Micromanagers can feel like the worst people to work with, especially in the ever-demanding “hustle culture”. They often hover, critique everything, and eagerly watch every move. Micromanagement can be toxic, decreasing employee morale and overall job dissatisfaction. A recent survey found that an astonishing 64% of people felt micromanaged while working remotely in 2020. To make the working relationship even more frustrating, many micromanagers want things done exactly their way, but they offer little-to-no support, guidance, or feedback. This can make doing your job incredibly stressful, as you’re expected to do things to a certain standard but may not know what that benchmark is.
If you work for or with a micromanager, learning to cope with their leadership style is going to be crucial if you want to maintain a healthy workspace. Understanding the perspective and triggers of someone who micromanages can help you begin. It can let you build trust, promote open communication, meet expectations, and create an overall more positive working relationship. Navigating the complexities of dealing with micromanagers at work is challenging, but it is possible, as long as you have the right tools in place.
Keep reading to explore the reasons behind this toxic management style and learn how to deal with micromanagers in your workplace.
Why Is Micromanagement Toxic?
Micromanagement is a management style that involves closely observing, controlling, and scrutinizing every aspect of employees’ work, but it’s not an effective tactic. In fact, it’s a toxic work environment and can have a rippling negative effect organization-wide, not just individual employee performance and employee well-being. Knowing how to deal with a micromanaging boss will take time, but it’s worth the time you invest. There are some major downsides to the micromanagement style.
Impact on employee mental health
Micromanaging not only increases feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety at work, but can also lead to burnout, making people feel undervalued and untrusted in their abilities. Learning how to avoid burnout is essential in maintaining your mental health and ensuring consistent performance at work.
Hindered professional growth
It’s common for micromanagers to stifle creativity and hinder problem-solving, leaving little opportunity for personal development.
Negative effects on team dynamics
Micromanagement creates an unproductive environment that can lead to poor team dynamics and make employees less likely to collaborate with one another or contribute valuable ideas.
Inefficiency in management time allocation
Most micromanagers waste time overseeing small details rather than being productive elsewhere within the organization on things like strategic planning or fostering client relationships.
“No one likes to be told what to do all the time. Micromanaging stifles growth, brings down workplace morale, and minimizes productivity by taking the focus off the work task and placing it on the employee. Micromanagers create a toxic environment that causes stress on the employee which can cause them to lose faith in their work, themselves, and their skills. Micromanagers are never satisfied, because it’s usually more about the inadequacy of the boss than the employee.”– Talkspace therapist Reshawna Chapple, Ph.D., LCSW
6 Effective Ways to Deal with a Micromanager
Micromanaging can lead you to feel stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed at work. Learning how to deal with micromanagers isn’t always easy, but with the right tips you can master it.
“Start a dialogue. Speak to your boss. Explain to your manager how their micromanagement affects your performance and overall work processes. You may want to approach your teammates for guidance and suggestions. If you’re being micromanaged, likely, your colleagues are too. Reach out to your peers and discuss approaching your boss together.”– Talkspace therapist Reshawna Chapple, Ph.D., LCSW
1. Build trust with your manager
Micromanagers often have trust issues which feed their urge to try and control every aspect of their employees’ work. It can be essential for company culture to build trust to help you deal with micromanaging tendencies. To build trust, you can:
- Show competence and reliability: Deliver high-quality work on time and show your ability to handle tasks independently.
- Communicate effectively: Keep your manager informed about your progress and any challenges you face so they can learn to trust you and your abilities.
- Be proactive in problem-solving: Address issues promptly and offer solutions rather than waiting for your manager to step in.
- Acknowledge feedback positively: Show appreciation for feedback while demonstrating how you’ll apply it moving forward.
2. Understand your manager’s perspective and triggers
It can be draining and challenging to deal with a difficult boss or a micromanaging work environment, often leading to burnout. Taking the time to understand their perspective and motivation can eventually help you work together more effectively. When you understand what drives a micromanager’s actions, you can adapt, reducing friction in the workplace and improving productivity. To understand their perspective and triggers:
- Identify their triggers: Try to recognize what sets them off so you can anticipate their needs and concerns and reduce their desire to constantly supervise you.
- Uncover their motivations: Micromanagers often have underlying fears or insecurities that drive micromanaging behavior. When you know what motivates them, you can show empathy or tailor your approach.
- Analyze past interactions: Reflect on previous interactions with your micromanaging boss. Use those situations as examples and start addressing potential issues before they escalate.
3. Be proactive and think ahead
Being proactive can decrease the strain this behavior has on your emotional well-being. It’s one way you can learn how to deal with a micromanaging boss. Think ahead and be proactive by:
- Creating a plan: Develop a clear plan for completing tasks or projects, including deadlines, milestones, and resources needed. Share your plan so your manager knows what to expect.
- Solving problems early: Address any issues or obstacles as soon as possible rather than waiting for your manager to step in.
- Showing initiative: Look for opportunities to suggest improvements or take on additional responsibilities without being asked.
4. Promote open and candid feedback
Accepting feedback, and being willing to give it yourself, can foster communication in the relationship, building trust and creating a more positive environment. This open communication can also provide a safe platform for discussing sensitive topics, like how to talk to your boss about mental health. To promote feedback:
- Initiate regular check-ins: Schedule periodic meetings to discuss project progress, address issues, or share concerns.
- Ask for clarification: Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if you’re unsure about the reasoning behind certain decisions or instructions from your manager.
- Provide solutions: Come prepared with potential solutions when discussing challenges or problems.
- Welcome feedback from others: Encourage colleagues to share their thoughts on how things are going within the team or department.
5. Understand and meet expectations
It’s essential to fully understand and meet the expectations of your micromanaging boss. To do this, make sure you take the time you need to grasp what’s being asked of you, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. To ensure you’re able to meet expectations:
- Clarify goals: Ask questions to understand your manager’s vision and goals for you and the team.
- Set realistic deadlines: Agree on reasonable timelines and negotiate extensions if necessary.
- Take ownership: Take ownership of projects from start to finish to demonstrate your ability to manage tasks independently.
6. Suggest an accountability system
Suggesting an accountability system can alleviate stress, build trust, and allow for more autonomy while keeping your micromanager boss informed. To put an accountability system in place:
- Propose the idea: Approach your boss to suggest implementing an accountability system.
- Create a plan: Develop a detailed plan that outlines tasks, deadlines, and milestones.
- Establish checkpoints: Schedule regular check-ins or meetings to discuss progress and address concerns.
Seek Professional Advice with Talkspace
If a micromanagement leadership style at work is taking a toll on you, Talkspace can provide professional guidance to help you navigate the situation. Learn how to deal with micromanagers from an experienced therapist through an online therapy platform that offers convenient, affordable, and easily accessible mental health support.
Talkspace therapists are experienced in helping people navigate difficult workplace situations — like dealing with micromanagers. They can help you set and enforce boundaries, improve communication skills, build self-confidence, and develop stress management strategies.
By engaging in therapy, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your experiences openly and honestly while receiving valuable insights about handling challenging workplace dynamics.
Don’t let the stress of a micromanager overwhelm you — get assistance now and take charge of your emotional health and professional life.
1. Alsop T. Employees micromanaged when remote working by country 2020. Statista. February 1, 2022. Accessed June 2, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1196504/employees-micromanaged-when-remote-working-by-country/.