How do I deal with my micromanaging boss?

Friday July 24 2020


By Caroline Mboijana

Dear Caroline,
My boss doesn’t seem to trust us with work, she handles all the big projects herself and even works on her day off, and checks in even when on leave. I don’t know how to tell her we can handle the job even when she’s not around. Big projects give one an opportunity to learn. Kate

Dear Rose,
Feeling undervalued or unappreciated can have adverse effects on employee morale and engagement. It is understandable that you feel demotivated and unenthusiastic about your work. We might be unable to control other people’s behaviour towards us, but can definitely control how their behaviour affects us.

I understand that this must be frustrating; it is hard to feel trusted when your boss is constantly checking up on you and does not give you opportunities to work on big projects. If this is how your boss acts with everyone she supervises, then it is probably a problem she has with giving up control rather than personal doubts she has regarding your abilities. It is important to demonstrate your competence to build up trust.

Try to find small ways to prove your credibility by, for example, taking on projects that you are confident you can do well.

This will show your boss that you are capable. Additionally, try to ask for feedback rather than ideas. By asking your boss for their opinion without putting forth your ideas, you make them doubt your decision-making skills and put them in the driver’s seat right from the start.

Instead, approach them with thought-through plans, and ask for feedback on the areas that you feel uncertain about. This will increase your credibility, while still allowing them to feel that they have a level of control and input.
It is also essential to keep communication open. It is important for you to clearly understand what your boss’s expectations are of you and likewise, to open up conversation about the concerns that you have. If you continue to feel that your boss isn’t giving you the space to independently work, then it may be worth scheduling a meeting with them to explain that you’ve noticed their high level of involvement.

It is important to keep this conversation positive and ask your boss how you can work together to deepen their trust in you.


Finally, find ways to put your boss at ease. Try to anticipate your bosses wants and concerns. It might be helpful to overcommunicate your project status and weekly progress. Constantly keeping your boss in the loop will show them that you are on top of your work, easing their anxiety, and will allow them to continue to feel a level of involvement.

Once you start to do these things, have patience and continue to slowly build their trust. Good luck!

Caroline Mboijana,
Managing Director,
The Leadership Team (U)