Micromanagers are the worst! Dealing with micromanagers is one of the main reasons why I decided to fake retire from the finance industry in 2012. I couldn't take this one boss in NYC always calling in to check up on me even though I was ranking well with my clients.
There's probably nothing more annoying for an experienced employee than to be micromanaged. I'm sure someone who is new to work finds being micromanaged just as annoying, but at least the boss has a good excuse. The novice could really mess things up without proper supervision.
Out of roughly 100 people I spoke to who were interested in leaving their jobs or had already left their jobs when conducting research for my book on negotiating a severance, roughly 70% of them said the main reason why they wanted to leave or did leave their jobs was because of a difficult boss.
The boss was either unfair, unpleasant, uninspiring, or a micromanager. At the end of the day, people join and leave people, not firms.
What Micromanagers Do To Employees
If a boss micromanages, this is what he or she is doing to his or her employees:
3) Creates self-doubt
In other words, micromanagers are horrendous bosses who will likely lose all of their employees over time.
One reader wrote in about dealing with their micromanager,
“Sam, I'm dying here! My firm recently hired this hotshot 30-year old MBA graduate who thinks he knows everything. He used to work in recruiting before getting his degree and this is his first job working for a tech firm. I'm 34 years old and have been working here for five years. Recently, he's been on my ass about checking all my work, telling me how to do my work, and asking me every time I leave my desk for more than 30 minutes. I can't even take a dump in peace out of fear he'll start questioning my whereabouts! I've got way more experience than him, yet he gives me no respect. What do you recommend I do?!”
Meet him in the garage after work and deal with the situation like a man by kicking his ass! Was my initial thought. Anybody who shows no respect for their elders should be taught a lesson. But of course, we're not living during the time of honor. We're living in the time of “what have you done for me lately”.
I truly empathize with the reader because losing autonomy was one of the main reasons why I left my job. When you've got plenty of other means to make a living, working for a micromanager is NOT WORTH IT. But for those of you who have no way out yet, this post will discuss strategies on how to deal with micromanagers so you no longer have to feel miserable coming into work.
Why Do Bossess Micromanage?
It's very easy to just be bitter about someone who makes your life hell, but if we can better understand WHY your boss is a micromanager, we'll feel better about ourselves and be much more adept in handling the micromanagement situation. Here are five reasons why your boss is a micromanager:
1) Inexperienced or fundamentally insecure.
Every single micromanagement incident I've experienced is due to the fact that the boss is relatively new to his or her role. With inexperience comes insecurity. There is a need for the boss to understand every single thing the employee is doing in order to sleep better at night.
As is the case with the reader above, his boss is a fresh MBA graduate who is under intense pressure to prove to his bosses he is the right person for the job. Because the new MBA graduate doesn't know jack about the industry, he is micromanaging in order to better understand what to do.
The more experienced the boss is, the calmer she is because she'll have seen similar situations before and know what to do.
2) General neurotic tendencies.
If your boss suffers from OCD, she may have a higher tendency of being a micromanager. There is simply a chemical imbalance that prevents her from trusting others or trusting a situation thoroughly.
There is also a high correlation with insomniacs and micromanagers. Insomniacs can't stop thinking about things which worry them so much they can't sleep. If your boss has neurotic tendencies, then there's unfortunately less you can do to help fix the situation because it's up to your boss to fix her own situation.
3) High performers.
In order to be the boss, you usually have to be a high performer in your field. But the problem is that companies too often promote high performers who aren't great bosses. I see this situation happen all the time with the promotion of top tier sales people into managerial roles.
There is a different skill-set involved in becoming a good boss. High performers expect everybody else to match their performance even though everybody has a different way of doing things.
4) Not busy enough.
If your boss has nothing better to do, then s/he'll will often try and make work for themselves and for you. One time I had this boss in NYC who called me about a $35 client lunch bill. I regularly took out this senior client to a local Malaysian lunch.
He was calling me from NYC for this tiny bill when he supposedly had 50+ people to manage. What a joke! Especially since our per head entertainment budget is $200. This boss was fired a year later. When bosses are underperforming at their own jobs, they tend to ratchet up the micromanaging. Beware.
5) You're simply messing up.
If you were doing your job “perfectly” you would be micromanaged less. The issue is, the definition of “perfect” might be different between you two. Take time to understand exactly how your manager likes things to be done and write them down.
How To Deal With A Micromanager
Now that we can better empathize with the micromanager, here are four simple solutions on how to make the situation better.
1) Defer and let them do your work.
This is called the “judo move” where you simply use your boss's force to help you win. Bosses feel better about themselves after they micromanage. Therefore, you might as well let them do your work to perfection for you. Thank them for their guidance and let them feed their OCD.
I noticed this boss who kept saying she didn't want to encroach on another colleague's work. But he continued to encroach anyway. It was the strangest thing.
My colleague simply deferred everything to her boss by letting her do the work for her. All was good and my colleague was able to stress less, do less work, and still get paid the same six figures.
2) Lower your manager's expectations.
If you can adeptly play dumb and demonstrate you know enough to not get fired, but don't know as much as you really do, then your micromanager will slowly accept your new lower standard.
It's when you over-deliver on a low hurdle where the micromanager will suddenly start thinking to themselves, “Wow, Tom is doing a great job!” and slowly leave you alone. Definitely clarify exactly what your manager wants so you can come close to giving them exactly what they need.
Happiness equals reality minus expectations. If you're always desiring the best, you will surely be more disappointed than the person who is happy with average.
3) Help them get busy.
If you can help your boss get more work and be better at her job, then you are helping yourself because she'll be too busy to micromanage you. If my boss in NYC actually had something to do, there's no way he'd bother grilling me on a $35 client lunch bill.
Promote your boss to other senior people. This way, you make your boss look good so s/he can be distracted by other things. Think about a burglar throwing a juicy t-bone steak at the German Shepard watchdog in order to break in.
4) Build trust.
What's most disappointing about a micromanager is that despite your experience and demonstration that you are an outstanding citizen, they still don't trust you to do your work. If someone doesn't trust you, that's a personal insult if you are a trustworthy person. No wonder why the large majority of people who want to quit their jobs cite problem bosses as the #1 reason.
With work-from-home commonplace now, more people are working less hours a week. Some work-from-home tech employees have taken things too far and work only two hours a day from home! As a result, more bosses are micromanaging because more employees are slacking off.
5) Anticipate what they want.
A micromanager is like the OCD guy who can't leave the house comfortably without worry whether he turned off the lights and shut off the stove. So he has to get out of his car and go back to check. If you can successfully update your manager whenever you do something via e-mail, phone call, or text, you will lessen his or her anxiety.
As an employee, please review these career-limiting moves.
If You Are A Micromanager, Do These Things
Perhaps you're reading this post and realize you're a micromanager. The first step to fixing a problem is recognizing you have a problem. Congratulations! Instead of beating yourself for being a horrible, neurotic, untrusting person who makes other people miserable, look to fix your mistakes.
1) Spend time knowing what drives your employees.
Money is seldom the #1 reason why employees quit. You are or a lack of recognition. Hence, it's important to sit down with your employees who you think need micromanaging and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Develop not only a professional bond, but a personal bond on some level.
Maybe you share a love for travel, dogs, cats, or sports. Find that common link because once your employee feels that connection, they will ultimately do a much better job because they care for you professionally and personally.
With a decline in merit-based compensation, you need to be strategic when it comes to building relationships to get ahead.
2) Incentivize with a sandwich.
The delivery of criticism is very important. I suggest using the sandwich method where you first recognize them for parts where they did well, offer areas for improvement, and then finish off with more recognition of another part well done. Nobody is going to feel motivated if all they hear is criticism.
You must constantly recognize your employee's efforts for them to want to give you even more effort. Send out a group e-mail highlighting their efforts. Praise them during the next group meeting. Take them out to lunch. Pat them on the back and simply say, “good work.”
Encouragement goes a long way and it's free.
3) Establish consistent checkpoints.
Instead of being on your employee's ass every day, simply establish a once a week 30 minute check-in to see how your employee is doing. Use this meeting time to thoroughly understand the issues.
Go through point #2, and do your best to stop micromanaging until this next meeting. Make it clear that if your employee needs help that they should come to you.
4) Get better at your job.
Micromanaging is born out of insecurity and distrust. The better you get at your job and the more confident you are with your situation, the less you will micromanage your adult subordinates.
Negotiate A Severance And Be Free
Bosses who micromanage are like zombies in The Walking Dead. They might be curable, but it takes patience and understanding because they are often blind to their actions.
The best bosses in the world recognize your strengths. They put you in a position to utilize your strengths. They also check in every once in a while to see if you need help. Too bad there aren't more classes to help teach new managers better managerial skills.
If you can't get your boss to stop micromanaging everything you do, then you must figure out a way to get the hell out of there by negotiating a severance package. Your micromanager is a plague who will infect everybody eventually or get fired himself. Take matters into your own hands before it's too late.
Make A Change If You're Miserable
In 2012, I negotiated a six-figure severance package worth six years of living expenses. It was my catalyst to break free from Corporate America for good. I didn't want to deal with a micromanager anymore. As an employee, you have more power than you think.
If you quit your job, you forfeit your right to a severance, to unemployment benefits, and to COBRA healthcare. Check out my book, How To Engineer Your Layoff. It will teach you how to leave your job with potentially money in your pocket.
