Career Advancement

How to Deal with a Micromanager & Controlling Boss

“Authority-when abused through micromanagement, intimidation or verbal or nonverbal threats – makes people shutdown and productivity ceases”. (JOHN STOKER)

People consider different approaches to management in a workplace both from the managers point of view and from the workers who report to them; one approach is that people love to work with inspirational and encouraging managers, who take an honest interest in their employee’s growth, another approach is that people find it annoying to work with critical and impatient managers who have low emotional intelligence. 

One of the clearest statements about a micromanaging boss is that they control outcomes and not people. The worst thing a manager can do to his/her team is micromanagement because managing a team too closely would be annoying and demotivating and often micromanagement is among the biggest causes of workplace stress.

Micromanagement is not only ineffective but also destructive to a team’s performance. When effectiveness and self-confidence begin to hurt due to the micromanager, a series of frustration and distrust can destroy good work on both sides of a manager-employee relationship. Many reports from the people stated that they simply gave up trying to satisfy their bosses because they know that whatever they do, their work is going to be condemned and torn apart.

Many professionals switching jobs only due to the stress caused by a micromanaging or overly controlling boss.

Signs of a Micromanager Boss

Before getting into in-depth analysis of how to deal with a micromanaging boss, it’s needed to recognize these signs of a micromanager at a workplace.

  • A Micromanaging boss is too much involved in every step of the way that a worker takes in his/her work.
  •  A Micromanaging boss is always unwilling to trust in the capabilities of his/her workforce to do their task well.
  • He/she is always looking for perfection in everything.
  • A Micromanaging boss is always impatient to get work done well and quickly. This combination does not work well together. For the work to be completed properly, a manager must give his/her staff enough time.
  • Micromanagers don’t trust enough on employees to come up with good ideas: that’s why catching less input from employees.
  • A micromanager is often of the opinion that he/she is the one who is all-knowing. This belief makes them think that no one can do a better job than them therefore it results in low allocation. 
  • He/she is always the one who is indicating the way to a goal without questioning for other’s thoughts.
  • Every small thing requires their authorization as he/she acts like a bottleneck for decision making in the team.
  • A micromanager implies control by setting goals and then dictating on how to achieve those goals.

Among all of the challenges employees face with their managers, the one that looks most unsatisfying is to work with a micromanaging boss. Research from the Centre for Creative Leadership states that just because you are the boss doesn’t mean it’s ok to be a micromanaging boss. A survey panel of 201 leaders from the United States shared their knowledge for the word micromanager in the workplace. Being micromanager seem like  having lack of interpersonal skills including concentrated on authority and power, pay no attention to others viewpoints, being dictated  and controlling, being violent, rude and pushy. 58.70% of leaders stated that being dictating and controlling is the most common indicator of a micromanager. Though, the survey panel described micromanagers as negative and unfriendly.

If you are working under the thumb of a micromanager you may find yourself sunk in a series of questions like:

  • How can I deal with a micromanaging boss?
  • How can I strengthen myself with a controlling micromanaging boss?
  • How do I tell my boss to stop micromanaging?
  • How can I handle my micromanaging boss without getting fired?
  • How can I work well with a micromanaging boss?
  • How is it possible to diplomatically and professionally address a micromanaging boss without creating a gap between me and my boss? 
  • Is it the company’s culture that promotes micromanaging behavior?
  • Is their behavior a reflection of their need to be in control?

How to Handle a Micromanaging Boss Effectively?

If your boss is a micromanager you may feel helpless but gratefully this article will surely help you to ease the situation. There are some strategic ways that can help you overcome the situation. Put them in practice and see if they make any change in your micromanager’s behavior.

1- Identify Why it’s Happening

People micromanage for a number of reasons and may not even realize they are doing it. The most significant question that will help you choose your game plan is “Does your boss micromanage everyone or just you”? And “why are they micromanaging?” You may have to expand your work habits if your boss is only micromanaging you. 

