what they are afraid of and what motivates them, you can understand how to take actions to mitigate the triggers that cause their micromanaging.
Establish clear boundaries and expectations with your boss
Anything you say will be better received if you build trust, and trust takes time, so do not expect things to change overnight. When your goal is long-term relationship building, you have to put in the work.
Establish clear boundaries and expectations about roles and responsibilities with your boss.
This common understanding will give you a reference point when you feel the micromanaging is overstepping those lines. Also, do not expect that they are aware they are micromanagers. Perhaps a previous employee needed and wanted that level of attention.
Establish regular, agreed-upon intervals for updates
Finally, establish regular, agreed-upon intervals for updates. When a manager feels left in the dark on a project, that uncertainty may make them want to tighten their grip. Scheduled updates give a limit to that uncertainty.
If a question pops in their head in the middle of the night, knowing there is a scheduled update in 48 hours helps put them at ease. These sessions may be more frequent in the beginning but a sign of trust and progress will be slowly making them less frequent.
These incremental changes over time lead to substantial shifts in the larger picture.
Founder & CEO, Reverb
Spot the signs that are making you feel this way
Identify why you feel you’re being micromanaged. List the manager’s specific behaviors that are making you feel this way.
Identify root cause
While no one wants to be micromanaged, being a manager is not easy. Exercise empathy by putting yourself in your manager’s shoes. What might be causing them to behave in this way?
- Do they need more information?
- Could you assure them that you’re on track?
- Maybe they prefer over-communication?
Have an upfront discussion with your manager
It’s easy enough to recognize what you don’t like but think about how you would rather your manager behave. What would it look like for them to take a more hands-off approach and demonstrate more trust in you and your work?
Have the hard conversation: Perhaps understanding their motives has made things easier for you. Maybe you’ve already tried communicating more proactively, and it’s not working. Don’t avoid the hard conversation. The only way to work this out is to have an upfront discussion with your manager.
Tell them how you’re feeling and how you would prefer to be treated:
“When you message me on Slack a few times in a week about the same task that isn’t due until the end of the month, I feel like you don’t trust me to get it done. What if I sent you a weekly status update instead?”
Stick to behaviors and offer to be part of the solution. Don’t accuse or attack your manager, and don’t blame it all on them. You want to communicate constructively so they can hear you and not become defensive.
Experiment for a set period of time
Once you’ve found common ground, agree to experiment for a set period of time – maybe a couple of weeks. It’s likely each of you will be doing something a little different. In order for your manager to check in less, you’ll likely have to communicate more. Both of you should take notes on what’s working and what’s not.
It may feel uncomfortable at first, but hopefully, you’ll arrive at a solution that feels better to both parties.
If the initial experiment isn’t a raging success, regroup, and try again if needed. Maybe you need to make another change or slight adjustment. So long as you’re having an open dialog and working together to solve the problem, that’s positive.
If you try a few things and none of them work, consider asking HR, a coach, or a mediator to help generate more ideas until you’ve reached a solution that works for everyone involved.
Gina D’Andrea Weatherup
Certified General District Mediator (Virginia Supreme Court) | Founder and President, Chantilly Mediation and Facilitation
Consider: Why does this person micromanage me?
First, ask yourself – or maybe them – why they may engage in this behavior. Do they not know any better? Are they experiencing pressure from above, in the form of their own micromanager?
Perhaps they need a sense of control (don’t we all these days). Understanding this will help you figure out how to respond to them.
Be prepared with a few creative communication alternatives
Micromanagement is about how we work. People generally avoid discussing the “how” at work, when really, it’s the most important topic. If you’re being micromanaged for any reason, ask your manager to talk with you about how you get your work done.
When you have that conversation, be prepared with a few creative communication alternatives.
There are so many forms of communication available today in all workplaces: Voicemails/audio messages, video conferences, phone calls, images we can text, Slack, intranet options, emails, and lots of PM software allows for a type of instant messaging too.
Pick the type you’d prefer, pick a schedule you’d like, and be prepared to compromise with your micromanager in order to meet whatever their needs are.
Stick to your boundaries
After that conversation, take responsibility for enforcing what you talked about by sticking to precisely the form and schedule you both agreed to – even when they don’t.
As time goes on, they will respect your boundaries and your initiative. If they don’t, it may be time to find a new manager.
