Working Successfully with a Boss who Micro-Manages

Controlling bosses can slow you down and undermine your confidence. Maybe your supervisor second guesses your decisions and expects you to be available 24/7.

Overbearing management styles are all too common and counterproductive. Most employees say they've been micro-managed at some point in their career, and studies show that workers perform worse when they feel like they're being watched.

If your boss is hovering over your shoulder, encourage them to give you more space. Try these steps to gain more freedom and still get along with your boss.

Steps to Take by YourselfWorking Successfully with a Boss who Micro-Manages

  1. Evaluate your performance. Start out by investigating whether you could be contributing to the situation. Do you show up on time and follow through on your responsibilities? Close supervision could be a rational response when an employee tends to be less than reliable.
     
  2. Be proactive. Once you've assured yourself that you're on top of your work, you can turn your attention to how to cope with your boss's management style. Identify their anxiety triggers and figure out your plan of action in advance.
     
  3. Coordinate with colleagues. Chances are your co-workers experience the same issues you do. Coordinate your efforts to show your boss that they can trust you to pull together to overcome challenges even while they're traveling or focusing on strategy.
     
  4. Document your activities. Logging your accomplishments creates a paper trail. Having your facts straight helps you to prove your worth and maintain your peace of mind.
     
  5. Seek intervention. When appropriate, you may be able to consult others without alienating your boss. If senior management asks for feedback, let them know your supervisor's good qualities in addition to changes that could help you do a better job. Your HR department or employee assistance program may also offer relevant advice.
     

Steps to Take with Your Boss

 

  1. Provide updates. Frequent status reports keep your boss informed without their having to ask. Assure them that things are running smoothly.
     
  2. Create more opportunities. Is your boss interfering with your work because they don't have a full plate of their own? Add value by presenting them with public speaking opportunities and sales leads. Helping your boss to shine is a smart way to advance your own career.
     
  3. Clarify your role. Listen closely to your boss and observe their behavior. That way you can understand their preferences and anticipate their needs. Maybe they like booking their own travel arrangements. Maybe they care more about employees following instructions than taking initiative.
     
  4. Ask for feedback. Find out what your boss is thinking. Ask questions about what results they're looking for and how you're measuring up. Pinpoint strengths you can build on and changes that they would like to see.
     
  5. Communicate tactfully. If there are conflicts that you want to confront, be direct and gentle. Speak in terms of finding solutions rather than criticizing their personality or work habits.
     
  6. Give praise for progress. Congratulations if you're making headway. Reinforce any positive interactions by letting your boss know how much you appreciate their efforts when you're allowed to take charge of a project or find your own approach. Tell them that you enjoy working with them and that they're helping you to contribute more.
     
  7. Create a personal connection. Respect and compassion enhance any working relationship. Remind yourself of what you like about your boss. Make time for small talk and sharing common interests. A strong foundation will make any disagreement easier to handle.
     

Being proactive and empathetic will transform your relationship with a micromanaging boss. Learn to collaborate as a team, or at least maintain harmony. You’ll enjoy more autonomy as a result.

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