• Advice

5 Tips for dealing with micromanagers

Even though you’re working for yourself, sometimes it feels like you have a boss.

You have clients to answer to. Someday, you will be micromanaged by one of those clients, as if you are their employee and not a free agent. We’ve have all been there; we’ve all dealt with clients from hell.

Here’s how to deal with micromanagers -- and reasons clients micromanage in the first place:

1: Cover all of your bases from the start

When you are laying out the groundwork for a project, make sure that you have a solid project proposal that includes the scope of work, payment schedule and any specific project stipulations.

  • Is your final proposal as detailed and clear as possible? Making sure your terms are well defined will save you a lot of heartache going forward.
  • Do you have a legally binding contract that includes the scope of work, contract period, compensation terms, and standard provisions?
  • Go into every project knowing that even though you may do exactly what is asked of you, to your client’s exact specifications, you still may not be able to satisfy expectations.

2: Establish trust

One of the biggest reasons that clients micromanage is because they either don’t trust themselves to manage a particular project, or worse, they don’t trust you to complete it correctly.

  • Present yourself professionally from the start, make sure that your website and other forms of social media are a good representation of you and your work.
  • Anticipate your clients needs and work to really understand and address any issues that arise. Work to build a relationship with the client that is centered around mutual respect and effective communication.

3: Make sure they are aware that you are NOT an employee

Communicating the difference between freelancer and employee can be tough at times, especially when clients don’t respect the difference.

  • Some clients may only have experience managing employees, so working with a freelancer may be new territory for them. Establishing your independance from the beginning will go a long way with a client, and save you potentially awkward conversations down the line.
  • It is important to know your rights as a freelancer, and feel comfortable exercising those rights should you feel like you are being taken advantage of.

4: Time is money

One of the biggest frustrations of being micromanaged is the fact that it wastes everybody’s time and cuts into your productivity.

  • Keep the lines of communication open with the client; however, establish a reasonable schedule for communication. For example, tell your client that any communication done after a certain time of the day or on the weekend will be considered extra billable time.
  • Write a provision into your contract that outlines how many revisions or edits are included and what happens if the client chooses to request more. Learn about this provision and other contract must-haves here.

5: Learn from past experiences and pass on your knowledge

Experience is the best teacher, and while dealing with micromanagers can be wildly frustrating, it can be positive as well. Employing different strategies to cope with micromanagement and changing the way you react to frustrating clients will only make you better for the next project.

  • Keep notes on particular clients: What did you like about them? What didn’t you like? Were there issues that could have been avoided if you had done certain things differently? This will be helpful for you to consider for future clients as well as if you choose to work with the same client again.
  • Share your knowledge and help other freelancers out! Use Client Scorecard to share any positive or negative feedback for a particular client so that future freelancers can feel more empowered and better prepared.

Freelancers, what are your tricks for dealing with micromanaging clients?