Autonomy at work is a beautiful thing which makes people feel in control of their own time and level of success. The opposite -- when someone is constantly telling you what to do, and how to do it -- is demotivating, demeaning and kills productivity. If the latter camp is one that you find yourself in, know that there are strategies you can use to mitigate the micromanager in your midst.

Provide plenty of information

Micromanagers want to take control when they don't know what others are doing, so it helps to be proactive. Let them know what you'll be working on in the next days, weeks and months as well as when they will see results. Then, make sure you deliver on what you've promised.  

Make a plea

Honest and respectful communication is always prudent in any relationship, including the ones you have at work. Schedule a time to meet with the person micromanaging your projects and let them know how you feel. What would happen if you said, "I have a plan for accomplishing X by [this date]. It seems like you want to be very involved in the details of my work but receiving so much direction makes me feel like you don't trust me. What can I do to make you feel comfortable giving me more freedom with my tasks?"

Respond quickly

Ignoring a micromanager's request for information will only make them more anxious and intensify their scrutiny of what you're doing. When asked for an update, give it immediately. Or, when offered advice or direction (albeit unwanted), acknowledge what the person has said and then move on with what you need to do.

Stroke their ego

Micromanagers typically have a high regard for their own strengths and abilities. You'll have better results playing along with their inflated sense of self-esteem. Calling them out on the ways you're doing things better than they can is a waste of time and energy.

Be physically present

Remote working isn't something a micromanager is going to advocate because it involves too much freedom, trust and autonomy. The opposite approach -- letting them see you in the office before or after everyone else -- communicates that you're working hard, regardless of what's actually getting accomplished.

Do it your own way

Ignoring a micromanager only works for high performers who have a high degree of job security. If you're the top salesperson who's got rock-solid relationships with the clients keeping the company's doors open, you probably don't need to worry about what your micromanager thinks. The company can't afford to lose you, and it can't be denied that whatever you're doing is working.

Published on: Jun 17, 2019
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