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Home  > Article

Managing Your Micromanager: How to Keep Your Boss Happy

By Aimee Whitenack

"Micromanagement" describes a situation in which all aspects of a workday, down to the most insignificant tasks, are observed by an overbearing manager. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to help keep a micromanager in check.

 
Sit down with your manager and set performance and development objectives, but be realistic. Unfulfilled objectives will only lead to tighter micromanagement.
 
Dr. Mindy Fried, the Director of The National Work-life Measurement at Boston College's Work-Family Institute, believes that the most important thing the American worker wants today is flexibility: "People want control over their work, they want to have autonomy, and they want to be treated with respect and dignity." When a worker encounters a micromanager, however, these wants go out the window.


"Micromanagement" describes a situation in which all aspects of a workday, down to the most insignificant tasks, are observed by an overbearing manager. Often these overbearing managers are inexperienced or have a lack of confidence (either in your skills or their own, or more generally in the ability of others to perform tasks independently). Perhaps she is worried about her own superiors' opinions and accolades, or maybe he's just that kind of guy. In any case, there are number of steps you can take to help keep your micromanager in check.

  • Make a good first impression on the job. If your build your manager's confidence in your skills, abilities, and initiative early on, he'll be less likely to hover.
  • Figure out what your boss's own wants are and aim to help her fulfill them. Is she really just looking for a client's or a superior's approval? Does she thrive on completing tasks before a deadline? Is she hoping that a job well done will lead to a bigger departmental budget in the future?
  • Sit down with your manager and set performance and development objectives. Be sure the goals you set are realistic. Unfulfilled objectives will only lead to tighter micromanagement.
  • Submit progress reports to your boss and schedule regular meetings (weekly? monthly? quarterly?) to update your boss verbally and to reassess goals. If a micromanager knows when you will be checking in with him, hopefully he'll give you some distance.
  • If these tactics don't keep your boss's micromanaging tendencies in check, communicate directly with him or her about your concerns. Point out both the goals that you've set for yourself and the regular fulfillment of your goals. Tell him you've earned his confidence and would like some more space to perform your tasks independently. Ask if there are any additional steps you can take to achieve greater autonomy.
  • And if all else fails, if this culture is truly smothering you, consider moving on. A flexible, micromanager-free office will feel like a whole new world.






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