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Three Types of Micro-Managers and How to Work for Them

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One of the most frustrating things happening in workplaces around the world is when a boss micromanages the office. Not only is it frustrating, but it kills confidence and efficiency. While the perpetrator may feel like they are doing their job, they are actively limiting the ability of their employees by disrupting their workflow or worse yet in the long term, destroying their ambition. Employees who are micromanaged eventually lose their drive when their efforts are cut off by a boss who demands changes to their work before it is finished or reroutes their end goal too many times.


The problem in many of these situations is a person put in charge who themselves doesn't know exactly what they are in charge of or how to direct what is within their control. Instead of having a clear idea of what direction to go they take shots in the dark, over talk, and place blame on others when their haphazard plan isn't working. Sound familiar? Well, there are a few types of micromanagers, but if you can figure out which one you work for, there are ways to remedy your work life to stay productive.

1. The "Did you check your email?" boss.

This micro-manager thrives in the digital age where they know and believe they should have access to you all the time. They also seem to believe 95% of your job is to open, read, and answer emails. Why save anything for work the next morning when you can effectively communicate that important "I made some edits to the excel sheet, please review." email at 1am. Oh yes, they'll email at all hours of the day or night, and nothing is too small to shoot off a digital message about. In fact, you'll notice your email clogging up primarily with emails from this boss. And don't worry, they'll likely keep the subject lines as vague as possible with titles such as "Hey", "Let me know" and "(No Subject)", creating a vast sea of emails just to make it harder to find the content you need to reference later. 

What can you do?

First, create a separate folder for their emails. It's a simple way to make your inbox an area you don't entirely dread and creates some organization to the madness. Secondly, you can ask them to send you fewer emails. The trick here is to go through their digital notes to you and see what is useful and what isn't. Then, you can go to them and tell them that it's helpful to get so much information, but it would help increase efficiency if you received only the more vital messages. Let them know what helps and what is clutter. This can greatly improve communication and workflow. Keep in mind, your boss is sending what they think will help and it's likely a short conversation done in the right way would help both of you save time.

2. Chief Operating Officer of "How about we..."

Did you have a great idea? Did you share it? Did it happen to be the exact idea your boss proposed right after you did, only with more problems instituted that said boss will then task you with removing until it literally becomes the idea you presented in the first place? This is a fairly common behavior seen among management who reports to a higher level of management. When a good idea comes up they'll take credit for it. This is extremely frustrating and often there is little you can do except plug away until it becomes obvious what is going on, which it eventually will.

What can you do?

One thing should do is create paper trails that lead back to you. When you are discussing ideas and projects in person it's easy for someone else to claim your idea as their own. Consider writing up a report to bring to the meeting and include that you're sending everyone a digital copy. This way your micro-managing-credit-taking co-worker can't get away so easily with thieving your intellectual property.

3. The one who makes you wonder if they care whether or not you ever complete anything.

This boss changes their mind so often you'll never feel like you get anything done. They have lots of ideas and instead of letting them mature, they'll scrap one to move to the next. Sometimes it can feel like you don't add any value to the company even when you are working hard because nothing comes to fruition. You'll wonder if everyone thinks this way about you. You may feel a little fear that you'll be micromanaged out of a job when someone higher up questions what you have been working on.

What can you do?

Again, it's best in these situations to keep record of what you've been doing, from and to what dates, the progress you've made, and why (if any reason was given) you were told to stop working. If it gets really bad you'll want to consider talking to a peer or boss you feel comfortable with. State that you know your value and feel it isn't getting utilized when you are never allowed to complete a project.

No matter what kind, working with a micro-manager can be stressful. Do your best not to let it bleed over into your other work and manage the stress so it stays out of your CPA Exam studies!