It's the only book that teaches you how to negotiate a severance. In addition, it was recently updated and expanded thanks to tremendous reader feedback and successful case studies. The book has been extensively revised multiple times to incorporate more case studies and feedback.
Use the code “savefive” to save $5. Or, pre-order/purchase four copies of my new book, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom, e-mail me proof of purchase at sales AT financialsamurai DOT com, and I'll send you How To Engineer Your Layoff For Free.
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BTNT will be the best personal finance book you will ever read. You can buy a copy on Amazon today. The richest people in the world are always reading and always learning new things. Learn from those who are already where you want to go.
Be Your Own Boss
If you just can't deal working with a micromanager, then consider being your own boss. It’s been over 12 years since I escaped Corporate America. I couldn't be happier thanks to starting Financial Samurai in 2009.
Being your own boss is a lot of work. But it's worth it because there's nothing better than working hard and seeing a correlation with effort and reward. I would never trade going back to Corporate America for the lifestyle I have now. This is even if I made triple the income from work.
It's never been easier and cheaper to start your own website, and therefore your own business. Everybody should plant their flag on their internet and at least establish their brand online.
Once you have your own website, you can find new job opportunities. You can find new consulting opportunities, sell your own product, or sell other people's products and earn a fee.
Instead of letting Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter get rich off you. Own your own brand and get rich off yourself. You will naturally attract people you want to work with thanks to your website.
Updated for 2022 and beyond. With the economy rebounding, more people are starting their own businesses on the side. It's the easiest way to make money from home and escape a micromanager. The global pandemic has proven that having an online business that can't be shut down is the way to go!
Please develop your X-Factor well before it's too late. You always want to have as many options as possible. Life is too short to work with a micromanager!
118 thoughts on “How To Deal With A Micromanager Without Killing Yourself First”
My boss (also in finance – is the CEO) has a different version of micromanagement. I’m trying to get my head around it. He will not sign off on anything or provide input – says to “work with the team” or “work with the board” … so I do. And then he seagulls in and shits on it, thus requiring a re-do. It is impossible to gain traction. the impact is that I am afraid of attacking big projects as I know they will be a pain fest. the trait of his has been noticed by others. He’s very bad at saying what his goal is, or if he does it is this rambling blue sky type deal and when I try to triangulate in to identify actionable goals and targets – he dismisses and says to ignore. On top of this, if I provide a goal or a possible course of action he resents it and says how much he knows about it already – but for some reason hasn’t implemented it for whatever reason. And then the worst is when I actually want to get a point across he talks over me and keeps at it until I stop talking. Yet he always has the outward appearance of kindness, what I feel is that I am disrespected. I’m at the end of my career (60 y.o CMO) and he’s CEO and I don’t actually want to find another job as this was allegedly a downgrade in stress from previous roles. My skills are so generalist I’m not really seeing a self-employment angle for myself. Any ideas?
I have a slightly different dynamic. I am being trained by another colleague who had been performing my role while the team searched for somebody. I’m a mid-career and an experienced hire, and this is a contract role that is a tryout to see if it could be something more permanent. I completely think it’s important to learn the company culture and “the way” things are done. Sometimes though, even simple tasks are being repeatedly checked. Changes/edits are made to my work without any feedback. Sometimes, I’m just generally ignored. I want to keep in everybody’s good graces, and I don’t want to make waves. Should I just suck it up and bide my time until I can land a permanent offer. My manager and dotted lines superiors are all super happy with my work so far and I don’t want to lose that goodwill.
Micromanaging is terrible, I hate when people do it. I think a lot smarter way to manage your team is by using a good team management tool, for example kanbantool.com . I think it will benefit both sides :)
I am at a complete loss how to deal with my micromanager boss. The level of micromanaging is so significant that I now put in over 60 hours a week to complete work that used to take 40 under the previous boss. I am no longer allowed to manage my own time – it is constantly interrupted and all work must flow through her. I’m considered a “key player” and yet because she is so insecure I am no longer able to take meetings or even have phone conversations with people outside of our department without her permission or involvement. It got to the point the woman actually told me that I was not allowed to be away from my desk without my personal cell phone – even in the bathroom. I do not need to be active online at all times to do my job – but the minute I go “inactive” on Skype, she is sending text messages on my phone asking if I am gone for the day. My productivity is completely in the tank. How does a Director have that much time on their hands to micromanage at that level?!!!
Not sure what line of work you are in, but I would get the hell out as soon as you can.
I am struggling with this exact same issue! My boss is constantly micromanaging me. I have worked at the company for nearly five years and despite my boss admitting on various occasions that he (and the company) couldn’t survive without me he is on my case 24/7 when he is in the office, delegating tasks that I’ve done for nearly five years and can do with my eyes closed. He never considers what work I have to do that he isn’t aware of (even though I try and tell him) he just thinks about the tasks I have to do that is he aware of and questions why they haven’t been dealt with quickly (being ignorant of the fact that I’ve always got a list of at least 30 plus other things that he thinks the magic fairy does). He is also super impatient, he’ll ask for something to be done and if it’s not done then and there he’ll get annoyed or say I’ll just do it myself. He evens stands right behind my back watching me do things so that I’m forced to do said task then and there even if in my opinion it can wait whilst I do something more important. He doesn’t seem to understand how much I have to do as part of my role or trust in the fact that I am prioritising the things I feel are more important (despite telling me he does). He is also very militant (ex army background) (for example we are not allowed the radio on at work, can’t chat too much with colleagues unless he instigates said chats etc.) I’ve not taken any form of break during a working day for a good few years as although he technically doesn’t ‘stop’ you he’s got a way of making people feel guilty for doing so. I feel like his management style and the way he is in general makes my job ten times harder than it needs to be and stresses me out massively. It’s really affected me as a person, I’ve developed a horrible anxiety at work and I’ve just become a very serious and grumpy person. I have never had issues like this in previous employment and previous bosses have always appreciated I can do my job and left me to do so but with general check-ins and meetings to discuss anything that does fall under the normal ‘day to day’. He is the complete opposite! Several times we’ve had chats about his management style and I have plain as day told him he is causing issues by his management style which is having a big impact on employees, morale and productivity etc. He says he understands each time but within a matter of few days he’s doing exactly the same thing. On a couple of occasions we’ve had major disagreements and he’s pushed my buttons so much that some heated discussions have been had. But still nothing changes, when I try and make a point of being abrupt and standing up for myself he says I’m being difficult or having a bad attitude and then it genuinely makes me question if I’m the problem. He can be nice when he wants to but that far from counteracts all of the above for me. I feel all of this has massively knocked my confidence. I have been desperately searching since March for a new job but due to the current situation there are no good opportunities about and I also live in an area where well paid jobs are hard to come by (I’m being paid a decent salary at the moment). I feel like over the last 5 years my boss has sucked the life out of me. Sorry for the essay!
I have been with my company for 19 years. During that time, I have had 4 supervisors. The first supervisor started me off on a tight leash, but I was straight out of college and needed to learn the ropes. Once she saw I knew what I was doing, she let me run with it. The next 2 supervisors were laid back. They knew I’ve been here a long time and knew my stuff. The last supervisor is my micromanager. Before she became my supervisor, we worked great together for years. Then, 2 years ago, she became my supervisor. Everything changed. I felt like I couldn’t do anything without going through her first. I would get an email directed to me, cc’ing her, and she would forward the email to me within minutes of receiving it, telling me to answer the email. And then when I pull together the information for that email, I can’t send it without her reviewing it first. For years, if I have a doctor appointment first thing in the morning, I’ll start early & make up any time at the end of the day. First 3 supervisors said, as long as I made up the time. This one said I can’t start beforehand, and that I HAVE to make everything up at the end of the day. The most recent issue with her is with an email I sent out yesterday. I sent an email to my backup (on vouchers), who I’ve been training, saying, “per our conversation, I’ll schedule the vouchers to go to you every other week, so you can keep on getting hands on experience. I will schedule you for the following weeks…” I cc’d my supervisor so she knows what’s going on. She responds with, “Please discuss these matters with me prior.” This was something my backup requested so she could continue doing & learning the process before I go on vacation in 3 months. I told my supervisor that, and I still yet have to receive a response. I’m hoping to get out of here sooner rather than later. If I have an exit interview, I will definitely let them know why I’m leaving.
I found your website in my frustration towards my boss, the director of the preschool I work in who is a lovely, caring person, but who is also a micromanager.
My latest issue is this: I have a challenging child in my class and my boss and I were both in agreement that it was time to reach out and request another conference with the parents to help the kiddo get back on track. She asked me if I would stay after work and write the email, but to send it to her first and she would forward it. I spent about 40 minutes carefully and thoughtfully writing my email. Being the classroom teacher who works with this child 5 days a week, and with an MAEd and 18 years experience in classrooms, I can deftly manage this task.
I just checkef up on the forward and my boss changed SO much of the email around that it wasn’t even many of my words and didn’t sound like me, and yet KEPT IT SIGNED BY ME! This is infuriating to me on numerous levels!! She is undermining my wisdom, deleting my personality and inserting her own, and it is literally falsifying words that are not mine, yet signed by me.