If he is liable to micromanage everyone then it is just his nature. This step can help you to decide how to get ahead with his needs. Try out by following these action tips:

  • Observe your boss with your coworkers for one week.
  • Does he like their ideas or recreate their projects as well?
  • Is he willing to double check their work?
  • Does he only focus on you?
  • Is it any certain meeting that stresses him?
  • Does he focus only on a certain task that you perform badly?

Record the input you receive from your boss including the projects and tasks, the frequency of tasks, time of the day and day of the week. See what patterns you notice and analyze why it’s happening, including how often he targets, when and what tasks he usually focuses on.

If you analyze it after a specific meeting, help get your manager ready in advance of that meeting for whatever he needs to report on, or if it happens at a certain time of a day, do provide your boss with an update an hour in advance of that time.

2- Ensure a High Work Performance

When your boss is a micromanager, the most significant object to think through is to make sure that you bring into being high quality work. It’s important to consider whether you actually need to be administered so closely or it’s his habit to micromanage everyone.

Reflect yourself and think about if your level of work quality is constantly high. Do you consider creativity to solve problems? Do you show interest to particulars? Are you new and needing a lot of instructions? Your boss might be micromanaging you because he/she doesn’t believe that you are going to provide on time or your performance is not what it should be. So it’s very important to ensure your high work performance.

3- Anticipate What He WANTS -and ACT

Reflect on your boss’ needs and come up with the hypothesis about which factor is imposing micromanagement. Is your boss somebody who likes to do things properly? Does he have extraordinary needs to regulate? Is he concerned with the need to know what’s going on and work is getting done?

Once you come up with the root cause, consider those areas that are more vital to your boss so he can have more confidence and faith in you. If your boss likes to do things properly, triple check your work to make sure there are no mistakes. If your boss is more concerned and has extraordinary regulatory needs; be as quick to respond as possible and interconnect properly about how things are going. 

Though, in this way you will be able to generate more possibilities to make your boss happy with what you produce. 

4- Reexamine their Behavior

When you have a micromanaging boss, instead of getting annoyed or trying to fight back on that behavior, take a step back and reexamine it. Ask good open-ended questions to your manager that will help you comprehend their objective better. Cooperate with your boss with a chance to look beyond them and also evaluate the alternative ways of achieving the same outcomes.

If your boss constantly asking for updates, engage them in a sweet word of mouth like, “I understand we need to deliver this project on time, I can guarantee you that I’m on top of this project, when and how would you like me to share updates and concerns?, It will help me to organize my time better and focus on accomplishing our shared goals.”

Though, by stating your intent clearly and using an optimistic tone, you can force them to think and act in a different way.

5- Establish Standards

Whenever you notice your manager representing micro managerial tendencies, an active methodology involves establishing standards to line up the most strategic ways to collaborate with your manager. Set up time with your manager to;

  • Create goals: what you actually need to achieve.
  • Clarify expectations: If your boss is the one who likes to do work properly, clarify the quality expectations in the beginning to align on the expected end state, avoid frustrations and rework later.
  • Set boundaries: use a positive tone to remind your boss the value of time if they want to be involved in all the decisions.
  • Share progress: Discuss potential disadvantages to sharing progress too often and how you can utilize that time to make progress on your work. Discuss what are the best approaches to share progress, when and how? Use the word “trust” multiple times in the discussion to make your boss sure   that you are capable of handling tasks.

Though, such debates regularly and constantly remind your boss to operate together in the best ways. You can straighten their tendencies to micromanage and help shift to more effective management.

The Bottom Line

Of course, there are some people who simply can’t fight back their tendency to micro-manage. If your boss is a micromanager, it might be demotivating, annoying and frustrating for you but when it comes to workplace relationships, you shouldn’t change things overnight. However, by creating and keeping open, honest communication, setting boundaries, establishing standards and understanding the drivers for dealing with micromanaging bosses, you can work toward improving your working relationships. This can provide benefits to both you and your boss. If you just can’t take it, then you might consider looking into other options.

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