CEO and Founder, Diggz
Proactively provide updates on your progress—even the smallest of them
Micromanagers will usually bombard you with the smallest details of tasks that they ask you to do, evaluate every step, and “bother you” very frequently. One way to get them off your back and give you some breathing room is beating them at their own game.
The way to do it is to proactively provide updates on your progress. Even the smallest of them.
For example, tell your manager that you’ve emailed the clients you were supposed to and are waiting for a reply; then, don’t just wait to update them when you get a response, but also let them know that you haven’t heard back yet and plan to follow up later on.
The one thing you want to avoid is your manager asking you to do these tasks first, even if your answer will be that you already did it. When one of my employees was either new or underperforming, I needed to increase the level of interaction and do a lot more frequent checkpoints with them.
But, I always told them: “don’t wait for me to ask you if you’ve done something. Send me regular updates on your progress, just like if you were on Twitter. If I don’t reach out to you and ask you if something is done, then you’re getting it right.”
Reduce micromanagement by building trust
You might be micromanaged because you haven’t built credit or ruined the trust you had with your manager. One way to reduce micromanagement is by building trust.
As mentioned above, make sure you keep your micromanager boss in the loop on everything, get ahead of tasks and try to complete them ahead of time, and ask for their feedback along the way. Most likely, once they realize that you are getting things done right and on time, they will take a more distant approach to manage you.
Micromanaging someone is a lot more work than managing someone that you know is not going to disappoint you and is working on “autopilot.”
Confront them and tell them it’s affecting your performance
If your track record is stellar, you keep your manager in the loop and provide regular updates but still get micromanaged, then most likely it’s them, not you. You should confront them and tell them it’s affecting your performance, taxing your job satisfaction, and mainly uncalled for.
Ask them what else they need from you to build up the trust and what level of autonomy they would be comfortable giving you. I would recommend laying out the steps you are going to take upfront and by when for new tasks so you can get your boss on the same page.
You can also politely say that you know how to do this job or this task, and you will be sure to keep them in the loop and consult with them if you have questions or issues. It might even be a good idea to ask them for a little help (even if you don’t need it).
You don’t want to make them feel useless, but rather try to help them to focus on higher-level work they need to do other than sit behind your shoulder.
Senior HR Business Partner, Zety
Communicate your concerns and give your feedback
Micromanagers’ constant urge to control everything creates tension in teams and negatively impacts employees’ motivation and performance. People around them often feel their work is never good enough and complain about the lack of ownership and independence as their managers always know it better.
I once experienced the case when the manager continuously changed my colleague’s writing. At some point, she stopped introducing her contributions but solely implemented the suggestions of her boss.
After many corrected drafts without her additional inputs, she couldn’t take it any longer and addressed her manager by saying, “You know that for the last week, you’ve been correcting yourself without any contributions from my side?”
This feedback was a warning sign for her boss that made him realize it was time to change his leadership style and give up some control that made him and his team members miserable.
Related: Top 7 Leading Traits of Good Leaders
That’s why it’s essential to communicate your concerns to your manager and provide feedback when you feel your boss is controlling you too much. It’s a good idea to have an honest conversation with your manager, reveal your concerns, and make it clear how their behavior affects your work.
Only then you can build a good relationship with your manager and be satisfied at your workplace.
HR Manager, Local Furniture Outlet
Have an honest personal assessment of your work performance
Most employees see micromanagers as individuals with trust issues. However, this does not necessarily mean that you execute tasks perfectly.
As such, it’s advised that employees first turn the lens on themselves and have an honest personal assessment of their work performance in a given time frame. You can start by checking if you have been consistently late to work or how well you have been performing in terms of meeting deadlines.
At this point, it is important for employees to have a look at anything that may make their managers feel they are unreliable.
Personally send updates before your boss asks for them
If employees feel their work quality and delivery has been nothing short of excellent, then you can proceed to beat your boss to the punch. For example, if your boss is the type to consistently send you emails to get an update on a task, you can personally send these updates before they ask for them.
Show enthusiasm by properly communicating with your boss on what you have achieved, the current tasks, and your progress. By doing this, your boss will notice the changes in your approach. It will most likely lead your boss to reconsider the necessity of their behavior.
