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  • Writer's pictureJackie Booth

How to deal with your micro-manager boss.

Dealing with a micromanager is not an easy task. I’ve had several bosses like this and over time it can be demoralising.

Not only is it frustrating to work with someone who constantly oversees and controls every aspect of your work, but the lack of recognition of your abilities also undermines confidence in your skills and knowledge.

In this blog, I’ll be exploring some of the key challenges you might come across, as well as strategies which can be effective if you’re coping with a micro-manager boss breathing down your neck 24/7.

Common challenges when working under a micro-manager boss.

The challenge: work life balance scrutiny.

One of the aspects I struggled with was the scrutiny and assumptions around how I was balancing my own work and home life, especially as I had a three-hour commute on weekly office days.

This was particularly challenging while I was managing family responsibilities and pursuing advanced education at the time.

Even when you’re meeting all your deadlines, it’s dispiriting to be constantly questioned by a micro-manager, and critiqued, which just adds unnecessary stress.

The solution: set clear expectations

Having clearly defined roles, responsibilities and expectations helps mitigate most of the micromanagement because you’ve a structure you’ve both agreed to.

You can also feel confident you are meeting the agreed expectations no matter your home-work scenario.

In the beginning, this might mean lots of check-ins to provide progress updates but overtime I found that gradually gaining their trust means you have more freedom, independence and autonomy.

The challenge: lack of recognition.

Over time a lack of recognition or praise really saps your confidence., It's demotivating and makes it doubly hard when you need to showcase your value within your organisation.

Micro-managers also tend to “gate-keep” you and your work, so other more senior people in the organisation aren’t fully aware of what you do or the value you’re adding. It's not unheard of them to also pass off your work as their own.

The solution: showcase your work.

You have to prove your competency and initiative by taking ownership of projects and demonstrating your leadership skills.

When others, including your micromanager, see your ability to handle responsibilities independently they may be inclined to loosen their grip.

To gain recognition from others in the organisation, volunteer your experience and expertise in cross-department projects and initiatives so it can be seen.

It also helps to find mentorship support from senior leaders or peers who can give you guidance and advocate for you.

The challenge: Gender bias and stereotypes.

In addition to facing gender bias and stereotypes in the workplace, female leaders often encounter further challenges when working for a micro-manager.

For example, it’s not uncommon for female leaders to find themselves disproportionately assigned administrative or project support roles that are seen to be less strategic or leadership-orientated; thus reinforcing stereotypes about women’s capabilities and hampering professional growth

Whether this is done knowingly or not, it limits opportunities to participate in strategic initiatives or high-profile projects. As a female leader, it's frustrating to see your male counterparts are given more leadership responsibilities within projects while you’re left picking up the routine tasks.

This was even worse when I was working for a male boss who also liked to move the goalposts – not fun. Ultimately, his behaviour created a toxic work environment where my potential was stifled, and my contributions undervalued.

The solution: build a support network

Connect with mentors, colleagues, and fellow leaders who can share their experiences of working with a micromanager. They can offer a sounding board as well as guidance, insights and tips to help you deal with challenges more effectively.

The challenge: emotional exhaustion

It’s draining to be under constant scrutiny and criticism and over time it has an impact on your mental and emotional well-being.

It’s a daily struggle to keep yourself motivated and enthusiastic about the work you’re doing when you’re constantly micromanaged.

The solution: Look after yourself

Make yourself and your mental and emotional well-being a priority. Regularly spend time on activities that help you to reduce your stress and recharge your batteries.

And don’t forget to ask for help and support from trusted colleagues, friends or a professional coach who can give you guidance and a different perspective on how to cope with the challenges you’re experiencing.

Dealing with a micromanager boss is a challenge, but it's not an insurmountable one.

Understanding your specific difficulties and putting strategies in place will give you a sense of control and autonomy in your role.

Having worked with several micromanager bosses over the course of my career I know you can thrive in spite of them. If nothing else, they teach you how to be resilient and to persevere.

Support with dealing with a micromanager boss

If you’re currently struggling with a micromanager boss and looking for personalised support and guidance to overcome these challenges, explore my 121 Next Level Leadership Coaching Programme.

Together, we can navigate the complexities of leadership, which will include advancing your career in the face of coping with a micromanager!


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