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"How to Handle Micro-Managing Bosses and Maintain Your Sanity"

Updated: May 5

Here is a solid approach to turn the table and create your ideal working conditions.

1) How do you want to work exactly?

Having a constructive and trustful relationship with you boss makes all the difference. People join companies, but they leave bosses, they say. And there is a lot of truth in this. Money and location provides some motivation but in the end, job satisfaction is about recognition and growth.

Having a micromanager as a boss with an assertive communication style can be daunting and de-motivating as it doesn’t allow you to be creative and thrive.

Let’s take a step back

  1. Do you know exactly what you want? - And this might not be the opposite of what you don’t want. Reflect on your situation and describe as detailed as possible how you want your work-life to be. You could for example write down in details your perfect work day from getting up to going to bed. Try to use all your senses in describing what are you doing. What are you working on. Who are you meeting. What is your boss saying? How is she behaving. What kind of relationship do you have with her?

Now that you know what you want, lets step into the shoes of your boss

2) Who is your boss? What keeps her awake at night?

Try to step into the shoes of your boss and try to understand why she is behaving the way she is.

  1. What is she working on / what keeps her awake at night?

  2. What problems is she facing, what successes does she have?

  3. How does her ideal workday look like?

  4. What is her preferred communication style? How does she want to be informed / what medium (email, personal meeting, call,….)

  5. What are the details that she needs to feel confident?

3) Turing Tables - Your Boss - Your Client

If you now think of your boss as your client - how can you help her dealing with her problems? How can you become her most trusted problem-solver?

You want to get back into the drivers seat and be a proactive communicator so that your boss is not micromanaging you - but you are micro-informing your boss pro-actively.

You are turning the tables by proactively informing her with her needed level of detail and show her, that she can trust you.

Start also writing down your achievements and send her a summary email at the end of each week with your list of accomplishments. (Don’t use achievements in this heading - just your things you completed in this week). This list is also your basis for your performance reviews. Do this for at least 6 weeks. (In sports, that's the time period, where you see significant results after having changed a habit). Ideally, you will continue to show and communicate your achievements on a very regular basis.

4) Create your ideal working conditions

So, as you now know how you really want to work, you understand how your boss is functioning and you have turned the table and are in the driver's seat with regards to communicating on a micro-level, it is time to get some breathing space.

  1. Schedule a meeting (at least 1hr) with your boss to discuss your working relationship "what you can do to support her better". Remember, when you want to communicate successfully, it is always about the audience (your boss) and never about you.

  2. Really prepare well for this meeting - and maybe do a role-play with someone in advance.

  3. Pick a project where you boss was micromanaging and where you changed your behaviour in the last weeks.

  4. Ask her about her feedback on this project and whether your new work-approach was beneficial to her. You can ask her why, this detailed reporting is important to her and try to understand all her issues she is dealing with. The solution to her issues is you in your best performance.

  5. Present to her what you need in order to achieve peak performance - your ideal working style. You can explain how "micro-managing" is hindering you to help her in your best way. By micro-managing you she is actually sabotaging her own success.

Try to find a way - a first step - together, how to improve the situation for the next 3 week. You will can sit down again and assess the impact the changes had. Then you can go the next step.

So step by step you are creating your ideal working conditions.

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