Offer to do anything to make the process or the situation easier for them
Communication can be limited, especially in a busy office atmosphere. Your manager or boss could be under pressure to deliver on deadlines as well.
Make an effort to have a chat with your boss and chip in with positive words. You can also state that you understand how much work is still left to be done. Offer to do anything in a bid to make the process or the situation easier for them.
Hearing this will give your boss a sense of appreciation for your thoughtfulness. It might as well prompt him to give you some breathing space.
Chief Marketing Officer, ProofHub
In the simplest terms, micromanagement is a managing style in which a manager carefully monitors, controls, and reminds their subordinates or employees about their work.
In business management, micromanagement has a negative connotation as it denies employees freedom and autonomy, thus disrupting team trust. Micromanagement entails becoming completely immersed in their task, which limits the workforce’s creativity and input.
Here are a few ways for you to help you deal with micromanagers:
Take time to evaluate your work ethic first
Take some time to evaluate your work ethic before approaching your boss about their micromanaging behavior. Consider whether there are any reasons why your boss feels the need to keep a close eye on you.
Assess whether you’ve been arriving late to work, missing deadlines, or forgetting to fix mistakes on a regular basis. Make a list of potential violations and make a commitment to correcting any undesirable behavior.
Think ahead of the game and anticipate their next move
Take action before your manager does if you see a trend of micromanagement. You can exhibit your capacity to think ahead by anticipating their next move. Provide regular progress updates, for example, to lessen their perceived need to contact or email after hours.
Micromanagers are usually at ease when they have all of the information they require regarding a project. You encourage trust and invite them to entrust more duties to you when you communicate this progress ahead of time.
Positive reinforcement is a wise strategy employed by all competent managers to help employees realize which behaviors are beneficial. You can use it for your boss as well.
It may seem daunting at first to consider, “how can I tell my manager they are doing a good job in this specific area?” but with a little practice, you will be able to do so.
Whenever you notice your boss doing anything that makes them a good manager, make a note of it.
Promote constructive feedback
Talk about areas that you’re interested in and concerned about. Give constructive feedback to your team members and encourage them to do better.
For example, you may be unsure about a process but can describe to your manager how you might go about working through it and only require some guidance rather than critical to the successful implementation. This may address concerns that would otherwise have prompted micromanagement.
Along with all the tips mentioned above, there are plenty of ways that a team can work cohesively and avoid the need to micromanage.
Marketing & SEO Specialist, Emma Sleep
Know more about boss to form a positive relationship with him
Don’t revert management
I believe if your employer isn’t nice to you, that doesn’t mean you have to imitate him to vent your rage. He may be acting this way for a variety of reasons, and you should be aware of what it’s like to deal with a perfectionist.
If your boss has a micromanager attitude and exerts control over work, it could be because he wants things to run according to plan, and it could be a learning experience for you.
In a professional environment, there is no tit-for-tat. Therefore, you must appreciate the value of authority and respect it, as it will teach you a lot about life.
There is no use in reverting to micromanagement because it serves no purpose. You may be tempted to file a complaint about it with your superiors, but doing so is neither advisable nor beneficial because it would tarnish your reputation in the eyes of your superiors.
You may say to yourself, “Let me anonymously report his behavior to a public source to teach him a lesson,” but doing anything like this requires an authoritative mindset. Imagine yourself in his shoes someday and getting work done according to your specifications.
Before being a senior, a boss is a human with his fears and vulnerabilities; as a boss, he may not disclose them with his team members, but this does not cause them to elope.
As a subordinate, you must strive to grasp what your boss values, what truly inspires him, and what he fears. Knowing more about him is another step toward forming a positive relationship with him.
- Is directing people giving him a sense of superiority, or is it the greatest method for him to complete tasks on time?
- Is he a perfectionist who constantly wants his hand in everything to keep control over people and situations, or is he a power-hungry who wants his hand in everything to maintain control over people and situations?
You can demonstrate empathy for him by stating things like:
- “I appreciate how important this project is to the organization, but it would have been difficult for me to complete it without you.”
- “I appreciate you guiding me through each stage and ensuring that the end product is so pleasant and meets your expectations.”
Giving him credit for his contributions will make him feel good and will improve your relationship with him.
