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What to Do When You Work for a Micromanaging Boss

What to Do When You Work for a Micromanaging Boss

It’s not a pleasant feeling when your boss is breathing down your neck, giving you the impression that they don’t fully trust you. Working under a micromanaging boss can be a true nightmare sometimes. From the moment you step into the office, you can feel their need to be in control of everything. They give you detailed explanations on everything you should do, believing they are the only ones who know how to do a certain task properly. They will check on your progress several times a day. They will remind you frequently of what you need to do, even though you are well aware of your responsibilities.

Is Your Boss a Control Freak? Probably Not in Most Cases…

The most important thing you need to understand is that their need to control comes from their own anxiety, and it doesn’t mean your performance is not good. Just try to imagine for a second how it would be in their shoes – they have an overwhelming amount of responsibilities, and they are accountable for a large group of people. The more people working under them, the less control they have thus they are trying to assert control in any possible way.

But If You Don’t Change the Situation, Your Progress Will Be Hampered

By trying to create such a controlling environment, your boss at the same time creates an environment that is demoralizing you and inhibiting your progress. You don’t have room to be creative or try to do things differently. As your every step is carefully monitored and planned in advance, you cannot gain new valuable experiences and grow professionally.

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Yes, it can be exhausting, but you can continue being under their thumb, or try to make some changes that will make your job easier.

Here’s How You Can Enough Space for Growth Without Changing Your Boss’ Leadership Style

Predict your boss’s moves

After a while, you will be well familiar with your boss’s daily requirements, so do certain tasks even before they ask you to. For example, send the updates on your progress regularly without your boss having to ask for them. It is easier for you to do it forehand than to be constantly interrupted and annoyed with your boss’s requests. That way, you are eliminating their need to be in control – you are telling you can do something without constant reminders, and your boss will finally figure out they don’t need to tell you the same thing 10 times a day.

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Try putting yourself into their shoes

Your boss definitely has a lot of things on their mind. Even though their behavior is difficult to put with, from time to time, just try to imagine what they feel like and the amount of pressure they have to deal with. Try showing them you can relate to what they are going through and that you are doing everything you can to make their job easier.

Show them they can trust you

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Trying to confront your boss about their excessive control might be counterproductive, as micromanaging bosses tend to think they are doing everything perfectly. What would be productive is to show them you are organized and pay attention to details. Ask them to give you a task that you will do single-handedly, without their interference. If you do it successfully, they will understand that you don’t need constant supervision, and that you are more productive when given more independence.

What are my responsibilities?

To avoid constant interruptions, talk with your boss and have them list what your everyday responsibilities are, such as writing progress reports, organizing files, being responsible for other employees or taking care that everything happens on time. Commit to doing those tasks regularly without being reminded, and your boss will interrupt you less.

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Ask detailed questions

Upon being given a certain project or task, make sure you get all the details. That will show your boss you are detail-oriented and that you know your responsibilities and boundaries. Make sure you ask about the deadline, what’s the priority of the project compared to your other responsibilities, what you must do, and what should be avoided. You will show your boss you understand their specific concerns and that you are prepared to address all the possible issues.

Micromanaging bosses are a handful, but there are many ways you can deal with them. However, if your relationship doesn’t improve and you keep feeling nervous and unmotivated, you might consider changing your workplace.

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Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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