How to Deal With a Micromanaging Boss

As soon as we simply hear the word, we start to cringe. Meet the micromanager.

You know the type. He or she is toiling away through all hours of the night, IM’s you and expects you to respond. Or how about breathing down your neck with deadline after deadline asking for status updates?

Okay, suffice it to say we’ve unfortunately had our share of micromanaging bosses at one time or another. They dive into products too much instead of letting their direct reports spread their wings to fly, the micromanager has been known to dictate every step of the way.

First, as pointed out by a piece on Fast Company, you need to make sure there’s not a valid reason why your boss is hovering over you. Is it a poor performance issue (gasp)? Maybe your boss feels the need to constantly look over your shoulder to see if you have the chops to work efficiently on a new project? The only way to know is to ask about how your performance is doing. And if you’re on track for a great performance review, congrats! Although that doesn’t rid yourself of the micromanaging boss.

Next, find out if your boss is hovering over your team in addition to yourself. Again, this is good news you’re not being singled out but can be frustrating nonetheless. Some experts, in particular as noted in the piece, suggest talking to your boss about being overbearing and changing his or her ways. We beg to differ!

This is one situation that’s much easier said than done and it doesn’t seem like a conversation would yield positive changes or results. Either the boss isn’t self-aware or is perhaps completely aware of their micromanaging ways and still isn’t going to change them. Managing up can have consequences so an alternative solution if that doesn’t sound comfortable to you is to perhaps ask a colleague who is also in the same situation.

Perhaps the underlying reason why managers go helicopter is because they’re concerned something will go wrong if they don’t take a hands-on approach. As pointed out in the piece, you can properly address the fear by sharing information voluntarily while working on a project. Talk to colleagues and ask them to participate as well, this way hopefully the manager will start backing off and realizing the whole world isn’t going to fall apart because he or she isn’t constantly supervising the team.

Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to be proactive. Send messages with reports, next steps and action items and perhaps copy your boss on pertinent messages. The micromanaging tendencies won’t disappear overnight but if you perhaps change your expectations and start becoming more proactive by managing upward, it hopefully won’t seem so aggravating from day to day.

Tune in tomorrow when we dish about another type of boss: The Yeller. To be continued…