Express how one’s micromanaging makes you feel when you do
You are likely to come across micromanagers in your career. It is vital to have an open, honest conversation and express how one’s micromanaging makes you feel when you do.
For example, I had a manager who wanted to review everything I wrote to my clients. I felt like he was marking up my work for the sake of control. So, I took an example of something he wrote, changed a few small things, put my name on it, and gave it to him for review.
Ironically, yet not surprisingly, my manager marked it up like every other document.
I walked into his office and showed him that the document was his, not mine. After a moment of discomfort and a little laughter, we could have a productive exchange, where I got the autonomy wanted.
I learned that delivering the unvarnished truth regardless of hierarchy or personal fear will get to the heart of the matter and put me in control of my career.
The mantra I have for these exchanges is, “the serum is in the venom.” If you feel paralyzed by something, move towards it and deal with the truth of your experience rather than avoid it. Over time, you’ll develop your ability to orchestrate better conversations.
In any relationship, if one person speaks the truth, both are transformed.
Managing Attorney, Douglas R. Beam
Understand the motivation behind their actions
The secret to working with a micromanaging leader is taking the time to understand the reasoning behind their actions.
In most cases, their constant need to intervene, question, and guide come from a place of wanting to see a project through successfully and doing everything in their power to ensure the results are met, rather than control “you” as a person.
Take the time to identify what it is that a micromanager really cares about and ask them to clearly define what they expect out of you — it could be prompt updates, timely completion of work, following a certain process, etc.
From there, it’s all about being proactive at every step so that you can work towards building trust.
Career and Workplace Editor, Mantelligence
The workplace is often a breeding ground for hostility and fragile egos. You’re going to find all types of toxic people there, whether they’re your co-workers or leaders.
So, if you need some help dealing with leaders who just can’t let go, these tips should be a good place to start.
Ask for their input on how they think you can improve your work
Often, a boss will check on you and nitpick all your actions when they don’t trust you yet. So, it would be good to ask for their input on how they think you can improve your work.
You can also ask them if they would like something to be done a certain way so that you can follow their method next time.
Communicate with them about setting up a schedule on when they can do check-ins
When your boss has the freedom to approach you all the time about your work, it gives them the liberty to constantly ask for updates or check on your status, making it quite annoying.
So, if you can communicate with them about setting up a schedule on when they can do check-ins, it would be a more effective system than going back and forth with all the updates.
If the micromanaging is becoming too taxing, you can communicate your insights and say why you need to have this schedule.
Prioritize important tasks and imitate the method your boss likes
When your boss can’t relinquish control, it’s probably because there are things that are too important for them to let go of. So, if you can identify what those things are, you’ll know to prioritize them and imitate the method your boss likes.
That way, your boss would see you’re doing the job the way they want you to. It would lessen their need to bombard you with questions.
It’s not always easy to understand people’s varying points of view. We need to adjust our actions and habits most of the time, especially when the job requires us.
So, these tips will not only help you please your boss, but they will also teach you discernment and open-mindedness. Both of which are badly needed if you want to grow career-wise.
Hear the issue from your boss’s perspective
Your first impulse might be to lop off a hand or two, but that’s not going to help you accomplish your goals. If you’re facing a micromanaging boss, it’s probably because they are worried about hitting deadlines and producing results.
Try to stay calm and collected when dealing with this type of boss. It will make it easier for you to get your points across instead of coming off as angry or frustrated.
Secondly, I think telling a micromanager to stop micromanaging rarely has any effect. The person may feel defensive about their behavior, and the problem will only get worse.
Therefore, employees should listen more than they talk when their boss gives them feedback. This will allow you to hear the issue from your boss’s perspective and help find a solution that works for both of you.
Don’t argue with your boss when they suggest ways for you to improve
Try asking questions rather than making statements when speaking with your boss. This takes the focus off of what you’re doing wrong and puts it on how you can change things for the better.
It’s a subtle difference, but it can go a long way toward getting them to back off in the future. If you keep up this approach, micromanagers will soon realize that they’re ineffective, which will encourage them not to constantly hover around your desk and overstep their bounds.
So it’s better not to argue with your boss when they suggest ways for you to improve. This will show your boss that you’re open to improving, but it also allows them to feel like they are in control of the situation.