I have 14 days left of the school year and this woman is then retiring after 35 years running this school. Some people would probably say, let it go, but I cannot, based on principle. My integrity as an employee and a teacher feels questioned.
I read your advice in dealing with micromanagers respectfully and appreciate your wisdom. Any other suggestions based on my particular case?
One very frustrated teacher!
I feel for you as a professional and as a preschool teacher. The role of a teacher is quite challenging, but the role of a director is equally as challenging on another level as well. As a director myself, I find that I give my teachers a tremendous amount of freedom in the classroom. However, often times, preschool teachers are not always the most articulate writers and as much as they mean well in their letters to parents, sometimes they say too much or other times, they make mistakes umm syntax and such. Just to be clear, all public schools will require you to submit letters to them prior to sending them out to parents because they want to make certain that in this day an age of being politically correct, you aren’t going to say the “wrong” thing. So naturally, they have to proof your work. When teachers send out a letter that isn’t well written, it is a reflection of the caliber of teacher, instruction and overall performance of a school. So words do matter. The other factor is that preschool teachers like to tell stories. AS much as we like to tell them, parents don’t have time to read them. They are busy with dinner, homework, bath time and more. So we need to get straight to the point and remember to say it in a positive and direct manner. Private schools are no different. I’ve worked in both and they are always worried about how they will be portrayed in a letter. You have a job because your director has to sell her school and teachers to those parents who walk through the door. Parents ask and are curious about the level of education or number of units preschool teachers have. Why? Because they want to make sure that the teacher is intelligent enough to teach their sweet child about the world. Don’t get me wrong—I wish there was less oversight of this nature, but preschools fall into a whole other beast. We are governed by the state and everything matters these days. To make matters worse, I’ve seen poorly written and worded letters from schools to parents copied and posted onto public forums. Um yeah, no pressure right?! So unless you want to give parents tours, answer questions, and sell your school to these people who are looking for “the best for their child”, don’t be offended when the director asks to proofread your work. She/he is trying to avoid potential pitfalls or questions asking for clarification pertaining to your letter.
If she had doubts about letting him write the letter, she should have not asked in the first instance.
If she didn’t like the content of the letter or she thought it would need some corrections, she should have discussed with him first.
This is disempowering and belittling your employees. Other than counterfeiting an email.
This is not the way of behaving.
I sent this article to my husband, who has a boss that micromanages him and that boss is micromanaged too. Just awful place to work and it’s involves the EMS world. I hope he finds some solace after reading your article.
Very good points for all involved.
Hope it helps and hope things get better for him!
I have always been self employed. It is impossible for me to understand having a boss. I am a grown man. I can’t comprehend a man (boss ) telling me what to do and how to do it. I could accept guidance, but a boss.
A boss is similar to a slave master. I realize I don’t know what I am talking about, but having a boss is demeaning to me. I hope I am not being offensive.
I have employees, but I don’t consider myself a boss. My employees never quit. Never. What I know as an employer ( not a boss ) is give my employees more responsibility and a higher level job than they think they can handle. It is then a matter of pride for them to master a position they did not think they could handle. They are proud to tell their families how important they are at work. It works great.
I believe the work place is where people grow. Turn them lose and watch them go. People grow at work. What is interesting to me, is to watch them become more than they thought they could be.
I tell people it is time to go home and they tell me they can’t leave yet. They want to finish what they are working on and then they will leave.
Last thing. Sometimes other employers ask me how many sick days do my employees have. This is a dumb question. Obviously, as many days as they are sick.
If life in a corporation is as bad as it sounds, I hope you make them pay 20% above the going rate. You deserve that and more.
You sound like a great employer! Wish there were more like you!
Now thats the best thing an employer could do for his employees and i bet your employees dont abuse taking sick time or anything like that becauce your loyalty the work force needs more like you for sure thats awesome. My employer just suspended me for 3 days because i called in sick 3 minutes late after starting time i mean really after all the training ive done getting the new hires trained all i said was thank you for stabbing me in the back like that i appreciate it 11 years of service never had an issue with anyone until they made the office lady my boss she micromanages me for everything so needless to say ill be unemployed right before Christmas this year Merry Christmas to me for time served
Agree with Natasha! There needs to be more employers like you, who believe in being leaders who empower their employees versus bosses who just want to boss around and control their employees!
Im 115 days into my employment with a wonderful business. I have been working in the print field for about 1 and a half years which is how i landed this new job when i moved. The business is wellness driven and treats emoloyees with the upmost respect… except for my team leader. He is only my boss since its a small company. The first 90 days was a trial/probationary period so I busted my butt trying to be the best employee I could be; soaking up information like a sponge. I believe I have proven I understand the expectations of the job along with admitting my faults when I truly feel unsure about something. Ive noticed as time goes on and less reworks appear……. the more my boss breathes down my neck. He writes out every little detail of what needs to be done, the order, when, and from which machines it needs to be done with. He constantly will stand behind me and watch my screen as I do projects so he can try to catch mistakes before they happen. If he cant find a mistake then he tries to change the approach I have. Since its so close to my 90 days yet, I am unaware if I should confront him, give more time, or go to HR to try and calm this situation down. Im not paid jack for this position since its considered a lower skilled job i suppose. I am not paid enough to be micromanaged but I actually care for what I do day to day.
To add fire to the flames, I dont believe I am the problem because he snapped for no reason on a coworker from another department. He started screaming at the employee to get the hell out! When he didnt, he physically started pushing and shoving him out the door. Any other place Ive worked would have instantly fired you for workplace harasssment.
This is the top reason I have not confronted him. Im a bit nervous I suppose. :/
“Bosses who micromanage are like zombies in The Walking Dead. They might be curable, but it takes patience and understanding because they are often blind to their actions.”
Have you even seen the walking dead???
Every episode. And, I know the ending.
I have recently been put under a particular manager after my boss was laid off after 38 years. I worked for her for 7+ years and basically learned the job from her. I am considered a “ccordinator” and the field is volunteer management. Since no real plan was in place when they walked my boss out of the building, a director of a completely separate and different department “inheirited” me (her words). She said all the right things the day of my boss’s departure, but since then has micromanaged all my work. She comes from the world of data, stats and reporting, and though I have some database experience, the majority of my job has revolved around relationship building. In order to learn about my department, my new boss is requiring me to gather all stats and data on every single thing my job touches. I can do this, and will do it, but I have reached a point where I now second guess just about every decision I make, realizing that her approach is so different than mine. I definitely do not feel that my years of experience in this field are taken seriously. I worry about “down the road” as she wants to add to parts of my job without any added staff to adequately ensure success. My old boss’s position is not being filled; I have to also cover that, run the day to day operations of the office, oversee a current group of volunteers that number close to 160 (year round it is closer to 450), and now spend a large part of my time gathering data to justify our existence. It has been just a month this week with this new management set up, and I feel I am at the end of my rope. Just when I think I have handled something well, new boss again points out more issues….I know my strengths and unfortunately, see those being cut down each day; I also am very aware of my weaknesses. I have reached a point of feeling intimidated and am losing my self confidence. I question literally everything I now do. Losing hope. Those around me advise sticking with it, that “this too shall pass.” I am concerned I won’t survive till the end of the summer, much less till the end of the calendar year.
You missed the no. 1 reason for micromanagement – the lack of a plan. Managers have to be micromanagers when they can’t give their underlings a view of where they are going. Ipso facto, micromanagers May have been high performing individuals, but they are awful to work for and do not make their employers successful. If your boss is a micromanager, look for a new job.
Huge wisdom in this.
Micromanagers are insecure bullies
Thank you for this article, and thanks to the people who have responded. I am so glad I am not alone in suffering a micromanaging (female) boss. IMO they are nearly always female and it is mainly females they bully, lets be honest that is the real name for what they are doing, but I have also had two male micromanagers and my husband had to leave a job he loved because of a psychopath male manager too.
I am female and aged close to 60. I have had a lot of jobs in a number of different industries, and it has always been the micromanaging mainly female bosses that have caused me to leave. The pattern with them never changes and I am surprised there are so many of them and how destructive they can be. I don’t know how to cope with them so the easiest way has always been to move on – and I suppose that is what they count on. It amazes me that there are so many “managers” who have no idea how much they demoralize their employees and how it affects their whole lives.
Two years ago I started in my current job and it was like a dream come true and I loved every day at work. This year a contractor brought in the implement a new system that integrates with my work has become more and more controlling of my daily work. She is constantly questioning and scrutinising and correcting everything I do, even though I have been doing this for years and she is new to this work. I am feeling resentful, angry and hostile, (which is really bad in a workplace), as well as sad, completely demoralized and incompetent at everything (when I know I am not) and hating my life every day, even the weekends. I really don’t want to leave another job, as I really really love this job, and the workplace and I know that at my age I will have trouble finding another position, plus this job was so perfect before. It is also very difficult to be confident at job interviews from such a low point in self esteem.
I love working and I am definitely not ready to retire yet, but I wonder how I will cope if this goes on much longer. One of the worst things about this is that she is a lovely person and on a social level I thought we were friends. Now I have deleted her number from my phone as I reaize we were never friends.
All I can hope is that she will get bored and move on, but I know from past experience that this rarely happens. Micromanaging control freaks are tenacious and never give up. Once they find someone they see as a victim that is reacting badly to them or worse still standing up to them, they redouble their efforts and increase the pressure. The sad thing is that senior managers generally think the micromanagers are doing a great job as they are very good at engratiating themselves with the bosses.
