Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Creating Exceptional Workplaces and Extraordinary Results
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Help! My Boss is a MicroManager. What Do I Do?

What it feels like to work for a micromanager

I received an e-mail this morning asking me for help in dealing with a micromanager. To make matters worse, this person turns ten minute meetings into two hour sessions. I thought I would share my reply since this seems to be a problem that is common throughout organizations.

While doing research for my book, Suddenly in Charge, I heard story after story about bosses who were managing their people’s every move. So much so, that I wondered how they had time to get their own work done.

Micromanagement is about lack of trust. The person doing this doesn’t trust that others will do the work the way she would. Your job is to build trust. You do this by doing what you say you will do and when you can’t, letting your boss know immediately why promised work may be delayed.

Regarding the time sucker issue. Chances are your boss doesn’t realize the impact these meetings are having on her people. You might consider the following: Look at why it’s in her best interest to keep to the time allotted. For example, you could say, “Jane, I’m wondering if you would consider providing us with a more realistic ending time for our meetings. By that I mean, if you expect the meeting will last more than the ten minutes allotted, perhaps you can tell us exactly how much time will be needed so that we can schedule our calendars accordingly. By doing so, this will allow us to be fully present when we meet and will help us do a better job of servicing our clients.” You could also point out that by doing so, she too will be able to leave work on time so  she can get to her evening MBA class.

Adjusting to the situation at hand is the best way to deal with a micromanager, as it is rare that your boss will adjust to you.

What has worked for you when you’ve been in a similar situation?

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  1. Stanley Bray
    Posted March 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I must say I used suggested idea with a former boss; however, the situation became worse. I believe she wanted to to do the job, but was stuck in management. She complained about staying late because she had to do her work. She only stayed late because she was involved in everyone else’s jobs. I was eventually let go because I was not a “good fit” for the position. I enjoyed the experience. It taught me a lot about management skills or lack thereof.

  2. Posted March 29, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    You bring up a good point Stanley. It can get worse. However, I can guarantee it won’t get better if you don’t give it a go.

    I like how you learned from this experience. Re: What not to do!


  3. Posted March 29, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    I have spent my own fair amount of time with micromanagers. I have seen give and take and as the relationship strengthen the amount of micromanaging started to desist. I found it to be such a common problem that I made my own website about it for people to vent. You may find it helpful for finding inspiration on peoples problems at work or just worth a quick laugh… link to check it out and let me know what you think!

  4. Posted March 29, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Love it Eric! Thanks for sharing as we can all use a laugh every now and again.


  5. Posted April 6, 2011 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    Thanks a lot Eric, I can guarantee it won’t get better if you don’t give it a go.

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