Feel like you're being watched? Maybe it's your boss.
Of some 514 respondents in FINS' informal survey Sign or Decline, 68% said they'd turn down a dream job if their boss would second guess everything they did.
That's not far off from how many people are actually micromanaged. Almost 80% of 200 respondents reported being micromanaged at some point in their work history in a 2004 survey conducted by Atlanta-based management training firm Trinity Solutions. What's more, 85% said their morale was damaged from micromanagement, nearly three-quarters said it impacted their performance, and more than a third admitted they had changed jobs because of a micromanaging culture.
These findings help explain the overwhelming majority who said they'd be willing to forgo their dream job to avoid an overbearing supervisor; most of the workforce has had experience doing so, and the consequences they reported were negative enough that many wouldn't do it again.
"People don't like micromanagers, and don't perceive that there's anything they can do about it," said Harry Chambers, author of My Way or the Highway: the Micromanagement Survival Guide, and Trinity's founder, "but there are things they can consider doing to try to change the situation before they pass up their dream job."
A boss hungry for information, for example, needs patience. "Most micromanagers tend to have an insatiable appetite for information," said Chambers. If you can get in front of the information, however, and get an idea of what things your boss is likely to second guess, you can lead them to a more efficient and productive system. "Discuss with your supervisor which decisions they typically want to be a part of, and which decisions they want to simply review."
If you are unable to get your boss to give you some wiggle room, it's important not to not take the micromanagement too personally.
"Many people perceive second-guessing as criticism, but really it's the boss wanting to know that the thought process was rigorous, efficient, and well-considered," said Chambers. Once you've come to a decision on an issue, explain what you did, the decision you made, the considerations you used, and ask if there's anything you could do differently in the future, Chambers said. "By letting them know upfront what you did, they won't have a need to second-guess."
Chambers recommends carefully setting ground rules with your supervisor if they show signs of mismanagement.
"You need to bring it to their attention, but do not accuse your boss of micromanaging," he said. "Even if it's true, that's not the discussion you want to have."
Instead, pitch your freedom from being micromanaged as a way to streamline your job duties.
"Bosses are going to defend themselves if you accuse them of micromanaging," explain Chambers, "but any boss should be supportive of tactics that will increase productivity."
What Would You Do?
Answer the question and see how you match up with the rest of the FINS community.
You've just been offered your dream job, but your boss second guesses everything you do.
Write to Kelly Eggers
Sign or Decline is a series of questions on FINS.com that ask what you would do for your dream job. Since its launch late last year, over 100,000 answers have been received and compiled in our database. Participate in Sign or Decline here.