How to survive a micromanager

27 January 2021

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General business trends may show that working from home has actually increased productivity. But working from home comes with a few challenges and the most demanding one is managing teams and people remotely.

Among the things that working from home have changed is the way we collaborate, meet deadlines and communicate. Many managers seem unwilling to trust that their employees are working hard and feeling the need to micromanage their teams. Is this your boss?

The dilemma

It is somewhat understandable, the lack of ability to monitor employees directly can sow seeds of distrust. There is software available to monitor company laptops, but the use of such software can further sour your working relationships. It can feel frustrating to not feel trusted to do your work, but it can be equally frustrating for your manager to not feel in the loop; breeding a vicious cycle of resentment. So what is the solution?

Communication

This is the obvious answer, but it’s a little more complex than just communicating, the quality, frequency and scheduling of communication is all important to ensuring you and your manager have an effective working relationship.

Scheduling

If your boss likes to micromanage than you need to be one step ahead, build in time for a daily call or email update along with a more in depth weekly call to review progress. Extend invites to your manager to attend team meetings, this both keeps them in the loop and pre-empts a lot of questions, you might have had to answer later. This can also help to put a micromanager at ease, seeing that you have things under control. Implementing these tips gives you structured communication and less interruptions to your workday.

Quality

First find your boss’ favoured method of communication: phone call, email, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WhatsApp etc. This is important because if you send email updates and they prefer a direct message, you might end up missing each other, frustrating your communication efforts. Quality of communication also depends on literal quality; being able to update your manager in an email effectively for example, without them having to call you to clarify points afterwards. The old adage: never assume, is gold.

It is also essential if you want to be able to explain yourself and your needs effectively, without offending or frustrating your boss. Using the phrase, "In order for me to be the most productive..." for example, is a good way to start off a sentence clarifying what would make you most productive in terms of management.

Be open, honest and respectful

Micromanagers aren’t necessarily bad people, you won’t always know what sort of pressures they might be dealing with or why. Many times they are asking you questions, following up and giving suggestions for all the right reasons, it’s their job after all.

Past the point of no return

If you have tried all the above methods and are well beyond diplomacy, then maybe it's time to accept that you and your manager have irreconcilable attitudes to working. If that is the case, start looking elsewhere for new opportunities and find the best fit for you.

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