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How To Deal With A Micromanaging Boss

Being constantly micromanaged always makes me feel like I’m back in preschool, like it’s just a matter of time before my micromanaging boss insists we all hold one of those kiddie tow ropes when we walk down the hall to a meeting.

When the workday becomes a routine dance of painstakingly elaborate instructions and constant check-ins that interrupt the work your boss expects you to keep doing, it can be incredibly frustrating – but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

It’s helpful to understand why your boss is micromanaging, if you can. What you see is that she doesn’t have any faith in your ability to get the job done. But what’s more likely is she thinks she’s being helpful, or she’s under pressure from a deadline or a supervisor to perform, and her stress at the situation is causing her to keep closer tabs on her team.

If this is a new position for you, or your manager is new: Give it some time. Some managers prefer to keep a closer watch over new employees, and some managers new to a position may feel the need to be in more control while they learn the ropes themselves. Hopefully after some time has passed and everyone is performing at their peak the micromanaging will lessen.

If you start noticing micromanaging where there was none before: Before you start pointing fingers, make sure your own job performance is up to snuff. Have you been missing deadlines or letting things slide? Is there any reason your boss might feel the need to micromanage? Focus on doing the best job you can, and you may get less scrutiny from your boss.

If the micromanaging seems like it’s here to stay…? Well, read on.

Learn what your boss expects of you

Sometimes your boss may think he’s explaining expectations through his micromanagement tactics, when in fact he’s just muddying the waters. Try sitting down with your boss to figure out exactly what he expects you to do – and when – and you may be able to allay some of the more annoying bits.

Be proactive

It’s frustrating being micromanaged, but you don’t have to just give in – in fact, that could end up making things worse. If you decide that there’s no reason to take action on your own since your boss will just remind you about it anyway, you’re just reconfirming her need to micromanage. Try to beat her to the punch. Instead of waiting to answer her constant URGENT request for information, try sending her unsolicited updates. Eventually she may relax her vigilance, knowing she can trust you to turn your work in on time.

Anticipate your boss’s reminders

You know there’s a meeting Tuesday at 10AM, because it’s every Tuesday. To stop your boss from reminding you of things that are recurring responsibilities, try anticipating. Respond politely with, “Great, I’ve already prepared my notes” enough times, and he may get the picture that you’re on top of things.

Try to negotiate updates

If your boss’s constant interruptions are getting in the way of your workflow, try to sit her down and ask if there’s a more convenient way you can share your updates, such as emailing her in bulk at the end of the day, or having set meeting times in the morning and afternoon when you’ll review what you’ve done so far.

Managing a micromanaging boss can bring results, though it’s not likely to be fast. With patience and an understanding boss, however, you may be able to salvage the relationship.

If the situation keeps being unbearable, though, it may be time to move on.

How have you dealt with a micromanaging boss? Leave your stories in the comments.

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Jackie A. Hubbard


This article is in line with my philosophy. I micromanage new employees by design (I do explain to the up front that with indication they have a command of their job expectations this will go away and I assess it every three months) and weak performers by invitation. I hate the time consuming style of micromanaging but I do it when my employee lets me know they need it.


Great article full of good advice. I’ve dealt with many micro-managers throughout my career and have found communication to be the best tool. First step is to always make sure that all directions are fully understood. I will repeat directives back and ask for clarification where needed. I also ALWAYS make sure I have an acknowledged agreement on due dates and general expectations. Once I’ve gone through this process and delivered the expected results on time, I find that the micromanagement quickly fades away.


Exactly what this paragraph said: “If this is a new position for you, or your manager is new:” We were both new, I came on board a few months before he did. He’s a former Marine Officer, and I’m a former Soldier that has been doing admin for over a decade. I would get so irritated at him micromanaging me, and would ask him on different occasions to stop. Finally, after being patient, letting him know I didn’t appreciate being micromanaged, he stopped. It took about a year or so, but I decided that’s his problem and not mine. However, I wasn’t going to just roll over and let it happen either; I have my pride.


Overwhelm them with the details. Include them on every decision. Lesson your pride and watch the relationship develop. If it doesn’t, move on!


After doing all the above, suggestions to try and calm the micromanaging manager and nothing works, I do not feel that if, you know your job, you do it well, and know more about doing your job than your mgr ever will, and suppose you wouldn’t even consider moving on because, if it wasn’t for the micromanaging mgr you liked it there. Say you get a new first time supervisor and he’s using “you” to make a name for himself and has gone beyond the realm of what is acceptable of a supervisor and it’s obvious he’s harrassing you. If he knows you are single, and/or he’s also abusing his authority, just because he (thinks) he can and it has just down right become ridiculous about how he is blatantly harrassing you and you are having to provide him with this report or that extra – “weekly extra expectation list” (a light comes on, on that one, and you know full well, he is (trying) to set you up for failure, so he can give you some kind of whatever he can come up with-letter, to start a paper trail on ya) and you’re providing him with what he wants more than you’re being able to work and do the job you were hired to do, …well, it’s time for you to get educated with the EEO process and avenue you, as an employee, have been provided to use, if an incompetent wanna-be supervisor, like that comes along, trying to steal your joy at work ….and just to make a name for himself …using you to do it. I don’t think so. I recently just had to deal with such a ?!?!?!? like that. Employees need to remember “there is always more than one way to skin a cat”; so to speak for any situation that arises. The employee “has to be in the right”, about it all, though. You, cannot get off the straight and narrow. Take written detailed notes of what the supervisor is harrassing you about and requesting of you and keep them in a safe and private place, get your ducks in a row, and when you’ve had enough, march on over to the EEO Office or the union office (I prefer the EEO route) and do something about it! Don’t do this though, unless you know, without a doubt, you’re going thru with this; that you’ve made up your mind that no matter how difficult it could get for you, you WILL NOT back down and you go all the way with it. Get that incompetent moran off your back, let what you are doing to remedy the situation – grab him by the ankles and bring him back down to the ground, giving “HIM” an education on how NOT to treat employees. When that’s done, get back to your job and the backlog he’s created for you from all of his unnecessary, bothersome antics, get it caught up and move on and be happy. Get back to being the hard working, dedicated employee you always were.