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How to Deal with a Controlling Boss

Have you ever had a boss who is always peeking over your shoulder, constantly needing to be involved in your work, or sending you a detailed-to-the-max list? If so, you know how it feels to be micromanaged. As much as you would wish the situation would just go away, you may have to learn how to deal with this kind of boss.

  1. Understand the Cause

There are several reasons why a boss may micromanage. None of them is an excuse for this behavior, but knowing “the why” may help you in dealing with them. Basically, this kind of person is a control freak. The need for control can come from a lot of different areas, the principal one being fear. Are they getting a lot of pressure from their boss to produce at a certain level? Are they feeling the stress of a competitive workplace? Whatever it is, knowing this can help in resolving the issue.

Maybe part of the cause is yours or your coworkers’ behavior. Examine your own work. Have you been turning projects in late? Are there things you’ve relaxed on that you need to tighten up? It could be that your manager took the fall for a project that you or one of your coworkers were responsible for. First, be willing to check your work and habits, and if you’ve got an area for improvement, start there!

2. Think Ahead

Are you constantly reminded to do things that are on your regularly scheduled to-do list? Get ahead on some of those, so that when you’re reminded of them, you can go ahead and tell your manager you’ve already completed it.

Communicate with your coworkers what you’re trying to do. If you’re all working to show that you can do your jobs well, this will help your micromanager understand that they don’t need to be controlling.

You can also keep track of what you’re doing so that if your manager asks you about it, you can show them right then and there. This may also help if they require updates on what you’re doing. By showing that you’re aware of what you’re supposed to be doing and that you’re getting it done, you’ll boost their confidence in your abilities.

3.  Talk to Them

It may come down to confronting—in a gentle, respectful way—your manager about this issue. This can be very difficult to do, especially if you’re in a workplace where you don’t know your manager well. If possible, try talking to them and letting them know how their actions are affecting you. They may not even know what they’re doing.

If you can’t necessarily approach them in that way, then see if you can’t get them to agree to letting you work on a project on your own—without any outside interference. Let them know that at the end of the project you’d welcome a meeting with them. Then you can talk about what you did well and what needed improvement. When you excel, your manager will see that you, at least, don’t need such constant supervision.

There’s no easy way to deal with micromanagers, but it can be done. If you’re willing to put in the work, you may be able to help change their attitude towards you and lose those micromanaging tendencies.

Control, to a certain extent, is integral to the role of a manager. It ensures that teams function effectively and that tasks are completed within deadlines. But, what happens when control surpasses the optimum level and transitions into micromanagement?

A controlling boss could be a colossal impediment in your career path, curbing your creativity and independence in carrying out your duties proficiently. If you’re dealing with such a boss, here are some strategies that can potentially transform your predicament into a constructive experience.1

4. Avoid Confrontation

Moreover, employing “I” statements can prove highly effective in conveying your emotions and interpretations without directly assigning blame or making accusations. Expressing concerns using phrases such as “I feel,” “I believe,” or “In my opinion” helps convey your perspective without sounding confrontational or aggressive towards your boss’s actions. By emphasizing your own experiences and perceptions instead of pointing fingers at them unjustly, you open up space for understanding and potential change.

Overall, avoiding confrontation while dealing with a controlling manager requires finesse and strategic thinking. Addressing issues professionally by focusing on specific tasks’ consequences rather than personal attacks promotes healthier communication channels within the workplace.

5. Demonstrate Your Competence

Consistently demonstrating your competence and delivering exceptional results is a crucial strategy for overcoming the challenges posed by a controlling boss. By consistently showcasing your ability to handle tasks efficiently, meet deadlines, and produce high-quality work, you can gradually earn your boss’s trust and persuade them to loosen their tight grip on control.

One effective way to do this is by proactively taking ownership of projects or assignments. Show initiative by volunteering for challenging tasks that align with your skills and expertise. This not only demonstrates your confidence in handling responsibilities independently but also displays your willingness to go above and beyond what is expected of you.

Regularly updating your manager on milestones achieved, obstacles encountered, and potential solutions without them needing to ask you showcases not only your professionalism but also helps build trust among team members.

Proactive problem-solving can be an effective tool in gaining credibility with a micromanaging boss who values individuals capable of tackling challenges head-on. Rather than simply identifying problems or hurdles along the way, make it a point to propose viable solutions whenever possible.

6. Seek Support from Human Resources

If your boss’ behaviour persists, despite all the efforts you have made to address the issue directly, it may be necessary to seek support from the human resources department.

Human resources professionals are trained in handling workplace conflicts and ensuring fair treatment for employees. They serve as a neutral party who can objectively assess the situation and offer guidance on how to handle it effectively. By reaching out to HR, you are tapping into their expertise and leveraging their experience in resolving such issues.

To initiate contact with HR, start by gathering evidence of your boss’s controlling behaviour that has adversely affected your work performance or created an unhealthy work environment. Document specific incidents or behaviours that demonstrate his or her excessive control, including dates, times, and any witnesses present during those instances.

When approaching HR, remain professional and objective while clearly expressing your concerns regarding your boss’s behaviour. Explain how it is impacting both your productivity and overall well-being at work. Emphasise that you have already attempted to address the issue directly with your boss but have been unsuccessful in finding a resolution.

During discussions with HR representatives, be prepared to discuss possible solutions for addressing the problem collaboratively. This might involve suggesting mediation sessions between yourself and your boss facilitated by a trained mediator within the company or proposing changes in workflow management that could help alleviate some control-related challenges.

Final Words

It’s essential to remember that your worth does not diminish due to someone’s inability to see it. Facing a controlling boss can be daunting, but with the right strategies in place, the situation can be managed effectively and professionally. Your potential to move forward in your career remains limitless. So chin up, strategise, and dive back in.

About Allen Recruitment

Allen Recruitment Consulting is an international recruitment agency with head offices in the centre of Dublin, Ireland. We are a full-service recruitment company for permanent, temporary, contingent and contract roles. Our clients range from multinationals to early-stage and local Irish companies in a variety of industries. We work with businesses in IT, Tech, Finance, Telecom, E-commerce, Engineering, Life Sciences and more.

Posted in: Career Resources

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