At some point in all of our careers we are going to end up working for a micromanager. Everyone knows that the absolute worst management style is to micromanage, but in truth, you are never going to stop a micromanager from doing what they do. The need to be such a control freak comes from deep insecurities rooted in their psychology. So, you basically have two options if you find your self working for a micromanager. Number 1 is simple, resign and find a better boss. But it is not always that simple. Maybe, you really enjoy the company and the work you are doing, or you have certain other commitments in life that take priority. Option number 2 is finding a way to work around their style but how do you do that?
Try to remain calm
In truth, most people don’t try to be bad people managers. Micromanagement and the need to be in control and aware of every small detail is usually the result of deep feelings of insecurity and lack of trust. Try to understand what could have happened to someone, for them to need to be copied into every email, have everything done only their way and updated constantly. It is easy to get extremely frustrated and even lose your temper, but empathy is always the better approach.
You also need to pick your battles wisely. In a micromanaging culture, your manager is going to want absolutely everything done their way. So, you almost need to decide which hill you are willing to die on. Otherwise, you are going to end up arguing with them on every single thing and if you are in constant conflict that isn’t going to end well. So, if you have worked on a specific project 9 times and your boss has done it 0 times and your boss is giving you incorrect advice, that’s the time to push back. If they just want a specific font used on an email… it’s a pain in the backside, but honestly who cares?
Focus on building trust
We have already discussed that trust and insecurity is at the core of a micromanager’s behavior. So, you should focus your attention on building that trust. Having that trust, doesn’t mean they will stop micromanaging you, but they will ease off ever so slightly, and getting that breathing space is key. A great way to do this, is to consult your boss whenever a challenge comes up. Even if you know how to solve the problem, speak with your boss about it. Do not just fix it and not tell them. Making a decision and changing something without them knowing, will freak them out. But consulting them on everything will make them feel more secure.
Next you need to learn your managers preferred style of communication and frequency. Once you understand this, literally bombard them with more information. Create a goals and objectives document and use this as a tool to communicate. List down every possible thing that you are working on and send it weekly, or even daily if need be. Also set regular update meetings to repeat this same information. Even go as far as to copy them in on loads of emails that they really don’t need to know about.
Finally, make sure you check in with your boss regularly and ask for feedback. It plays nicely to their ego and their need to be in control, but it also helps you understand where you can focus more time to keep them off your back.