Don’t you hate it when your boss keeps telling you what to do.. down to the itsy, bitsy detail? Freelancers are more likely to get micromanaged as clients try to keep a close eye on your tasks and they might not be aware that this can result to an unhealthy relationship. Whether you’re being micromanaged by a boss from h*ll, or a superior who is under constant pressure to meet shifting deadlines, know that there are many reasons why they simply can’t ( or won’t ) delegate. But here’s the good news: You can manage these bad bosses and you can stop being unhappy at work.
What’s Inside a Micromanager’s Head?
Last year, I have encountered a post from Open Forum called, “10 Signs You’re A Micromanager—And How To Reform.” That time, I was involved in a team that’s on the brink of dissolvement and in my efforts to save it, I simply sent this post, together with a straight-forward note, to our micromanaging team leader ( fingers crossed )… I risked my job on the line just to let her know that her habits are breaking us apart. I think she found herself in item#5 of that post and to my relief, she changed her ways gradually.. and thanked me for my daring, as she didn’t have a clue that she was causing a major problem. But here’s the catch. Most micromanagers don’t realize that they are sabotaging the team spirit, that they become victims of this whole new world of stress they create inside their heads.
If you’re working under a supervisor or manager who micromanages, what’s peculiar is that s/he was hired for that job not because of management skills, but because of technical expertise, seniority or even politics ( like, family or close friend ). Micromanagement stems out from fear, insecurity, obsessive need for control, and lack of trust. The last item is a major red flag as working in a virtual team/remotely means you have to work on trust and communication, above everything else. Sometimes, mistrust can be a signal that the client hired the wrong people for the team, or the client doesn’t have confidence with these people, even with the right skills. The most annoying part is when a micromanager steps on people, their work, in order to make themselves look better. Then, there’s the paranoid type who fear that you might get credit for their work and there are those who love the bravado of asserting authority to be called a leader. Should you quit your work then?
How Freelancers Can Manage Up to Micromanagers
When you feel like you want to give up, stop! You love your job and you know how it’s tough to look for a new freelancing gig these days. All you need is a dash of inspiration and a positive attitude in dealing with an awful boss. Don’t beat yourself up. Dig deeper. You can’t change the spots of a leopard, but you can:
Micromanagers either don’t know that they are or they won’t admit that they are. Still, you can be proactive by setting up meetings or sending a note to tell them how you feel about the problem. Express your concerns and take extra care in writing down/pointing out the subject. Instead of pointing fingers, ask if there’s something you can do to improve your work, your communication with him/her. You have to explain how the situation is stopping you from reaching your fullest potential – in a tactful manner.
Be a Spy
Sometimes, you have to take time to know the root cause of the problem and here’s where you can learn all about your micromanaging boss. Scrutinize and learn. What is s/he looking for? Is there a pattern in his/her behavior? What agitates him/her? Know the game to be in the game.. Pay attention so you can…
Train Your Boss
Yes, not everything is worth arguing over and sometimes, the best way to deal with micromanagers is to train them on good habits. You can simply say, “Thank you for your trust” each time your boss let you be, without micromanaging. It’s an indirect way of rewarding good behavior and this means reinforcing it with the next item…
Commit to Excellence
Most people who micromanage do it because they think that is important to get things done. Are you completing your jobs on time? Are the results of your work stunning? Try making an extra effort to excel in your job so you build that trust in the first place. Learn that the better your client knows how far you are on his/her project, the more competent you will look and the more relaxed s/he will be.
Sometimes, freelancers hit the breaking point and there’s a need to walk away. If you have tried every constructive strategies and you’re not getting anywhere, it’s a sign that you need to seek greener pastures. Reality bites. Whatever your decision will be, don’t let it affect your personal life, your passion for work.. and as always, try to come up with creative ways to work around your boss. And when you feel like working with him/her is killing you, relax.. remind yourself that you are a better person.
Have you worked with a micromanager? How did you cope? Is leaving your work the only option?