How Teenagers Can Teach Assistants Strategies For Dealing With A Micromanager

Assistants managing micromanager blog post

If you follow me on Instagram you will know our family are new puppy parents.

Pepper is a rambunctious Cavoodle (Poodle crossed with a Cavalier King Charles). She is happily tearing a swathe (literally and figuratively) through our home and our hearts.

Now that she is fully vaccinated we are starting to take her out into the world. She is embracing socialising with other dogs with enthusiasm.

This afternoon when it was time to take her to the local dog park, I invited my fifteen year old daughter to come along and witness the shenanigans.

Like all teens, she is hard-wired to believe she knows best.  

When we arrived at the park, Pepper threw herself at the first dog in her path. Unfortunately, the dog in question was a Labrador about ten times her size.

Whilst enthusiastic to make friends, it was a bit clumsy and in the process of doing the “doggy dance of friendship” her new Lab friend proceeded to step on poor Pepper. 

Cue yelps from Pepper.

Having been through this a few times now, I didn’t panic. I could see tails wagging and relaxed body language and so didn’t rush in.

My daughter on the other hand was unimpressed and indignant, reprimanding me with both her facial expression and choice words for not intervening and removing little Pepper.

I removed all three of us to a quiet part of the rugby oval and attempted to reassure her that Pepper was fine and I knew what I was doing.

She remained unconvinced.

I decided that actions would speak louder than words, so spent the next twenty minutes demonstrating to my fifteen year old that I did indeed know how to manage a puppy at a dog park without traumatising either the puppy, other dog owners or myself.

Twenty minutes later we got back in the car and the teenager begrudgingly admitted that I was right and she may have overreacted. 

Why Am I Telling You This?

Why am I telling you this story? Because as an assistant, you might relate to feeling like you’re constantly being watched, your work second-guessed, and you can’t breathe without your manager’s approval?
Micromanagers have some similarities to ‘Judgy McJudgy’ teens!

Don’t get me wrong. I know that can be tough when you’re an assistant being ground down by constant micromanagement.

Don’t worry. There are steps you can take to improve the situation if you work for (or with) a micromanager.

The first thing to understand is that trust is not given, it’s earned. This applies even if you’re not dealing with a micromanager, but it’s even more critical if you are.

Five Tips For Managing Up

Here are a few tips to help you deal with this type of manager or if you have another assistant breathing down your neck:

1. Sometimes assistants react to a micromanager by withdrawing and withholding details and information. Instead, try being generous (in fact abundant) with status updates.
2. Stay one step ahead of your micromanaging boss by providing them with updates on your work before they ask. Keep them looped in. Reducing their need to check in on you is the name of the game.
3. Over-communicate. Share every detail about your work, from the tasks you’re working on to the thought process behind your decisions. They will feel more comfortable and in control, and may back off on their micromanaging tendencies.
4. Ask them for feedback or guidance (even if you actually don’t need or want it). Remember, manage them the way they want to be managed, not the way you want to be managed.
5. Finally, be patient. Micromanagers often need time to learn to let go. Don’t expect miracles overnight. 

Next Steps

At the end of the day, my advice is to consider your own wellbeing. You can adopt a growth mindset and take onboard these tips to manage a micromanager.

In my case, at least I know my teenager will grow out of it and I have a puppy that is giving me positive affirmation in the meantime.

In your case, give yourself a timeframe to assess if anything has improved. If not, it might be time to consider greener pastures. 

Hear more of the tips I’ve outlined above by listening to my podcast Assist With Impact.

Liz Van Vliet

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Liz Van Vliet, The Linchpin Assistant

Meet Liz

I work with Executive Assistants and Administrative Assistants to deliver the confidence, consistency and career development that transforms them into thriving Linchpin Assistants. 

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