5 Steps to Manage Your Micromanaging Boss

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Sorry to hear that that you’re feeling micromanaged by your boss. Whether it’s hovering, taking back work, or redoing some of your assignments, it never feels good, but it’s important to be aware of the situation so that something can change.
You’re probably thinking that your boss needs to change, and they might, but you have a lot more control in this situation than it might seem and you actually need to take the first step. Five steps to be exact.
Follow these steps to manage your micromanaging boss.
Step 1: Know Your Strengths
While you’re on a journey to manage someone else, change always starts with you first.Know your top 5 strengths and how they show up in your various aspects of work. Then, spend time self-reflecting:

  • What strengths am I using when I’m doing the work my boss is specifically micromanaging?

You may find a pattern, or not. Either way, if your boss can’t easily see your great talents, you need to be ready to clearly articulate the value you bring to the work.
You also need to know how you can use your strengths to approach a conversation with your boss. Take time to reflect with these questions:

  • How can my talents build relationships with or influence others?
  • Which of my talents can help me build trust with others?

Step 2: Know Your Boss’ Balcony & Basement Behaviors
Do your research. You gottta know what you’re working with.
Read the talent descriptions in StrenghtsFinder 2.0, as the book offers ways to communicate with specific strengths. Plus, going back to the basics and recognizing the strengths in your boss will be great to adjust your mindset. If you’ve been recently micromanaged, you may be feeling agitated, frustrated, or annoyed. It would be helpful to remember that your boss is good at something. In fact, they do excel in their own top 5 particular talents and you need be conscious of that.
Also become well versed in the balcony and basement behavior of each of your boss’ strengths. These are great indicators that can help you share what you’ve been experiencing in a non-threatening way. If you worked with The Collaborative, you had a chance to discuss strengths as a group, so your boss should be familiar with the strengths language and open to receiving feedback.

Step 3: Determine What Type of Support You Need
Do you know what kind of support you really, truly need from a supervisor to let your talents excel?
If micromanaging feels smothering or uncomfortable, it’s probably because it’s hindering one of your talents from operating at their most effective state. You need to be able to identify what type of support would allow you to exercise your strengths at work.
For example, if I have an Activator talent and I was tasked with leading a new project, my strengths would be to quickly initiate conversation and action so that doing can begin. But your boss stops you because she wants to know about a few details that haven’t been figured out just yet. This pause in momentum could feel extremely frustrating and feel like I’m not given the space to quickly initiate work.
When I stop to self-reflect on what I need, I find this: I need space to move quickly, with the intent to learn as I go, so that my Activator talent can effectively energize the new project. I also need my supervisor to trust that I know what I’m doing and that I’ll learn more about missing details as I go.
However, what my boss needs is more information from the start. So I would ask for responsibility to begin, but also schedule regular information meetings with my boss to give her what she’s looking for.

Like any relationship, it’s best to take the guess work out and be very clear with what you need.

Step 4: Have a Two-way Conversation
Once you’ve done your homework and self-reflected, its time for a conversation. Ask your boss for a strengths discussion meeting.
The Collaborative brought strengths philosophy into your team so that it could be part of your everyday culture and to help facilitate meaningful conversations, just like this. Be sure to approach the meeting like a two-way conversation so that you are telling AND listening.

Here’s a suggested outline for the meeting:
Open: state the purpose of discussing strengths and sharing what you need from a supervisor to let your strengths excel
Clarify: Provide a specific example or two of a time when you felt that your talents were being micromanaged and not given the space to be at their full potential.
*Be sure to speak from your perspective, ie. “When this happened, I felt ______”
Discuss: brainstorm together what can be done differently moving forward.

  • Share ideas of what you need from your boss
  • Ask what your boss needs from you

Agree: agree on next steps to put your plan into action.

Great leaders, especially those learned in the strengths philosophy, should be adjusting leadership style and support to those they work with. However, leaders sometimes need practice or aren’t exactly sure what you need. This conversation will be fruitful and a great way to build relationship with your boss, while you continue to embed strengths into your team culture.

Step 5: Build Trust through your Work Ethic
Does a direct conversation make you feel nervous? If so, no worries. Actions can sometimes speak louder than words. If you feel like you’re not quite ready for a meeting, still complete steps 1, 2, and 3. Then, take small actions throughout your work that can build trust.
Here are some examples:

  • If you’ve been delegated work, send your boss an email with a recap of exactly what you will do and when. Or, if expectations and deadlines are unclear, ask your boss for clarification.
  • Explain your thoughts and processes in meetings or emails. If you have a specific way of doing something, take the time to explain it to others so that they can follow your process (especially if it’s different than their own).
  • Ask for immediate feedback. If your boss re-works an assignment, ask why and engage in a small conversation.
  • Share wins. If you completed work that did not result in micromanaging, be sure to share those accomplishments directly with your boss to remind him of work that he trusted.

Remember, if you feel like you’re being micro-managed, you do have the ability to do something about it. It starts with your own self awareness and then helping your boss become aware of their actions, too.

5 Ways to manage your micromanaging boss:

  1. Know Your Strengths
  2. Know Your Boss’ Balcony & Basement Behaviors
  3. Determine What Type of Support You Need
  4. Have a Two-way Conversation
  5. Build Trust through your Work Ethic

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