The rule of a micromanager


not just a small manager...Having a micromanaging boss seems to be a huge problem if I should believe statistics based on visitors to my blog. 20 % of all search engine traffic uses keywords related to micromanagement, which indicates that this really is a problem in the office. It is interesting to see that most common search phrases are probably written by employees looking for a solution to their unbearable work environments. But I do not see any phrases related to managers looking for a solution to their problems? Do they even know that they are micromanaging?

Two older posts about micromanagement.

A while ago I wrote two “best selling” blog posts about Micromanagement. They have been read by more than 78.000 people and are the most read blog posts at my blog, and they are still popular. So having a micromanaging manager seems to still be a problem. I wrote one about dealing with micromanagement and one about consequences of micromanagement. Enjoy.


But where are you micromanager?

These two blog posts are read by employees tired of your detail oriented rule. But how do we get managers to seek help for their behavior? And is micromanagement all bad?
I once had a manager that would tell me if she would micromanage, and if you know why and for how long it is actually ok and a learning opportunity.

<strong>Why do a micromanager micromanage?</strong>

I am going to share some experiences and look at some psychology. I have been promoted and seen people replacing me in direct line of command, doing my old job. Micromanagers are often people haunted by a strong work ethics and a special interest in your area of expertise.

Replacement in the trail of promotion

If your boss once held your position, it might just be a strong need to make sure this job is done as good as it used to.
A good way is to be proactive and ask about what you should report, how you should report it and ask to be mentored. This will prove that you are interested in learning from the best and that you are interested to inform. “I know you are busy, how can I help you to be more efficient?” – I feel that this kind of micromanager is the easiest to get of your back.

Super talent rising

Another problem is when the best employee is promoted. This is the “go to”-guy. Nobody does the job as good as him. So the promotion is earned, however leadership skills and technical skill is not necessary the same. The result is leaving this manager with headaches, when the rest of the crowd is messing up lacking their best team player. Some team players are best playing at the field. When you bench your best players they hunger for more time on the field. It’s the same with a promoted super talent. If you mess up, they might just take over the game. This might be a tough nut to crack as they tend to do, instead of show. Being one step ahead is the solution to this game as well. Flattery helps; “How did you get so good? What do I need to do to get as good as you? Do you recommend any books or classes?” and “If you need to correct me, I would learn more from doing it myself, so if you would just assist that would be lovely” An office wizard needs to trust the rest of the team, trouble is that superheroes feel that nobody is doing the job as good as they did. But they will if you let them.

It’s all in the details

A micromanager is often extremely dedicated to details. I do not care about the colors of my furniture, I need somewhere to sit and rest. I do not care how you solve it, as long as there is a solution. I remember doing math at school, I often found the correct answer but not by the book. I even “invented” another account in economics to balance the numbers correctly. The answers where correct, the methods, well let’s call them creative bookkeeping. These people are often neat freaks, it needs to be clean, they spot dust beyond the horizon. They can spend way too much effort in composing the perfect sentences in an email. They will frown if you are a sluggard. They hate short cuts and they want the company to be 100 % perfect. Not bad actually, just very exhausting for us used to short cuts. This person is probably going to burn out like firecracker and they do too much work. “Good enough” is not even in their dictionary. These micromanagers are almost impossible to rescue, because it is not all wrong. Being detail oriented is a good thing in perfecting your business. But let’s face it; too much is over the top. Try to figure out what areas are the most important and improve your eye for details in those areas. Challenge your boss to explain what is good enough. Most employees will feel like underachievers under the rule of this manager, resulting in low self-esteem and they quit. I am a bit short on how to deal with this kind of manager, if you have any good advice, please do share!


Some managers use micromanagement as a pressure or leverage to get your ass out of the company. They run you over with details, comment on all your work in order to get you to leave. The reasons might vary from personal to professional matters. You might not be liked or not doing a good enough job, but too good to get fired. If you are among the few that feels micromanaged, sound the alarm. You might start your job hunt right away. The upside is that they might be willing to give you a good recommendation to get rid of you. This is a conscious use of tools to get you out of their way. Take a hint and use your skill somewhere where you will be valued.

