Micromanagement in the workplace can be stressful and difficult to deal with. When your boss is doing the micromanaging, it can be even trickier. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a guide on how to deal with micromanagers at work and, if you’re a boss, a guide on how to avoid micromanaging your own employees.
Examine Your Behavior First
Bosses who micromanage worry about the tiniest details. But before you focus on them and their unrealistic expectations, ask yourself if you’ve done anything to cause them to worry. Do you miss deadlines? Do you forget to reply to emails? Are you consistently late to work? If your boss feels that he or she can’t trust you, then they may feel more of a need to micromanage you. Be honest with yourself and change what you can control first.
Micromanagers want to control as much of a situation as possible. Their constant emails and requests for updates allow them to insert themselves into tasks they can’t actually do themselves. By anticipating their stream of questions ahead of time, you can give them less of a reason to worry about you.
If your boss frequently asks for updates on your projects, try emailing them before they even asks. Include as much information as possible — what are you planning on doing, now that the task is complete? Is there something you want your boss’ input on? This way, they will feel involved in your activities and is less likely to press for more information. If you do this frequently, then they will feel more comfortable giving you space to complete the work that needs to be done.
Ask What You Can Do Better
If you feel like you’re not measuring up to your boss’ expectations, then it’s worth asking why. Ask if there’s anything you could be doing better. Does your supervisor need more communication from you? Do they need you to submit your work for approval earlier? If they respond with concrete problems they’d like to see fixed, then do your best to accommodate him and encourage them to provide you with feedback in the future so you can continue to improve. If they respond with the reassurance that your performance is perfectly fine, then grab the opportunity to explain why you’re asking. Your boss may not even realize that they are overstepping.
Nip It in the Bud
Addressing micromanagement in the workplace shouldn’t wait until you’re completely fed up with your boss’ tactics. By then, you may be too frustrated to act respectfully. You should try to address the problem early, after the first few times you notice your boss’ behavior. Otherwise, you risk inventing irrational explanations for the micromanaging that will only cause you more grief than is necessary.
If All Else Fails: Communicate Directly
If your boss still isn’t getting the hint, then it’s time to deal with the micromanagement directly. Wait until you are completely calm, then approach your boss and politely explain that you don’t feel like they trust you with your work. Mention that you’d like to earn their trust and ask if there’s anything you can do to make that happen. Hopefully, your boss will see the logic in your request and acknowledge her behavior. But if that isn’t the case, then it may be time to seek help elsewhere, like in your human resources department. In the future, if you notice that your boss is letting you work more independently, bring it up. Thank them for trusting you with the project and explain how it benefitted you. Ideally, your boss will start to realize that giving you more space produces better quality work.
For Bosses: How To Avoid Micromanaging Your Employees
Whether you’re a new manager or a seasoned CEO, learning how to delegate without micromanaging is always a difficult balancing act. If you’re worried that you may be micromanaging your employees, try some of these proven strategies:
- Physically separate yourself from your employees. Leave the room or the office and allow your employees to work on their own. This helps the group be independent and gives them the opportunity to function without their leader lurking nearby.
- Devote your focus to only the tasks that you yourself can accomplish. You can’t do everything and trying to will only lower the quality of your work in the end. Ensure that your employees are properly trained so that they can do their jobs and you can do yours.
- Ask your employees what style of management they prefer. Before starting a new project, ask how often the team would like you to check in on them or provide your input. Even more important is sticking to the solution your employees come up with. Part of establishing trust with your employees is respecting their honest answers to your honest questions.
- After a project is completed, reflect with your team. What went well? What could have gone better? Provide constructive feedback and allow your team the autonomy to learn from their own mistakes.
- Look in on the project regularly to reassure yourself that your team is staying on track. If you can see the project’s progress, then you can be involved without getting over-involved. There are various apps and software that can allow you to do this; Google Drive is one of the most basic options.
- Step out of your comfort zone by assigning employees more responsibility than you are comfortable giving them. Releasing more control than you want will gradually decrease your tendency to micromanage.