We have faced this, almost all of us: half-crazed by a boss who micromanages and bullies. So, how do we make our way through the tangled web of office power politics?
While not everyone considers micromanagement to be bullying, it is still detrimental to one's mental health, work performance, and self-esteem. Employees end up feeling disenfranchised, humiliated, and belittled as a result, and so their mental health suffers.
To clarify, even if a manager believes they are indeed increasing efficiency, micromanaging can still become a form of workplace bullying. In fact, increasing efficiency is one of the primary reasons given by managers for wanting to control even the smallest tasks that have already been entrusted to a colleague or direct report. Without regard for how this ‘close monitoring’ can affect the morale and performance of the employee, a manager might only do more harm than good.
A micromanager might not have any idea what real management entails despite the wealth of information about effective management styles. Why go with a method that has been shown to be ineffective?
How to sense if someone is micromanaging
Controlling versus guiding: Before proceeding, it is necessary to define the roles of a manager and a leader. Managers must deal with the complexities of meeting the goals of the organisation while maintaining the status quo through administrative functions such as planning, organising, and controlling.
Leaders, on the other hand, are in charge of dealing with change by establishing a vision, uniting people, and motivating them. While the manager is concerned with the internal environment, the leader is concerned with external changes that may affect the customer base, service delivery, or product development.
Ineffective and wasteful workflows: If a manager requires approval before sending any email, memo, or other correspondence, the manager has created waste because two people have spent time working on one item. Even if the manager makes no changes to the correspondence, the manager has wasted time (a resource) by duplicating the worker's efforts. Money (another resource) is wasted because two people are paid to perform the same task, doubling the cost of producing the correlation (in salary and wage). The manager is not required to perform the task if the worker was hired to do so.
Adverse effects on employees: Bullying and micromanagement both have a negative effect on their target's psychology. Here are some examples of how employees are affected:
Health issues, e.g., depression, anxiety, sleep issues, and fatigue
Increased stress in the personal and professional aspects of their lives
Decline in self-esteem and self-confidence
Fear of losing their job, being demoted, or being subjected to retaliation
What should be done about micromanaging bosses?
It is never easy to disagree or confront someone at work, especially your boss. However, if you believe they are taking advantage of you, it is worth considering a proper action plan.
But first, weigh out the potential outcomes. For standing your ground, you must be willing to accept the possibility of being put under further scrutiny for your observations. Be prepared to document all instances in which you feel you are overburdened by unnecessary responsibilities or excessively monitored or scrutinised even over the simplest of tasks.
Be confident that you are doing your job well
Micromanaging bosses can easily recognise who they can manipulate and control. Avoid appearing tense, insecure, or defeated. Whatever happens during your discussion or interaction, maintain your composure and professionalism. Keep your head high and resist the pressure to agree with everything they say. If you must disagree with your boss or decline a task, be sure to cite appropriate reasons, such as time or budget constraints or the effectiveness of pre-existing workflows.
Be specific about your boss’s behaviour and tasks under intense scrutiny
Have specific examples of how your boss has acted disrespectfully or dismissively whenever you deal with them. Keep in mind that most micromanaging bosses will refuse to accept responsibility for their bad behaviour, so it’s important to get the guidance of HR professionals as a neutral party.
Horrible bosses are likely to blame you for their actions or simply dismiss it, claiming that they do not recall it happening. This is an example of gaslighting. Recognise it for what it is and resist the urge to blame yourself for their choices.
Continue to give your 100% best in your assignments
Don't waste time arguing with your co-workers about what's going on. Instead, focus on continuing to produce high-quality work. Also, don't let your boss's change of plans cause you to fall behind on projects. Keep a meticulous record of all your achievements.
Recognise what you can and cannot control
Keep in mind that you have no control over what other people say or do. However, you do have some control over your reaction. Keep your rage and emotion out of your argument. Postpone the discussion if you are unable to speak calmly to your boss. In the worst circumstances, you might even have to expect retaliation from your boss as well. Prepare a backup plan and make sure to include the HR department and your own lawyer in conversations in case your boss fires you for calling them out over their behaviour.
Stand up for yourself
Show your boss that they were wrong to target you but always address the issue with your boss and through HR in a calm, respectful but assertive manner. It is important to defend yourself without becoming aggressive or mean. The important aspect of standing up for yourself is finding the proper forum to address your grievances.
Advice for employers
As a leader one should understand how to hire good employees who can really create a positive culture, who can be trusted to do the job, and who have received adequate training. There should be no need to micromanage if those simple steps are followed. Remember: no work culture can thrive without first building an environment of trust – and micromanaging ruins that.