It is very frustrating: have you just concentrated at work, your boss comes by to check if everything is going well. Or your boss orders you to do something, and tells you exactly how to do it.
If your boss doesn’t trust you, it’s incredibly difficult to stay motivated at work.
Does this sound familiar? And do you no longer feel like going to work, or are you even considering looking for another job? Then it is important to first understand why your boss is a micromanager and how you can deal with it.
According to social psychologist Pieter van der Haak, who founded the P&A Talent Development agency, micromanagers are often young executives. “Often they are people who are very good at their craft and are therefore asked to lead their peers,” he tells Business Insider. “They rise above the herd, but have difficulty with that. What can they let go of and what not?”
But entrepreneurs often suffer from it too, says Jochen Hekker, who provides leadership training, coaching and consultancy from his office LiDRS. “It could also be people who have built a business from scratch and are struggling to let go.” Either way, micromanagers usually don’t trust their employees enough. “That’s why they focus on the details.”
Check, check, double check
They do this, for example, by asking a lot of questions. Van der Haak: “By asking when a job is finished, or by checking whether you’ve already spoken to that one customer. That manager is constantly looking over your shoulder out of fear or mistrust.”
For you, as an employee, that lack of trust can be incredibly irritating. It can even have an adverse effect on your productivity. “If someone checks all the time whether you are doing something right and sometimes even takes it over from you, you might think: it is no longer my responsibility. You then leave more work to your manager, because he always checks or takes over from you anyway,” says Van der Haak.
But according to Hekker, it can also make you feel passed over. “Sometimes senior managers go on the shop floor to check that everything is going well, but the people in between feel pushed aside,” he says. It undermines their own credibility.
Don’t take it personally
Fortunately, you can work well with a micromanager, if you know how. According to Van der Haak, it already helps not to take your manager’s behavior personally. It’s not that you’re not good at your job, the behavior has to do with the insecurity of the other.“Try to find out where his or her concern comes from. Why is your manager so controlling? And how can you take those worries away? Indicate that you, as an employee, have only one goal: to unburden your manager and to achieve the best result as a team. But you do need confidence for that.”
You can also approach the conversation a little more directly, by simply saying what is bothering you. “Then indicate what micromanaging does to you. What do you see happening and what effect does your manager’s behavior have on you? When you’ve said that, just shut up for a few seconds. Then you give your manager the space to respond to the feedback. After that you could possibly say: perhaps it is also possible to tackle things like this,” says Hekker.
Put your manager in the cc of all your emails
Doesn’t that help? Then you have two options, according to Van der Haak. The first: “You can terrorize your manager by informing him or her of all your duties. Would your manager like to be kept informed? Fine, then cc him or her in every email until he or she is completely filled with information and comes to repentance.”
You can also use this strategy in a less extreme form, by agreeing with your boss that you will send an email once a week with updates about your work. Then you are one step ahead of him or her and reassure your manager. “Confidence also grows as a result, which means that your manager may micromanage a little less in the long term,” says Van der Haak.
Have you tried everything and are you really at your wits’ end? Then you can also look for another job. Van der Haak: “I recently spoke to someone who was bothered by his micromanaging boss and who was therefore applying for a job. He had reported this to his supervisor, and he was shocked. This created a dialogue and the manager eventually understood that he was suffering from all his interference.”
Are you a micromanager yourself?Is this article very recognizable and do you think you are a micromanaging manager yourself? Van der Haak has a few tips: • Make better agreements with your employees about the desired effects of the work. Often managers steer on tasks rather than what the work should deliver for the customer.