How to Sweeten a Bitter Manager, a Micromanagement Survival Guide

19 Mar, 2024
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Turn your micromanagers into sweethearts again!

Are you a developer who has to put up with a bitter manager? A Scrum Master struggling to survive under the tyranny of micromanagement? A Product Owner who feels like they’re being sucked dry by an overbearing Agile coach? Or maybe a manager, leader, or coach who wants to understand how to support their team better? If so, this micromanagement survival guide is for you! In this blog, we’ll explore common reasons some managers become bitter and how you can help turn them into sweethearts again.

Define the problem: your manager is micromanaging you, and it’s driving you insane

You thought you were the only one being micromanaged, but you’re not alone: 79% of people report being micromanaged by their manager. You know the feeling: excessive, unwanted interference and disruption in your work process that doesn’t help. It almost feels like a power struggle—managers use raw power to control their employees and make them feel powerless. You want a more productive resolution, but as long as your manager is micromanaging, nothing will change. Ugh!

Understand why they’re micromanaging: they may be insecure, lack trust in you, or want to control everything

Whether it’s your boss or another manager hovering over you, micromanagers can be a real pain. You might feel like a victim with all their criticism and scrutiny, but remember that you’re not—you have options. You can take steps to defuse the situation and reach an understanding with them. You need to understand why they’re doing it in the first place—insecurity, lack of trust, control issues—all these things could be at play. You’ll also find that most micromanagers don’t act out of malice; they care too deeply and want to ensure everything is perfect. Micromanaging isn’t always bad, especially for inexperienced teams; it could be beneficial. Mostly though, it is demotivating and, therefore, bad.

Talk to them about it: have a calm, honest conversation and try to find common ground

Your manager micromanages every little detail of your work, which drives you crazy! Don’t stress out… Your situation is what it is, and the best way to take it on is with a clear mind. Instead of getting angry, take a Zen approach to the situation. Breathe deeply, get organized, and spend some time thinking about what your micromanager cares about most. Then use that information to bridge the gap between you—try to find common ground where both of you can benefit and show them that you care about their goals as well. If done right, this conversation can not only be productive for both parties but can become something fun!

If all else fails, take matters into your own hands: delegate tasks, set boundaries, and document everything

Taking control of a situation is a daunting prospect. If all else fails, however, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. Reassurance is key: as you delegate tasks and set boundaries, you should provide timely updates to your micromanager, both written and in person. Make a habit of documenting everything. It may seem wasteful, and it is, but you can eliminate that waste later when you have succeeded in your play. You see, what you are doing here is micromanaging up. It’s not fun, but it works.

Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself: manage your stress levels and take time for yourself outside of work

Even superheroes need to take a break, and that’s why it’s so important to take care of yourself. Find time to read a book, play your favorite game, or take a long walk outside—it can be anything that helps you relax and get away from everyday stress. Exercise increases your energy level, and meditation can help you ground yourself—whatever works for you! So make sure that when you’re done with work for the day, don’t put off taking care of your mental health; instead, give yourself the necessary “me-time” you deserve and have fun while doing it!

If you’re currently dealing with a micromanaging boss, take heart—you’re not alone. Micromanagement is, unfortunately, a common management style, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. By understanding why your manager is micromanaging and taking steps to address the issue head-on, you can hopefully find a way to improve the situation. And if all else fails, remember that you always have the option of taking matters into your own hands (within reason). Just don’t forget to take care of yourself throughout this process—it’s essential to manage your stress levels and maintain some sense of work/life balance. Do you have any survival tips for dealing with micromanagement? Share them in the comments below!

Laurens Bonnema
Agile Trainer, Management Consultant, and Graphic Facilitator. Mentor to leaders creating resilient organizations at any scale. I make boring business notes fun!

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