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How to deal with a micromanaging boss

·2-min read
Young woman at home with laptop on desk touching her temples
A micromanaging boss can be stressful. Image: Getty

Has your previously thoughtful and respectful boss started asking for weekly, or even daily reports since you began working from home?

You’re not alone.

Employers around the world are buying more screen monitoring and productivity measuring software, Bloomberg News has reported, while others are calling for more updates on productivity and progress.

The irony of this is that tasks like these, which are designed to monitor productivity, only add to employees’ - and employers’ - workloads, Atlassian work futurist and innovator Dom Price told Yahoo Finance.

So what’s the solution?

Price said the first thing to understand is that a lot of leaders are struggling. Previously, their roles involved engaging with people, driving a team forward and checking in with workers.

Forced to work from home, suddenly a large portion of their job - to lead - is a lot harder to do.

“Seek first to understand,” Price said. Employees should try to find out if their bosses need different reporting styles, reassurance or different visibility.

“Have an articulated conversation [to find out] what’s our combined definition of done.”

He said organisations are struggling to understand what the future of work looks like, but are convinced it will look somewhat like the past.

The same goes for many managers.

"Inside every one of us is a 1920's mill owner, running a production factory. The challenge is how quiet can we keep that mill owner? Can we keep it quiet so we can listen to the modern voice that says, 'No, I've hired smart people, and I trust them,’” he said.

“Once you practice that trust, it gets paid back. The alternative is that the mill owner's voice tickles at the back of your head and you're like, 'I need to check.'”

The problem with this is that micromanagement gives staff a task that interrupts their work.

“Every time you're reporting status, you're not working on a project - you're slowing down.”

The second problem is that micromanagement tells workers that their manager and business cares only about tasks.

“And so you move to this model of an over-focus on productivity, without realising that most people... do need time for creativity, for wondering for reflection, for idea generation, to do these things that take it to these a little bit longer, that are a little bit more curious.

“And when you don't have time for those, what you end up doing is completing your to-do list so you look busy, and busy-ness isn't cool,” he said.

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