No one would like to work under a micromanager, who is an absolute control freak and has their eyes and mind following you everywhere. Unfortunately, if you do then you alone know how painful and frustrating it gets to be scrutinized. Work gets off your list in double the time because of their attention to detail and compulsive urge to vet everything, at every stage. Their ‘I’ll be watching you’ approach is so disconcerting that it affects your productivity and confidence levels. Rings true. All of it?
Little as you may know, but micromanagers have anxiety issues. They think their credibility is at stake so they should know minute details as inconsequential as they may be. As a result, they dictate their expectations. Besides, they may just be perfectionists and stalwarts in their field which makes them obsess about living up to their persona. But, none of these reasons justify their cling-wrap attitude. So, here’s what you can do to keep them off your back and make them less intrusive.
Anticipate and ditch your reactive approach
Knowing what could trigger them to micromanage you is an advantage. If you have already worked with them then it certainly helps to stay ahead of them by anticipating their behaviour, response and criticism. Prepare your answers and make a list of questions you wish to ask. You will genuinely surprise them with your preparedness.
Be ready to take initiatives and always be proactive. Micromanagers cause more harm if you are reactive and have learnt to take orders from them. They don’t see you as capable of taking decisions and so hover around you at all times.
Whenever a new task or project comes to the team make sure there’s an elaborate discussion about their levels of engagement or where you should pull them in for deliberations. Talk about review stages where they will need to step-up instead of worrying about the low-hanging fruits you can quite easily basket. Before the meeting concludes sum up the entire session, sticking closest to who said what. Highlight responsibilities. Repeat the same in the minutes of the meeting so that everyone knows who’s doing what.
Keep them in loop
Micromanagers like to be stay abreast and will probably push you for quick status updates every day or (every couple of hours). And, as we all know such meetings are a sheer waste of time. If something catches their attention or a surprise knocks their door then they may not take it in a good stride. Because of this, their micromanaging may scale greater heights (yikes!). The best solution is to keep them marked in emails not necessarily all. If you need their help, ask for it. They will feel important and appreciate you came up to them to intervene in something that requires their expertise and intervention.
Build a rapport and gain trust
Often micromanagers aren’t aware of their obsession with minute things and burn their energies bothering about trivial stuff. Exceed their expectations so as to eliminate any trust issues lurking in their mind. Once they know you are competent enough and can work sans interference, they will leave you to your own devices. You will enjoy working independently and won’t mind occasional checks. Have healthy dialogues. Ask questions for it conveys that you are a thinker and can operate with confidence. Moreover, don’t just look, but stay involved too. It’s a win-win, no?
Do you sense panic? Are they are worrying too much about deadlines or lack of resources despite them leading a performing team? Being an ace of a micromanager this is how they tend to work and it is natural that their anxiety is manifesting in their behaviour. They worry about work not meeting the standards they have set for themselves and so want to do it entirely by themselves. It is exactly at this juncture where you can offer help.
Ask them to delegate work so that they are able to concentrate on macro issues, planning and strategising instead of worrying about petty things. Bring their attention to how it will save time and prevent them from feeling burnt out.
Is it just you or with others? If they are micromanaging only you then you may really want to evaluate how you are doing professionally. Do you mess up every time they trust you with something important? Have you failed to deliver recently or is there a noticeable dip in your learning curve? If so they aren’t really a micromanager. It is you who needs to gear up and follow their directions till you get back on your feet.
Should you think they are getting extremely nosey and demanding a greater control over things just don’t explode and wage a war. Speak to them about the undue pressure you are feeling. They will retrace their steps if they realise it has a damaging effect on you. If not, then escalate the matter.