How to deal with a micromanager boss in 5 steps

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Are you hating your job because you have a micromanager boss? Probably so if you are looking up how to deal with a micromanager boss! A micromanager boss can be super frustrating and demotivating. They can make you feel like you are incompetent and that there is a lack of trust in your capabilities of completing the task accordingly. Task that should be simple to complete may take even longer and be more complicated because you have to explain and justify every single little decision you make. It can be exhausting and contribute to job burnout.

Several years into my career, I had a new manager. My new manager was definitely a micromanager. I believe a big reason why she was a micromanager was because this was a new role for her, and this was her first time managing people. Regardless of the reason, she was driving me crazy! I know it wasn’t an issue with me because I have had 5 boss’ before that I was fine with.

Her micromanagement made me hate my job and life. I waited to see if things would change as she got more comfortable in her role, but after 3 months of micromanagement, I was ready for a change. I had to make a change for my sanity. So here are 5 tips for how to deal with a micromanager boss.

5 Tips for how to deal with a micromanager boss

Be honest and upfront

I wouldn’t recommend this step for everyone, especially if your boss is not only a micromanager, but also a horrible boss and all-around human being. This is up to your judgement and if you think having an honest conversation with your boss would be fruitful. If not, skip directly to step 2 😊.

You need to be tactful in your honest and upfront conversation as to not offend and insult your boss. You also need to not make it feel like an attack, as a normal human response to an attack or confrontation is to be defensive.

You do not want your boss to be defensive as their walls would be up immediately. You want to have a conversation where both of you can be empathetic. My boss is a genuinely nice manager and an overall decent human being, and so I decided it would be fairly safe to have the conversation with her.

In one of my many one-on-one update meetings with my boss, I told my boss how her micromanagement made me feel like she did not trust me and how it made me very unmotivated to want to do extra projects as every decision I made was questioned. She explained that she was new at her job and managing people and she asks all these detailed questions to also learn the process herself.

It made me feel a lot better getting everything out in the air and it helped me understand where she was coming from. Even if nothing changed moving forward, I still felt better being able to express my feelings and not bottling it up.

Do not fight it, work within it

Although having the honest and upfront conversation with my boss made me feel better, things did not change much. My boss was still a micromanager.

Whatever you do, DO NOT FIGHT IT. Do not be rebellious and act out. That will probably just make your life more difficult and now you’ll be labelled as a difficult employee to manage. The optics will look very bad for you.

Related: 5 First job tips for success

If you do not do what your boss asks of you, you will look like a bad employee. Your boss may even double down on their micromanaging behaviour and feel the need to mark their territory and show you who is really in charge – them. This is a horrible position to be in.

Instead of fighting the situation and how your boss manages, learn how to work with it. Learn how to take control of the situation on your own terms below.

Be proactive in your updates

If your boss is a micromanager, that probably means they want to be in control. They want to know everything that is going on and constantly be updated on the progress. So instead of being micromanaged, be proactive in your updates.

I updated my boss in our weekly one-on-one touchpoints with everything I was up to. I informed her of the current status and progress of all the projects, of all the tasks and hurdles I was currently dealing with and how I plan on attacking them, and any extra projects I was even thinking of taking on. I would even ask for her input in brainstorming.

This way, since I have already provided her so much information beforehand, she could not micromanage. She could not ask any questions or for any updates because I had already told her.

This will also help you feel better in your work environment as well because you will not feel micromanaged. Even though the end result is the same, your boss getting all of the information they want, you will not feel suffocated. You are willingly proactively sharing your updates instead of answering to ridiculous micromanaging demands. It is a minor detail and a slight shift in perspective, but it makes a BIG difference. You will be less resentful. You will be much happier and therefore, will perform better.

Predict the demands

My boss is a very detail-oriented person. She also liked everything in writing. So whenever I would make a decision on something, I would write her an email explaining my thought processes. I would also gather all the data or documents needed to support my decision and highlight specific areas if needed and attach it to the email.

This does create a lot of extra work, but I knew if I did not provide these things beforehand she would ask for the justifications eventually anyway. Many times, these are things that do not and should not require justification on my part. It does get annoying, but I might as well save myself the trouble and do it now proactively on my own terms.

Increase the trust

Your boss is a micromanager because they want things done right and they want them done well. After all, your work reflects on them and they want to look good. So you need to consistently demonstrate your quality of work. If you are always meeting deadlines and consistently delivering on tasks and projects and even exceeding expectations, you will increase the trust your boss has for you.

With increased trust because you are consistently delivering, your boss may give you more autonomy. This means less micromanaging! This is a long-term goal without a guarantee. I hope it does work out for you because working for a micromanaging boss is THE WORST!

So there you have 5 tips for how to deal with a micromanager boss. Hopefully these tips can keep you sane and get you through the tough times!

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