Surviving a Micromanager

Bill Blundell
Joy Miller and Associates

In today’s world, with employment figures less than desirable, keeping your job is of utmost importance. Unfortunately for some, they are under the watchful eye of a “micromanager,” a person in a position of leadership who overuses their position to exert control in the workplace.

You may have worked for such a person and survived to share your story. Others have quit their jobs for being in an environment in which they were controlled, what they were doing was seldom correct and their self-esteem was diminished. Quitting your job may not be feasible, so let’s look at why those in power behave the way they do.

Understanding the Environment
Being micromanaged can lead to a great deal of self-doubt. If an individual or team, for example, works on a project for an extended period of time and presents it, the micromanager may simply change the scope of the project, scrap all the work that has been done, and finish the project on their own, often in an effort to inflate their own self-worth.

Why try to survive in an environment in which you are being treated poorly? The primary reason is that people need to work in order to support themselves and their families. Depending on your industry, career path and geographic location, jobs may not be all that plentiful.

One way to tread water in such an environment is to keep a calm demeanor and regulate any anxiety or anger that may be building within. The key is to remain rational, which may seem difficult given the amount of stress a worker may be experiencing. But remember: they may not have the full scope of the issues, nor what is driving the supervisor’s micromanaging style. The idea is not to wage war on the micromanager, but rather to better understand the situation and environment.

It is very easy for workers to find themselves in conflict with a micromanager if they allow themselves to become irrational, because irrational thoughts can lead to a “win-lose” mentality. With that said, the idea is not necessarily to try to understand the micromanager, which may be an insurmountable task, but to employ a collaborative mentality. Work with the micromanager, ask for their guidance or help, and see how they can be part of the project team.

Some level of compromise should be expected if taking this approach—and it is safe to say the employee who is dealing with the micromanager is going to do more of the compromising. But that is better than allowing the micromanager to be in charge of everything that occurs in the office setting.

Learning Self-Preservation
The main theme through all of this is self-preservation. As an employee dealing with a micromanager, it is important to take care of yourself. Many times, micromanagers do not give the recognition and respect a worker needs, nor are they going to do well with an employee who is looking for confrontation. Rather, one must learn their patterns and behaviors and know when they are approachable.

It is easier to survive a micromanager if we try to understand why they operate the way they do. It may not always be clear, but there is some psychology behind it. The main issue for many micromanagers is trust, which could stem from any number of experiences, whether job-related or personal. They want the job done right and believe they are the only ones with the ability to do so. Another thing to consider is that it may just be the personality of the person who is micromanaging you. And that’s something only they can change—so there is little hope in battling against it.

It is possible to survive a micromanager, but it takes some work. Don’t try to wear down a micromanager or attempt to work against them. The goal is to continue to do the work as assigned and speak up when necessary, letting them know when there are concerns. We all do things we do not want to do, and part of that sometimes involves following the lead of a micromanager. With that said, a person should focus on taking care of themselves mentally to deal with the daily stresses they encounter. iBi

Bill Blundell is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the State of Illinois, with 10 years of counseling experience.

Add new comment

This question is used to prevent automated spam submissions.