Ask for clarification about what your boss wants from you
When you hear criticism of your work, don’t try to justify yourself. Instead, ask for clarification and more information about what exactly your boss wants from you.
If it’s something you can change easily, great! If not, you’ll at least have some idea of what’s going on.
Keep your goals in mind
If your boss is specific in his critiques and suggestions, ask him what goals he wants you to accomplish and how he thinks your performance will help get you there.
It may be obvious to you how certain tasks will help the company meet its objectives, but if it isn’t clear to your boss, make sure he understands that those tasks are part of the bigger picture.
In my early years, I worked under a few micromanagers, and it made me vow never to become one if I ever had a position of power. Here are some tips for dealing with people who need a little too much control.
Suggest a weekly check-in time where you can present all the project updates
Suggest a weekly check-in time where you can present all the project updates and give them a chance to ask questions and learn more.
By putting a time in a calendar each week, it will help build trust in the relationship and at the same time meet the managers’ needs.
Use shareable online tools to keep everyone on the team informed
Don’t rely on phone calls or emails to keep your manager updated. Use shareable online tools to keep everyone on the team informed.
Something as simple as a shared spreadsheet will allow your manager to get an overview of the project without constantly needing a phone call, which takes up valuable work time.
Redirect the conversation if they’re interfering with your progress
Redirect the conversation if you feel like the micromanager is interfering with your progress.
For instance, if you are constantly being hounded for updates, guide them to the tools in place, like the spreadsheet where they can see the updates, and this may make them realize they are asking for too much.
Vice President of Marketing, Verta.ai
Consider reporting to the boss more frequently and being more proactive
Working with a micromanager is by far the worst experience you can have in the workplace. Nobody enjoys being told how to do their job over their shoulder. Nevertheless, micromanagers aim to be the backseat driver of every decision you make at work.
This raises the stress level in the office and fosters animosity among coworkers.
It’s not all bad news, though, as you may use the advice below to cope with micromanagers more effectively:
- Focus on improving your own performance.
- Consider reporting to the boss more frequently and being more proactive.
- Keep calm and, if necessary, speak openly with your supervisor about the problem.
- Don’t wait for their approval before completing work; it’s better to seek forgiveness than permission.
- Express your boss’s trust in you.
Chief Marketing Officer, GoFMX
Provide alternatives for pointless labor
You should take a step back and brainstorm new ideas if your remote work schedule suddenly fills up with tasks that aren’t helping your project progress. You should show these to your boss and seek their opinion on them.
Let them know (in a nice and casual manner) that you have to prioritize your time and that this suggestion would take precedence over their previously allotted busy work if they’re on board with the plan.
Do a self-evaluation of your performance
See if you can recall any instances in which you may have lowered your manager’s confidence in you.
In spite of the fact that micromanagement is a reflection of them rather than you, taking the time to examine your own performance can assist you in either uncovering ways to improve or assert your own excellent work.
Either way, if you develop empathy for the difficulties and pressures they are now suffering, you may be able to relieve some of your own tension as a result.
Look for patterns of micromanagement so you can be proactive rather than reactive
Keep an eye out for patterns of micromanagement so you can be proactive rather than reactive. Preventing them from acting out in the future or eliminating it altogether is possible if you beat them to the punch.
Invite them to join you in a shared document before the event begins and type your comments there as it all unfolds, for example, if they tend to email you right after every meeting you both attend to obtain your personal notes.
Set clear boundaries and expectations from the start of your work relationship
The best way to deal with micromanagers is to set clear boundaries and expectations from the very beginning of your work relationship. This might seem like a tall order, but the key to setting these boundaries is being specific about what you will do and what you won’t do for this manager.
- Understand what your manager expects from you – The first step in managing your relationship with a micromanager is to learn exactly what this manager wants from you.
- Do not make the mistake of thinking that if you do your job well, everything will be okay. This is rarely the case when you are dealing with a micromanager.
- It is important to know exactly what the manager expects of you and how he or she wants it done. From there, you can make better decisions for yourself.
- Have clear expectations of the manager – It’s also important to articulate what you want from this manager and how you are willing to do your job as part of this team. Once again, do not make the mistake of thinking that you did something wrong if your boss does not like how you were working on a project. Instead, learn to detach your emotions from the situation and take a step back from it all.
