Working for a micromanager isn’t easy. But if you don’t want to leave your job, here's what can you do.

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“Sheila” accepted a new job and then realized her boss had some severe micromanaging behaviors. He would give an assignment and then check in with Sheila multiple times a day to find out her progress.

“The worst part was when he pulled a chair into my cubicle and sat next to me, pointing at my computer screen and asking questions while I was working. It wasn’t helpful and slowed me down. By the end of the day I was so angry with him I felt like I might explode.”

Because she was new to her job, Sheila didn’t want to leave. “I like the company and I enjoy my work. It’s just his management style that I hate. He could be a good manager if he wasn’t such a control freak.”

You can’t force your boss to change his or her micromanaging behaviors. But you can flex your style to work better with your manager’s style. Here are some tips.

DO

  • Find out your boss’s expectations and how your performance will be evaluated.
  • Mutually agree on what you need to accomplish and by when (deadlines).
  • Create a “Goals and Objectives” document to track your progress and to use as a communication tool.
  • Learn your manager’s preferred method of communication, the level of interaction he or she prefers, and the information he or she wants in your updates.
  • Schedule update meetings or set repeating reminders in your calendar tool to email progress updates to your boss on a regular basis.
  • Get your work done on time and provide fair warning if a timeline slips.
  • Every now and then, ask your manager if you’re providing enough progress communication. Listen to the response and then make adjustments.

DON’T

  • Pick a fight over everything. Choose your battles wisely. If you believe your way is better than your manager’s method, ask for the freedom to try it. Explain that you’ll keep them in the loop and that if your method doesn’t work, you’ll use option B (their method).
  • Explode in anger when you feel like they’re interfering. Try to be compassionate: “I really appreciate that you’re taking such an interest in the work I’m doing. But watching me while I process these urgent customer orders is making me feel nervous and slowing me down. How about if I give you an update in an hour?”
  • Go it alone. If you run into an issue or obstacle, discuss the situation with your boss, explain how you’re thinking about handling it, and ask for feedback. This demonstrates your analytical and critical thinking skills. It also shows you’re open to feedback and will help build trust in the relationship.

Lisa Quast is a certified executive coach, and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.