It may have seemed well-intended at first, your boss kept close tabs on your work and gave you plenty of advice and guidance. But now that you’re no longer learning your role, the tight leash feels oppressive and frustrating. Your boss is not only micromanaging you, they are smothering you.
There are frequently many root causes of a boss’ micromanaging behaviour. It may be that they lack an understanding of their role as manager, they may have a micromanaging boss of their own, or it may be due to personal insecurity.
The good news is that you don’t have to resign yourself to being nit-picked to death. You may not be able to change your boss, but you do have some control. You have more power to improve the situation than you probably realise. However, you also need to be realistic. It is unlikely that you will turn things around with one conversation, but you can, little by little, own and direct a process that will enable your boss to start trusting you more and monitoring you less. Here’s how.
- Don’t fight it
The first point is don’t openly rebel against your boss’ micromanaging behaviour, the chances are this will simply annoy them and they may clamp down even more.
- See things from their perspective
Rather than fighting it put yourself in their shoes. What’s important to them and what might their insecurities be? Perhaps they are being put under a lot of pressure by their boss. If that’s the case think of ways you can alleviate that pressure, such as running reports to better prepare them for meetings with their manager. Once you get to know your boss better, you’ll gain more insight into the areas they are concerned or touchy about. Make sure that they don’t get any surprises. The more proactive you are the more you will reassure them, and the more they are likely to let go of the reigns.
3. Examine yourself
If your boss doesn’t appear to have faith in your ability to do your job, consider whether you’ve given them a reason to feel this way. Have you missed important deadlines? Prepared reports that were riddled with errors? Take a good look at yourself, and see if there is anything in your behaviour that is encouraging theirs. Also check out your colleagues, if your boss isn’t micromanaging them, then the chances are that your underperformance is driving their behaviour. If you suspect this to be the case, have the courage to ask your boss about it. Tell him you feel he’s monitoring you extra closely and you want to understand what’s behind it.
4. Focus on Your Future
Focusing on your future can help you and your boss to interact more productively. Initiate a discussion about long-term goals, about your growth and about how else you could support the department. Be prepared to give your boss some examples of the types of projects you’d like to work on and the future role you wish for yourself. Ask your boss to work with you to create a plan for acquiring the skills you’ll need to realise your vision. Taking this approach is likely to achieve two things. Firstly it will appeal to your boss’ ego and secondly it will demonstrate to them how proactive you are and that they should start to give you more space.
5. Understand What’s In it for Them!
Simply complaining to your boss about their micromanaging behaviour won’t open their mind or make them want to listen or support you. Instead, think about what they might gain personally from changing their behaviour. Tell them that you have some ideas about how you can improve your own personal productivity and ask if they would be interested to discuss them. If they accept, keep the discussion constructive and positive. For example explain how much time you spend on dealing with your boss’ frequent requests and check ins. Float the idea that you could use the time differently perhaps to support your boss on a really important project. Being positive and offering support will let them know that you have their best interests at heart.