- Know when to walk away – When you are dealing with a micromanager, it is sometimes better to be safe than sorry. That is not to say that you should run away from everything. But there may be times when walking away from a job or a project will be the best option.
- Find ways to overcome your fear of failure – One of the biggest struggles in dealing with any kind of boss is simply accepting who they are and finding ways around it. If you feel that you are unable to be productive while working with this manager, then do not consider staying on the job. It may be better for your career and growth in your company to find new connections outside of this person.
Certified Business Coach and Consultant | Founder, Think Tyler
Take time to focus on your conduct to know where you can improve
Not all micromanagement is unwarranted. We all make mistakes now and again, but if making mistakes becomes a habit, there’s usually a good reason why your boss feels forced to hunch over your shoulder and say, “Do this.” “No, do that.”
Take some time to focus on your conduct to discover what you do well and where you can improve. What are you doing that attracts your manager’s attention?
Create a strong game plan
When a project looms on the horizon, get ahead of the power curve by making a quick list of deliverables — time, resources, and needs — to deem complete for success. Please present this to your manager.
This conveys the message, “Hey, I’m all over this like sauce on ribs,” which means your manager won’t feel obligated to go over each bullet point with you (but maybe a few).
It’s not easy dealing with someone who requires so much control. The sooner you learn how to handle your micromanager; the more rewarding your career will be.
Marketing Director, Green Building Elements
Get to the bottom of why your manager feels forced to micromanage
To get to the bottom of why your manager feels forced to micromanage, show empathy by attempting to see the problem from their point of view. “Listen, you seem really anxious about the outcome of this project,” says your management. “How can I relieve your stress so you can feel better?”
Mentor other team members in their tasks
When your manager sees you function in your position while also coaching others in theirs, it gives the impression that you understand the project needs. Begin with one of three essential project criteria: time, requirements, or resources.
- What is the completion date?
- What are the prerequisites for success?
- What do we need that we don’t have, and can we function without it?
Asking these queries shows your boss that you’re capable of thinking more broadly than they previously thought (“So get off my back!”).
Propose the structure of work that’s best for you and the company
Micromanagement can be a hard-wired character trait that can be very challenging to work past and nearly impossible to change. Assuming you want to stay at a company and generally like the job, how do you deal with such managers?
Like any other relationship, communication is key. Avoid using the word “micromanager.” It’s going to be taken as an insult. Instead, explain your position and propose the structure of work that’s best for you and the company.
- You may want to say that you’d like to be able to focus on a certain project with minimal daily communication.
- Request that meetings and check-ins be consolidated to scheduled weekly times that aren’t moved around.
- Proactively provide relevant updates.
- Directly ask if they are comfortable with you taking the lead on the work and explain that you’re qualified for the opportunity to work like this.
- Live up to your end of the structure. Be an employee that doesn’t require micromanagement. Exceed expectations and become an asset that they need to retain and eventually promote.
If you do all of this and you still experience management that you are upset with, accept that some people will never change and relish in that power, and move on to another job elsewhere.
Co-Founder and CEO, Replyify
Ask them open-ended questions to understand them better
Micromanaging makes a manager feel more involved as they closely supervise their team’s work. Micromanagers love being the sole decision-maker. While some might think that providing guidance will make the team productive, too much involvement is counterproductive.
Micromanaging lowers morale and productivity. To deal with a micromanager, it is best to ask your manager directly and ask them open-ended questions to understand them better.
For example, when they are constantly asking for updates, you can say, “I understand that we need to deliver this project on time. How and how often do you want me to share updates?”
Show your manager that you are willing to collaborate.
It would help to reinforce positive behavior
Just like everyone else, your manager also needs feedback. This would help your manager see how their actions are useful.
For example, you can say, “I really appreciated that you trusted me to do. It helped me be ___.”
Share your feelings with them
I believe as an employee, you should be able to speak openly and respectfully with your manager about the issues you face at work. When considering how to cope with a micromanager, keep in mind how their behaviors make you feel at work and tell them about it.
Tell them what kind of input you prefer, especially if you’re just getting negative comments and not hearing what you’re doing right. If your self-esteem is harmed, it will have an impact on your work.
Utilize tools that provide updates without phone calls and emails
Put together a list of tools that you can use as a team to keep everyone up to date on the status of various tasks.
