Asked&Answered: Dealing with a Micromanager

Welcome to Asked&Answered, our monthly advice column in which Ellen Mehling, METRO's Career Services Consultant, answers reader questions. Have a pressing concern about your job (search)? Submit your question here.

Q: How do I deal with a micromanager?

A: First, consider whether micromanaging is your supervisor’s way with your colleagues. If s/he is a micromanager with some employees but not others, ask yourself honestly if you have given him/her any reason to keep a close eye on you. Missing deadlines or letting important things slip may lead an otherwise laissez-faire boss to check on your progress and give detailed instructions more often.

One good way to respond to and possibly reduce micromanaging is to anticipate what your supervisor will request from you and email a report or update before being asked for it. Sending re-cap messages after face-to-face meetings can also help for your own records and to demonstrate that you understand your assignments. Be super reliable at all times. These actions may help the boss to see that you are handling your responsibilities independently of ultra-close supervision.

Speaking to your supervisor about his/her managing style is trickier. If you choose to have a conversation you’ll want to frame it as your desire to perform your duties as s/he wants them done. Stress that you want him/her to have trust in you and your ability to do your work properly, thoroughly, accurately, and on time. Convey that you want to be sure you are clear on his/her priorities and how often informal and formal progress reports should be sent.

If your boss is a micromanager with everyone, however, it may not be possible to change the situation. What one person perceives as “micromanaging” another person may consider simply “managing.” If that's the case, you’ll either need to adapt or start looking for another position.

Bonus: This article offers insight into why some bosses micromanage and how it can affect those they supervise.