By Dr. Maria G. Hernandez
Latina Cubicle Confidential™
“Be sure to show me that letter before you actually send it out.”
“Don’t make any decisions on this until we meet”.
If your boss is constantly checking up on your work or requiring you to ask permission to carry out every part of your project, you know it: you have a micromanager.
One of the worst traits of a micromanager is that they expect a lot but don’t allow you to use your best judgment to get the job done. While many bosses can raise our stress level, can a micromanager make you physically ill?
It depends. Some stress can improve your productivity — keeping you focused and attuned to what’s expected of you. But if you have a boss that gives you very little control over your work routine or how you perform your job duties, your job is considered to have “high demands and low control”.
Under these stressful work conditions, more women than men have been found to develop diabetes in at least one study. This is particularly troubling for Latinas given we are twice as likely as any other ethnic group to develop Type 2 Diabetes and 1 in 10 Hispanics already have diabetes.
Other studies have found that people in high demand, low control jobs can also suffer from emotional burnout, depression and hypertension.
What can you do to reduce the stress of being micromanaged?
Change your own emotional response, first. Recognize that micromanaging behaviors are often found when a boss has enormous insecurity about their own effectiveness. They may be trying to control the one thing they can by asking you to review something or simply check in. Sometimes just your own awareness that all that controlling behavior is not about your own capabilities can be a major stress relief.
Next — and this is tough — don’t try to change your boss' behavior by complaining about it or confronting him or her. Instead, look for ways to demonstrate you can be trusted and that you do follow through. Discuss his or her expectations at the start of a project and develop a plan of action to meet his or her requirements.
Stay reasonable about how you will approach the work in order to avoid creating unnecessary pressure on yourself. If your boss does acknowledge that he or she knows they are overly controlling, you can listen intently to understand what they see as the root cause but try not to over analyze their reasons.
You may find a simple statement appreciating that they know they are overly controlling will generate a better relationship between the two of you.
The other key to coping with a micromanager is to do more to address your health needs on the job — eat well, take a walk during your break times. Take a moment to breathe when you feel yourself tensing up your muscles. Join your workplace employee resource groups for social support. Make use of your employer’s health and fitness programs if available. You can make yourself more resilient to the stress of work by helping your body, mind, and spirit cope more effectively.
The connection between work demands, organizational culture, employee engagement and employee health is gaining increasing attention for many employers.
If you find your situation is just not tolerable, find out if your employer offers counseling services. Your employer may have other forms of assistance to consider. The last thing you want to do is to let your health suffer.
Dr. Maria G. Hernandez has 20 years experience consulting in both the United States and Mexico to senior executives in Fortune 50 companies and facilitated change initiatives for elected officials and their staff. She has worked in academia, business, nonprofits, technology startups, and public agencies. For more information, visit Latina Cubicle Confidential™.