You can use a simple shared spreadsheet or one of the project management tools and apps that are available. Your manager may get an overview without having to poke around in each location by modifying this generally.
Software Engineer | Journalist and Radio Host
Before we can answer how to deal with a micromanager, it’s equally important to understand the cause behind their consistent need to overlook every task that you do.
Micromanagers are usually afraid that the work won’t be completed as expected, and it could be because of their internal insecurities or the fact that they don’t trust their employees enough to delegate the tasks.
Moreover, managers or other colleagues may also micromanage simply because they don’t want to lose control over a certain project and thus lose their credibility.
There are many reasons why they do it, so let’s get into what we can do to resolve this.
Try to build their trust
Before you complain to your manager about their behavior or that of another colleague with regards to micromanaging, try to understand if it were your actions in the first place that led to this sort of behavior.
Try asking yourself whether or not you’ve been able to complete tasks on time before or have the capacity to lead projects on your own. The first step is to always work on ourselves enough that we can build trust going forward.
Increase communication about your work
If it’s your manager who is a micromanager, then try to understand things from their perspective. They might have a whole range of tasks due, and this could result in alleviated stress levels.
One thing that you can do to relieve them of stress is to increase communication about your work.
Inform them of what steps you’re taking and how long it would take to complete a certain task/project. Be open with them about any problems you’re facing as well because the more you communicate, the more you set their heart at ease.
Try requesting for a change
If you’ve tried everything else but don’t see any improvements in behavior—set a one-on-one meeting with your manager or team leader and talk to them about how their increased involvement is resulting in diminishing performance on your end.
Some managers might understand your point of view and let go of some control, whilst others might get triggered by your audacity. If it’s the latter, then you should really consider a lateral shift with the company itself or look for other employment opportunities if feasible.
Founder, Ask April
Declare your intention to collaborate but express your need for autonomy
Based on experience, micromanaging is detrimental to everyone’s health, may it be the company’s or the employee’s. They cause anxiety and cripple their employee’s ability to succeed.
Micromanagers rarely delegate tasks; they hover over their employees and set unrealistic expectations. Not only is micromanagement ineffective, but it also affects productivity and employee morale.
Here are two ways to deal with micromanagers:
- Build trust – Before confronting your manager about their leadership style, assess your work ethic and performance. Make an effort to improve and fix your mistakes. There might be reasons why your manager is compelled to watch your every move.
- Ask for feedback – When you’ve done all you can to work on yourself, be direct with your manager. Ask what you can do better to find ways to alleviate their micromanagement. Declare your intention to collaborate and need for support, but express your need for autonomy.
Politely explain how you’re more fulfilled at work when you work independently
The thing to keep in mind is that most micromanagers aren’t necessarily doing it because they actually intend to cause frustration or pain, but because it comes from a place of insecurity.
So, naturally, they begin to hover about, looking for chances to give their opinions, seeking perfection, and wanting to remind people of their expertise.
They may even end up nagging workers for progress updates or constantly requiring progress to present what they’ve done, just so that they can identify any “problems” before they are submitted to avoid the work reflecting back on them to their superiors.
In this respect, the best way to address the problem is to be direct by opening up a dialogue about the situation with your superior.
If you feel that their micromanagement tendencies are starting to negatively impact your ability to fulfill your role to the best of your ability, then addressing the issue in a sensitive and discreet manner is the best course of action.
You need to clearly and politely explain how their behavior makes you feel and how you are more fulfilled at work when you are allowed to work independently. When carried out respectfully, holding such a conversation can often improve your situation faster.
Senior Vice President, AltLINE
Schedule a time to talk with them about their behavior
Sometimes the person doing the micromanaging isn’t aware that they’re being a nuisance. If you’re really having a problem with a coworker or a manager, schedule a time to talk with them about their behavior.
If they don’t make any changes, go to someone higher up. Include reasons why you can’t work properly with your coworker or manager. Employers who are looking for you to stay will make an effort to make a change.
Move to another job
If you can’t take it, find another job. While this isn’t the best option, you may find a better opportunity out there. A micromanager may just be the push you need to find a job that will appreciate your work.
Community Manager, LiveCareer
Be assertive when you feel your manager controls you too much
Micromanagers are tough to handle as they often want to know every detail of your project and obsessively check the work of others. They don’t trust their team members and have a constant urge to control their every step.
