How to deal with a micromanager

How to deal with a micromanager

Dealing with a micromanager can be incredibly difficult and add a lot of stress to your day. In fact, several studies, including one conducted by the Indiana University Kelley School of Business found that lack of autonomy at work can actually induce enough stress to put a person into an early grave. In other words, being subjected to micromanagement is detrimental to your health and well-being.

Indicators that a boss is displaying micromanaging behavior

  • Manager is never satisfied with an employee’s work.  Nothing the employee does is ever good enough for the manager.
  • Manager becomes frustrated when an employee doesn’t do a task exactly how they would have approached it.
  • Manager focuses on unnecessary and painful details which are irrelevant and a waste of time (nit-picking).
  • Manager may badger an employee to provide information on exactly what they are working on, for how many hours and minutes each day.
  • Manager may ask for an irrational amount of updates on tasks given to an employee.
  • Manager wants to be in control of everything their employees do. Micromanagers find a lack of control very frustrating.
  • Manager may display irrational, angry behavior if an employee is absent for sickness, vacation or if an employee is late.

If you believe you are being subjected to micromanagement, there are ways to approach your manager to express your concerns. There is a chance that the ‘leaders’ doing the micromanaging don’t realize they are upsetting you. In fact, in many instances those who tend to micromanage don’t even know they are doing it, and may even think they are being very helpful. In some instances, if you are willing, there are ways to try and get your boss to ease up on you to make your work life happier. By the same token, if you are being micromanaged there are definitely things that will NOT work.

What not to do if you have a micromanager

  • However tempting it may be, do not bad-mouth your manager with your coworkers. Bad-mouthing does nothing for morale and makes you look like a whiner or an instigator. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself into the title of ‘problem employee.’
  • Do not complain to upper management without first having a discussion with your boss. Give them a chance to correct the problem.
  • Do not send an anger-induced email to your manager on a whim. This will not help. A face to face discussion in a calm setting is mandatory.
  • Do not give a micromanager reasons to be more controlling. Comply with rules and regulations and don’t give an imperious boss any ammunition to use against you.

How to communicate with a micromanager

There are ways to approach your manager without sounding offensive, yet still letting them know that their actions are upsetting to you, making you second-guess yourself, and making your job unpleasant. The first step is to be honest, and ask yourself if any of your manager’s points are valid. Are you on time? Are you late frequently? Do you provide quality work? If you feel that there is absolutely no reason to be objected to such a controlling manager, then you are definitely not the problem. Here are some tips to try and ease the situation.

  1. Request a one-on-one conversation with your manager

    Tell them how you are feeling. For example, ‘I know you are trying to help, but when you stand over my shoulder, it interrupts my flow and it makes me nervous.’  Or ‘I don’t know if you realize you’re doing this, but you are making me feel like every little thing I do is wrong, or isn’t good enough.’ Be direct and to the point.  If you decide to do this, you must make sure your emotions are in tact. If you think you will get upset by yelling or crying or showing inappropriate emotion in the meeting, ask for a non-partial employee to sit in on the meeting for moral support. Contact your human resources department and simply ask that a representative be present for a meeting you want to have with your manager. If there is no human resource department at your office, ask another employee to mediate your meeting, or just sit in and listen. This not only makes you accountable for your words, but you also have another person for moral support. Most companies will have no problem doing this. The law is on your side, and most companies don’t want to be in a situation where they can be sued for not listening to an employee’s complaint, regardless of how big or small they are. Although this method won’t work with every micromanager, it just may surprise you when your manager says, “I didn’t realize I was doing that. I am sorry, I will take your thoughts into consideration in the future and try and back off.”

  2. Document everything

    Document everything, from instant messages to emails from your manager that indicate micromanaging behaviors. This may be very important if, after speaking with your manager, nothing changes or things become worse.

  3. Request a meeting with upper management

    If you’ve expressed your concerns to your manager and nothing changes, request a meeting with upper management to voice your concerns. Be direct and to the point, and show your documentation to provide specific examples. It may be that upper management is not aware of your manager’s behavior. If there is no upper management and you’re at the end of the line, this obviously won’t work. If nothing changes you might want to re-approach your manager with a fellow employee to reiterate your feelings about their management style. It’s probable that other coworkers are feeling the same way.

  4. Consider looking for a new job

    If every avenue fails and your manager continues to be oppressive and over-bearing, consider looking for a new job. This might sound harsh, but keep in mind that this sort of stress can literally kill you. No job is worth making you physically ill.