I used to think maybe it was me that had problems, but when I came to this job I had autonomy, respect and responsibility and I was good at my work and I regained my self confidence and was very happy. Now it is all totally shattered and I am angry, miserable and doubting my abilities again, now that I am again in the orbit of another micromanager. I thought that was all behind me.
What to do now….
Hi there. just try and remember that you are good at your job and that it’s the micro managing bully who gets pleasure out of making others feel incompetent.
I’m in exactly the same position, I’ve been working for the past 32 years in various industries. I’m not thinking that I’m fantastic at everything I do but I do know I can do my job well.
I have never worked in a job where I feel so incompetent before. I became a little upset the other day at work and a co worker asked me what was wrong..(we are not allowed to talk to each other at work) I told her my issue and she said that she feels the same way. It made me feel a little better that I’m not the only one being treated like that.
No one needs to be treated to the point that you lose your self confidence and start doubting yourself. I’ve decided that I don’t need their money that badly and will not be returning. I would much rather be poor and feel good about myself than deal with that daily
I have another job at night same industry (hospitality) went to a meeting and without asking they have offered me more hours and I’ve only worked there for 2 weeks. Great bosses who can see I’m capable.
DON’T PUT UP WITH IT. THEY HAVE THE PROBLEM NOT YOU!!!
awesome article! Totally helpful and I agree with your evaluation, I will try some of your suggestions, and I am also teaching him to be a better boss. The only difference now, now I
have a better idea, why he is the way he is. In my case he is clueless, and expects perfection, yet is unable to exhibit the same perfection in his work.
Have an awesome day.
Micromanaging is the absolute worst. I have been blessed with great bosses over my career.
However in my current role as a Product Manager, we brainstorm a lot. My boss is a good person but has a very annoying habit of ‘Yeah but’ that drives me nuts. The ‘Yeah But’ syndrome is related to the micromanaging malady in my opinion. I think its the brainstorming version of it.
Often when just trying to set the stage and reviewing previously agreed to facts, he will even ‘Yeah But’ them before you can even get to what you wanted to talk about in the first place! lol
Having been in my job for 18 years where I have been very happy in a stable team also with long term history. A few months a new manager was employed and since then the whole dynamics has changed. We are constantly micro managed with her even wanting to learn all of our jobs. Graphs and plans have been put in place to gauge productivity and individual meetings have taken place where we have been told we are negative. One employee has left due to her micromanaging. I had a breakdown at work because of it and was given counselling sessions yet even though this was happening I was called into a meeting and told I was not meeting expectations after being monitored, other Job related things were also highlighted. This is after 18 years of high ranking appraisals and feedback from other staff members who I work with. I had an emotional breakdown and walked out and have not been back since am currently suffering from severe anxiety and have been signed off work. I cannot imagine going back the idea brings on so much anxiety. It is so sad to see how one person can demoralise and ruin a brilliant team why do management continue to allow this to happen even when it has been highlighted to them. Why do they never listen to long term staff but believe what the manager says. At the end of my tether don’t know what to do. It has helped to know I am not alone.
I was bullied and micromanaged by my project manager boss (let’s call her Amber). After 9 month of putting up with this abuse and multiple reports to HR and 3rd party agencies, my fortune 400 company denied it was an issue even though other people came forward. HR refused to listen or intervene or listen to collaborating evidence. Unbelievable. If I had been a woman and the manager a man it would have been a big deal. But the VP only promotes and protects other women.
Sorry to hear about your situation. Your last statement regarding your manager hiring only woman is just the way things are. Check out this latest post I wrote on Diversity in the workplace and how it is so not diverse.
I am working as a favor to a friend, she is great but a bit unexpereinced in running an office. The woman she has for an office manager lacks some serious people skills as a manager and micromanges every little thing including how I should answer the phones.
She kind of treats me like I am 12 and have no idea how to do anything, when in reality I am older and more experienced than she will ever be.
She is driving me crazy to the point where I need to confront her because I cannot work under these conditions but I am not quite sure how to without offending her or the woman that hired me I cannot take orders from someone that has never done my job or has no clue of my expereince, skills or work ethics.
For example, coming to me on a Saturday, (we are opne for 4 hours on Saturdays) 20 minutes before it is time to lock up and go home for the day and insisting that I pick up on the project I have been working on during the week and before I can say no, she throws the work on my desk for me. I hate people like this, what can I do about it?
No – just no. We have a micromanager who refuses to let talented people do jobs that will take stress off of her, who is totally incompetent and keeps asking the other attorneys she works with what to do, because she is not competent, yet insists on doing things that are not part of our process designed to let the attorneys be attorneys and the staff handle the small stuff. I am not about to pat her on the hand or back or whatever, because she should not be working here, needs psychotherapy for her rampant insecurities and her obsessive need to control others who know a hell of a lot more than she does about what is going on. We have all tried to help her fit in, but she’s become the pain in the hind end that preparation H won’t remove. It’s not me, darling, it’s you, and I’m NOT going to tolerate it.
so im in micromanagement torture now. I took this new job 3 months ago. I am in accounting. Work wise it seemed easier than i was doing, the money was 15k more, so I figured why not. The interview process her boss said she was tough but fair. I should have ran then.My first week 3 people warned me about my boss. Vague warnings so I didnt know what was coming. Then it came out. Basically she tries to manage every small detail. Heres some of the examples. Typing an account balance into excel. If 50 numbers make up the balance, u have to type each individual number into the single cell. It is the most inefficient thing. Another item I got handed back to me because my excel column was too big. Well one centimeter too big. Along with a note explaining the importance of column length.
Wants to be copied on every single email I write. Have to hand in basic account analysis only to constantly get them back because she doesn’t like the font size. I have gotten to the point of catching her correcting her own corrections. I have over 13 years experience and feel like a child.
That wasnt even the bad part though. Now it just became I’m spoken to in a demeaning manner and is constantly condescending. Because I cant keep up with the ridiculous micromanagement demands. I draw the line at disrespect. I have been walking around the office pissed off for 2 weeks.
Im at my end and want to quit but financially I wont be able to survive for long. I just keep reminding myself I’m the 4th person in this role in less than 2 years and she is not well liked in the office because its so difficult to work with her. As well as looking for another job ASAP
Sorry to hear about your situation. Can you talk to your bosses boss and highlight her concerns? Being the fourth person into yours should signal that there are some management issues.
I would consider doing some side hustling and take control of your future by branding yourself online and starting your own website to find new opportunities on the side: https://www.financialsamurai.com/why-you-need-to-start-your-own-website-today/
I already spoke to her bosses boss. It went ok though coming back from meeting we had to walk separately so we weren’t seen together. I think management knows and is sympathetic but there’s limited things they will do.
I will take a look at starting website. Im finding myself so beaten down during week that by weekends I just want to sleep and do nothing. Really think for own health need out of this situation quickly.
Good. I hope she gets the picture! If she doesn’t, she will be next on the chopping block.
She is incompetent, it is that simple. If she wants documents produced in a certain way she should get a template/master document setup, with the correct department formatting. The fact that she doesn’t know this and is instead undermining her staff shows she she doesn’t know what she is doing.
I am a temp, who also works in accounting, and I am also having issues working with a micromanaging, condescending person. This person is not my boss, but is my boss’s right hand, who is training me.
I casually asked her one day how I was doing performance-wise. She said I was their best temp ever, and that I was doing a great job. And she gave me an assortment of reasons. I felt great that day.
But literally, the very next day, and for the next week, she never ceased to make it known at very opportunity that I did not understand my job, and that I wasn’t measuring up.
There was an item I had researched extensively, and I knew what the issue was and how to resolve it. I had the backup to prove my conclusions. But anytime I tried to explain my research, I was just point blank told that I didn’t understand. I was never given the opportunity to explain how I arrived at my conclusion. I knew I fully understood what to do with this item.
Any time I have ever taken an item to her that I have questions about, she simply takes it from me and never allows me to show her what I have done to research it. She tells me she will look into it, and makes continual promises to review it with me one day, but never follows thru on her promises.
And the other day, we finally had a discussion. I thought she was going to discuss those items I had questions about and those items she thought I didn’t understand. No, this meeting was to tell me once again how I am not measuring up, not to discuss the items she had taken from me. I had brought some additional research I had done with me to the meeting to discuss. But she told me she didn’t even want to see it, accused me of being a know-it-all, and once again told me how I am incompetent and don’t measure up. She said she is the one training me. Well, as part of this training, shouldn’t I be able to have an open discussion with her on anything that I am working on, and have my questions answered? I said I know I have a lot to learn here, and definitely am not a know-it-all. I know I am not the boss, but her insecurity and incompetency is rearing it’s ugly head.
And I am certainly not the incompetent person she wants everyone to believe. She is now only going to give me the easy work. She said she can’t trust me with more complicated items. And I enjoyed trying to figure out the more complicated items. I loved the challenge of being able to use my investigative skills to solve issues. Now my job is turning into a less challenging, less motivating one, and that is what she wants. I think she wants me to quit. This doesn’t help the department or the company.
