When you have a micro-managing boss, it can be very challenging to do your job to the best of your ability. Your boss may make you feel like you are not capable of doing your job, or give the impression that they don’t trust you. It can be difficult to speak up when you have a manager watching your every move, constantly scrutinising your every task – here’s how to try and improve the situation.

Find ways to prove that they can trust you
Many micro-managers find it difficult to trust their staff, which stems from a need to constantly control situations and people. If you have a manager that finds it difficult to delegate tasks to you, discuss ways in which you can take on smaller tasks that may give them more confidence and trust in you. If you can figure out ways for you to earn credibility, they may give you more freedom. Also remember that a person in a position of power micro-manages because of insecurity. To ease your manager’s insecurities, keep them posted with any developments or updates that are relevant to the project you are working on, and have a weekly meeting with them so they are informed of what you are doing. This should help to put them at ease.

Try and improve interaction with them
Managers who are inexperienced tend to micromanage because they do not feel in control. If their micromanaging is bothering you, begin compiling a list of examples of their behaviour towards you and try to find ways in which you can improve interactions with your manager to prevent them from behaving towards you in such a manner. Don’t show your manager the list – just use it as a point of reference for yourself.

Use the ‘mirror’ technique
Your manager might micro-manage you because they believe that you will not do the job as well as they would do themselves. If this is the case, Keep communicating with them about what exactly you are working on, always deliver the work on time and keep them informed of any delays. Try to think ahead and mirror some of your manager’s communication and work styles. If they feel that your work is just how they would do it themselves, they may back off in their overbearing approach.

Don’t undermine your own credibility
Although we may not realise it, by treading on eggshells around micro-managers and by asking their permission to do things all the time, we are actually undermining our own professionalism and credibility. Don’t ask your leader for permission on everything – show them that you can effectively make your own decisions, but would like their feedback following the action. For instance, go to your boss with a plan, tell them that you intend to action it, and tell them that you would appreciate their feedback following your action.

If all else fails… call them out
If you’ve tried all of the above and still don’t get anywhere, arrange a meeting with your manager. Bring examples with you of instances when you have felt micro-managed and undermined. Explain to them clearly yet professionally that they need to put greater trust in you, and that by doing so, you will become better at your job. Ask them what they need from you that causes them to micro-manage you. Do they want more meetings and updates on projects? Do you need to step up in your role? Talk through a plan to move forward in an honest but calm manner. You can address certain behaviours and communications from them that have displeased you. Micro-managers are often unaware of how suffocating their management style is, and lack self-awareness. Be as truthful (yet polite) as you can be – this could force the positive change you need before you start to consider whether or not to hand in your notice.