How to Deal with a Micromanaging Boss

Regardless of where you’re at in your career, a boss can have a major impact on both your workplace and personal lives. A good boss can make all the difference between being happy and being miserable. Most people prefer a boss-employee relationship to feel similar to any other workplace relationship; there is a level of respect for the authority, but also a level of respect that you know how to get the job done. Far too often, however, this isn’t the case.

An effective boss is typically a leader, not a manager. By definition a boss is a manager; he or she manages a team towards a common goal, but whether or not he or she is effective in reaching this goal is another story. One of the least effective ways to be a leader is micromanaging. If you’re not familiar, a micromanager is a “boss or manager who gives excessive supervision to employees. Rather than telling an employee what task needs to be accomplished and by when, will watch the employee’s actions closely and provide frequent criticism of the employee’s work and processes,” according to Investopedia.

Does this sound like a boss you have had? You’re not alone. Even bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch has dealt with this. However, she confesses that she was a micromanager herself. “I second-guessed my team, and worse I tried to do everyone’s job for them. It was terrible for all of us, but it taught me the two best techniques to ‘escape’ a helicopter boss – and one surefire way not to.”

What better way to understand how to deal with a micromanaging boss than from someone who used to be one herself? If you have a boss in this category, there are two things you can do to make the best of the situation and one thing you want to avoid at all costs.

Do: Over-Deliver

One of the most common reasons that an employee feels like he or she is being micromanaged is because their boss lacks trust in them. The reasons for this lack of trust may vary, but when it exists, it can be an uphill battle to convince them otherwise.

Instead of letting this be the case, you can “swamp them with evidence of your competence and character,” according to Welch. In doing so, your boss should be able to see that you are striving to do the best job you can and exceed their expectations. While you may not want to “under promise” and “over deliver,” doing more than expected of you will go a long way. You should always do the best you can, but try to limit mistakes, as mistakes are magnified with micromanaging bosses.

Do: Find Creative Ways to Expand Their Job

When your boss does not have a ton of responsibilities, he or she will likely be hesitant to delegate any of their tasks to you in order to maintain some of their own. According to Welch, “This may not sound like your problem to solve, but it can be if you’re able to find creative ways to expand their job, with, say, potential clients to meet or strategic initiatives to shoot up the ladder.”

Find out ways to make their job (and life) easier, and he or she will be able to see that having you is a benefit to their job (and life) and not a burden.

Don’t: Tell Your Boss That He/She is Micromanaging

Sometimes, honesty might not actually be the best policy. A career kiss-of-death is telling your boss that he or she is micromanaging you. According to Welch, “I don’t care if your intentions are good, you might as well announce, ‘I don’t like or respect you,’ which is one fast way to get yourself micromanaged right out the door.”

If you are in, or have ever been in, a situation in which your boss is micromanaging, consider doing these two things to get through the situation. However, whatever you do, do NOT call him or her out for being a micromanager. Otherwise, you might find yourself out of a job altogether.

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