Micromanagers can suck all of the joy and efficiency out of your work and productivity. I know when I had them in my own life, I was more stressed and certainly not fully satisfied in my role and even had lower engagement with the overall organization as a result. Think you have a micromanager in your line of leadership? Last week we talked about how to identify one and what the possible reasons were for the behavior. 

So what do you do if you have a micromanager? Quit? Become passive-aggressive? Subvert authority? All of those may be tempting, but we’ll look at some healthy ways to address the person and behavior.

Eliminate the “You” factors

As we discussed last week, there are situations where you as the follower are driving the need for micromanagement. If the “you” factor is in play, you’re in luck. You’ll have a clearer and easier path to grow through the behavior. 

  • Be more proactive in communication. Anticipate the needs of your supervisor when it comes to what information they look for and what time frame they like to receive communication in. You can cut off some of the micromanaging behavior by heading it off before it happens. 
  • Beat those deadlines! It’s always helpful to come in ahead of deadlines and require little to no follow-up on the task or project.
  • Show your growth in knowledge. It’s also helpful to show how you are growing in experience in your immediate area and residual areas that influence your work. You may be getting micromanaged because your boss doesn’t think that you know the job well enough or you aren’t a technical expert in the area yet. 
  • Show your partnerships. Show your leader how you are collaborating with others to get the job done well. Recognize others in your conversations with your supervisor. It shows you are a team player and also lets your leader know that you celebrate the success and achievements of others. 
  • Find small ways to boost your credibility. Small wins add up. Look for ways to get some small victories in your work or responsibility to help grow your credibility and trust with your supervisor. 
  • Mimic their style. Don’t micromanage back, but adjust your style of communication to match theirs. Timeliness, length, and method of communication. 

Understand their intent

As you decipher the best way to address your leader about micromanaging behavior it’s important to understand their intent so you can connect in a way that resonates with them. Put yourself in their shoes to help understand where they are coming from. Other ways to understand intent include:

  • Tap into their vision and aspirations. Find out what they are trying to accomplish or achieve through the work that you are doing.  Having this understanding helps you communicate in a way that resonates with them and can lead to them giving you more space. 
  • Guide those that micromanage without intent. Sometimes micromanagers don’t even realize that they are one. In these cases, it may also be helpful to take the behavior from a different approach. Ask for freedom in a way that is not confrontational, “Can I run this one and check in with you to give you updates?” Start small and agree on a timetable for when check-ins will occur. 

Be straightforward

Being straightforward with your leader can be the best approach at times when it comes to micromanagement. This can be a difficult conversation to have because you may feel like you are putting your job on standing in the organization in jeopardy if the person is an insecure leader and the conversation doesn’t go as planned. 

Take a soft, yet straightforward approach. Coming in too hard will certainly not be received well and can do more harm than good. Instead of being confrontational, come in with a desire to grow through a caring approach. Try things like, “I feel like I don’t have your full trust yet to do my job well. How can I grow that trust with you?” or even more direct, “I feel like I’m being micromanaged. When you do X, I feel Y and it impacts my ability to get the job done.” Either way that you start the conversation, look to make the solution a collaborative effort where you are both agreeing on the next steps to take. 

Remember that no one loves being called out as a micromanager. Be friendly, smile, and try to keep the conversation light when possible to help your message be received better. 

Make a better tomorrow.