How To Work For A Micromanger Without Losing Your Mind

October 1, 2019  |  
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Angry manager having a meeting with his colleagues in the office.

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Working for a micromanager is no walk in the park. It will have you out here mentally quitting your job every other day, ugly crying in the car, worrying about work on your day off, and if you’re not careful, sitting in a doctor’s office being treated for some stress-related illness. Being supervised under this management style can make you feel helpless and hopeless, but there are some things you can do to hold on to your sanity and health until you’re able to secure employment elsewhere. Check out these nine ways to beat your micromanager at her own game.

Make sure your bases are covered

The first and most important rule for working with a boss who micromanages is to cover your butt. We all make mistakes; however, when you’re consistently dropping the ball, you send the message that you can’t be trusted, further perpetuating the cycle of being micromanaged. Once you’ve been labeled as the employee who can’t be trusted, your work life will be a living hell under this type of manager, so be hypervigilant about dotting your Is and crossing your Ts.

Small group of businesswomen working in the office and using a laptop

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Let her know when she’s doing too much

This can be a very uncomfortable conversation to have, but in some cases, it’s absolutely necessary. Micromanagers know that they’re micromanaging, but they’re not always aware of how their methods affect their employees. In other words, they will push you as far as you’ll allow them. I used to work in a very feedback-driven environment and I had a manager who would sometimes go overboard with high volume feedback within short spans of time. One day she bombarded me with a flurry of nitpicky emails offering feedback on an array of different aspects of my work. I had to politely pull her aside and tell her that she had given me five pieces of feedback before 10 am and that there was no way that I could actually digest and implement her feedback if she was going to continue to offer feedback at this frequency. She apologized and we were able to move forward.

That should've been sorted out already

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If you’re a person who dislikes people checking up on you regarding your work, a great way to mitigate these conversations is by getting ahead of the check-ins. Offer frequent status updates on any projects that you may be working on to cut back on those annoying emails and phone calls.

Sharing opinions is critical to success

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Ask a ton of questions

In a micromanager’s perfect world, she’d have the ability to clone herself so that she’d be able to do everyone’s job herself. That way, she could be 100 percent sure that all work would be completed exactly how she wants. Unfortunately, modern science has not afforded us with those capabilities yet, so she has to delegate. One great way to keep her out of your hair while in the middle of a project is to get granular and ask questions about her preferences for each project upfront.

Businesswoman texting, colleague using laptop in background

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Be diligent about deadlines

In the spirit of covering your butt, always do what you have to do to meet deadlines. In the rare event that you suspect you may miss a deadline, reach out in advance and ask for an extension.

African American woman with black curly hair wearing a suit on a bed who is working late and is tired

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Establish boundaries for yourself

A micromanaging boss will drive you up a wall if you let her, so you’ll need to set some boundaries for yourself if you want to hold onto your sanity while working under these personality types. First and foremost, decide that you will not answer emails, texts, or phone calls outside of work hours. In addition, decide what you will and will not respond to. If you work for a manager who sends a large number of emails, understand that every email and comment doesn’t warrant a response. There’s no use in getting yourself worked up or spending precious time carefully crafting a response to every little thing. This will eat into your productivity. If you happen to work for a company that expects you to respond to every single email, a simple “Received” will sometimes suffice.

Job Burnout as Medical Condition

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Figure out the “why”

Sometimes understanding the driving force behind why people are the way that they makes them easier to work with.

The pressure is getting a bit too much for me

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Find an outlet

Working for a micromanager can be stressful, so having an outlet to help you cope during particularly frustrating moments is paramount. The Headspace meditation app is an amazing resource that you can use right at your desk or perhaps you just need a little worship music to help get your mind right.

Staying connected has never been easier

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Keep a steady paper trail

Also in the spirit of covering your butt, be sure to get all important communication regarding deadlines and directives for major projects in writing. This will save you a ton of headaches later.

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