Micromanagement best practices

Let’s face it, micromanagement might be useful. I am glad you are reading this blog; it means that when you become a leader, you will try to avoid micromanaging. But if you need to, please inform upfront that you are. Why you are and for how long you are going to micromanage and at last, what are the results you want. Oh wait, that is called teaching…

I would hope that you could share your story if you have confronted a micromanager and succeeded in change? Please do share it with other readers as this is something employees appreciate. I would love to hear your story of micromanagement, good or bad.


More from my site

  • Help me, I am MicromanagedHelp me, I am Micromanaged I have previously written about the consequences of micromanagement (see links below) and how to deal with a micromanager. In general micromanagement is by far the most popular topic on my […]
  • Consequences of MicromanagementConsequences of Micromanagement Micromanagement is a curse word in the world of business. What is micromanagement? This article is written with the micromanager in mind, if you micromanage you are destroying your work […]
  • Dealing with MicromanagementDealing with Micromanagement Do you have a boss that keeps telling you what to do? Are you being micromanaged? This is a severe problem, not necessary for you, but for sure for your manager. The problem with […]
  • Does a great leader have to be liked?Does a great leader have to be liked? I was recently asked this question, not from a friend or not from someone I can answer directly, but I found this in my keyword reference in Google Analytics, this means that someone out […]

7 Comments on "The rule of a micromanager"

  1. ThomasPMurrayJr | August 26, 2011 at 8:47 am |

    I would have to agree with you that the “go to guy” gets promoted and then micromanages. I think that, in part at least, it is to cover up for their own oppurtunity areas or possibly when they feel their direct subordinate is a little to gung ho. My supervisor, whom I have known and worked with in different organizations for years, will support my decisions in the sanctity of his office and then shoot down the same plan when it is delivered in our weekly supervisor’s meeting. It blows my mind. I suspect that it is because at the last organization we worked together in, our roles were reversed. However, his direct assistant is very ambitious and he nit picks him to death. I think out of fear of being overrun. I am really glad I stumbled upon this articles. They have been quite enlightening.

    Thanks and Regards,

    “Boss T”

  2. FrodeHeimen | August 12, 2011 at 12:16 am |


    Good idea, but I think I’ll need some input. I just tweeted for a guest blogger about micromanagement. I get A LOT of hits from google about this topic so it is a good idea to write more about it. – As you can see, my posts about mm is the most read posts. I’ll work on it, and if someone gets there before I do, it’s a guest post. 😀

  3. @FrodeHeimen

    Now here’s a post for you Frode – given your audience – why not write a post on how you might manage up when you have a micromanager boss?


    Gina Abudi

  4. FrodeHeimen | August 12, 2011 at 12:02 am |


    Wow Thanks for this nice comment Gina. You are right, calling guidance for micromanagement is wrong. I totally agree, micromanagement destroys motivation. My opinions about micromanaging can’t be called a secret. And yes there is a huge challenge getting the right people to read this. Visitors that finds my blog searcing for micromanagement are 100 % searching for a solution to how to get away from such a rule; Not how to stop being a micromanager… I’ll guess the problem is that the micromanagers don’t see it for themselves.

  5. Great article Frode, I enjoyed it and find it very valuable (now…we need the right people reading it – such as those micromanagers!) I think there is a time and place for micromanagement – very limited. For example, let’s assume someone just out of college joins an organization or someone is moving into an entirely different career path – I can see the need for micromanagement in these situations. But maybe we shouldn’t call it micromanagement – rather – providing guidance and structure and processes until the individual gets to a point where they are comfortable in their new role and confident in their abilities. The best managers are not those who micromanage – but rather those who provide professional and personal development opportunities for their employees and provide them guidance and autonomy to get the job done.

    Again – great article!

    Best regards,

    Gina Abudi

  6. Frode Heimen | August 2, 2011 at 10:00 pm |

    Hi – Liked the youtube-video, good point 🙂 – Thanx for reading.

  7. Interesting point of view. Look at our parody of micromanagement:
    Are You a Micro-Manager?

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