How to Work With a Micromanager

MicromanagerMany of us have had a manager, team leader, or some other authoritative person hovering over us while working, listening while talking on the phone or speaking to people. Oh, how about even searching for you after leaving desk. They are not just being nosey; they are tightly managing your whereabouts wondering if you are doing the job or being proactive. They are Micromanagers.

For some this is a minor behavioral issue. For many, this can be a source of stress and anxiety in the workplace making it difficult for you to be productive.

I used to wonder if people with this type of behavior even know if they are micromanaging their subordinates or not.  If they did, I wondered if they were aware of the pressure and stress it can cause and do they care? If they did not, I would ask the same question.


Micromanagement is a form of management style that can have negative effect on an employee ability to function within the workplace. These negative effects include:

  • Feeling distrusted or unworthy of the position
  • Feeling like you are always doing something wrong
  • Feeling anxious that your manager is always looking for something negative in your work
  • Feeling powerless due to lack of decision-making abilities and challenging responsibilities
  • Feeling of being passed over to gain more challenging tasks or obtaining a promotion
  • Losing your loyalty and commitment for your job.
  • Not feeling appreciated for your contributions
  • Depression, or feeling that you are not productive or valued at work; and more

I have worked for many types of managers who were a micromanager and had a hand in controlling every aspect of my daily workload. There was one occasion where it led to my inability to communicate effectively with other co-workers and external clients because of my low self-esteem in the workplace. I have come to realize that micromanagers do not hire you because you are trusted. They hire you because they believe you can help them achieve a higher goal or meet the company’s objectives. Therefore, trust is not given until earned. While this is true for most manager no matter what their management style, micromangers tend to be more stringent on these factors. Once I understood this concept, I began to look into different types of management styles so that I can learn how to work with their core behavior.

Micromanagement Equals Mismanagement

Micromanagement is a form of mismanagement. Some micromanagers prefer to be a part of every step of the process even if it means taking over in certain responsibilities. What is really happening here is the effort of the manager to meet strategic objectives without considering the feelings of the employee. Therefore, the manager will play a dual role (meaning doing your job and theirs) to ensure that each task gets done in the matter in which they want it completed. Because they are trying to handle dual roles, there may be times when the manager may forget who’s responsible for what, or get confused and assign job responsibilities to the wrong staff person leaving the employee powerless in contributing to the overall success of the task. When this happens, roles and responsibilities between the manager and the employee become blurred and confusing.

Other micromanagers do not want to be part of every process, but rather keep tight reigns on what the employee does on a day-to-day basis. This is because this type of micromanager wants to control every aspect of their work environment, not just an individual. This no doubt will pose a problem of uncertainty and hardship on the employee because he/she will always feel like they are on guard.

To help in any of these situations, below are six types of Management Styles. Study this and determine your manager’s management style.

  1. Autocratic Style of Working
    • In such a style of working, the superiors do not take into consideration the ideas and suggestions of the subordinates.
    • The managers, leaders and superiors have the sole responsibility of taking decisions without bothering much about the subordinates.
    • The employees are totally dependent on their bosses and do not have the liberty to take decisions on their own.
    • The subordinates in such a style of working simply adhere to the guidelines and policies formulated by their bosses. They do not have a say in management’s decisions.
    • Whatever the superiors feel is right for the organization eventually becomes the company’s policies.
    • Employees lack motivation in autocratic style of working.
  2. Paternalistic Style of Working
    • In paternalistic style of working, the leaders decide what is best for the employees as well as the organization.
    • Policies are devised to benefit the employees and the organization.
    • The suggestions and feedback of the subordinates are taken into consideration before deciding something.
    • In such a style of working, employees feel attached and loyal towards their organization.
    • Employees stay motivated and enjoy their work rather than treating it as a burden.
  3. Democratic Style of Working
    • In such a style of working, superiors welcome the feedback of the subordinates.
    • Employees are invited on an open forum to discuss the pros and cons of plans and ideas.
    • Democratic style of working ensures effective and healthy communication between the management and the employees.
    • The superiors listen to what the employees have to say before finalizing on something.
  4. Laissez-Faire Style of Working
    • In such a style of working, managers are employed just for the sake of it and do not contribute much to the organization.
    • The employees take decisions and manage work on their own.
    • Individuals who have the dream of making it big in the organization and desire to do something innovative every time outshine others who attend office for fun.
    • Employees are not dependent on the managers and know what is right or wrong for them.
  5. Management by Walking Around Style of Working
    • In the above style of working, managers treat themselves as an essential part of the team and are efficient listeners.
    • The superiors interact with the employees more often to find out their concerns and suggestions.
    • In such a style of working, the leader is more of a mentor to its employees and guides them whenever needed.
    • The managers don’t lock themselves in cabins; instead walk around to find out what is happening around them.

Source: Management Study Guide.com

As you can see from the above list, a micromanager can have one or a combination of different management styles. Now let’s learn more about how you can build a partnership and communication trust with your manager. The following is what I found to be most effective.

Human Behaviors Communicates Both Ways

Some career advisors will ask if you are doing or saying something that causes your manager to wonder about you. Part of this is true, and the other part is not understanding human behaviors.  So, before you approach your manager with your concern, be sure to evaluate not only his behavior but also your own e.g. body language and mannerism, tone in voice, etc.

Understand your Manager’s Management Style

One way to manage micromanagement behavior is to first understand his/her management style and see things from their perspective. With this information, you will be able to build a good working relationship with your manager and lessen work related stress.  A key indicator is finding out what their strategic goals and pressure they are under if they do not deliver.  By understanding this, you will become more of a trusted partner in helping them achieve their goals rather than being micromanaged.

Communication, Communication, Communication!

Communication is vital!  To strengthen your relationship with your manager, schedule one-on-one meetings to discuss critical tasks and important your job function. This gives you the opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas as well as show the value of your expertise.   Once you are in the meeting, present yourself as a “partner” and remind them of why they hired you; and then follow-up by offering to take on new challenges. Once this is established provide them with written weekly status updates. This builds trust and you will be viewed as a partner.

Seek Advice from Another Manager

Another avenue is to seek advice from another manager who has a good working relationship with your manager. Most often they can share their methods on how to deal with their behavior with you. Ensure they are well-respected in the workplace and have good integrity by watching and researching their workplace behavior as well.

On the flip side, take caution, however, and make sure you choose wisely for whom you’re going to ask advice from. Be careful in your approach in how you ask for advice, and do not share any negative information about your manager. You could inadvertently offend your mentor and receive bad advice from someone who is not on your side. As always, any advice you receive should be well researched before approaching your manager.

Don’t Push

Micromanagers can be overbearing at times, however, do not push them. This can be perceived as being difficult to work with, argumentative, non-approachable, or can lead to thoughts of transferring or terminating your employment.  Learning what their demands is part of the job and knowing their key objectives is key. So, use this knowledge to work with your manager to earn his/her trust.

Consider a Career Move

Mental and physical health capabilities come first. If you cannot work with your manager after you exhausted different levels of communication channels, it may be time for a career move.

I hope that these tips help keep you focus on how to stay productive in the workplace. If you would like more tips or book a career coaching session, please visit https://alstntec.com for more information. Also be sure to join my private Facebook Page Elevate and Boost Your Career to find more articles, video blog tips and more!