Micromanaging Manager: How to Wrangle Your Controlling Boss


No matter your profession or your pay level, if you’ve been working for a living, you’ve probably encountered at least one overbearing, micromanaging boss.

I’m not talking about someone who wants all hands on deck or holds you accountable. I’m talking about the manager who waves a clipboard about like a sadistic high school P.E. coach.

I’m talking about the boss who sends you ten emails per day asking how your job is coming along even though you’ve never completed a project late.

I’m talking about the boss who gives you instructions so specific that they seem more like a ritual than an actual job.

All of us have dealt with micromanagement in one form or another in our lives, and though the micromanager probably thinks they’re pushing us to reach our full potential, we usually find the exact opposite.

Being micromanaged all the time is frustrating, will definitely hurt your morale, and may have a negative effect on your productivity levels.

It’s hard to focus on your job when you’re constantly trying to restrain yourself from bashing in your manager’s skull with the cash register.

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But it’s not entirely hopeless. While your boss’s micromanaging tendencies are more of a reflection on them than on you, the situation is not completely out of your hands.

There are some ways that you can make your overbearing boss ease up a little bit– and best of all, you can do it without biting the hand that feeds you and risking your own job!

Here’s how to handle a micromanaging manager bordering on harassment.

  1. Figure out what your micromanaging boss’s expectations are.
  2. The best way to understand what your boss wants you to do is to ask.

    Instead of sitting around hoping you can fly under the radar, take the initiative and ask your boss to be clear and concise in what their expectations are.

    If there’s a recurring problem in your workplace (someone is often late, something is handled improperly, etc), ask what the protocol is for handling the emergency, and take note of problem-solving suggestions that your boss has to give you.

    If you get your boss’s feedback from the very beginning, they will be less likely to freak out and micromanage every time the work routine is thrown off. Coordinate with your team. Be a leader. Problem solve.

  3. Aim for perfection and refuse to leave any room for micromanagement.
  4. If your boss is constantly backseat driving, it’s probably because they feel that you need someone cracking the whip 24/7 in order to get the job done. So prove them wrong!

    This is a good time to be a little bit hard on yourself. Scrutinize the work you have been doing and improve.

    If you’ve been a procrastinator, or someone who always does the bare minimum required, pick up the pace. If you start performing at an above average level, your boss won’t feel the need to nitpick your work. Don’t leave space for nitpicking!

  5. Head off all those panicked emails.
  6. If your boss is constantly poking their head in to see how you’re doing (even though they were just there eight minutes ago and little progress has been made), start providing updates of your own accord.

    Beat them to the punch. Clearly, your boss is someone who likes to know that things are going smoothly, so throw them a bone every now and then!

    A micromanaging boss is kind of like a growing toddler. What’s the best way to avoid “I want ice cream” temper tantrums? Keep the toddler well fed, and the boss well-aware of how things are coming along.
    This also means alerting your boss of potential problems as soon as you come across them. If there’s an emergency you aren’t familiar with, make sure your boss knows about it, stat!

  7. Communicate, and if things don’t improve, consider leaving.
  8. While most of us are terrified of facing our bosses, if the constant micromanagement starts taking a toll on your productivity and your emotional well-being, it’s important to let them know about the situation. Schedule a one-on-one meeting (or, if you know your coworkers feel the same way, approach them together) and tactfully explain the situation.

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    Make sure it doesn’t sound like an accusation. Try to emphasize that YOU feel like your boss doesn’t think you are responsible or trustworthy, and you want to know how you can fix that. You don’t want to tell your boss that they’re being a control freak!

If that doesn’t work, and you have the ability to leave, start looking for another job. You don’t want to stay in a negative work environment.

Is your boss a micro manager? Tell us why?

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Rob StGeorge

Co Founder of RateMyCompanyUSA.com

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