Working with a micromanager


They say in every career you will run into a micromanager as a boss. I just got my second one.  My experience first time wasn’t good at all but fortunately my company has managers playing musical chairs so they are usually gone after two years and I survived him.

However two years is still a long time so here’s a few practical strategies to help you get through it!

  1. Keep them busy – a micromanager can really only be like that if they don’t have enough to do. If they are busy they will be too busy to micromanage you and have to trust you to do your work. So overwhelm them with stuff to review and read etc. Micromanagers can be slow to get things done or make many rounds of revision so be sure to give them lots of time, and tell them a due date (a date thats a few days earlier than needed) to get it done by. Or send them something not critical.  Remind them often about getting it done.
  2. Pick your battles –  I try to keep it in perspective – at the end of the day I work to pay bills. Work isn’t my whole life. So I will only fight on what is important to me and just sigh and shrug and do the rest – currently detailed spreadsheets and plans on every minutia I work on.
  3. Push back  – when they ask you to do yet another task, push back with questions or ask for more details. Micromanagers love details.  But ensure what you ask for means they will have to spend time (preferably lots of it) working on what you need, and that they can’t push that back on you. This will keep them busy
  4. Pre-empt – Try and get ahead of the questions and keep them updated before they ask. This will allow you to get on with other stuff rather than jumping as soon as the request comes in.
  5.  Defer – If they want to review and see everything you do, let them.  And let them do the work for you. Ask for their guidance and decisions and review. And sit back and let them do it. They will feel appreciated and you can take a break!
  6. Block – Micromanagers love meetings so block off your schedule to work on critical things and hopefully they will respect that and book around it.
  7. Communicate – keep them updated on what you are working on in a manner that works for them i.e.  a daily email in the morning listing what you are working on, or a brief morning meeting to explain. This will calm their fears. I prefer popping in to their desk and saying “I am busy working on this for the next few hours- when do you want an update on what I am doing?” and then perhaps they leave you alone till then.
  8. Stay calm and do the job –  Your job at the end of the day is ultimately just to keep your manager happy and make them look good. So jump through the hoops and prioritize what they ask for to the best of your ability and eventually they should learn to trust you.

I am counting the days till she leaves.. only 475 working days to go.

Do you have any useful tips to help me through it? Let me know!



2 thoughts on “Working with a micromanager

  1. I think you’ve got all the tips down pat, especially preempt, defer and communicate. Micro-managers are nervous people who want to make sure they look good when their superiors ask for a status update. Keep your mm informed so they look smart to their boss because of you.


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