As an employee, having the space and freedom to decide how to get your work done is ideal. But a micromanaging boss can be a real obstacle to establishing autonomy in your work.
It’s frustrating to have your manager constantly look over your shoulder, ask too many questions, or give too much advice. And especially whilst remote working, the lack of trust from your manager is even more apparent. But how can you tell your boss to give you more autonomy in your work without being rude or risking your relationship?
In this article, we will explore common signs that indicate you're dealing with an over-excessive boss and provide strategies on how to deal with a micromanager.
What is a micromanager?
Micromanagement is a management style that can be incredibly frustrating and demotivating for employees. Also known as the command-and-control style, it involves excessive control, an obsession with details, and an unwillingness to delegate tasks.
Why do people micromanage?
There are various reasons why people micromanage, both unknowingly and knowingly. According to the Harvard Business Review, the two main reasons managers micromanage are:
- They want to feel more connected with lower-level workers
- They feel more comfortable doing their old job rather than overseeing employees who now do that job
However, recognising the signs and understanding how to deal with micromanagers can help employees maintain their sanity and job satisfaction.
Signs of a Micromanager
- Always needs constant oversight: Micromanagers have a tendency to hover over your shoulder, check-in excessively, and closely monitor your every move. They may scrutinise your work to an unhealthy degree.
- Displays a lack of trust in you and your work: Micromanagers often demonstrate a lack of trust in their employees' abilities. They may believe that their way is the only correct way to do things and resist any alternative approaches.
- Always provides detailed instructions: You receive detailed, step-by-step instructions for tasks that you are more than capable of handling independently. Micromanagers struggle to let go of control.
- Inability to delegate work: Micromanagers are notorious for reluctance to delegate responsibilities, even when the workload demands it. This can lead to burnout for both the manager and their team members.
- Displays frequent interruptions: You find yourself interrupted frequently with questions, requests for updates, or changes in direction, disrupting your workflow and concentration.
- Second-guesses you and your work: Micromanagers tend to second-guess your decisions and may redo your work without reason or cause. This can be both frustrating and demoralising.
- Schedules excessive meetings: They schedule numerous meetings, often for minor updates or issues that could be resolved through other means, which drain your time and productivity.
- Constantly obsesses on minor details: Micromanagers often focus excessively on minute details while losing sight of the bigger picture, leading to inefficient processes and frustration.
Strategies for Managing a Micromanager
Once a micromanager has been identified, it’s time to take immediate steps to deal with them to mitigate the damage they're doing to people, their productivity and ultimately the company itself.
- Have open and honest communication: Initiate a conversation with your micromanager to express your desire for more autonomy and trust. Share your perspective on how their management style affects your productivity and job satisfaction. This will also open the space for your manager to share any reasons they may have for micromanaging, such as concerns about your performance or feeling uncomfortable in a leadership role.
- Try to get ahead: If you know your manager asks for constant updates, try to update them on important topics before they can ask. This can help to build trust and show that you're a reliable employee fulfilling tasks. You can also work with your manager to agree on a communication plan that you're both happy with - it’s all about finding the right balance!
- Offer solutions: When you encounter a problem or challenge, present possible solutions along with the issue. This proactive approach can ease your manager's anxiety and demonstrate your problem-solving skills.
- Set boundaries: Politely but firmly set boundaries for meetings and interruptions. Explain that excessive interruptions disrupt your workflow and suggest regular check-in times instead. You can do this by blocking out your calendar for certain priorities, which your manager and other team members can see.
- Document your work: Keep thorough records of your accomplishments, progress, and outcomes to showcase your performance during evaluations and discussions about your responsibilities.
- Consider your options: If the situation doesn't improve, and your job satisfaction and wellbeing are significantly affected, consider discussing the issue with HR or exploring opportunities within or outside the organisation that align better with your career goals and preferred management style.
Learning how to deal with a micromanager can be challenging, but it's not insurmountable. By recognising the signs of micromanagement and employing effective strategies, you can navigate this managerial style while maintaining your sanity and professional growth. Remember, open communication, demonstrating competence, and setting boundaries are key to balancing managing upwards and preserving your autonomy and job satisfaction.