If your boss is a micromanager, there are things you can do to deal with the situation

Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time in the workforce has almost certainly encountered at least one supervisor who qualified as a micromanager. For many employees, that control-based management style can result in destroyed morale, reduced worker engagement, and an increasingly hostile work environment. Fortunately, there are signs that can help you to recognize when your boss is a micromanager and ways to deal with that management style.

In this post, we'll examine the reasons why bosses become micromanagers, and explore the various signs that can help you to identify micromanagement in your workplace. We'll also offer some tips to help you to deal with a micromanager boss and advice to ensure that your career advancement is not stymied by that type of work environment.

What is a micromanager?

When it comes to understanding the definition of micromanager, the word practically defines itself. Micromanagement occurs when supervisors assign tasks to their team members and then spend an excessive amount of time and energy overseeing every minor detail of their employee's work. These types of managers often seem incapable of simply allowing their subordinates to use their talents to complete tasks, and instead try to control everything that those employees do.

In short, these managers seldom delegate responsibility and instead try to maintain tight control over everything that occurs within their area of accountability. Micromanagers try to manage every work detail, right down to the “micro level.”

What causes someone to micromanage?

It is important to understand why managers might gravitate toward this control-based management style. Those reasons can vary from manager to manager, but typically involve one or more of the following mindsets:

  • A sincere, though usually erroneous, belief that they will lose control over projects unless they manage every minor detail of their team's work

  • Insecurity about their own ability to manage a team through delegation and trust, or fear that others' success might highlight the manager's weaknesses

  • A lack of experience in supervising others

  • Poor time management skills and an inability to prioritize their own important work tasks

  • An inability to extend trust to their subordinates and an unwillingness to accept that they can achieve their assigned tasks without excessive supervision

Is micromanagement toxic?

Before we consider the potential toxicity of micromanagement, it's important to recognize that most micromanagers probably mean well. After all, no reasonably competent manager would consciously adopt a management style that sabotages their own effectiveness. With that said, however, there is no doubt that micromanagers can have an incredibly toxic effect on their employees and workplace. The reasons are obvious:

  • Constant excessive supervision wastes valuable management time that could be better spent elsewhere

  • A micromanager's focus on control can frustrate employees by reducing their ability to take initiative in their work

  • The constant focus on oversight and reporting micro details to a manager can disrupt tasks and leave employees constantly looking over their shoulders

  • Micromanagement almost invariably complicates even simple tasks, creating more work for each member of the team

  • This style of management causes team members to place undue emphasis on lesser priorities, rather than focusing on using their talents to further the big picture goals

  • Team members who were hired for their skills can become disgruntled when they realize that their micromanager refuses to take advantage of those talents

  • The refusal to empower employees can lead to lingering and growing resentment, reduced engagement and productivity, and eventual employee attrition

Signs that your boss is a micromanager

Now that you understand the dangers of micromanagement, it's important to learn how to effectively identify a micromanager boss. The following signs are often present when a boss acts like a micromanager:

  • An excessive focus on monitoring your every action at work

  • A boss who not only tells you what to do, but how to do it – and then continually checks your work

  • A refusal to delegate responsibility

  • Constant demands for detailed reports

  • Regular lack of satisfaction with workers' results

  • A tendency to lash out at employees who make independent decisions

  • The setting of unreasonable or unattainable goals and deadlines

  • An emphasis on seemingly minor details rather than the big picture

  • Off-hours contact with employees to address work concerns

  • A boss who consistently alters employee's work products because they think they can do it better

In addition, workplaces with a micromanager boss often have high rates of employee turnover, an unenthusiastic work environment, and a disengaged workforce. In many instances, a prolonged micromanager tenure can be accompanied by a drop in productivity and an increasingly hostile atmosphere, as employee motivation suffers from this type of management.

Tips to deal with a micromanager boss

Of course, if you find yourself being managed by someone who turns out to be a micromanager, it will be important for you to know how to deal with that boss. After all, depending on your circumstances, you may not have the option to resign and find employment elsewhere. The following tips can help you to deal more effectively with a micromanaging boss.

Be the best worker you can be

One of the best ways to address a micromanaging boss is to make sure that you are doing your absolute best. Constantly reassess your work to ensure that you leave your supervisor with no reasonable reason for micromanaging your efforts. If you're doing that, then simply keep doing it and make a conscious decision to ignore the constant micromanaging annoyance.

Provide updates before the manager asks

Once you recognize the micromanager's need for total control, you can adapt your work style to address that need. If you take the initiative and provide regular updates before your manager asks for them, you can go a long way toward easing their control issues. Basically, you anticipate their demands and proactively address them.

Directly confront the situation

If it becomes impossible to work under a micromanager's thumb, you have several options. You can talk to that person's superior and try to resolve the situation. Alternatively, you can try to work through the issue with your manager. Finally, you can always start looking for another job if the problem cannot be resolved through other means.


Working for a micromanager can be one of the most frustrating things any employee can endure. By learning how to recognize the signs of micromanagement and how to deal with it, however, you can better ensure that your career advancement is not harmed by this potentially toxic style of management.

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