Any job is a lot more enjoyable when you like the people you’re working with—and the people you’re working for. A 2018 survey of people looking for new jobs revealed that 76% of people claimed that their “toxic boss” was the reason for wanting to find a new place of work. In other words, your boss can make or break your experience at a company. And if your boss is a micromanager, it can be especially hard to deal with.
A micromanager is a boss who is a little too involved in every aspect of your job. They want to double-check everything and control everyone. It feels like they’re hovering over your shoulder at any given moment, just waiting for you to mess up. It results in a lot more stress (for everyone involved) and in employees who feel insecure and who lack confidence in their ability to get the job done on their own.
For many people, being micromanaged is frustrating enough to make them want to leave. But what if you love every other aspect of your job? What if you don’t want to leave? How can you work with your micromanaging boss so that you can love your job even more?
You might not be able to control your boss, but there are some things you can control that will help you work with a micromanager, without going crazy. Here are our best helpful tips.
Get clarity on every task
Every time your boss assigns work to you, make sure you know exactly what is expected of you. What needs to be done, and when does it need to be done by? Starting out with this level of clarity will help you and your boss feel more comfortable when the work begins.
One of the big problems with micromanagers is they want to be involved in every little detail of a project. Manage this by setting milestones, which essentially create perfect times to evaluate your progress.
Check in regularly
Set up processes that allow you to check in with your boss on your progress. This could be a 5-minute check-in every morning, a longer weekly meeting, or a shared document that you update as you reach certain milestones.
Are you running behind on a project? Let your manager know. Did you run into a snag, but you worked it out on your own? Let them know. Keep your manager in the loop about the successes and setbacks of the project. When you communicate clearly, they’re more likely to realize that you don’t need to be micromanaged.
Distrust and control are often at the heart of micromanaging. A manager who doesn’t trust her employees to do good work, but cares about maintaining control of the work and the team, will likely become a micromanager. Help your boss out by establishing trust. Meet your deadlines. Do your best work. Clearly demonstrate that you’re good at your job and can be trusted with it.
Choose your battles
A micromanager might try to force you into a “my way or the highway” situation, thinking they know the best way to get something done. Sometimes, it’s worth pushing back and politely explaining why you think something else will work better. Other times, it’s not worth the fight. Pick your battles so that your boss sees you as a partner to work with, not a foe to work against.
Get to know them
What is your boss really concerned about? Is he most concerned with quality, timeliness, customer satisfaction, etc.? Knowing this can help you stay a step ahead of the micromanaging behaviors. For example, if your boss is very concerned with punctuality, try to show up a couple minutes early. If they’re a stickler for grammar and punctuation in your emails, double check them before you send them out. When you know what’s important to them, and you address it head on, you’re better able to build trust and avoid micromanagement.
Personal boundaries are important at work, and they can help you stay sane when you feel micromanaged. Have set working hours. Make it clear that you won’t respond to calls or emails after a certain time. Say “no” if you are assigned additional work that will overwhelm you. Setting and respectfully maintaining boundaries is a healthy way to handle difficult relationships.
Related: 4 Benefits of Temporary Employees
Working with a micromanaging boss can be stressful, but it’s not impossible. If you love your job, but are struggling because you feel micromanaged, try one of these tips to help you reclaim ownership of your work and your performance.
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