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How to Manage a Micro-Manager with Grace and Ease

Does your micromanager make you feel like a puppet?


When I wrote my account about the micro manager who we nicknamed Big Brother Cat and the team feeling like a galley of mice on a slave ship, I must have hit a nerve somewhere because it was a highly visited and read post. For sure each one of us has known one (maybe even 2 or 3) at some point of time in our careers.

The truth is, controlling bosses can slow us down and undermine our confidence. Nobody, and I mean nobody likes a boss or supervisor who second guesses our decisions and expects us to be available round the clock. It’s often a reason for employee attrition and one area that any manager can improve upon.

A professional who has been recently promoted to manager might indulge in micro-management at the beginning despite the leadership courses his employers might have sent him not because he’s a nasty person but in reality, there is a learning curve involved from making the shift from an Executive who executes to a Manager who manages.

The Art of Delegation has to be learned as is overcoming the fear that they might not be successful in their new role.

Then again, there are more experienced managers who still engage in micro-management like Big Brother Cat. I suspect in his case it was the feeling of a lack of control since his team was working more with the Technical Manager on the assignment and he was reduced to doing a PR and Admin role.

The need to micromanage might also arise because the manager might have been let down in the past or have worked for a micromanaging boss and having had no other role model, imbibed this style of management. It can also be caused by a deep sense of insecurity.

Whatever the root cause, it leads to low morale in the team and lowers productivity.

Some time back, one of my clients told me about a boss whom she reported to through her immediate boss who had become a monster. Not literally but the language in his emails had taken on a tone that she wasn’t used to and she started to wonder if she had done anything wrong?

She was working weekends to meet an important regulatory deadline and was throwing her work life balance out of gear for this deadline.

Fortunately she had shared details of the assignment with me during a previous coaching call and as an outsider I sensed what might be causing the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde syndrome.


Micromanagement leads to attrition.


As a former Finance Director who had regulatory reporting requirements every quarter, I know the pressure to meet deadlines and report to the Board of Directors. Depending on the industry, there are key deliverables that are tied to the director’s remuneration, bonus and even job.

So while the team might be working to the best of their ability, they are involved in a micro part of the delivery for which they are responsible but might not be aware of the big picture or how their work ties up to a bigger deliverable.

In such a case, a good boss would share the big picture with the team or at least his or her direct reports who would translate it down the line. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t.

Either way, the top boss does experience a sense of not being in control and powerless and voila, micromanagement manifests. This is documented in Drake Baer’s article, Bosses Micromanage When They Feel Powerless.

One of the best ways to overcome this is to keep them in the loop with regular progress reports or if there is a roadblock, talk to them to tap into their wealth of experience and get some much required guidance.

The minute my client started sending weekly reports, the top boss went back to being normal.


Micro-managers can be difficult to deal with but it can be done


Overbearing management styles are all too common and counterproductive. Most employees say they’ve been micro-managed at some point in their career, and studies show that workers perform worse when they feel like they’re being watched.

If your boss is hovering over your shoulder, encourage them to give you more space. Try these steps to gain more freedom and still get along with your boss.


5 Steps you can take to reduce Micromanagement


Assess if your performance is part of the problem. Do you show up on time and follow through on your responsibilities? Close supervision could be a rational response when an employee tends to be less than reliable. Start out by investigating whether you could be contributing to the situation.


Be proactive. Once you’ve assured yourself that you’re on top of your work, you can turn your attention to how to cope with your boss’s management style. Just as my client figured out that the top boss needed weekly progress reports and her silence creating stress, identify their anxiety triggers and figure out your plan of action in advance. (Bonus reading: 9 Signs Your Boss Is a Micromanager—and How to Handle Them)


Coordinate with colleagues. Chances are your co-workers experience the same issues you do. Coordinate your efforts to show your boss that they can trust you to pull together to overcome challenges even while they’re traveling or focusing on strategy.


