3 Ways to Handle a Micromanager 

By | September 30, 2014

Kool Derby

We’ve all had micromanagers. They are so fun to work with, right?

NOT!

Here are examples of what a micromanager might say:

  • “I noticed you left 5 minutes early for lunch. Do you mind staying until exactly noon in the future?
    “Make sure that you copy me in all your emails to the branch manager.”
    “Vacation requests are determined by me. Don’t make any assumptions.”

Over the years, I developed approaches when working with micromanagers. Some worked, and some didn’t. However, there are some strategies that can improve your sanity when working with these controlling and detailed-oriented managers.

#1: Make sure to get all the boring administrative work done.

A micromanager loves administrative work. They will review your timesheets with a microscope, over-analyze your emails, and use the most precise clock to determine if you met the assigned work hours.

A micromanager loves to catch you doing things wrong, which gives this person a feeling of importance. Make sure to meet all deadlines. If you agree to 5 p.m. CST to submit a proposal, don’t be even a minute late. If you are tardy, you will receive an email at 5:01 p.m. asking the status of the work. The micromanager will also notate in your employee file about your failure to meet agreed deadlines.

#2: Make them feel important.

In my experience, micromanagers enjoy receiving pats on the back. To survive in some work environments, I played the game. You tell them what they want to hear.

For example:

  • “Jennifer, I appreciate the details you provided for the project. I will make sure to get it done by Friday COB.”
    “Dan, you made it clear that we have to work until 8 p.m. on the day before Thanksgiving. I will make sure we stay until that time, and even later if customers need assistance.”

The micromanager appreciates when you follow the policies and procedures. In fact, you might receive a promotion, even if you don’t want one.

#3: Reinforce to them that they have control.

There is nothing more important to a micromanager than control. In management and leadership, we study “position power.” That means that someone receives power or control based on his or her position. For a micromanager, his or her position allows him or her the opportunity to “tell others what to do.”

Remember that micromanagers don’t like to admit mistakes. In fact, many of these people are adamant that mistakes are made by other people. When you can, give micromanagers the benefit of the doubt. “Mark, you are right. I should have known to include the new logo with my emails. I’ll make sure to be more conscientious in the future.” By admitting this silly mistake, you avoid a drawn-out discussion.

Unfortunately, micromanagers are here to stay. A recent study by USA Today found that experienced people are less interested in management position. Therefore, many future managers will have limited talent, which means they will focus mostly on following the rules.

If you like where you work, it’s important to use the strategies provided here. If you are tired of being micromanaged, you will need to find employment elsewhere. However, it’s just a matter of time before you cross the path of someone who wants to know what you do every minute of the day.

Oh, well!

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