She has me CC her in every email. And I have to come to her before sending out any emails. And also she is having me forward every email to her before I send it out, so that she can revise it before sending it out. She said it was because she doesn’t understand the emails I send out, so she claims. This really angers me, given that I always make certain my emails are error-free, clear, concise, and easy to understand. And if you were to see her emails, they are full of grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. I really don’t trust her revising my emails.
And also she is also having me not make any phone calls until I run it by her.
Funny that these restrictions only began the day after she told me I am doing great, that I write good emails, that I am really good on the phone, that I understand my job, that I ask all the right questions, and that I don’t need to be retrained like past temps.
And I wonder about those past temps. Maybe they weren’t as bad as they were said to be. Maybe they ran into the same issues with this person making them appear incompetent. I am told this company has gone thru a lot of temps, and that statement alone makes me wonder.
Every night I come home upset from my job because what I thought was a great opportunity is now a lose-lose situation. I really enjoyed this job up until a week and a half ago. Now I am being overly stressed out, my anxiety level is up, my motivation is at an all-time low because of her behavior. I have become depressed over my job. I am not a happy worker, and as an unhappy worker, I won’t be a productive worker either.
I am at a loss as to what to do. I want to bring it up with my boss, but I don’t know how best to convey this issue to her.
Bottom line is micromanagement is bad for a business’s bottom line. It costs companies when great, but unhappy, employees leave because of micromanagement.
Well considering you probably won’t last there because of the stress dealing with this person, and I totally relate, I would speak to her boss and explain what is going on in the most diplomatic way you can. Having you send her your emails for review before they go out is an insult to your intelligence and definitely would take away motivation. Most people that work in accounting are independent thinkers and workers. She is squelching your spirit. This sound very much like a situation where I loved my job, was doing great, and then they hired “the controlling bitch from hell”. It sounds a lot the same.
I’ve worked for my boss for 13 years. Small company of 8. He was never a boss until 3 years ago when we became our own entity after our parent company folded. I answer phones, do payroll, HR, vacations, 401k, new employees, make sure employees have what they need and are taken care of. Putting out client fires, ordering lunches, travel, expense reports, credit card bills, UPS and mail, and so, so much more. My boss today emailed me he was “Putting together an employee salary, benefits, vacation time and sick time, need your input can we do this first thing in the morning?” Now, I’ve done this for 13 years. I just want to walk out and not look back! He’s basically saying, “I want control over this now.” Which is ridiculous. He’s out 5-6 weeks a year, comes and goes to meetings week after week, etc. His ability to perfect a spreadsheet on this is comical, however, it’s insulting and demeaning. I’m the only female in the office and trust me, it’s. Boys club! I enjoy working but not for a micromanager and someone who thinks their sh^+ don’t stink! What are your thought?
I say work with him this once, and see how it goes. Use this opportunity to highlight your experience. Set some boundaries in the process if he pushes you too far. Ask about his role.
I think micromanaging only works if you are an air traffic controller or surgeon where a little mistake could cost a life. Or a teacher working with developmentally disabled people working on a project where they need the extra help and hand holding. Other than that it’s very difficult for most people to deal with especially if it’s from a new manager coming into a company. I once had a new boss who came from a very corporate environment. His first week he said that something he learned was to come into a new company and observe as much as he could and understand why things were done a certain way. Even though he might have ideas on being more efficient or changing things he recognized that people did the things the way they did for a reason and he wanted to understand that first before changing anything. That was one of the best bosses I ever had and at the time I didn’t realize how wise that was. Ironically a year later he hired a manger who was the complete OPPOSITE of that. She came in like the Tasmanian devil trying to change things left and right literally berating people for not doing things the way she thought was right even though things had been done a certain way for years. I can understand if she had a memo or meeting about implementing changes but she just expected everyone implement her exact work style The problem was the establishment was an extremely laid back environment (think hippy smoke shop) and this new manager was from a corporate financial background. She made it the most horrible environment ever, people quit left and right. In the end higher managers ended up having to employ a survey company to give employees surveys of the managers (her) to find out information because they did not want a lawsuit if they fired her. The surveys brought forth a trove of information from about 10 different people that ultimately allowed the managers to ask her to leave.
I can’t sleep at night since my company made a project manager a people manager. She even tried to tell me to change the way I take notes and she invents false stories to attempt to push off her micromanagers control freak ways onto others. She treats everyone like a second grader. Just because you can marginally manage projects does not make you a manager of people.
I need an answer regarding ADA issue:
On a performance appraisal, my supervisor mentioned that the blinds to my office were closed. I commented back on the PA and said that it was “due to personal reasons and I would request and ADA accommodation if necessary. Please ask me if you would require me to request one.” So I told my employer to please ask for one.
I have Type I Diabetes and do not want people looking into my office when giving shots, checking insulin, or taking a break from fatigue.
Now our “Internal Operations Manager” decided to take in upon herself to NOT ask me or my supervisor of the issue. She took my PA to out legal counsel, dug into my medical and personnel files and found out about my Diabetes. She then came back to me and my supervisor and said that SHE HAD FILED AND ADA REQUEST ON MY BEHALF TO KEEP MY BLINDS SHUT. My supervisor said she had not issue with it and that we had an understanding. I told the Operations Manger that, “No, I am not requesting an ADA accommodation as my supervisor and I have an understanding.” But she filed an ADA accommodation request on my behalf when I directly told her not to. I told her that it was none of her business and that it was the employee’s job to file for the accommodation.
So she filed it anyway without my permission. I don’t even know what the reason was for why she filed it. She just said, “We have decided to accept you request for accommodation.” I DIDN’T FILE FOR ONE.
Q: Can the employer, on their own behalf, file an ADA request for an employee? I directly told her to NOT file the request. I would file for it if my supervisor deemed it necessary. Plus the information came from a performance evaluation.
So now she, as the IOM and not the HR director, know all about my Diabetes and other health issues.
Did she break the law by automatically filing the ADA request without my permission?
Yes, I was micromanaged for quite a few years, but I reported directly to the executive vice-president of my company. To compound the problem, she never could explain what she wanted, so if she asked for A, she’d blame you for not doing B, and if you did B, you’d find out you were supposed to do Q, until it finally became clear that something like A was what she really wanted.
I had originally decided to retire at age 67, which would be this coming September. But a little over a year ago, I got yet another phone call asking me to come in for a meeting which I knew would be another grueling micromanaged session going over the same damned things we had gone over five times already. Something in me just snapped, and then and there I just gave my two-week notice. Haven’t regretted it since, but the thought of what I had to endure for years from this control freak can still make my blood boil.
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Blog is a bit old but still has good information and people are still posting comments, so what the hell.
This entire article is my life. I am a software engineer and ETL developer. Ironically, I was hired at the right time and just in time to save my boss’ ass. She knew nothing – and was the IT Manager! She was in charge of creating all of our reports (Financial, Work Comp Rates, Liability Reports…) But she couldn’t figure out remote desktop or know what a default gateway was. Amazing!
She didn’t allow me to leave the premises without permission and I had to be at work 1 or more minutes early to work. We have FOB entry keys so she reviews when we first log into the building. Really? She tells me when she is going outside to have a cigarette and that’s where she’ll be if “anyone comes looking for her”. OMG. Sickening. Go have your cigarette. I don’t need to know.
So, this boss doesn’t know what she is doing – doesn’t have enough work to do – she is not skilled in the areas if IT – she hovers over me when she is asked by the CEO to get something done – she does not even know excel, word, powerpoint…
This isn’t the only bad manager here. Turnover rate is at an all-time high and morale is at an all-time low. If the managers could only figure it out that they might just be the problem.
My posts are always updated and fresh!
Thanks for sharing. The question is, when do you plan to leave and find something you really want to do?
Life is too short to work at a craptastic job!
Who knows when I’ll leave. I’m only here because we are self-insured; our health plan pays 80% of all medical and pharmaceuticals and my FLEX plan pays the rest. I haven’t paid for anything medical for 3 years now. No co-pay, small deductible and max out of pocket. I say this b/c I have a health condition that used to cost $1500 every 60 days… Ever since 2014 – I now pay $2800 every 60 days. So I’m stuck here b/c of the benefits. Soon people will be robbing pharmacies for insulin and not oxycodone.
I’m in a state that pays software engineers way too low of a salary, but that is changing a bit. Need to find the right city and high enough salary to pay for medication.
Also, we DON’T have a Human Resource department right now. Our CEO let him walk right out the door. He had 20 years experience and was the only one that could be trusted. So, now the employees have no where to go to. Everyone is looking to move on, but the benefits are keeping them here too.
So, when do you draw that line? When do you decide enough is enough? I just don’t know.
I understand this blog is aimed at corporate types, but I wonder if micromanagement is even more common in small businesses where individuals with little management experience, if any, start their own business and have no one to answer to but themselves. I was a store manager for decades and have found myself working for smaller independent boutiques under a steady stream of micromanager owners. I am hired for my experience and then demeaned and demoralized on a daily basis. I was fortunate to have capable, hands off owners in the past who allowed me to do my job and excel and now I am repeatedly in the same situation, where I am left playing a chess game to actually get things done, and the inefficiency and disconnect is incredibly frustrating. It is hard to lead by example, showing my own effective management skills with the rest of the staff, when everyone quits because of the crazy owner/micromanager. The turnover is remarkable and understandable. Yesterday, she chose to hire a feng shui analyzer for $700 an hour, yet she won’t hire more staff, or pay people more, because “she can’t afford it.”
