Overly controlling supervisors and managers can slow us down and undermine our confidence. Perhaps you have been in a situation where your supervisor second guesses your every decision and expects you to be available 24/7.

Overbearing management styles are all too common and, are almost always, counterproductive. Most employees say they have been micro-managed at some point in their career. And, most employees perform worse when they feel like they are being watched.

If your supervisor is hovering over your shoulder, encourage them to give you a little more space. Here are some steps to gain more freedom and still get along with your boss.

Steps You Can Take Yourself

1. Check your performance.

  • Start out by investigating whether you could be contributing to this situation.
  • Do you show up on time and follow through on your responsibilities?
  • Close supervision could be a rational response when an employee tends to prove themselves to be less than reliable.

2. Be proactive.

  • Once you have reassured yourself that you are performing at the top of your game, you can then turn your attention to how to cope with your supervisor’s management style.
  • Identify their anxiety triggers and figure out your own plan of action in advance.

3. Coordinate with colleagues.

  • Chances are that your fellow co-workers are experiencing the same issues as you.
  • Coordinate your efforts to show your boss that they can trust you to pull together to overcome challenges.

4. Document your activities.

  • Logging your accomplishments creates a paper trail.
  • Having all your facts straight helps you to prove your worth and maintain your peace of mind.

5. Seek intervention, when necessary.

  • When appropriate, you may be able to consult other colleagues without alienating your manager.
  • If senior management asks for feedback, tell them about your supervisor’s good qualities in addition to changes that could help you do a better job for them.
  • Your HR department or employee assistance program may also offer relevant advice.

Steps to Take with Your Boss

1. Provide updates.

  • Frequent status reports keep your boss informed without their having to ask.
  • Assure them that things are running smoothly.

2. Create more opportunities.

  • Is your boss interfering with your work because they do not have a full plate of their own?
  • Add value by presenting them with public speaking opportunities and suggestions about new projects.
  • Helping your boss to shine is a smart way to advance your own career.

3. Clarify your role.

  • Listen closely to your supervisors and managers, and observe their behavior.
  • I this way you can understand their preferences and anticipate their needs.
  • Maybe they really enjoy booking their own travel arrangements.
  • Perhaps they care more about employees following instructions than taking initiative; or vice versa.

4. Ask for feedback.

  • Find out what your boss is thinking.
  • Ask questions about what results they are looking for and how you are measuring up.
  • Pinpoint the strengths you can build upon and changes that they would like to see.

5. Always communicate tactfully.

  • If there are conflicts that you want to confront, be direct and gentle.
  • Speak in terms of finding solutions rather than criticizing personality or work habits.

6. Remember to give praise for progress.

  • Congratulations if you are making headway.
  • Reinforce any positive interactions by letting your supervisor know how much you appreciate their efforts when you are allowed to take charge of a project or find your own approach.
  • Tell them that you enjoy working with them and that they are helping you to contribute more to the organization.

7. Create a personal connection.

  • Respect and compassion enhance any working relationship.
  • Remind yourself of the things you really like about your boss.
  • Make time for small talk and sharing common interests.
  • A strong foundation will make any disagreement easier to handle.

Being proactive and empathetic will transform your relationship with your micromanager.

Learn to collaborate as a team, or at least find ways to maintain harmony.

You will enjoy more autonomy as a result.


when abused through micromanagement, intimidation,

or verbal or nonverbal threats—

makes people shut down & productivity ceases.

John Stoker

Photo Credit: eliduke via Compfight cc

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