How to Manage a Micromanager

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BROUGHT TO YOU BY Members of Connect: Professional Women’s Network share how to work with over-attentive managers without losing your cool—or your job. How to Manage a Micromanager

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Figure out what you’re up against. “There’s a difference between someone with high standards and a micromanager. The person with high standards will give you autonomy as you prove yourself. The micromanager will never let up. Determine which type of manager you have, and work together to meet their expectations.” Kaitlin McCafferty, Director of Marketing

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Assess the situation. “With some, it’s a control thing. Sometimes it’s trust. Sometimes the manager is being micromanaged. Sometimes they’re incompetent and fear being discovered. The key is figuring out if you can change the situation, and if you can’t, can you still accomplish your personal goals.” Sue Powers, Healthcare Analyst

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Agree on how to communicate. “Start by asking, ‘How do you want to be kept informed?’ A boss once told me, ‘I'm a reader, but you treat me like a listener. You pop in and tell me what's going on and then run off and take care of it. I'd prefer a quick email that I can read and digest.’” Patricia Polanco Licata, President, Ocean Road Consulting

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And then…overcommunicate! “Update the manager on your progress regularly. This may be weekly, daily or even hourly. Include details like what you’ve done, the next steps, issues and how you’ve solved them, any questions and when you’ll report back next.” Earlene Biggs, VP Market Research

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Ask thoughtful questions. “This will help your manager express what they’re most anxious about. Then you can make a plan of action together that will reassure them, while giving you the space you need to accomplish the task successfully. It can also help to point out what tasks you ARE handling well and focus on your progress.” Loni Sharon, Executive Assistant

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Negotiate a schedule. “After you’re given something to do, confirm the deadline. Then, agree on a timeline for updates. If your manager insists on checking in incessantly, tell him or her what you just did in the last minute or so, but make it clear that you’re prepared to talk more at the agreed time. Insist on reinforcing the timeline to maintain boundaries.” Donna Shepherd, Trade Completion Analyst

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Stay one step ahead. “I successfully worked for a micromanager for over 10 years. In the morning, I would let him know what I was working on that day. Then I’d show him progress in the afternoon and again at the end of the day. Because he could count on me to keep him in the loop, he loosened his grip.” Joy Marcus, Creative Director

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Manage up. “Take projects-in-progress to them and have them course-correct before you finish. Anticipate their needs. I knew my micromanager boss would ask for an update first thing every morning, so I’d send an email update as the last thing I left before the end of the day.” Christi Smith, Product Manager

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Do it their way. “The best way to deal with a micromanager is to ask how the person likes things done. Most everyone has a pattern of doing things. Figure out his or her pattern, and do the work that way.” Cynthia Jones, HR Manager

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Ask for input. “Sincere requests for their input make them feel respected. They’ll be reassured that you’re doing what you need to do and that you care about their opinion. Eventually, this can stop incessant micromanaging—at least with you!” Holly Girgin, Large Accounts Manager

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Be willing to change. “The thing we want most is for the micromanager to change—and the possibility of that is slim to none. Instead, I’ve learned to change my response to the situation. As I change, the manager can no longer respond the same way. Shifts start occurring in the relationship. They may be slow, but they’re better than a stalemate.” Kate DiMaio, Senior Executive Assistant

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Play a supporting role. “Understand your manager’s business commitments and what his superiors require of him. Then figure out how you can support his goals. Be totally transparent in your goal to make him successful.” Laura Lee Rose, Author, TimePeace: Making Peace With Time

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Look inward. “When I’m feeling the pinch, I take inventory of my work. ‘Am I doing my best on this project? Is there anything I can do differently? Am I completing it in the most efficient way possible?’ This helps me determine whether or not the micromanaging is warranted. If it is, I listen and learn. If it’s not, I trust my work and remind myself this is just my manager’s personality.” Cynthia Foshee, Processor

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©2014 LinkedIn Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Join the conversation! Connect: Professional Women’s Network, Powered by Citi, is an online community on LinkedIn that helps women achieve the careers they want and discuss the issues relevant to their success. For more great insights from Connect members, check out the discussion: What’s the best way to work with a micromanager? Visit for more information and to join the group for free! 1: sergign/Shutterstock 2: Dima Sobko/Shutterstock 3: Peter Bernik/Shutterstock 4: pio3/Shutterstock 5: Sunny studio-Igor Yaruta/Shutterstock 6: TED Conference/Flickr 7: nito/Shutterstock 8: pio3/Shutterstock 9: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock 10: southmind/Shutterstock 11: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock 12: Gaschwwald/Shutterstock 13: Rumo/Shutterstock 14: LoloStock/Shutterstock PHOTO CREDITS:

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