There are a few approaches one can take when working for a micromanager. Which one you pick depends on your personality, relationship with the micromanager, ability to endure difficult conversations, and your performance level.
- Ask for Feedback – Ask for a 1:1 with the micromanager and ask them to give you some performance feedback. If they tell you you’re doing great, let them know you feel as though they’re micromanaging and it had you questioning your performance. Have specific examples ready and try to have them going back further than a month if you can. During this conversation ask for opportunities to work on your own in the future and see if you can agree on 1–3 opportunities to do so.
- Ask for Permission – When assigned a task tell the micromanager that you’d like an opportunity to perform the task on your own before presenting the final product to them. Then kick butt on the task and present it to them and ask for feedback. If the feedback is positive, tell them you really enjoyed the growth you felt from the experience and ask for more opportunities to work with minimal oversight. Make sure you’re picking tasks that are valuable, but not make or break critical, and you can excel at.
- Ask for Forgiveness – Identify an opportunity that your team isn’t tackling but could be very valuable for the organization. Then go kill it. Come back and present the opportunity, show how you tackled it, and the amazing result. Apologize if they were bothered by your approach and explain you just wanted to try something before trying to make it official. This will show that you’re proactive, looking for ways to help the organization, and are looking for professional growth. And make sure you don’t try to turn it into an ask for a raise or bonus immediately, or you’ll look selfish. If it goes well, keep finding opportunities and grow your role. Then get that raise!
I’ve used approach 3 throughout my career and it’s never been an issue, even with severe micromanagers. I’ve been told that they wished I hadn’t made the decision a few times but nothing that harmed my reviews or growth.