Get To Work: With Suzy Welch

Suzy Welch: 2 strategies for surviving a micromanager—and 1 that will get you fired

Here's how to survive a micromanager
Here's how to survive a micromanager

Your boss is constantly checking up on your every move, insisting that you get approval for every action you take, and steering you to approach every problem exactly like they would.

Sound familiar? You're being micromanaged. And if you've ever experienced this at work, you're far from alone. In fact, bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch confesses that she herself was once a micromanager.

"I second-guessed my team, and worse, I tried to do everyone's job for them," she tells CNBC Make It. "It was terrible for all of us, but it taught me the two best techniques to 'escape' a helicopter boss — and one surefire way not to."

CNBC contributor Suzy Welch

Below, Welch explains how to "deploy the two micromanager survival techniques that do work."

1. Over-deliver

Welch says one of the most common reasons employees find themselves being micromanaged is because their boss doesn't trust them to do the job.

"Maybe they should," she says. "It doesn't matter, and you certainly can't convince them with words."

Rather, she says, you should "swamp them with evidence of your competence and character." That means you'll need to "anticipate their concerns, and put them to rest before they arise."

"Over-communicate," she says. "Tell them what you're doing all the time. Eliminate every possible surprise. And most important of all, don't screw up." And while some bosses may have patience for you messing up once or twice, "with micromanagers, that option is not available."

"Get over it," she says, "and over-deliver on results."

2. Find creative ways to expand their job

Another common reason that bosses micromanage, Welch says, is because they don't have enough responsibilities of their own.

"This may not sound like your problem to solve," she says. "But it can be if you're able to find creative ways to expand their job, with, say, potential clients to meet or strategic initiatives to shoot up the ladder."

"If this sounds like I'm suggesting you act like your boss's boss," Welch adds, "it's because I am. And I get that's not easy in some organizations. But if you can swing it — and you should try — this approach can really work."

What not to do

One of the biggest mistakes she says you can make is telling your boss outright that they're micromanaging you.

"I don't care if your intentions are good," she says. "You might as well announce, 'I don't like or respect you,' which is one fast way to get yourself micromanaged right out the door."

Welch says that as someone who has been on both sides of this dynamic, she knows things are worse for the person being micromanaged. But she says you can prevail. "Give these two techniques a shot, and you just might micromanage your way out of a bind."

Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker. Think you need Suzy to fix your career? Email her at

Video by Claire Nolan

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