How to Deal With a Micromanager

Daily work diaries and stealth screen monitoring are just some of the micro-managing tactics that can drive down morale. As columnist Jerry Osteryoung recently wrote:

Micro-managing damages morale and productivity because it belittles staff, making them feel like they are not valued and are not contributing to the organization.

How do you keep micromanagers from driving you crazy? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

You’re bound to encounter a few micromanagers over the course of your career, and since it’s difficult to change them, you either need to develop coping skills or change jobs frequently. Here’s some tips to help you deal with them.

Understand Their Motives

Is your boss being pressured by senior management? Or, is he so obsessed with control that he has to be involved in every detail? Understanding the reasons for his behavior will help you react in a way that eases his anxiety.

Build Trust by Making and Keeping Agreements

Agree on the scope of work without diving into the minutia, and then provide scheduled updates. That will help your boss feel in control and relieve her anxiety. Plus, she’ll probably turn her attention to other “unruly” co-workers.

Anticipate and Document

There’s no getting around it. Archive every note, email and spreadsheet, and keep the micromanager at bay by proactively submitting reports before the due date.

Ask for Permission to Work Autonomously

Though some experts insist that you shouldn’t ask micromanagers for greater leeway, if you’re meeting or exceeding expectations, and if you’ve done what they’ve asked and earned their trust, then there’s nothing wrong with asking to take the reigns of a project when the time is right.

2 Responses to “How to Deal With a Micromanager”

  1. I agree that a micromanaging boss can be annoying and generally counter-productive, before focusing on them, perhaps a self-assessment related to “Understand Their Motives” might be in order.

    Are YOU really delivering on your assigned tasks? While the tasks may be “completed” in your mind, your manager may have other (unstated) expectations that you aren’t meeting.

    Are YOU communicating in a way that your boss understands and can internalize? Communications is not just sending a status report or an email. Communications requires bidirectional efforts: Send – Receive – Obtain confirmation of understanding.

    Do YOU understand the greater dynamics of the general work effort? This may not be necessary or even shared at all work levels, but if available, it does help in proactively meeting needs.

    Certainly, not every micro-management situation is triggered by the employee’s actions, but it is unfair (and risky) to assume that the core issue belongs to the boss.

  2. Some folk do require micro-managing; i.e. they need to be told what to do, and when to do it, but hopefully not how to do it. Others do not need to be told what and when, only what is their AOR. Management needs to tailor the style to the individual. Troubles begin when management uses the same style across the board.