How to Deal When Your Boss is a Micromanager

As millennials, we like to think of ourselves as hard-working, motivated, and independent individuals. This is why it can be especially challenging to work under the supervision of a micromanager, otherwise known as the boss who wants to control your every move.

There are different reasons someone might be a micromanager. It might stem from a control issue, not enough responsibility of their own, pressure from their own superiors, or they might just be a neurotic personality. It’s never fun to work for (or with) a micromanager, but luckily, it is manageable to an extent. Try these methods when your boss is a micromanager:

1. Build trust.

An important part of any relationship, trust is especially important when it comes to working for a micromanager. Oftentimes, these micromanagers don’t trust anyone but themselves to accomplish something, and even tend to believe that others are more fallible than themselves. So how do you build trust with a micromanager?

1. Anticipate her wants and needs, and be proactive about them. 

If there’s anything you can count on, it’s that your boss will remind you for the 10th time this week that the report you’ve been working on is due on her desk by 3 P.M. While this is tricky, because you don’t want it to lead to her raising her standards even higher, you can put her neurotic mind at ease by delivering the report a few hours early.

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2. Give him frequent updates.

Send him emails and keep him updated on your progress as the day progresses. He may find this annoying and you may find it tedious, but one of two things will happen. Either your boss will be extremely pleased that you are catering to his needs (extra good when it comes time for a raise or promotion) or he will be irritated that you are taking so much time to email him. In the latter case, you will then be able to explain your similar frustration when he drops by your desk five times a day to check up on you.

3. Avoid breaking their trust.

It’s easier to build trust from a clean slate than it is to reestablish trust once it’s been broken. Do everything you can to avoid missing deadlines and causing your boss extra stress. Remember that your current boss won’t be your boss forever (hopefully), so while it may be frustrating now, it will likely pay off in the long run.

This would be a great time to practice your time management skills and learn how to cope with a horrible boss.

2. Set up weekly meetings to stay on track.

Most work environments do this already, but in some cases, it may not be enough. Not only will this give your boss something to do, but it will help ease his or her mind about what needs to get done. Your boss will be able to explain his expectations, you’ll be able to project how long it will take you to complete the work, and everyone will be on the same page. This will also give your boss the space to explain exactly what he expects from you, allow you to ask for any clarification needed, and to give everyone a boost of confidence.

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Unfortunately, the micromanaging won’t end there, so the next step is crucial to implement.

3. Come to an understanding.

While trust between manager and employee is crucial, it will help both of you to operate on the same wavelength. You deserve a voice in your workplace, but at the end of the day, your boss is still your boss and you need to respect that, no matter how unqualified you think they might be.

Take the time to sit down with them and hash out exactly what their expectations are, when and how you should check in with each other, how your boss expects things to be completed, etc.

4. Ask for feedback.

The best way to get insightful feedback is to ask for it. Asking for feedback will help you get to the root of what your boss wants from you. Ask for actionable steps that will help you align your actions with your boss’ expectations.

Related: When (and Why) to Seek Feedback From Your Boss

5. Consider moving on.

If none of the above actions help the situation, it might be in your best interest to start looking for a new position. Working under a micromanager can lead to extreme stress and an aversion to your job. It can be exhausting to work under a micromanager, but it’s important to remember that you have other options.

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If a job is causing you too much stress, it’s time to re-evaluate your resume, work on your personal statement, and start looking for new opportunities in your field.

Related: I Quit My Stupid Job… and It Was Magical and How to Quit a Job That’s Bad for You

Dealing with a boss who is a micromanager can be stressful, but it’s important to remember that it won’t last forever. On top of that, one day you’ll get to be the boss… and you’ll know exactly what not to do.