How to manage a micromanagement boss when WFH

A lower school substitute teacher works from her home due to the Coronavirus outbreak on April 1, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia. - Her role in the school changed significantly when Coronavirus hit. She was previously working part time to support teachers when they needed to be absent from the classroom and now she helps them to build skills with new digital platforms so they can continue to teach in the best way for their students and their families.The middle school (grades 6-8) has most regularly been using Zoom and the lower grades have been using Zoom with parents. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)

Whether it’s recording calls several times a day or keeping a detailed list of everything you do in a week, a micromanaging boss can make it difficult.

Not only can constant registrations, update requests, and additional approval layers hurt your productivity, but micromanaging can also hurt morale.

“It creates seeds of doubt,” said Dana Brownlee, author of “The Unwritten Rules of Managing Up”. You start to think, “Why are they asking for so many updates? They don’t really have to trust me. “”

Being trapped under a micromanager can lead some workers to deliberately reject and withhold information or to work more independently.

“All it does is increase the anxiety of the micromanger,” said Marie McIntyre, career coach in Atlanta and author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics”. “It turns into a vicious circle.”

But you can find ways to alleviate the situation and make it more conducive to your work style.

“You’d better focus on what you need to be effective,” said McIntyre.

Here’s how to find common ground that will make you and your manager happy.

Find out how they like to communicate. Some bosses like email. Others pay more attention to Slack or want a phone call. Find out about your boss’s preferred method of communication to prevent information from being overlooked and lead to multiple follow-up requests.

“Until you start communicating with them in a way that works for them, they could somehow ignore everything you send to them until you get it right,” said Brownlee.

Send an invitation. Micromanagers often need information, and inviting them to a team meeting can help answer their lingering questions without harassing you with a flood of emails or phone calls.

“It’s a great way to flood them with information so they feel full,” said Brownlee.

You don’t need to invite them to every meeting, to focus on the most important ones, like a kick-off meeting or status update.

The fact that the boss joins a meeting, even if it is only for 15 minutes at the start, can also help show that you have things under control, and the less they will feel compelled to micromanage, he said. she adds.

Get ahead of them. If you know your boss wants frequent updates, don’t wait for them to contact you and potentially interrupt your workflow. Find a game plan that best suits your schedule.

You may offer to send a daily email update every day at 3:30 p.m., or you may schedule a call every Thursday afternoon for a weekly progress review. Being proactive shows initiative, but it also proactively prevents interruptions throughout your working day.

Send a follow-up email confirming any agreement to create a paper trail and make sure everyone is on the same page, recommended industrial and organizational psychology practitioner and workplace specialist Amy Cooper Hakim.

Choose your words wisely. Setting limits and expectations with your manager can be difficult and you don’t want to be as demanding. But it can help curb a micromanagement boss.

Try using the phrase: “To make me the most productive …” followed by what would make you the most productive, suggested Cooper Hakim. This could require a few hours of uninterrupted work each day, or send an update three times a week instead of every day.

“When we are very direct, it works,” she said. “You don’t say you’re not going to work. You want to work and you want to do it, but whatever they do doesn’t work.”


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