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How to deal with being micromanaged
Being micromanaged, or feeling like you are, can make you anxious at work. Here are some steps you can take to ease the situation.
Toye Oladinni
2022-10-21
Career Resources

Nobody is a fan of having a boss who keeps their employees under their thumb, and doesn’t give them any time free from scrutiny to breathe. All organisations need to find a balance between oversight and autonomy, and when you’re working for somebody who’s leaning on the wrong side of that balance, it can be a very stressful experience. In this article we’ll be giving you some tips on how to negotiate this sensitive situation. 

What is micromanagement?

First, it’s important to define precisely what micromanagement is. Most simply, it is a style of managing where your superior closely controls the work of their employees, so closely that they expect overly detailed reports from you, they suggest deadlines that are unrealistic, they focus on minute details rather than the big picture, and they ultimately don’t give those beneath them the space they need to do their job correctly. 

Micromanagement most often comes from a place of fear - either that without their input and supervision at every stage things will fall apart, or even that if those below them do better than them, their own position may soon be at stake. Both of these positions result in a lack of trust - they don’t trust you to do a good job on your own. That explains why it's such a frustrating position to be in - it can make you feel as though your manager doesn’t fully believe in you. 

It’s important to note that there are times when your manager may be watching you closely, but it might not qualify as micromanagement. For one thing, it might just be their style. For another, when you’ve just got the position, it’s natural that your higher ups may try to help you out more. Or if you’ve recently had some difficulties, it’s also not hard to see why your manager might want to ensure that the work gets done. 

Focus on increasing trust

Because micromanagement is often based on a lack of trust, it can be useful to make a conscious decision to try and earn your managers trust. If there is a particular metric that they value highly, or a form that they want completed to a certain standard, make sure you do it. This can be an easy way to encourage them to give you more space, even if it can take some time. 

Make an effort to understand their perspective

It might be that from your point of view, you can’t imagine why anybody wouldn’t believe in you 110%, but it’s always worth trying to see things from another angle. Think about what your managers key objectives, what are their deal breakers, and what do they want most from their employees. Just asking and trying to understand is a good way to show them that you’re committed to improving and learning in your job. 

Communicate how the micromanagement affects you

We all know that speaking to higher ups about their management style can be a potential minefield. This is true in a practical sense as well - telling a micromanager that you don’t appreciate them looking over your shoulder may just make the problem worse. If you do talk to your boss, be sure to avoid the word ‘micromanager’ and instead focus on what you need to do your job correctly - having to spend too much time reporting back on what you’ve done takes away from the time you have to do the job well. If you do try and have this conversation, make sure that you do it at a time when your boss may be open to feedback. 

We hope you’ve found this article on micromanagement useful. If you have, be sure to keep up with inploi’s community page, where articles are posted on a weekly basis, for more help negotiating the world of work. 

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