How to Deal With a Micromanager

Two Parts:Earning Your Boss's TrustTalking to Your Boss

Micromanagers have a hard time trusting others to make decisions and allowing them to act autonomously. This may stem from insecurity, pressure to perform, the company culture or a number of other different reasons. Working under a micromanaging boss can put you in an awkward position if you feel that it's affecting your job performance and your overall well being. However, there are things you can do to ease the tension and to help your boss relax and stop breathing down your neck. Follow these tips for how to deal with micromanagement in your workplace.

Part 1
Earning Your Boss's Trust

  1. Image titled Deal With a Micromanager Step 1
    Be an overachiever. Show your boss that you deserve his or her trust and that you don't need to be told every little thing you need to do. Micromanagers are often chiefly concerned with their employees' performance. Therefore, a good way to handle a micromanager is to go over and above what is expected of you. If your boss is a micromanager, then he or she may inherently have trouble trusting people, so you have to work extra hard to earn that level of trust and respect.[1]
    • Stay one step ahead of your boss. Be prepared with an affirmative reply every time you are asked if you are progressing and you may find that your boss checks in less often.
    • Gain a reputation for excellence at the workplace. You may not have to deal with micromanagement as much if your reputation speaks for your competency.
  2. Image titled Deal With a Micromanager Step 2
    Follow the rules. Don't bend or break company policy or try to skirt around following company protocol on even the simplest thing. Micromanagers thrive on catching people in the act and you will only be reinforcing your boss's belief that employees can't be trusted.
  3. Image titled Deal With a Micromanager Step 3
    Learn as much as you can about your micromanaging boss. Figure out what your boss is looking for in an employee and play the game. Steer clear of the things that agitate your boss and cater to your boss's preferences. Talk to other employees who have worked with him or her and discuss strategies that may work for dealing with him or her.
    • If you see one employee who has a particularly positive relationship with your boss, try to see how they communicate and work together and pick up anything you may notice. Maybe the other employee is honest, deflects tension with humor, is overly friendly, or does something else that you can try on your boss.[2]
  4. Image titled Deal With a Micromanager Step 4
    Be reliable. Don't give your boss any reason to distrust you. Show up places on time or even early, do the work you have to do by its deadline or a few days before, and do other helpful tasks, like picking up coffee, making phone calls, and helping other co-workers achieve their goals. Be a person that other people come to for help because they know you'll get the job done. If you have a reputation for being extra reliable, your boss will notice and will be more likely to ease up on you.[3]
    • If you do all of your work, then your boss will see that you don't need all of his or her extra help.

Part 2
Talking to Your Boss

  1. Image titled Deal With a Micromanager Step 5
    Ask to take on small projects on your own. Start small. Ask your boss if he or she would mind if you took on a small project -- maybe one that only spans a week -- on your own to gain some management experience. Pick something low on your boss's priorities list and do a stellar job with it. If you prove that you're able to handle something from start to finish on your own, then your boss will be more open to letting you tackle the bigger challenges by yourself.
    • After you've succeeded with the small project, thank your boss for trusting you to work on it. Tell him or her than you've gained invaluable experience and that you'll be able to do your job even more effectively moving forward. Show that letting you do your own thing achieves results.
  2. Image titled Deal With a Micromanager Step 6
    Talk about the principles behind a project beforehand. If your boss has given you a new project -- along with three pages of bullet-pointed notes about how to get it done -- make sure you meet with him to discuss the big picture of the project instead of talking about which font you should use. Discuss what the goals of the project can be and how you can achieve them and show that you have a strong understanding of the big picture; if your boss sees that you really get it, then he'll feel less nervous about you sticking to each and every one of his bullet points.
    • If you get in the habit of doing this before you begin any projects, your boss will be less likely to write down every little detail of how it should be done.
  3. Image titled Deal With a Micromanager Step 7
    Listen very carefully when your boss is speaking. Repeat it back and provide feedback to ensure your boss that you are paying attention and that you understand what is being asked of you. Make eye contact, nod, and even take notes, if you need to, to show your boss that nothing he or she has said escaped you. If you seem distracted or out of your element, then your boss won't have reason to trust you.
  4. Image titled Deal With a Micromanager Step 8
    Provide frequent updates. Your boss is likely worried that you won't be able to get everything done in the way he or she wants it done, so it's important to keep your boss in the loop. Did you just email the weekly report to your boss? Mention it when you see him or her in the break room. Did you just wrap up the project you were working on? Tell your boss before you put the report on his or her desk. Did you make that important phone call your boss told you to make? Tell him or her about it and describe the details.[4]
    • This can help your boss see that you're doing what you need to do and it can have the added effect of making your boss feel a little bit annoyed and micromanaged him or her self, which can lead him to ease up.
  5. Image titled Deal With a Micromanager Step 9
    Show empathy. Try to understand what is motivating your boss. Is your boss just an overachiever who wants to do the best job possible and is nervous about letting others take on his responsibilities, or is he power-hungry and wanting to have his hand in everything to maintain control? Whatever his reasons may be for micromanaging you, try to let your boss see that you understand where he's coming from.
    • If he's just nervous about doing a good job, say things like, "I know how important this project is to you and to the entire company. I'm going to do my absolute best."
    • If he just wants to be in total control, you can say, "You've been such a big part of this project. None of us could have done this without you." Praise your boss about his hard work even if you've done most of it yourself, and he or she will feel better about maintaining control.
  6. Image titled Deal With a Micromanager Step 10
    Talk to your boss if the situation reaches a breaking point. Though this should not be the first thing you do because it may lead to a confrontation, talking to your boss about the situation may help communicate your needs if you feel that you have no breathing room. Oftentimes, micromanagers are not aware that they are micromanaging. If you feel that the stress of having to handle a micromanager is building to a point that it could jeopardize your job, then you are doing no good to yourself or your boss to not be proactive about affecting change.[5]
    • Stress the fact that, if you were allowed to take more responsibility on, you'd be able to get the job done better instead of checking in all the time and following your boss's orders down to a T. At the end of the day, your boss wants the work to be done as well as possible, so you should emphasize the fact that you would be able to get the job done better with less interference.
    • Take extra care to handle the subject delicately and speak with your boss about the situation. Remember to be polite. Don't call your boss a micromanager.
    • Don't point fingers, but rather ask if there is something you can do to improve the communication between the two of you.
    • Explain that you are concerned that you are not able to reach your potential with so little room for personal accountability


  • Tell your boss the truth about the current manager - employee relationship and that is that he / she is demotivating you, putting pressure on you that is affecting your ultimate well-being.

Article Info

Categories: Office Skills