Micromanagers are often perfectionists who have trouble expressing their emotions and admit that they make mistakes like every human being.
So how to deal with micromanagers to make your collaboration effective and build a healthy relationship with your boss? The first step is to communicate your concerns and be assertive when you feel your manager controls you too much.
Be specific about the tasks you’re working on but have the courage to speak up when your manager is crossing the line. The key lies in showing your manager that you take full ownership of your work and are not afraid of commitment even when things don’t go according to plan.
Founder & CEO, We Buy Houses in Kentucky
Adjust your work style
If addressing the individual who is micromanaging you does not yield results, the only other choice is to try to change your behavior. Again, communication is important in understanding their working style.
- Are they in search of reports?
- Do they require status updates?
- Is this at a high level, with what level of specificity?
- How often are these reports or status updates delivered—hourly, daily?
Then there’s the method of communication they prefer: text, email, phone, etc.
You may adjust your work style to fit what they want and when they want it once you’ve gathered this information, which should reduce interruptions throughout your workday.
Founder & CEO, No More Chores
Dig deeper to figure out what the real issue is
Every organization, unfortunately, has micromanagers. They’ve been given authority or responsibility that they weren’t ready for or didn’t know what to deal with it most of the time. That authority presents itself in the form of micromanaging their employees’ tasks, putting their sanity to the test.
Micromanaging is usually a reflection of their own concerns about not working well enough or not being respected.
You’ll need to spend some time digging deeper to figure out what the real issue is. Perhaps they don’t know how to give up control. Maybe they value themselves based on their work. Maybe they have never managed before and are unsure how to handle their new responsibilities.
Micromanagers can be saved. Teach them to delegate by demonstrating how delegation allows them to focus on what you truly need them to do. Explain that their team members should be replaced if they need to be observed so closely.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most common signs of a micromanager?
– They require frequent check-ins and updates on every task and project.
– They are overly critical of small mistakes or deviations from their instructions.
– They do not trust their employees to complete tasks without constant supervision.
– They take credit for their employees’ work.
– They struggle to delegate tasks effectively and may hoard work for themselves.
– They discourage innovation or creativity, preferring to stick to their tried-and-true methods.
Can a micromanager change their behavior?
Yes, it is possible for a micromanager to change their behavior, especially if they are open to feedback and willing to learn and grow. However, this may require patience, persistence, and the support of colleagues or a mentor.
Encouraging open communication and emphasizing the benefits of trusting and empowering employees can help change the micromanager’s perspective and approach.
Providing concrete examples of how their micromanaging behavior affects employees can also help bring about change.
It is important to note that changing deeply ingrained behaviors can be challenging and may take time, so it is vital to approach the situation with empathy and understanding.
How can I avoid becoming a micromanager myself?
Trust your employees and delegate tasks effectively. Give them the autonomy to complete tasks in their own way.
Provide clear expectations and guidelines for tasks, but allow for creativity and flexibility.
Encourage open communication and feedback from your team and listen to their suggestions and ideas.
Focus on results and outcomes rather than micromanaging the process.
Recognize the contributions and accomplishments of your team members.
Practice self-awareness and reflection to identify any micromanaging tendencies and work to address them.
What are the possible negative effects of micromanagement on employees?
– Lower motivation and job satisfaction due to lack of autonomy and trust.
– Increased stress and anxiety due to constant monitoring and feedback.
– Decreased creativity and innovation as employees may be reluctant to try new things or take risks.
– Decreased productivity, as employees may spend more time reporting on their work than actually completing tasks.
– Increased turnover, as employees may seek a supportive and trusting work environment.
How can I deal with the stress and frustration of working with a micromanager?
– Focus on what you can control, such as your own attitude and behavior.
– Practice self-care and stress-reducing activities outside of work, such as exercise or mindfulness.
– Get support from friends, family, or a therapist to help you manage your emotions and stress.
– Find ways to stay motivated and engaged in your work, such as setting personal goals or finding meaning in your tasks.
– Stay on top of your game and realize that micromanagement is not a reflection of your own abilities or value as an employee.
– Consider whether there are opportunities in the situation to grow or learn, such as developing better communication or boundary-setting skills.
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