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Bosses micromanage for many reasons. Some are incurably anxious and only find solace in checking and re-checking that a project is under control. Others are inexperienced and don’t understand that their meddling is unhelpful. Regardless of the situation with your boss, focus on developing your skills and experience so it becomes clear you don’t need micromanaging. At worst, increasing your abilities will help you find a better job elsewhere.
Explain Your Issue
Your boss might not be aware that she micromanages her employees. In this case, all you have to do is let her know politely that you don’t need hand-holding. Offering evidence of the problem -- for example, by explaining how you and your coworkers are frustrated at your boss’ lack of trust -- might be enough to elicit change. The key is to be as professional as possible, and to take care that you don't put your boss on the defensive. A good way to start is to let her know that you appreciate her dedication to her job before going into details about her tendency to micromanage.
If your boss believes the only way to prevent a catastrophe is to control every last detail, you’ll have to gain his trust before he’ll back off. Start small. Take on tasks you know he will let you tackle alone, and focus on developing skills and experience. Offer regular feedback to reassure your boss that you have everything under control. When you’re ready, ask for a private meeting. Offer evidence of your abilities and demonstrate how his micromanagement is making it hard for you to contribute effectively. For example, present a list of projects you completed without his help.
Chances are your boss could find more valuable use of her time than helping you unnecessarily, so the next step is to demonstrate how her micromanagement hurts the business. Show her how much time she could save by trusting you to finish tasks alone. In as nice a way as possible, explain how her involvement slowed you down on a recent project and point out how things might have turned out better if she had focused on higher-level aspects of the project.
In the end, nothing will change if you boss doesn’t want it to, leaving you with a difficult decision. If you stay, you’ll have to put up with the micromanagement and its negative side effects, including poor workplace morale. Also, if your boss doesn’t regularly increase your responsibilities and help you develop new skills, your career growth will stagnate. In this case, leaving your job for a better one elsewhere might be the only solution.
Stan Mack is a business writer specializing in finance, business ethics and human resources. His work has appeared in the online editions of the "Houston Chronicle" and "USA Today," among other outlets. Mack studied philosophy and economics at the University of Memphis.