How to Manage a Micromanager and Thrive in Your Job

Constantly meddling. Implementing procedures which seem to be aimed at monitoring what everyone is doing. Making all decisions, no matter how small. Over-managing. Over-scrutinizing. Over-frustrating employees. If this sounds like your boss, their behavior is what scientists call a ‘corporate psychopath.’

Some call them micromanagers. Some go with narcissists. All describe the same type of personality that sucks the life out of your job.

Working for a micromanager can be disheartening. It’s hard to stay motivated when your boss is so obsessed with control they hunch over your shoulder every chance they get. If you’re dealing with poisonous and toxic bosses in the workplace, then keep reading to learn how to tame your office tyrant and thrive in your job.

Clarify Expectations

Good managers share one thing in common: they trust you know what you’re doing and stay out of your way. If you feel like your boss is doing your job for you, stepping on your toes, and preventing you from doing your best work, have a discussion to clarify the expectations around your role. During these conversations, some bosses can see their over-involvement and step back to let you do your job. Maybe you’re falling short on some assignments and micromanaging might be your boss’s way of trying to fix the problem. Maybe your boss really is a micromanager. Either way, it opens a door to communication, which is an integral element to business success.

Get Feedback on Work Performance

Diagnose the situation. Micromanaging is often an anxiety response, stemming from distrust, insecurity, and perfectionism. The corporate psychopath craves a god-like feeling of power and control over other people. If your boss is micromanaging you, it may be time to ask him or her to consider offering you feedback, rather than jumping in and doing the work for you. Whether they are disappointed or not, they may not realize how intrusive their “help” feels. If your boss indicates he or she expects more from your performance, then address that. Let them know that you want to excel in the job and are troubled they feel the only way to get the work done is for them to do it themselves.

Prepare in Advance

The ultimate solution to dealing with anxiety-driven and perfectionist micromanagers is to anticipate their needs. Stay two steps ahead of him or her at all times. Not only do you want to meet deadlines, but you also want to be proactive in keeping your micromanager informed of your progress. It requires more work, but it should also reduce some of the pestering you are getting from your overbearing boss. Over time, this proactive communication builds trust with your immediate supervisor.

Create Solutions

Develop an agreement at the beginning of projects and assignments that establish your boss’s degree of involvement.

For example:

  • “How often will you want updates on this?”
  • “If I’m having any difficulty whatsoever with this assignment, I’ll consult you on it right away.”
  • “Is it okay if I show you this when I’m done?”

These are all things you can say to set expectations and create a verbal contract that you and your boss can (hopefully) both adhere to. If you can agree on the basics, it will go a long way moving forward.

Move On

Assuming your boss is just an average micromanager and their behavior is not detrimental to your wellbeing, these strategies can help you manage your boss. The takeaway? You are not powerless. If the job is worth keeping, you have the power to build trust into your relationship with your boss and improve the situation. If nothing else, this is an opportunity to take the high road and learn about people, management, and interpersonal skills that will serve you well throughout your career.

Some bosses truly might not be aware of the impact of their behavior. Others are too formidable a foe and will not see the error of their ways despite your best intentions. When nothing seems to work or managing a micromanaging boss becomes too difficult, reconsider your efforts. Walking away from a “corporate psychopath” who fails to respond to your sincere, thoughtfully planned and executed attempts to achieve a better working relationship is perfectly acceptable. No work environment is ideal, but life’s too short to live in fear of your job. If you’re not thriving, you’re in a losing battle. At the end of the day, no job can ever pay you enough to put your wellbeing into harm’s way.

By Barbachano Staff

At Barbachano International (BIP), we know that talent is the most important asset a company has. When people shine, businesses light up. Experience the BIP difference.

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