Second to my claims, the supervisor received a written complaint. Asked recently whether rhungs were okay. My answer was like ‘kind of warmth’. That was not tge case actually. The bully, harrassment attitude continue.
Specifically, we had an evaluation and i was primarily blamed for low outcome when such was not the condition.
I am currently being micromanaged by a classroom teacher too desperately requiring me to quit work. I really would not relinguish the job, but the work place does not make secondly home. I sometimes join into conversation but treated with redherring or excluded. I am too often descredited for work done. Meanly, i was told such “like i will not give you any work until you ask to be relocated”.
No he hasnt and its not like im his assistant. The interview process lasted a month
And i actually have plenty of time off. I only see him 15 days a month,that doesn mean he doesnt have high expectations but those dont include on how do my job,he does ask for my expert opinion on the matters i specialize in.
I have been supervised by a micromanaging control freak for 8 years. this nut job thinks im 12 years old,calls me on weekends to ask something he could ask on monday.Always doubting my decisions.Asking to do work that is just a total waste of time. I could go on and on.Cant take it anymore, specially if i was summoned by a CEO to go work for him. He just happenend to see my linkedin and had his people contact me.i didnt even send out a resume. I am very happy to get out of there ,but im doing so without burning any bridges.
Has he started texting you to do things yet?!
Thank you so much for this article. I have a real problem at work. I have a micromanaging director of our department whose constant meddling in tasks others are responsible for creates chaos, misinformation, and, for me. whose role seems to be the object of most of her focus, feelings of doubt in myself, and anxiety trying to figure out why I am not trusted. Worse yet, technical tasks I’ve been working on for years she is now delegating to some of her favorites, who don’t have the experience in these areas that I do. Each day is a constant reminder of the responsibilities that have been underhandedly taken away from me. When I try to discuss it, I’m told it’s not permanent, but I’ve come to realize she is just trying to placate me and make herself feel better. The sad part is that I love everyone else at this place, it’s close to home, I’m making good money and I do not want to leave! I don’t know what I can do. Sorry this is so long, but I don’t feel comfortable going to HR and don’t know who I can speak to in order to explain and defend myself.
About this idea that HR’s job is protect the firm – this is often stated, but I’ve never seen anyone successfully explain how it is that protecting and supporting a bad boss translates to “protecting the firm.” If anything, a toxic boss should be considered a liability and dealt with before something blows up.
I agree totally JC
I was micromanaged by two successive managers in my last job. Both were brand new to management and had never had reports before. Both were insecure and in over their heads but had too much ego to acknowledge it, and therefore get help with it, so they just made other people suffer for it. Everyone below them had to make the difficult choice to leave or stay and be miserable. Nothing was done about it because both of those women knew how to make their boss happy and that’s all that mattered to those executives and to the organization.
Micromanagement should be understood as toxic. Anyone who claims that micromanagement is a solution to anything, even if the employee is having performance problems, is very mistaken. It has never improved anyone’s performance in the long run. Putting someone under the microscope will almost always make things worse, in part because doing so speaks to a lack of understanding of, and skill at, coaching and improving performance. In fact, if the employee has previously had a good history it is very likely that the root of the performance issues is the micromanager. More of the same isn’t going to make anything better.
The lesson I came away with is this: if you’ve got a bad boss and you can move within the company, start working on that today. However, if you’ve got a boss who is creating a toxic workplace and your organization refuses to acknowledge it and rectify it, your boss is the least of your problems. You’re mired in a bad culture and you need to be brave and get out of there before it starts effecting your physical and emotional health and your life outside of your job. Because it will.
JC, you are 100% right. Your analysis of the micromanagement situation is the best I’ve read thus far–kudos for your insight. I’ve tried having conversations with my boss and it never worked. Micromanagers never think they are micromanagers; my boss constantly verbalizes how much work HE has because HE has to do/think of everything! Personally, I feel that he doesn’t have enough to do because he pulls crap like calling the business line from his cell phone pretending to be a client to see how I’ll respond to his phony questions–I mean really! I’m 59 and too old for these kinds of adolescent games. Unfortunately, the only solution is finding another job, but until then I’m stuck trying to survive a bad work environment. (This too, shall pass…I hope.)
I have done everything I could to understand and make it easy to work with my manager for past 11 years. But I still get run over and told how I don’t measure up repeatedly. How we dont have enough work inspite of working over 8 hours most days. He does not want and does not like me to talk to anyone on the team. If I am working from home and he needs help with Facilities, he will IM and have me call them. I hate him so much that I feel like killing him. I dread going to work every morning.
I too have/had a great job. They moved my manager into a new position and hired a controller who is just that. I have done this kind of work for over 30 years, have worked for this company for over a year and worked hard. The controller is now my new boss and her micromanagement style is affecting my performance and stress level. I have tried to talk to her about it but she refuses to talk with me. My only option is to go to the owner before I look for something else. He always valued my work. I feel like a child. Good article.
Micromanagers should be outlawed. Anyone who meets such demotivating standards in the work place must go. Just think how many organizations are losing good help and money to micromanagers.
These are all great stories and not to different than mine. I have been affiliated with a particular industry for more than 31 years most of which on a part-time basis. About 4 years ago I was fortunate to acquire a full time position there doing what I really enjoy. Everything was going great. I had a great job and a great supervisor which was a joy to work for. Unfortunately that great supervisor went to a job elsewhere to get closer to her family and then it all began. Her replacement was a young girl half my age with no experience in the position that she was hired into and had no idea what my job responsibilities were. Things went ok for a couple of months but then out of the blue she started questioning my job knowledge. Really? She was like 3 years old when I started there part time. Things have progressively gotten worse to the point that my wonderful job that I’ve waited on for so long has turned into a nightmare. I really do love my job but not my supervisor. I’m in my mid 50s and have always been well respected. I plan on retireing when I turn 60 but just hope I can get through this rough spell. By the way, there is another person working under this same supervisor who is having the exact same issues so I know it’s not me.
My problem is not in an office. I’m an instructor and we share the same space. She is there 24/7 and will not surrender any control or take on new ways. She is that much of a control freak. OCD? Absolutely! My boss has her way and it’s the only way True she has some good advice, but sometimes her advice doesn’t work for every situation. Not realizing that her way doesn’t always work for some individuals. This business, you have to be lenient in order for people to learn. I’ve been doing my job and in this field as long as she has been. She can be so condescending and humiliating and she will challenge you in every single way to keep her power and to send a message. Believe me, I don’t want her job. But I want to enjoy what I’ve been doing for a long time. Sadly, I can’t quit because it is such a specialized field unless I move out of state which I can’t do. The head boss and I get along great. But she knows with my boss, she has it pretty easy. She can run the business while my boss CONTROLS the other instructors. The other instructors feel the same way I do but because head boss knows she has it good, no way around it. Miserable and dread going to work!!!!
I once worked under a female boss who was an incredible stickler and also abusive and bossy, which caused a lot of other four employees to leave. I also left and she was eventually fired after the company held her responsible for the people that left. I shouldn’t say this but I’m glad she also had to leave. Justice.
Too bad the company didn’t Fire the boss before everyone left. This is a failure of senior management that happens way too often.
So I googled “help, my new boss is a micro-manager” and this is the article I came across in the top search results. I agree with everything you write and can relate on all levels.
I, too, am considered a high performing employee by others. I do not consider myself one – I have a preference to keep pushing myself like I did back in college (Ivy League; finished 4-year degree in 3). That all changed when my a new direct boss joined the company in a role I was in 5 years ago.
Before she joined I was promoted 3 times in 2.5 years, and had a reputation in the company for being a game-changer. My new boss knew this, but after being in the job for 6 months she turned to be more and more micro – to the point where all I could think of was work and what I had missed or done wrong after spending 16 hours in the office, sometimes 6 days a week. Unfortunately that permeated throughout the senior executive committee ranks.
Failure for me was and is not an option, and I pulled through with the same boss for another 2.5 years (I was the only executive committee member reporting to her that did not leave). I refused to move even though I was approached by other companies, but I finally decided it was time for a change of scenery once my job-specific goals were achieved.
The VP of Human Resources (among others) reached out explaining how disappointed they were with my decision, but I left on good terms.
Surprisingly (or perhaps not so much!), the next colleague I worked with very closely was also a micro manager. I saw that immediately, but thought again that I would stick it out – and I did.
The role I am in now I have been in for 12 months, and with the news that we are getting a new Head I did some research and guess what? Everyone I have spoken to who has worked for or with her before have exclaimed that she is incredibly nit-picky, detail oriented, and generally unpleasant to work with. So now I am unsure how to proceed..
I have started reaching out to my broader network, and one person (who approached me for a role 6 months ago) told me it may be better to show some more stability and stay in my current role for a bit longer. Go figure.
What I know for sure is that I thoroughly enjoy the autonomy I have at work, and if that is taken away from me then I no longer believe I can add any value.
Ironically, all of these rather unpleasant experiences have been with women. But I choose not to make any assumptions based on this.
