How to Deal with a Micromanager

At first you thought they were just being very responsible.

Later you may have dubbed them “nitpicky.”

Until finally you realized that the perfect word for them is “micromanager,” and it’s definitely not a compliment.

Working with a micromanager can be extremely stressful and frustrating.

The act of micromanaging usually stems from perfectionism and distrust. Your micromanager may think that by clearly defining roles and specifying which task should be achieved exactly when and how, he is eliminating any chances of failure or mistakes.

To nip this evil in the bud requires a little patience. Here are six ways you can deal with a micromanager.

1. Do a Self-Assessment

Has your manager always treated you this way? Was there ever a time when she let you work more freely? Perhaps he feels the need to micromanage you because you have developed a tendency to slack when work is required.

Have you missed a deadline? Messed up your track record? If yes, you shouldn’t be blaming your boss for making sure you deliver what is expected.

In this case, you only need to prove that you can make do without your boss’ “help.” Keep doing your job, deliver your work on time, and when you have proven you can do that (think three or four projects later), ask for a little more freedom when working.

2. Find Out If You’re the Only One

Does your boss lay out a long list of tasks every day along with detailed explanation of how to them and when? If you’re the only one receiving such “lists” or having a problem with the way your boss dictates your work, chances are, your boss is only micromanaging you.

Schedule some time to talk with your boss. Find out what you did to his or her trust in the way you work and come up with some ways to rebuild or regain that trust.

3. Give It Time

Managers tend to micromanage recent hires for understandable reasons. If you’ve just acquired a new position, don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that you have a big bad boss who likes to always be in command.

Your boss assumes that since you’re new to the job, you might face a situation you’re completely lost about what to do, in which case you might end up doing something wrong.

To reduce the possibility of costly mistakes, your boss will choose to keep a close eye on you. Give it some time — several months perhaps — and let the relationship ease on its own once trust and rapport has been built.

4. Predict What They Want and Do It

Sometimes, we get so accustomed to being babysat that we make it our only drive. If your boss tends to push you with constant reminders or updates for progress and you make that push or pressure the only time when you actually think about what needs to be done, you have deliberately chosen micromanagement over self-management.

Put a halt to this by anticipating what your boss wants and make an effort to complete it ahead of time. This efficiency will prove that you have your task-list under control and she doesn’t need to be on guard all the time.

5. Keep Them Posted

Micromanagers usually want to know everything that’s been going on. Call them a control-freak or whatever you like, but their need to always be on the top of everything is sometimes what makes them effective managers.

If your manager isn’t frequented with feedback or updates from your end, you can expect him to ask you what you’ve been up to or inquire about details on where you’re at with your work. Put a stop to this by simply keeping him posted with emails, memos, or any other quick and easy communication method.

That way, you’ve set aside the worry before any report is demanded. Your boss will also realize that you are organized and accountable and that there’s no need for unnecessary involvement.

6. Talk It Out

It could be that your micromanager is unaware of her behavior. If you feel that the behavior is creating a stressful environment, and you’d much rather work on your own with discretion to carry out the tasks in a manner you like, tell her that this is how you feel.

However, do be very careful with this approach — communicate in a way that is positive and not blaming. Try this as the last resort — use it only when you feel that the micromanaging is getting out of hand and negatively affecting your work.

If any of the above strategies work, don’t let the opportunity of thanking your boss for trusting you go away! Let her know how much you appreciate the new approach. In the end, try to understand that like you, your boss is trying to do his job in the best way possible.

(Photo by pashminu / CC BY)

Alisha Ellis helps students who are facing difficulties in their educational life and don't know what field to choose in order to find a good career. She also consults students regarding their writing assignments. You can get her advice by following her on Facebook.


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