How to Tell Your Boss To Stop Micromanaging
“Micromanagement is the destroyer of momentum.” ― Miles Anthony Smith.
In a Ted talk, Confessions of a recovering micromanager, Chieh Huang, the founder of Boxed.com, admits that he previously struggled with micromanagement and was aware that this leadership style often negatively rubbed off other team members.
This Ted talk will hit home if you have worked under a micromanaging boss.
Many often live through this experience out of fear of victimization. This needs not to be the case.
Micromanaging bosses often start with good intentions — to ensure quality, make employees feel comfortable in their new jobs, beat deadlines, etc.—but slowly, it grows into resentment that frustrates employees and causes a high turnover rate.
Research shows that Micromanagement is rampant in today's workplace. In a survey by Trinity solutions, up to 79% of employees reported that they had experienced different forms of micromanagement.
Richard D. White, Jr., Ph.D., argues that people who micromanage tend to show a compulsive behavioral disorder similar to other addictive patterns. He states that:
People who micromanage generally do so because they feel unsure and self-doubting. Micromanagers, like many addicts and alcoholics, are the last people to recognize that they are hooked on controlling others. Extreme micromanagers behave pathologically, refusing to accept per sonal responsibility or accountability and creating scapegoats to blame for their own mistakes
This article will define micromanagement and how to deal with a micromanaging boss.
What is Micromanagement?
Micromanagement is a management style where a manager closely observes, controls, and scrutinizes their employees' work, including minor details.
Micromanagers tend to be overly critical and insecure and frequently change employees' workflow without consultation.
This frustrates employees leading to low morale, a perfect recipe for a toxic work environment.
Example of micromanagement in the workplace
Some of the micromanagement tendencies in the workplace include the following:
- Constantly hovering over an employee's shoulder as they work while asking questions such as, " Do you need help? Do you think you can manage to do this?
- Dictating every step of a project even when relevant management skills are lacking. This leaves no room for employees to work independently, making them feel frustrated.
- Constantly criticizing an employee's work in detail(pedantic behavior), e.g., focusing on unintentional human errors.
- A micromanaging boss insists on being copied on every correspondence or decision, regardless of its relevance. This can extend to them requesting to be admins for communication channels such as Whatsapp.
- Micromanaging an employee's schedule or time management, such as requiring detailed daily reports on their time from the time after check-in.
- Constantly changing the work style of the whole team with little or no consultation. This can entail being moved from different departments, transferring, or getting demoted without any explanation.
- Absence of leadership development initiatives to promising employees due to fear of ceding control.
Three-step Process to Telling Your Boss to Stop Micromanaging
Telling your boss to stop micromanaging you can be a daunting task. If not handled well, it might result in bad blood. However, when well managed, it leads to effective management and boosts the whole team's morale.
Here is a three-part process to guide you:
Step One: Analyse the situation
You need to analyze the situation and create a strategy for implementation. Never rush unprepared or ambush your boss. Here is how to do it:
Reflect on the situation: Before approaching your micromanaging boss, take some time to reflect on why you feel micromanaged. For example, are you the only one feeling this way, or is it a common theme within your organization?
Further, consider specific situations where you feel your boss is too involved. This will enable you to be strategic and approach your boss with particular examples of frustrations, leading to a productive conversation.
Practice self-awareness: When you practice self-awareness, you will put yourself in your boss's shoes, enabling you to see the big picture. You will then turn these reflections into actionable steps to share with your boss.
Step two: Request a meeting to address your concerns
Secondly, request a meeting politely. Remember that your boss might be very busy with other stuff with limited time to deal with personal requests.
Do the following when your micromanaging boss gives you the go-ahead for a meeting.
Schedule a meeting: Scheduling a meeting with your boss can be tricky, especially when dealing with a difficult boss. Pick a time when your boss is not too busy or stressed, and let them know the meeting agenda.
Your boss might agree to the meeting in person or via other platforms. It is thus important to know how to plan effective meetings.
For a start, inform your boss about your concerns candidly. This means you need to inform your boss that they are micromanaging you. Always remember that what might be evident to you might not be apparent to your boss.
It is important not to blast your boss with words such as: "you are a micromanaging boss" or "your micromanaging tendencies have gone too far" instead, use specific examples, for example, " While presenting my sale presentation, I noticed that you me stopped after every point, I found this unsettling."
Listen actively: During the meeting, make it a point to practice active listening. This will give you insights into why they have micromanaging tendencies. For example, have they been disappointed before? Do they think you require more training? Does the task require frequent updates? Or are they just tasting you?
After actively listening and better understanding the situation, inform your boss why you feel micromanaged and how it affects your job performance. For example, tell your boss that asking for constant updates frustrates you and affects your work process. Offer instances where you felt that the micromanaging behavior when overboard.
Establish your credibility: When you establish your credibility, there is a higher chance that your micromanaging boss will be open to improving the working relationship. Establishing credibility here means that you show evidence of competence in your work. This can entail showing your track record. For example, you might say, "In the previous delegated task, I was able to accomplish set goals two weeks before the deadline."
Offer solutions: Another way to enhance credibility is by offering solutions. This shows your micromanaging boss that you are willing to improve the situation. For example, suggest regular check-ins or progress updates after certain milestones rather than daily updates.