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Id honestly be looking for a new job. You sound like a high performer. Read this: https://www.financialsamurai.com/five-sure-signs-its-time-to-move-on-from-your-job/
I have read every one of these blogs and they mostly say the same thing. Give some one a little power and they turn it into a bomb. Good luck to every one with a creep for a boss. My advice is to get out. Stress leads to heart failure, strokes, high blood pressure,etc. No job is worth dying over.
Thank you so much for this blog. I myself think I may be in a micro management situation. I am always neat and I am detail orientated. I have been canned in the past when I thought I was doing a great job. A new person has been hired on and they get extra hours when I stated in the beginning I would work any hours. Wtf!
Ugh, this whole article really rings so true!
I’ve been suffering with a micromanager for years—a high-performing salesperson who’s just a terrible manager.
The proof to me is that my sales skyrocket when she’s out of town. I just got back from a rare 2 days off, and spent 80% of my day answering her ridiculous emails about leads which went cold 6 months ago—which she was CCed on at the time.
She insists I CC her on every single email to every single person. It’s ridiculous! I’m intellectually her superior and well-known in the office for being detail-oriented, thorough, and a strong team player. And it doesn’t seem to matter how great my sales performance is; whether I’m doing well or not, her micro style is set off.
She clearly favors an attractive younger male colleague, whom she lets offer much better terms and shorter lead times to potential clients. Her personal style of communicating is more similar to his, and I think he doesn’t threaten her ego.
What to do? Do I try to resolve this with her, with the company owner/boss with whom she’s thick as thieves, or the head of HR, who’s coincidentally her best friend? Help, I’m capable of so much more!!
You’ve got to have a heart to heart! Be honest and nice to her. If you speak to HR, you will blow yourself up unfortunately as their job is to protect the firm and report everything to the manager.
Micromanaging is exhausting. I’ve only had to do it when an employee is performing poorly and needs to be watched closely to avoid critical errors. It takes some extra attention to show the steps to avoid repeat mistakes, but once that work is done and trust is rebuilt, there’s no need to continue micromanaging
I have been a highly rated employee my entire career. That is how I got to this high paying Job. Everyone in my position has been rated the same or they never would have made it this far. That is the strange thing. He makes an easy job into a very hard one for himself. His drama has already raised the awareness of our HR division. Not through me – yet. It is odd to me that he cannot see this.
I typically like your posts/blogs, but had a hard time finishing this one ( and full disclosure I am not a manager myself-thought I am consistently rated as a high performing employee). However, I think what many people are failing to realize is that, from my observations, people are not nearly as good at their jobs as they think, as well as view ‘more qualified’ with years of experience or seniority. So I probably would have led with ‘simply messing up, as point #1 vs. point #5, as I believe it is much more likely to be the case.
This does not condone poor managing, of which I think you are spot on with the Peter principle concept, but I find people mis-interpret poor managing for lacking autonomy or decision making.
It’s probably hard to empathize with this post if you’ve never been micromanaged and are currently a “high performing employee” as you describe yourself.
How long have you been working currently and what is your function? BTW, I always encourage readers who have difficulty reading a particular blog post to write a blog post that would be considered easier to read and better. If you’re interested, please let me know! Thanks
A few clarifications are apparently in order:
1)It was hard for me to finish, not from poor writing style, but because I strongly disagreed with the message of blame the manager first (see point #2 which follows for more). As I said before, I generally enjoy the blog, just didn’t agree with the premise of the article so I thought I would let you know via the comment section.
2)I said that I am not a manager of people currently, not that I have never been micromanaged. In my experiences, much like Untemplater says below my comment, many micromanagers will stop micromanaging once work is done correctly consistently and trust is built. However, as you correctly point out, there is a portion of managers who micromange because they are simply unfit to be managing. I was trying to articulate that employees who complain of a micromanager need to do an honest reflection of their work first to see if the micromanaging is justified (as it is more justified more often than people realize)
3)I have been at my fortune 500 company for 5 years now, being promoted 4 times (hence the high performer comment). My roles have been within various financial, business, & analytics roles.
Thanks for the opportunity to clarify.
I think we have different takes. The beginning of the article starts off with the position of being micromanaged by an experienced person, not from a high performer who is not being micromanaged. IF you are a high performer who is not being micromanaged, this article does not pertain to you.
5) You’re simply messing up. If you were doing your job “perfectly” you would be micromanaged less. The issue is, the definition of “perfect” might be different between you two. Take time to understand exactly how your manager likes things to be done and write them down.
What were you doing before your current fortune 500?
This post really hit home for me. I am currently working for a micromanager who is so bad that I honestly think he is unstable. He has to offer “suggestions” on everything, changes direction constantly, goes to other divisions not related to ours and comes back with ideas that are not relevant, talks up a storm in meetings with clients saying things that have no relevance and continually tries to trip you up with gotcha questions. The questions have no relevance either. He also likes to take a very minor issue and blow it out of proportion.
I was on the West Coast a couple of weeks back with him for some client meetings. They were great meetings when I could get him to shut up. I know what I am doing. I let the client talk. On the last day, we were in San Fran and I didn’t get gas before returning it to the rental car agency. The difference was $5.25 (I confirmed that). He actually yelled at me in public. I offered to pay him the money but he ignored me on that. Very odd. Most have issues with him. He has yelled at me in public several times. I am 48 years and have had significant accomplishments with the firm. Ironically, all his swirl seems to have cost his boss his job. A long story and I don’t think he learned a thing from it.
However, I am only 2 years away from qualifying for a health insurance benefit which should last several years. Also, I have built a nice portfolio but I want a little more breathing room. My wife started a business a couple of years ago and her biggest problem is that it is growing too fast. I can definitely add value to that business in several ways since our knowledge tends to compliment each other.
So, I am now living by the calendar. Day by day. I am trying to take it in short doses. I just had my Money Purchase Pension Plan contribution yesterday, I have a vacation to Jamaica in mid April with the family, a trip for the wife and I to Vegas in May, a bonus in May, a firm wide bonus in June and 2 weeks off in August. I am using these dates as markers. Just make it to the next one and then the next one. I have put up with this for almost 2 years. I know it won’t change unless he moves along (he won’t go to another firm on his own) or does something so egregious that he gets fired. Literally, yesterday marked the beginning of the 24 month countdown.
I know that is pathetic but it is all I have. I pretty much have tried the techniques above but they have not worked for me or for others. He is just wickedly insecure and cannot help himself.
Ma, that must be so painful getting micromanaged as a 48 year old with experience. WTF!
I hope your two years goes by quick. It’s great to shoot for something, and I think you’ll survive.
How did you find this post btw? I’m always curious to know. thx
I follow your blog all the time. I don’t post much but really enjoy reading it. It has been a couple of weeks since I checked in. I did post a comment on investing in the equity markets that has worked for me.
Thanks for providing such fantastic information. I have learned a TON reading this blog. Also, thanks to the commenters as well for the knowledge they bring to the table.
Interesting info here. My situation at work as an administrator for 17+ years changed when a medical person (no admin experience at all) was put over the office and the org chart was changed so I reported to her; she had less than 5 years in our office. Although she was apparently good at the medical part, her people skills were less that none and her lack of admin experience was horrible. Very shortly after that change was made, every single one of the medical people left and admin staff (my direct reports) threatened to leave; all of admin staff had over 17 years of experience and all were very well versed in procedures. Upper management allowed this micomanager to the max to not only continue in her position, but took no action to correct the situation despite numerous and ongoing complaints from staff. Not only was she a micromanger, she demeaned all the admin staff and looked down on them all. I cannot imagine how I managed to do my job adequately for so many years before she came on board and questioned every move I made! It got so bad that I transferred to headquarters, from the frying pan right into the fire (sigh). I was not really ready to retire, but given the bad and then worse work environment, I chose to take early retirement and got the hell out. Best move ever; less stress and now I have time to do what I like. It never ceases to amaze me that upper managers have no backbone and refuse to correct personnel problems. Guess it’s easier to let things slide than to get off their rear and do the unpleasant but necessary duties.
One of my first jobs was with a micromanager for a boss. It made me pretty miserable most of the time. One thing about this post is that really got me is how micromanaging can make you doubt yourself. It got so bad that I felt I couldn’t do anything without running it by my boss first. Talk about indecision!
The ironic thing is that outside of work I really liked her. She was a very caring person who I enjoyed talking with. It was just working with her that was the problem.
There is a good ending to this story though. The micromanaging got so bad that I had to look for another job. I eventually moved to another position within the organization that worked with the education field. I discovered that I love the education field and it has basically designed my career since! I don’t think I would have discovered my love for education with out my micromananging boss. So, in this case, all’s well that ends well!
That is quite serendipitous indeed! It’s great to look at the positive side of things. Always a silver lining.
One thing that I see a lot is someone becoming a manager for the first time with no experience managing other people. For some reason they think their role as a manager is to yell at the people under them and be strict and an enforcer. They also think one of the perks of being a manager is that they can sit in the office and not do anything. They fail to realize that we are all a team and he should be building up his employees rather than trying to chop them down.
Try dealing with them outside the work place. If they don’t treat you like that outside they shouldn’t treat you like that inside the cage.
Sam…a great observation and article about the realities of business, leadership, and relationship. This is really a complex issue that few people understand. We are quick to go into judgment and finger pointing without knowing the depth of complex issues involved.
