How to Manage A Micro-Manager

The relationship with your manager can make or break your job. More than that, if not managed correctly, it can hamper your long-term success. The best ones will inspire you. Push you to achieve. And work with you, in a way you’ve manufactured together.

I’ve previously written on Hunted about how the best managers can change your life. And they can. But not every manager is the best.

Some micro-manage, because it’s the only way they know. In recruitment these characters are often found supporting their manifesto because “that’s how they did it.”

Now, whilst it’s a fairly big red flag, should you find yourself locked in a battle of will with a superior, knowing how to alter the situation might be a useful skill.

This article shows you how to do just that. By managing up the chain. Rather than becoming a pawn in your own career.

Because there’s more to your job than one manager. And if you learn the skills of managing up, you’ll be better prepped for finding career success, in any job you have.

Tell them how you like it

Whether you’re embarking on a brand new relationship or working with the same boss you’ve had for years, being vocal is paramount to finding harmony. Communication’s obviously important in the day to day, but to make the most of the relationship, you need to be ‘up front’.

There are countless methods of management.

And rather than taking a risk that you’ll get on, it’s critical to offer advice from the beginning.

Don’t be afraid to push back against certain methods if it’s going to cause friction in the long run. Attentive processes might be needed if you’re more fledgling. While a more hands-off approach might suit you if you’re experienced. But backing this stance up with history and facts will hold your methodology in a better light.

If they’re a great manager, they’ll have a different strategy for every person they manage.

But you should both be tailoring this relationship.

Let them know that, and make sure they know you’re trying to help them and your relationship, not just yourself.

Build the relationship

Chances are, you’ll have an early opportunity to share a bit of levity with your manager. Time out the office or at least away from the stress of work is a great way to build a rapport.

And by the nature of the job, there’s going to be less stress from the start of your tenure. It’s recruitment after all.

So get off to a great start by chatting. Not about work.

Get to know the person behind the title. What’s their career been about, to date? What do they do outside of work? What do they do for fun? All the best relationships in business transcend structure and there’s no reason you can’t be friends or at least get along.

Doing so will do you a lot of favours.

Get preppy

No matter how senior you are, you’ll quickly know what’s needed to stay on the right side of productive.

Even micro-managers will favour results over anything else. In lieu of results, showing you know the data will impress.

This means knowing your stuff. Go to every meeting well prepared. Get on top of any KPIs, or any that truly matter. And only miss ones you’re happy to defend inactivity on. Accept and embrace any failures. Know why you succeed and more importantly, why you fail.

Meetings in the middle of the day are rarely a good time. You and your boss have things to do and no time to do them.

So minimise the dead time by preparing well. Once they know you’re well prepared, they will be too.

Book Reading

Use them

Your boss is almost certainly more experienced in the game than yourself. Which means they’ll have unique and helpful advice to offer you. Use it.

They say “teamwork makes the dreamwork.” And however much that phrase leaves you with crippling visible cringes, making it tough to type on, two heads are normally better than one.

Even in simply sharing your opinion, there’s a better coalition to be had in a pattern of collaboration. You’re the one in control of your own destiny. But you should be using the free mentor you’re being offered.

After all, that’s one of the biggest benefits of being in an organisation. Not simply working as a lone wolf.

See the bigger picture

You may be the most docile person in the world, recruitment’s going to test that. And a micro-manager will amplify the bad times.

But your macro goal shouldn’t change too much.

Whether that’s a financial figure you’re aiming for or number of contractors.

Similarly when interacting with your boss, you should always have an eye on the overall strategy and how you’re going to get there.

There’s plenty of time in your week to deconstruct the small things and you’ll no doubt be given plenty of opportunity to do so. Narrowing your attention on working methods and time productivity hacks will mean there’s a higher focus.

Your manager will naturally be focused on the bigger goal, not the day to day activity which gets you there.

Surprise, Surprise

Everyone loves a surprise on their birthday. Or maybe as a thank you, out of the blue. But in the relationship with your manager, surprises are normally bad. Even when the content of the surprise is positive. 

Your boss’s job is to make you a success. Your job, is to make them a success.

So try not to keep anything important from them. Be that deal news. Interview progress. Forecasting. And the important stuff, like your happiness. Take your attention away from the small things and make sure they know the macro goals are being accomplished.

Alongside this, it’s crucial to keep your word. You’ll do this with candidates and clients. It’s paramount to being seen as a trustworthy recruiter.

If your boss doesn’t think the same, they won’t have your back when it matters. Stay true to your word and they’ll know they can trust their opinions.

Provide solutions

Problems occur in recruitment. In a lot of ways, overcoming problems is your primary job. The problems in someone’s current role. The problems in a client’s team. The problems in a candidate’s salary. The problems with a skill shortage at a business.

Your job is to find a solution.

And working out how to do that will denote how well you’re paid.

The more you collaborate with your boss, the better solution you’re able to offer. Working with a micro-manager needn’t be the DNR sticker on your current role you perceive it to be. It’s a problem that needs solving.

If you’re experienced enough to know your methods are correct, all you need to do is manage the relationship and you’ll find there’s room for a successful partnership.

You have as much control over this, as them.

Be the architect of your own future, regardless of the managers you continue to work with.


You and your manager should have a great relationship. You should know each other very well and constantly strive for the best results.

If you can get two people fighting the same battle, you’re more likely to succeed.

Now, if you’re managing a team and want the best possible results, this article’s for you.