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Partnering with a micromanaging boss

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in Dealing with Bosses,Office Management

When a control-freak boss monitors your every move, you and your co-workers may be tempted to rebel. Here’s a better strategy:

1. Don’t let your annoyance show. “Getting visibly irritated when he leans on you will only make him think he needs to keep an even closer eye on you,” says Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of Am I The Only Sane One Working Here?

And forget about trying to talk a micromanager out of being one. “Even seasoned therapists have trouble convincing the control-obsessed that their behavior might be causing more problems than it’s solving,” Bernstein says.

2. Get a clear, concrete outline of what your boss wants, when he wants it and how he wants it done—before you start the project.

Take copious notes. “There are two reasons for doing this,” Bernstein says. “First, if you look as if you’re taking his instructions seriously, he’ll worry less about you making ‘mistakes.’” And if you establish a measurable result, it will come in handy later when your boss tries to control the process.

3. Provide progress reports before he asks for them. “Nothing allays a control freak’s fears like excess information,” says Bernstein.

4. Refer to your initial notes when your boss tries to control your work. Ask, “Does this mean the end product has changed?”

“For this strategy to be effective, you need some history of delivering the goods,” he adds.

5. Repeat. After several times of doing what you say you’re going to do when you say you’ll do it, says Bernstein, your boss will become less worried about your performance. 

— Adapted from “Help! My boss is driving me nuts,” Anne Fisher, Fortune.

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