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Career Advice

How to Thrive Under a Micromanager

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated May 26, 2017

I once had a boss who, though he appeared to be laid-back and less intrusive, would often showcase his true micro management self when I would turn in copy or blog posts. I would spend hours working on something I was really proud of, only to be given back a heavily edited document that essentially turned the project into his. Even though I was given the title of manager, I felt I truly didn’t oversee the department because he was constantly changing our copy or moving dates around on our content calendar.

It was tough working under that kind of boss, to say the least.

No one likes having a boss who micromanages. Not only is it incredibly annoying to work under someone who constantly changes your work, checks in on projects, moves things around or is always scrutinizing your work, but it's also counterproductive to you as a growing professional.

But, if you find yourself working under a micromanager, there are a few ways to flip the situation and thrive under your annoying boss. Angela Copeland, career coach at Copeland Coaching, suggests taking the following steps to help turn a negative micromanager situation into a positive working environment.

Build your self-esteem

When it comes to thriving under a micro manager, confidence is key. If you love your job and the biggest issue is your micro manager, then it’s time to take control of the situation so you can be successful at work without having to worry about the stress your boss adds.

It can be tough to build self-esteem when your boss is constantly bringing you down, but Copeland says the important thing to remember is that you are good at your job and you’re in the position you’re in for a reason.

“Just remember that they hired you for a reason,” says Copeland. “Don't interpret your boss' fear of losing control to be a reflection of your work.”

Handle the issue directly with your boss

It sounds scary and the idea of tackling the issue head on might give you a burst of nerves, but Copeland says that, when it comes to personality conflicts with your boss, the best way to handle it is to speak with them directly. If you talk to another manager about the issue, your boss will likely find out and will feel like you went over their head. Moreover, bringing HR into the situation doesn’t always go as planned.

“Very often, we think of the HR team as our best friends who are there to help make things happier at work for employees,” explains Copeland. “In reality, their role is typically to help protect the company from serious legal risks, such as lawsuits. Going to HR first will likely make the problem worse. Wait to escalate to HR until you've tried to work it out with your boss one-on-one.”

Treat your boss like a customer

So what exactly do you say when you talk to your boss about how their micro management makes you feel? “Think of your boss like your customer,” suggests Copeland, who adds you should try to come up with a solution that will help them feel better and will give your conversation a starting point.

Copeland suggests getting ahead of the annoying ways in which your boss micromanages you.

For example, if they are constantly checking in with your or showing up to meetings unannounced, try saying something like, “I’m feeling as if I may not be providing the type of update about the project that would work best for you. I want to be sure I’m providing everything you need. Would it be helpful if I were to provide a daily e-mail update on the project status?”

This is a direct way to take control of the situation and hopefully come to an understanding with your boss that you will provide the updates and reach out when they are needed. Another idea Copeland suggest is proposing a weekly meeting for you and your boss to catch up on hot topics.

“When you look for ways to ease their fears, you can begin to "manage" your manager,” says Copeland.

Keep an eye out for red flags

If you’re interviewing for a job but are worried about working for a micromanager, the interview is a good time to keep an eye out for any red flags that your boss is a micromanager.

“When you're interviewing for the job, be sure you look at the process as a two-way street.,” says Copeland. “Don't simply hope and pray the boss will hire you. Think about the things you need to know before accepting an offer. While you go through this process, pay attention to how you feel about your interactions with the boss. Take note of little signs, including how specific they are about your interview schedule, your start date, and your salary.”

Moreover, another great way to learn about your future boss is to look up the company on Glassdoor. You can look for feedback from employees who have previously worked in your position or work in the department you would be under and can see what employees are saying about the boss.

It is possible to thrive under a micromanager

It might sound impossible now, but if you consider the following and have a one-on-one with your boss, you can pave the way for a better working relationship with a little more freedom.

“If you can be open to finding a solution that will calm the manager's fears, you will be more likely to thrive,” says Copeland. “Don't immediately dismiss your manager's needs. Remember that they're your customer. You need to work with them to find a solution that will work.”

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