A relentless control freak boss who is incapable of loosening the office reins can leave you questioning your decision-making skills and ability to climb the corporate ladder. If you’re experiencing these two feelings, you may be developing paranoia around your career potential because of your micromanaging supervisor.
Here are some signs to look out for:
The Feeling That Somebody’s Watching You
Companies are evolving and offering flexible, remote and work-from-home schedules. With this newfound freedom and autonomy comes the expectation of added accountability and top-notch time management skills. Because your supervisor isn’t physically present for impromptu check-ins, you may have to submit frequent activity reports and provide proof that you’re delivering bottom-line results.
Too many unanswered phone calls or extremely delayed instant message responses can send a micromanaging boss into overdrive. Imagine having to explain your every move — every hour on the hour. If you’ve ever been home alone and swear you hear someone calling your name or quickly turn around because you felt “something” watching you—that’s what it’s like to be micromanaged.
Some employees have reported instances of their bosses snooping through their offices. Some bosses frantically search the building to find their employees if they decide to take a bathroom break without “permission.” This boss is like a pesky fruit fly you know is flying nearby, but can’t seem to kill. You find yourself submitting weekly agendas with an hour-by-hour rundown of to-do lists. No matter what you do to reassure your boss that your productivity numbers aren’t fake, the micromanaging boss doesn’t trust you.
Maybe I Don’t Know What I’m Doing
It’s your turn to take the lead on a project. You’re overcome with grief instead of being excited. Rather than pour your heart and soul into your work, you half-ass it because you anticipate your supervisor slicing and dicing every little detail of your work. Constructive criticism is healthy and aids in your professional development, but too much scrutiny without praise is a confidence killer.
You’re decorated with credentials and have documented superior results, yet you begin feeling unworthy of a “job well done.” You question why you were hired in the first place if you can’t be trusted to accomplish the task at hand. Insecurity and self-doubt are major contributors to the actions of a micromanager. He/She is projecting her nitpicking onto you, and most times it has nothing to do with your performance. Unbeknownst to you, your boss’ boss is a thorn in her side, and she may have to find some ammunition to throw you under the bus to keep her job.
It’s sad, but you’re merely collateral damage. Sure, there are team members who need constant coddling and check-ins. However, for the ambitious go-getter, this is a disaster waiting to happen. Adults shouldn’t need babysitting. A supervisor who is too hands-on and continuously monitors employees sends a message to the high performer that her work quality is lacking.
The truth is, your boss doesn’t trust herself, so inevitably—she doesn’t trust you. This fault-finding campaign fuels your paranoia, and you second-guess every suggestion or decision you make. Eventually, your fight or flight reflex kicks in and you’ll either flip your lid or hit the road.
I Hate The Job I Love
Many career experts state that employees don’t leave jobs — they leave bosses. It’s heartbreaking when an overbearing supervisor forces a professional to exit a job she loves prematurely.
A leader recognizes the strengths and weaknesses of each employee and tailors her coaching methods to meet the individual needs of her team. Bosses control and dictate. Personality and culture clashes decrease employee engagement and increase turnover.
Paranoia surrounding job performance and expectations is a breeding ground for low morale and job satisfaction. When employees love what they do, it shows in the work results and office climate. The same goes for team members who feel undervalued and fearful.
Supervisors should encourage and empower their team members to be accountable for their duties rather than double and triple checking each assignment like a grade school exam. Implementing recognition and appreciation initiatives are great ways to retain top talent. Most importantly, learning the unique learning and leadership needs of each employee helps to establish trust, instill confidence and create a work environment conducive to mental health and wellness.
Ashley Watkins, Career Coach and Nationally Certified Résumé Writer with Write Step Resumes, LLC, provides high-quality résumé writing, interview preparation and career coaching services to help job seekers get more interviews and salary offers. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or via www.WriteStepResumes.com.