5 ways to deal with a micromanaging boss

5 ways to deal with a micromanaging boss
SEEK content teamupdated on 03 May, 2022

Having a micromanager as a boss can be a great source of frustration and impact your day-to-day work life. 

They try to control every aspect of the work, no matter how small, leading their employees to feel distrusted, disrespected and dissatisfied. This can end up negatively affecting the employee’s mental wellbeing and productivity, and sometimes they resign as a result.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! Leah Lambart, career coach at Relaunch Me, says that with some careful attention and action, you can improve your work situation. Read on for her top strategies for how to have a productive working relationship with a micromanaging boss.

  1. Understand the triggers
    People may micromanage for a number of reasons and may not even realise they’re doing it, says Lambart. So, the first thing you should do is try to understand why they’re micromanaging you.

    Lambart explains that your manager may lack confidence, be under stress or have had a previous employee situation where there were some trust issues.

    “More often than not, it could be due to a personality trait. Often individuals with strong planning and organisational tendencies find it difficult to delegate. They find it hard to trust that someone else can do the job as well as them, or within the timeframe that they expect,” she says. 

    It might be difficult, but if you try to understand the triggers for their micromanagement then you’ll be better equipped to deal with the situation.
  2. Build trust
    Trust is key to any healthy relationship, be it personal or professional. But when a micromanaging boss is concerned, it becomes crucial. As mentioned above, a common reason someone will micromanage their employees is because they struggle to trust them, regardless of whether they’ve done something to jeopardise this trust or not.

    Lambart says, “Trust takes time to build, so you need to earn it by demonstrating to your manager that you’re on top of things, ensuring that tasks are completed on time and notifying them when there are delays.”

    Keeping your manager informed about the progress of your work can do wonders for the situation. Lambart adds, “Sometimes building a personal relationship can also contribute to improving trust between two parties.” 
  3. Open up dialogue about the situation
    “Micromanagement can often have a very negative effect on employees, causing low morale, lack of confidence, stifled creativity and a general loss of independence and freedom,” says Lambart. But often managers don’t even realise how their behaviour is affecting their employees.

    “If you feel that your boss’s micromanagement tendencies are impacting your ability to fulfil your role to the best of your ability, then it might pay to address the issue in a sensitive and discreet manner,” she says.

    ”You need to explain politely how their behaviour makes you feel and also have some specific examples on hand. You may also like to explain that you are more fulfilled at work when you feel empowered and can work independently.”

    Done respectfully, having this conversation could really improve your situation.
  4. Establish boundaries and expectations.
    “As part of the conversation above, it may be useful to establish further clarity on the role responsibilities and expectations of both parties so that there’s no misinterpretation,” Lambart advises.

    What’s more, it’s a good idea to talk about your communication. “Establish clarity around expected communication time frames, methods and channels. If both parties are aware of what is expected in terms of communication, then there is less need for managers to be constantly checking in,” she says. 
  5. Keep communication open
    If all of these strategies help and you find your situation greatly improved, don’t become complacent. Continue to be proactive and talk to your boss, to make sure that they’re happy with your output and avoid things slipping back to how they were.

    “If your manager wants to be informed regularly then set up a regular communication channel to keep them informed before they need to ask,” Lambart suggests. This could be in the form of a weekly or bi-weekly management report outlining the status of key tasks and deliverables.

    If you are able to keep them up-to-date with specifics like timelines and resource requirements then there may be less need for them to be constantly looking over your shoulder.

When it comes to workplace relationships, as with personal relationships, you shouldn’t expect to change things overnight. But by establishing and maintaining open, honest commuication, setting boundaries and understanding the drivers for the controlling behaviour, you can work toward improving your working relationship. This can provide benefits to both you and your boss. 

More from this category: Working relationships

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