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How to deal with a micromanaging boss

  • Article by: Matt Krumrie
  • Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • July 18, 2011 - 8:37 AM

Dear Matt:

I love my job but my boss is a total micromanager. He picks apart everything I do and even though I get great performance reviews I feel he doesn't trust me. Help!

Matt says:

Harry Chambers, author of "My Way or the Highway: The Micromanagement Survival Guide", says 71 percent of us indicate that micromanagement has interfered with our job performance, and 85 percent say morale has suffered as a result.

Why is this a problem? "Micromanaging can lead to poor morale and performance, loss of confidence and self-esteem and ultimately the loss of your job if you leave instead of tackling the problem," said Rachel Hastings, vice president of WFC Resources (WFCResources.com), a Twin Cities company that partners with employers wanting a healthier, more flexible, effective and supportive workplace.

Micromanagers are usually perfectionists, narcissists, or suffering from anxiety about whether work is getting done correctly. Many suffer from a lack of training in performance management and don't even realize how counter-productive this style is, says Hastings, who offers these tips:

* Anticipate your manager's need for control. Whether it's a regular task or a special assignment, make sure you reassure your boss that you have the situation covered. Say "I want you to feel completely confident that I have this under control, so you can focus on your priorities." Communication is key. The more you try and retreat and hide, the more they will pursue you for information.

* Ask them if they are happy with your work since it receives so much correction and criticism. If so, let them know that you want to be trusted and to support them and reduce anxiety and promise the necessary feedback loops to keep them informed.

* Ask for clarification of instructions and give your manager choices. "You've asked me to do these three tasks immediately. Which one is the most urgent?" Let them know when you need some uninterrupted time to progress on something important and always come to the table with solutions and suggestions instead of feeling they have a right to totally dictate your every move.

* Find another job. Your work situation can have an enormous effect on your health, so don't put up with such misery longer than you have to.

Ultimately, learn something, said Hastings. Are you developing valuable skills as a more precise project manager or producing higher quality work dealing with this difficult person?

"Tackling your micromanaging boss directly is probably one of the most stressful events you could imagine," Hastings said, "so get some support from friends and coworkers before and after."

 

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