Fixing Micromanagers: How to manage your manager without telling them to F*** Off

I can’t take the “On this bullet you need to change this word to this one instead.” micromanaging conversations. Seriously, who can learn to do something better next time if all the feedback you get is at the “capitalization of a letter” level? Don’t you want to just tell micromanagers to just go do it themselves if they think their way is better?

Micromanagers are tough to work for and it takes tact to “manage up”. There are definitely rude signals you can try to send them but they never seem to work. And I’ll admit, in my past I have tried showing disinterest by leaning back in my chair, avoiding eye contact or interrupting. When someone is focused on the details, they can’t get their head above the weeds to notice let alone change their methodology. Micromanagers just keep on going, line by line, slide by slide, not giving any notice to the obvious signals of “stop micromanaging me! It’s not working!”.

So what else can you do? Try to feed your micromanager’s need for control by handing them micromanaging opportunities so that they stay away from the other things. Here are few ideas I’ve tried that may work for you too.

  1. Tell them
    • I’m serious, tell them they have a problem. Usually they already know about it. Really. They know they have room for improvement but like any unconscious bad habit, it is hard to fix it. Work with them on creating a secret signal to notify them when something is going wrong. Ask them what they think was done well instead of what needs to be fixed. Or, (my favorite) tell them they can only ask questions instead of statements.
  2. Give them control in other ways
    • It is obvious that having both hands on the problem is what it takes for micromanagers to feel they are making a difference. Before they come to you asking for trouble, I mean, asking to help, you can offer first. Give them something to pick apart that isn’t your pride and joy or main project. Or give them a task that only they can do like asking his/her boss for something that benefits your both.
  3. Act it out
    • Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine what it would be like to manage you. If you pretend to be the boss, would you also micromanage? Maybe you can learn a quirk of your own that is triggering your boss’s micromanaging. If your boss just acts like the angry receiver of news instead of warning you about them, you learn faster.
I hope that helps! Good luck!

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