How to Handle Micro-Managers
By: Donyale D. Andrews, MBA/HRM
We’ve all had them. Those supervisors who feel it’s their undying duty to ensure that everything you do, think, say or want to be is passed through their managerial lenses for approval. It doesn’t matter that you’ve been performing the duties of your job for several years. It matters not that you have a degree received from a reputable university that states that you have been properly educated with the knowledge, skills and abilities to complete the tasks at hand. It makes absolutely zero change in their opinions that you are the person everyone runs to for training, information or guidance.
What matters to the micro-manager is that you submit any thoughts, feelings, duties or opinions to them before you act upon them yourselves; and this can be a source of frustration to an experienced professional.
I too, had to deal with a micro-manager who felt that even my emails had to be submitted to her before they were sent out to the rest of the staff. I remember being so angry and belittled by that action. If I had to send every email to you, then why don’t you just send out the emails yourself? What’s the purpose of my being here? Micro-managing makes one doubt their own abilities and undermines the employee’s authority. It also is a reason that many companies suffer with a revolving door of employees leaving the agencies just as fast as they entered. Seriously, who wants to put up with that mess?
So, what can we do with a micro-manager? How do we deal with the loss of autonomy that being micro-managed cause? Here are a few ideas:
- Understand the purpose behind the micro-management – When I first began working for the agency and notice my superior’s supervising skills, I was livid. But I soon realized that she was a bit intimidated by me. She made a comment to another employee that she thought that I wanted her job. So, due to her insecurities and self-esteem issues, she decided to just make my life a living hell. Once I understood the reasoning behind the madness, I was able to cope a bit better. I made sure to let her know that in no uncertain terms that I had no interest in taking her position, and often remarked to her that “I just don’t know how you do it. I wouldn’t do your job for all the tea in China.” My constant reminder to her of my lack of interest in her position helped…for a little while. If you really need your job, you may just need to dumb down your abilities; at least until you can move on to a better position and/or supervisor.
- Climbing the company ladder – I learned that my supervisor had dreams and aspirations of moving up the corporate ladder, which meant that she wanted her department to look as perfect as possible. In her efforts of having the “perfect” department, she became a bit obsessive compulsive in her behavior. She just didn’t believe or trust that the people she put in place in her department had the skills to do the job. Learn enough about your supervisor’s goals in order to know how to handle him/her.
- Think ahead – A way that I often dealt with my overbearing boss was to always be a step ahead of her. I anticipated her every move and her every question. I’d worked at the facility long enough to know exactly what questions she would ask, why she’d ask them, and what her follow up questions would be. It made life a lot more bearable. It also helped to be meticulously organized. Whenever she’d ask for something, I’d have it in my hand or find it on my computer within seconds. I made it a goal to know what my boss liked and wanted. Even with all that I did to make life easier, she still would not admit that I knew my job, so don’t expect any accolades or compliments from the micro-manager. Be your own cheerleader.
- Acknowledge your faults – Truth be told, you may not be as great as you think. We are human, and humans make mistakes. Maybe you are being micro-managed because you messed up. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just try to do better the next time. And make sure that you write down the correct way to perform the job at hand, so that you don’t make the same mistake again.
- Attack the issue head-on – If the problem is getting to the point where you are considering leaving the agency, you may want to schedule a meeting with your supervisor. Let him/her know that you feel that you are being singled out, that you are having an issue with being managed so tightly, and ask what is it that the both of you can do to resolve the issue. Sometimes, micro-managers don’t even realize that they are causing you stress. Maybe no one has ever confronted them on their behavior. This is also a perfect time to discuss what is expected of you and what the goals of the department are. If you understood what the supervisor has on his/her plate, you will be able to fully invest in the company and the position as well as adjust your own individual goals with the company. Should you feel that meeting with your supervisor one on one would result negatively in your favor, then make the appointment along with a member of Human Resources to act as a mediator and be a witness to what is being said. Always remember to C.Y.O.A. – cover your own ass.
There you have it; just a few ideas to help you deal with an overbearing boss. Don’t allow someone else’s insecurities or issues cause you to be miserable in a job or worse – leave that job. There are always ways to get around a tough situation and there should never be an wall between you and your productivity. The decision is whether or not you choose to face it or walk away. The choice is yours.
Donyale is the author of I Got Fired…Now What?! 100 Things to Do After You Are Fired; owner of Donyale’s Lash Emporium (http://donyales-lash-emporium.myshopify.com) and owner of blog, Divas and Dollas (www.divasanddollas.com). In her spare time she loves to read, and is dedicated to assisting in the employment of America’s unemployed citizens. You can visit and follow her FB page, I Got Fired…Now What?! for the latest updates in employment opportunities, tips and information.