The day to day grind of working in an office can lead one to think that their experience is the norm. However, having a manager that monitors everything and a lack of freedom at work can harm both your performance and well-being. In this post, we explore the 4 signs that you have a micromanaging boss and what you can do to deal with them.
What does it mean to micromanage?
The practice of micromanagement isn’t restricted to the workplace. However, this is where micromanagers are often found.
Micromanagement refers to exerting excessive control over a person or a situation. This can occur within a social context, at work, or even in relationships. An obsession over the minute detail over what someone is doing, rather than looking at the bigger picture is a key characteristic of someone who micromanages.
Sometimes, micromanagement can take on a bullying persona where one person attempts to completely control and influence the actions and behavior of another. If this sounds all too familiar, then it may be that your boss is micromanaging you.
In the next section, we look at some of the familiar traits of a micromanager in the workplace.
4 signs that your boss is micromanaging you
1. Your freedom is restricted
Do you feel like your boss is constantly looking over your shoulder? Or that you have to run everything (even small things) by them first? Feeling a lack of freedom in your job is a sure sign that you have a micromanaging boss.
Good managers trust their staff, as they recognize that they are qualified for the role they are undertaking. A boss that is partial to micromanagement does not feel this trust and doesn’t allow their employees to make decisions for themselves.
Autonomy at work is an important means of keeping you interested in your job as it gives you room to be creative. Feeling trusted to make decisions is also essential in a work environment to ensure you feel valued and empowered.
2. Your boss is reluctant to give you training
Another indication that you have a micromanaging boss is if they’re reluctant for you to undertake any training or development opportunities. This comes from the fear that through upskilling their staff, they will decrease their own value and importance. This aspect of being micromanaged can feel particularly restrictive as it makes it difficult to progress in your career.
So, if you’ve noticed your manager won’t share their knowledge with you or brushes over training opportunities, it is likely they are guilty of micromanaging.
3. They can’t see the big picture
Part of being a good manager comes from being able to see the bigger picture and trusting that their employees have their individual tasks in hand.
A micromanager, however, is unable to do this. They are obsessed with the minute detail within projects. This means that instead of being free to just ‘get on with it’ you’re constantly forced to update your boss on what you’re doing.
This could be in the form of regular reports, constant team meetings to feedback on progress, or a persistent email thread that feels incredibly unproductive. It can feel like you spend most of your time updating your boss on what you’re doing rather than actually doing the work itself.
If this sounds like your experience, then it’s likely your boss is micromanaging the work you do.
4. They don’t like to delegate
Another trait of a micromanaging boss is that they don’t like to delegate. All of the points above ring true of a person who lacks faith in others, and this aspect of micromanagement is no different.
A micromanaging manager will often refuse to pass on important tasks to their team as they feel they are the only ones qualified to undertake them. This can lead to an overwhelming workload for them, and a feeling of discontent amongst other team members.
Difficulties in delegating can also lead to unnecessary delays and projects that feel like they are never-ending.
How to deal with a micromanaging boss?
Unsurprisingly, showing a lack of faith in the team, a refusal to help team members develop, and the refusal to delegate leads to an unsatisfactory work life for those under the leadership of a micromanager. However, it doesn’t have to be like this. Here are some tips on how to deal with your micromanaging boss.
1. Be honest
It can seem daunting to criticize the behavior of your manager. However, it may be that they don’t realize the impact that their micromanaging is having.
Next time you have a one-to-one scheduled, prepare what you want to say to your manager and write down some examples of when their micromanaging has gone too far. Highlight how their managing style is impacting on your ability to do your job and your well-being at work. An open and honest conversation can feel scary beforehand, but the benefits are likely to be well worth it.
2. Be one step ahead of them
If you’ve been working under a micromanager for a while, you can no doubt anticipate when and what they are planning to ask you. By anticipating this beforehand you can provide the answers to their questions before they have the chance to breathe over your shoulder.
This could be in the form of an email at the start or end of the week to update them on any progress. In showing them that you’re fully on top of things, it may give them the confidence to give you the space you need.
Handling a micromanaging boss can feel like a job in itself. It can mean that you feel incredibly restricted in your work and affect your happiness in your job.
Opening up to your manager that their managing style is not working for you can feel like a huge hurdle to jump over. However, it can lead to a much-needed discussion around how you can best work together to make the work environment a happy and productive place.
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