I can identify with it because, evidently as the owner and manager of a small business, I became a micromanager without my even knowing it…until several employees gave me the truth, in spades, with a written letter. I was devastated, hurt, bewildered, and confused as I had put a notable sum of money at risk to make our company profitable. And, yes! I was insecure and not trustful especially of some new employees.
It was not until I went to a series of seminars and workshops on relationship building and leadership skills that I found out what was happening. The final workshop that blew my mind was called “Personality Styles” and lasted for two entire weekends. Although most human beings are an amalgam of four or more personality styles that tend to give us a balance (analyst, promoter, supporter, and controller), when we are stressed out one or more styles come out in spades. Whether it is at the office or at home with our employees, spouse or kids, our survival personality comes through when it’s stress time.
Example is that my father was an alcoholic for 20 years and I learned to survive by taking control of my own world. I transferred that control over my new employees whom I did not know or trust sufficiently, worried about their results and bottom line. Also a key point here…if we do not know about personality styles and their effect upon us in our work or relationship world, we tend to hire employees like us (unconsciously) or date people like us. Thus, I hired lots of other controllers which ended up in an office battleground environment within a year or two. Once I understood what was happening, I totally changed my methods of hiring and working with employees. And, I started to hire a totally different group of people.
In addition, I often dated other controllers which made my life miserable. My first wife was like marrying my mother, who was also a super controller (imago match). It’s an opportunity to rework the unfinished business of early parental relationships. Of course much comes from the unconscious as we need to work out the solutions. Once I understood the process and worked out unfinished needs through transformational workshops in the Bay area, my whole life changed both in the work environment as well as with romantic relationships. Divorce is a symptom not a solution. That’s why many people have two, three or four divorces before they get help and work out the underlying problems which are unique to each individual. I finally got it that I needed to add supporters in my life. My whole world changed within two years and became a foundation for the next 40 years. Nothing is quite as easy or simple as it seems.
Wow David, thanks so much for sharing your perspective. What you say makes a lot of sense. I must imagine it is MORE difficult NOT to micromanage if you started the company and put a lot of money and sweat into it.
I don’t know how many of us take the Meyers Brigg exam or other personality exams to understand how we are. A house and workplace full of one type of folk, especially “controllers” must be very, very difficult.
Glad things are better now!
Micromanaging is exhausting and incredible inefficient. The only time it can be appropriate is if you have an employee who is struggling with performance issues. In those cases you have to keep a close eye to catch errors before clients do. Once you work out the issues and gain trust, then you can step back.
Must be exhausting indeed. One strategy I guess is to just wait it out until the manager is too exhausted to micromanage. But of course during this time, you should be open with what is being delivered and meet expectations.
Ugh! I hate micromanaging. I have resolved never to work for someone like that agin. It is too stressful and they usually breathe down your back for every little thing. No thank you!
I’ve luckily moved on from my previous micromanager boss, and wish I had this post around a few years ago! The judo throw of outsourcing your work to your boss is pretty genius. I can see how, on some level, the micromanager WANTS to do the work himself or herself. If you can find a way to make that happen, it really is a win win.
I’m with you Sam, there is nothing more demotivating than a micromanager. It takes away a lot of the motivation to go above an beyond because everything is criticized in utmost detail. It also feels terrible to have someone tell you what to do, especially when you’re completely aware of the steps that need to be taken.
I find a couple of bad bosses can quickly ruin an office/company.
Very useful and timely info as I have recently received a promotion and am starting to realize one of the guys I have to be working with more is probably a micromanager. Thankfully he’s not my boss so it won’t drive me TOO crazy. Will have to refer back to this post from time to time.
I can be a perfectionist, so I have to consciously work to make sure I’m not micromanaging my team members. It’s important to realize that there is no way to scale if you are micromanaging – you will limit the amount if work that gets done. Which defeats the point of hiring employees!
I agree with you. My boss and I have been friends for years although he is a few years older than me. He was extremely lucky to get picked into a VP position with a well regarded PE backed startup a few years ago. As they grew and started up a second company backed the same PE he asked me if I would come to work there. Now I think that that may have been a mistake. He reviews everything that I and our attorneys do. There is effectively zero autonomy. I just threw in the towel. There is no reason for me to work on something if it will be redone.
As the article mentions, I think what we have here is a case of someone who is fairly young and lacks managerial skills. In addition, he has equity in the company and is puckered up. As one of my friends put it: “he’s still trying to prove himself”. I’ve just relinquished. They’re paying me a great salary and when he tells me to make a change in an important document that I know is a grammatical error I just do it anyway. I don’t care. The first and fifteenth are all I am motivated to care about.
Do you ever think what it would be like if you were not only motivated by the 1st and 15th, but also by at least another 10 days of work there?
I can’t deduce your inference. I assume you mean engineering a layoff. Because of our structure were not built to last we’re built to IPO or sell out in a certain time frame. Either way, this mgmt team has a history of making it worth your while and were 1-3 years away from one of those two exits.
The social proximity, to both my boss and mgmt team, makes any other option less palatible.
Ah yes, you guys are on the IPO track. Well, so long as you guys are on track, I’d just bear it until the windfall and lockup period is over.
It seems like you tend to respond more to the male commenters. Any particular reason for that? It feels like you are not taking the women seriously. Just my observation….enjoyed the article. Thanks.
Personally i haven’t really dealt with micro managers, but my fiancé had to deal with one for over a year. The really messed up part is that technically she was more qualified than her manager. Ultimately she left because she felt like a child – it was so bad that she was typically told when she could leave work.
I had a terrible boss that was a micromanager. He was just a perfectionist at heart so if something didn’t work exactly how he expected (even if it produced the same result) he would flip out. He really knew what he was doing but he just couldn’t accept things not being done his way.
I put up with it for too long honestly, and when I was sick of it and I knew he couldn’t fire me I just stopped caring. I know this wasn’t the best solution but I just mentally turned off in my head when he would start complaining about something. The final solution was to point out to upper management how he had created a horrible work environment (using threats of losing our jobs to motivate) and having us work extra hours and not paying us for overtime. In the end I was paid for all the overtime I did (there was a ticketing system that logged when I was actually at work so I knew exactly when I was still working) and then I quit and found a new job.
When I left I talked to my coworkers more openly since I already knew I was leaving. I knew a lot of them were looking for new jobs. I’m sure if people keep leaving, and now that upper management had a serious complaint that could have easily resulted in a lawsuit, they will eventually catch on that he’s is the problem with that department.
I don’t think I ever experienced a micromanager. Probably, no one wanted my (CFO) job! I like your suggestion of establishing checkpoints. I used to meet with my staff as a group or individually to find out their progress weekly. I would also try to teach the manager how to manage. The execution may be more difficult than anything, but the alternative is quitting. I think it is more admirable to try to fix it before leaving.
I’ve had the opposite sort of issue. A micromanaging senior mgr who wanted work done in a very particular way, however, he didn’t say that up front. Only after it had gone from me to the senior associate to him, did he come back with a barrage of questions and comments.
It wasted a ton of time since he sparsely gave much constructive help up front, even when asked, and then proceeded to tear apart our analysis on the back end. Needless to say, I just had to deal while on one of his projects and eventually left the firm (not just because of him, but that was a big plus).
I haven’t had a micromanaging boss yet, but wow that would really annoy me. I have pretty thick skin, so as long as I understand what they want and they know what they want, I can deal. For me, a “after the fact nit picker” as I described is 10x worse in my opinion.
I suggest people going straight to their senior manager and asking EXACTLY what they want and what they don’t want. Why talk to the ass when you can talk to the head?
Trouble was, he tended to give insufficient detail when asked directly anyway. Seemed like he didn’t really think about it until it was done and in his inbox.
Some people just aren’t easy to deal with…
My boss does both: she micromanages and never gives details about how exactly she wants things done.
So, in other words, she expects you to have ESP and read her mind?? I worked for one of those women … she has been dubbed worst boss of my life with the nickname “She-Devil”.
Does this boss actually know the job? In my experience with this being vague means not having to be accountable for the outcome. Managers can just blame the subordinates when something goes wrong.
In my experience your exactly right. This usually only last for a little while until upper management wonders why they can’t keep employees around. Unfortunately to many employees need to quit or are fired before this can happen.
A lot of useful information here.
I think the first thing one needs to do is to take an honest evaluation of their performance. Are they doing a good job? Chances are they are being micromanaged for a reason.
After that, I would set up a time with my boss to ask how I’m doing and how I can improve.
or these bosses are micromanagers and thats how they really are.
or the boss is incredibly insecure about their abilities and operate deceptively in life and assume everyone else is just a like them
They’re usually being micromanaged because of their Manager’s insecurites, and their Manager’s need for control.. Not usually because of the employee’s lack of abilities.
That is an objective good start. The key is to be objective and look at those outputs that are measurable.
I have over 23 years experience in my chosen field and face a micromanager every day. He lacks any experience in my field and never listens to my advice. As a freelancer I stepped away from the situation and made it clear of he knew what to do then to do it. Believe me he stood back for awhile, but now he’s back again watching as closely as ever without really taking heed of the advice given to him by another manager. He just cannot leave it alone. He’s a 27 year old Project Manager who wasn’t even born when I started working for a living and has less than 4 years working in a corporate environment. He trained as a lawyer initially – turned his back as rumour had it he couldn’t cope.