Managing Your Micromanager: How to Keep Your Boss Happy
"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
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
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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