Document your activities. Logging your accomplishments creates a paper trail. Having your facts straight helps you to prove your worth and maintain your peace of mind. This step is crucial in case the micromanagement is not because of the reasons I’m stating in this post, but a tactic that is being used to demonstrate your incompetence and an exit from the company (yes, this too happens in corporate politics).


Seek intervention. When appropriate, you may be able to consult others without alienating your boss. If senior management asks for feedback, let them know your supervisor’s good qualities in addition to changes that could help you do a better job. Your HR department or employee assistance program may also offer relevant advice.


7 Ways to Manage the Micromanager


It takes self-confidence and high emotional intelligence to tackle a nitpick boss and to ensure that your work doesn’t suffer because of it.

I call it the Manage the Manager method and share tactics to ensure that your work is noticed while making your boss look good in Get Noticed!

You need to take charge of the situation before it takes charge of you and requires you polish your Emotional Intelligence skills.



Being proactive and empathetic will transform your relationship with a micromanaging boss. Learn to collaborate as a team, or at least maintain harmony. You’ll enjoy more autonomy as a result.

Here’s how I would do it.


  1. Provide updates. Frequent status reports keep your boss informed without their having to ask. Assure them that things are running smoothly.
  2. Build rapport and create a personal connection. Respect and compassion enhance any working relationship. Remind yourself of what you like about your boss. Make time for small talk and sharing common interests. A strong foundation will make any disagreement easier to handle.
  3. Create more opportunities. Is your boss interfering with your work because they don’t have a full plate of their own? Add value by presenting them with public speaking opportunities and sales leads. Helping your boss to shine is a smart way to advance your own career.
  4. Clarify your role. Listen closely to your boss and observe their behavior. That way you can understand their preferences and anticipate their needs. Maybe they like booking their own travel arrangements. Maybe they care more about employees following instructions than taking initiative.
  5. Ask for feedback. Find out what your boss is thinking. Ask questions about what results they’re looking for and how you’re measuring up. Pinpoint strengths you can build on and changes that they would like to see.


Reinforce any positive interactions by letting your boss know how much you appreciate their efforts when you’re allowed to take charge of a project or find your own approach. Tell them that you enjoy working with them and that they’re helping you to contribute more.


Checklist - do your colleagues think you are emotionally intelligent?

We’ve all experienced micromanaging supervisors in our career and good professionals learn over time to mitigate the adverse effects of the Big Brother Cat Manager.


What micro-manager managing tips can you offer?


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Meet your coach

I believe the world would be a better place if high achieving professionals accepted setbacks and challenges to their careers as Wake Up Calls to embark on a Journey where their empowered course correcting actions create a New World Order that encompasses achieving their career aspirations & potential with authentic life balance.

I work with driven, passionate, talented and ambitious professionals who’ve hit a speed breaker in their business or career create their desired breakthrough reclaiming control of their situation with customized strategies and tactics that deliver results.

When my clients first reach out to me, they are not in a very happy place, needing clarity about themselves, their desires, chosen vocation and what will give them peace of mind. They are drawn to me for the very reasons that I highlight in Who Is Karmic Ally Coaching.

Their professional problems are playing havoc with other areas of their life. They know they need to take radical steps to change the status quo but they also know they need support and accountability to get them their desired result.

I really get it, because I’ve experienced that dark night of the Soul. I know firsthand the outcome of getting lost in my work rationalizing decisions that were detrimental to other aspects of my life.

I’ve struggled with and won battles of stress management, corporate politics, life balance and career decisions to emerge in a place where I can confidently say that I live my desired life according to my personal Manifesto and have created a business that provides me with a platform for my desired lifestyle and self-expression for myself. I want that for you too!

I adhere to the Certified Coaches Alliance Code of Ethics and Standards. A copy is available on request.
1st place BCB 2012
Email: Vatsala(at)karmicallycoaching(dot)com Phone:91 9818517664
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