Being constantly micromanaged always makes me feel like I’m back in preschool, like it’s just a matter of time before my micromanaging boss insists we all hold one of those kiddie tow ropes when we walk down the hall to a meeting.
When the workday becomes a routine dance of painstakingly elaborate instructions and constant check-ins that interrupt the work your boss expects you to keep doing, it can be incredibly frustrating – but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.
It’s helpful to understand why your boss is micromanaging, if you can. What you see is that she doesn’t have any faith in your ability to get the job done. But what’s more likely is she thinks she’s being helpful, or she’s under pressure from a deadline or a supervisor to perform, and her stress at the situation is causing her to keep closer tabs on her team.
If this is a new position for you, or your manager is new: Give it some time. Some managers prefer to keep a closer watch over new employees, and some managers new to a position may feel the need to be in more control while they learn the ropes themselves. Hopefully after some time has passed and everyone is performing at their peak the micromanaging will lessen.
If you start noticing micromanaging where there was none before: Before you start pointing fingers, make sure your own job performance is up to snuff. Have you been missing deadlines or letting things slide? Is there any reason your boss might feel the need to micromanage? Focus on doing the best job you can, and you may get less scrutiny from your boss.
If the micromanaging seems like it’s here to stay…? Well, read on.
Learn what your boss expects of you
Sometimes your boss may think he’s explaining expectations through his micromanagement tactics, when in fact he’s just muddying the waters. Try sitting down with your boss to figure out exactly what he expects you to do – and when – and you may be able to allay some of the more annoying bits.
It’s frustrating being micromanaged, but you don’t have to just give in – in fact, that could end up making things worse. If you decide that there’s no reason to take action on your own since your boss will just remind you about it anyway, you’re just reconfirming her need to micromanage. Try to beat her to the punch. Instead of waiting to answer her constant URGENT request for information, try sending her unsolicited updates. Eventually she may relax her vigilance, knowing she can trust you to turn your work in on time.
Anticipate your boss’s reminders
You know there’s a meeting Tuesday at 10AM, because it’s every Tuesday. To stop your boss from reminding you of things that are recurring responsibilities, try anticipating. Respond politely with, “Great, I’ve already prepared my notes” enough times, and he may get the picture that you’re on top of things.
Try to negotiate updates
If your boss’s constant interruptions are getting in the way of your workflow, try to sit her down and ask if there’s a more convenient way you can share your updates, such as emailing her in bulk at the end of the day, or having set meeting times in the morning and afternoon when you’ll review what you’ve done so far.
Managing a micromanaging boss can bring results, though it’s not likely to be fast. With patience and an understanding boss, however, you may be able to salvage the relationship.
If the situation keeps being unbearable, though, it may be time to move on.
How have you dealt with a micromanaging boss? Leave your stories in the comments.