Clarifying expectations is also part of offering solutions. Be free to ask your micromanaging boss about their expectations of you and if you are falling short. This can be a difficult conversation, but it will help shed light on the root cause of the constant check-ins.
Want to read more from us? Subscribe to our newsletter to read our latest resources
Step Three: After the Meeting
Try to Manage your boss: When you manage your boss, you help improve them. Moreover, it strengthens your relationship, enhancing trust, making relations easier, and enabling you to learn new skills to improve your ability to deliver effectively.
Work to grow your trust with your boss: Work towards growing your trust as you manage your boss. This means working on deliverables, acting on feedback, giving regular updates, etc. Over time, this builds trust as you gain the confidence of your boss.
Follow up with your boss: following up ensures the agreed changes are implemented. It is also an important step in building trust and establishing concrete terms of engagement. This keeps the communication channel open.
During follow-ups, continually communicate professionally to maintain a healthy and positive working relationship.
Tips for Dealing with Other micromanagers in the workplace
Dealing with a micromanager can be challenging. A micromanager may not necessarily be your boss but your line manager or team lead. Here are some tips to help you cope:
Communicate often: Be open and honest about how their micromanagement affects you. You can use the three steps above to pass your message. Using specific examples to show how their micromanagement tendencies have impacted your performance is important.
Learn to manage expectations: Ask them to clarify their expectations so that you know precisely what is expected of you. Managing expectations at work is a critical skill to have. It establishes clear and healthy boundaries and sets the pace for future engagements.
Learn how to take the initiative: Show your boss that you can take ownership of your work by taking the initiative to make decisions and solve problems independently. For example, this means suggesting new ways of doing things. This builds trust and can be a wonderful remedy to deal with a micromanaging team member.
Focus on results: Many managers focus on results more than anything else; focusing on delivering results on your job may stop micromanagement. For example, if you promise to meet specific performance targets, burn the midnight oil and ensure the goals are met.
Find support: Seek support from colleagues. or example, do the same treatment rest heavily on employees' shoulders?), Is it something that you can try and resolve as a team? Moreover, find mentors or a human resources representative to help make the manager informed of the best practices.
Why Do Bosses Micromanage?
There are several reasons why bosses may micromanage their employees:
- Lack of trust: A micromanaging boss may not trust their employees to effectively deliver on an assigned task. This might be due to inbuilt micromanagement tendencies, past disappointments, absence of emotional intelligence, or not wanting to redo the job(this applies when handling sensitive jobs with little room for errors).
- Perfectionism: Many micromanagers want every project's detail to be done precisely as they would want it. Whereas great bosses give room to their team to show excellence in delivering almost perfect work, perfectionists, on the other hand, kill the confidence of their team, and their excellent delivery might not be good enough for the manager.
- Control issues: Some bosses may enjoy the power and control of micromanaging their team. Control issues might manifest in the following ways: wanting to know where employees are doing even outside work, being the know-it-all type, treating people as pawns, etc.
- Lack of delegation skills: Some bosses may not know how to delegate tasks effectively or may not trust their employees to handle delegated tasks. This may be due to a lack of leadership training, fear of disappointment, low productivity in their team, or simply wanting to do everything.
- Insecurity: A boss may feel threatened by their employees' abilities or knowledge and may micromanage to maintain a sense of superiority. To such bosses, offering more control is akin to exposing who they are.
When a boss knows that their own ability might not measure to specific employees, they might be preoccupied with micromanagement.
How to stop micromanaging in the Workplace
As a manager or boss, here are some steps to take in managing to micromanage your team members in the workplace:
Identify why you prefer to Micromanage:
This is a great starting place for stopping micromanagement.
For example, are you worried about the quality of work? Do you feel you're the only one who can do the job correctly? Did you previously work under a micromanager, and this rubbed on your management style?
Once you have identified the root cause of your behavior, you can then work towards a remedy.
Learn to build trust in your team
Micromanaging often results from the absence of trust.
If you've hired the right people with the right skill, you must trust them to deliver. You offer clear expectations and guidelines and then hold them to account. This enhances the productivity of your team as everyone feels involved.
Set clear goals and expectations
Instead of telling your team how to do their job, focus on setting clear goals and expectations. Provide them with the tools and resources they need to do their job, and then let them figure out the best way to achieve those goals.
Learn to Delegate
Delegating tasks to your team members can help build their confidence and skills while freeing up your time to focus on higher-level tasks.
You can start by delegating small tasks and gradually work to more complex ones.
Give yourself a break
Micromanaging can be exhausting and stressful. There is bound to be push-back.
There is bound to be work-related stress. When necessary, give yourself a break and delegate.
Take time to focus on other tasks, hobbies, or activities that help you relax and recharge
How Highrise can Help you
Highrise can be an excellent resource for those looking to overcome micromanagement tendencies through leadership development and coaching.
Highrise's leadership development programs can help individuals apply the right leadership behaviors through personalized coaching sessions; individuals can learn how to delegate effectively, communicate clear expectations, and provide constructive feedback.
Moreover, Highrise's programs can provide individuals with the tools and resources to build strong, self-managing teams that work together effectively.
Check out our membership today.