How To Survive A Micromanager


Survive The Micromanager


You’ve identified an issue at work.  You are being micromanaged.

You’ve watched your teammates, they are showing the same signs as you.  What can you do?  How can you survive this way of working?

Take a breath.  Things are not as bad as they appear.  There is a way forward.


How to Handle Your Micromanager

There are many steps you can take to tame your micromanager.  All these steps need you to take the lead.  This gives you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd.  You are demonstrating your leadership skills.  You are not accepting the circumstances and grumbling about them.


Assess your behaviour

In this step, you are taking the time to step back and look at yourself.

Are there things you can change your way of working to show your skills and ability to your manager?  Do you react to your managers control that encourages it to continue?  Do you act submissive or react every time your manager approaches you?

These drive the sense of power your manager has over you.

I know this looks like victim blaming.  It is not meant to be.  It is about assessing yourself so you are not sending a signal that you are open to being micromanaged.


Understand your manager

Can you get to know your manager better?  Could you do this over a drink or meal?

Knowing what motivates and drives someone gives you a better understanding of them.

Is your manager a victim of micromanagement?  Are they new to a management role and are floundering to know how to behave?

Often establishing this relationship is enough to show you know what you are doing.  A better understanding of each other makes the following steps easier to achieve.


Challenge your manager

For most people, this step is easy to think about, but hard to do.  You may have many thoughts about this including:

  • Will my manager react in a bad way to this?
  • Will I get punished for speaking up?
  • My manager is not very open, how will I approach this conversation?
  • I don’t want to rock the boat

These thoughts are natural and understandable.  Do not let them stop you.  Think about how you are feeling.  It is likely you are feeling stressed, unhappy, unchallenged and under-appreciated.  If nothing changes then these feelings are going to persist.

If you challenge your manager and it does not go well then will you be any worse off?  Likely is you won’t.  You’ll still feel stressed, unhappy and under-appreciated.  Could your manager make things worse for you?  Unlikely!

Compare this to the possible benefit.  You challenge your manager and things go well.  Your stress levels drop, you feel happier about your work and you start to feel appreciated.  You are also likely to start producing improved results.


Keep ahead of them with relevant and timely communication

You can start to tackle the micromanaging by taking control of your communication.


Can you set up a weekly one-on-one discussion with your manager?

This 30-minute discussion allows you start to control the flow of work.   This is a scheduled opportunity to discuss work and issues that may have arisen.

I would suggest using the following short agenda for these meetings

  • 10 minutes for your manager to let you know your work priorities for the week
  • 10 minutes for you to raise any issues you have encountered during the past week
  • 10 minutes for other discussions.  A good use for this is to get to know each other better.


Can you send a daily update email?

At the end of each day can you send your manager a summary email, using bullet points to keep it brief.  In this email you would cover things like:

  • What you have achieved today
  • Issues that you need your manager to provide input on
  • Things that have stopped you making progress
  • A list of 3 – 5 items you will be doing tomorrow.

Sending this email provides the manager with the feeling that you are on top of things.  It puts you in the driving seat.  You control the information flow, rather than providing it on-demand.

You may also find that writing this email allows you to clarify and prepare for the following days work.

The first few weeks you do this your manager is still likely to come to you for updates.  When this happens you should tell them that you will be sending out a summary email at the end of the day.

It will take time.  Your manager will start to back off once they know they are going to get the information they think they need.


Help them see what and how they can delegate

It is very hard to start being an effective delegator.

This is especially so for a new manager who has come from a “doing” role and is now in a “managing” role.  They find it hard to let go of the details.  They understood the way things happened in the past.  It is hard to accept other people may perform the work in a different way.

It may be worth revisiting this post on Delegation.


Ask them about Accountability and business outcomes 

Like delegation, your manager may not understand accountability.

It is likely they believe that the current way of doing things is the only way of doing things.  With accountability they need to have a slight change in the way they view things.  They need to start looking at the business outcomes not the method of achieving them.

Suggest to your manager that they read the post on Accountability.  It may help them to make this leap.


Accountability Agreement

When your manager asks you to do something it is a good idea to create an Accountability Agreement.  This covers all the information for successful completion of the business outcome.

Remember this is not meant to be a detailed document.  You can take notes during the conversation with your manager.  You then follow-up with an email summarising what you have discussed.

Please read the post on Accountability Agreements for more information on this.



There are many ways you can take to try and help your manager.  They all put the onus on you to drive the change and the conversation.

The rewards from this for you include :

  • reduce unnecessary stress
  • increase your happiness at work
  • feel more appreciated.

For your manager the rewards include :

  • a better performing team
  • freeing the manager up to concentrate on the bigger picture.


If you a micromanaging someone, then please read this post, You are Micromanaging.  How can you stop it?.


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Also published on Medium.