3 Times Being Micromanaged is OK and When It’s Not

In study after study, the one kind of manager employees have the most problems with is the micromanager. It’s not hard to see why. Having your boss breathing down your neck and scrutinizing your every move is frustrating. For most of us, being micromanaged challenges our perception of ourselves and, quite frankly, our confidence.

Micromanagers rarely let you make decisions on your own. They constantly hover to see how you’re progressing and for them, the process is almost as important as the end results. And, in severe cases, you might think the process is everything and the results are almost inconsequential.  However, there are some people who think working for a micromanager isn’t the worst thing in the world.

First, let’s use an instance when micromanaging is intentional and is designed to benefit you.  To illustrate, David Goldsmith of Fast Company advises managers: “Effective micromanagement through setting structure, developing strategy and plans, creating reliable systems for others, and teaching people to be independent thinkers can actually empower others to do their jobs with little involvement from you at all.”

Recently, Christine Riordan in a blog on Forbes, outlines examples of when it’s acceptable to be micromanaged by your boss:

  • When your company is taking on a new endeavor: Venturing into uncharted territory means potential unforeseen obstacles. To reduce this risk, work closely with your supervisor. It’s the old phrase, two heads are better than one sometimes. Your boss oftenHaving your supervisor working closely with you means two heads to solve problems and find alternatives if you need them.
  • When you’re new or your boss is new: Your boss has no experience with your work. Even talented professionals need guidance in a new role. Setting priorities, interpreting situations, understanding existing systems and procedures, introductions, etc., all help smooth the way for your future success.
  • When you’re not finishing projects or getting results: If you’re struggling on a project, having your manager work closely can help give him or her a better picture of the obstacles you’re encountering—from missing information or training, to slow-downs in other departments.

However, sometimes none of these scenarios exist for you. The flip side is that you’re still being micromanaged. Despite the fact you’ve been a good employee with a long history of excellent work. \If you’re feeling stifled and patronized, it’s time to turn things around. Changing the behavior of a micromanager is often difficult to fix.

But here are some tips to help you begin.

Assess your behavior

Are there things you’re doing that might be a concern to your boss? If you’re a procrastinator and your boss has a stricter timeline, this could be affecting her trust in your work. What are you doing right and how could you improve? You might need to ask your manager for clarification. Keep track of your improvements and share these with her.

Understand your manager and his or her objectives

The goals of your manager direct his behavior. If you can anticipate those needs, you will better understand your role in reaching them.

Be clear on your responsibilities

Take the time to fully understand your responsibilities. Know what the goal is. What does success look like? What’s the timeline? Set a time to discuss these things and agree to your responsibilities. If there is interference, remind your boss of this prior discussion and your commitment. Ask to do the task on your own.

Communicate frequently

Anticipate information needs of your manager. If you’re new or your boss is new, send daily updates about the progress on your projects. Make note of where things are working smoothly and where you could use input. Set up weekly one-on-one time to review and get feedback. Building a positive relationship with your boss is your main objective. In time, you’ll build a trusting relationship … one where your boss trusts you to get the job done and you trust your boss not to micromanage you too much.

It all comes down to this … being micromanaged often stifles you and your enthusiasm for work. To combat this, find the underlying reason for the situation. Afterwards, if you don’t see justification for the close supervision, it might be time to act. Start with clear communication and a commitment to the goals and timeline of your boss.



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