can my micromanaging boss be rehabilitated? she makes me take all calls on speaker phone…

A reader writes:

My new boss started about six months ago. I am very productive and excel at my job (and I’m not just saying that; I have only received stellar performance reviews for the last three years since I have been here, most recently by this new boss in question). The boss, however, is a textbook micromanager. When she started, she insisted I show her my emails to colleagues and to donors, she asked me where I was at for all of my projects on a daily basis, and even had me put my phone on speaker when I spoke to anyone. She also rewrote everything I wrote, even though she is a terrible writer (with awful grammar, made-up words, etc.). She is that way with her other direct reports, too.

I followed your advice on your blog. I maintained the quality of my work, I informed her about everything I was doing, and copied her on all emails. Eventually, I had a conversation with her, asking her what I could do differently, since I felt that she didn’t trust me. I also said that I work best when I have a sense of autonomy and ownership over my work, and that I would be happy to update her frequently. She appeared chagrined and apologized, saying she had just wanted to learn the ropes and see what we were doing. She promised to back off. However, she hasn’t. Instead, now she is even more rigid and difficult. She tells me she trusts me 100% and that she is pushing for me to get a promotion. But the micromanaging continues. I think it is partly because she is in over her head; she managed to bluff her way into this position, but it has become clear that she doesn’t have the experience needed to head our division.

This past week, she saw me chatting to a colleague (her direct report). She sent both of us an email immediately, telling us that if we have downtime, we should recreate our database on Excel sheets so she can decipher it (she has refused to learn how to use the database, even though everyone, from the most junior to the most senior employee, is required to). That was the breaking point for me. I feel like she is treating me like a five year old! This isn’t my first job, either; I have extensive experience from other nonprofits, with very exacting, controlling bosses. I can deal with difficult personalities and micromanaging, but this is on a level I have never seen before. I have thought long and hard and I don’t think it’s about me; she is inexperienced and insecure.

Essentially, my question is: can micromanagers be rehabilitated? Will she will back off once I am promoted? I have been working hard and lobbying for a promotion for about a year, and the new boss is behind it 100%. I have a very good chance of getting it. I like the work I do, I’m very good at it, and I like the organization and the people. The commute is a dream. I have some flexibility in my work schedule. I would, unfortunately, still be reporting to her. Since she would have helped me get a promotion and she knows and values the work I do, will this finally make her give me more autonomy? Or is this a case of cut loose and run while I can? I am hesitant to bring it up again with her, because nothing changed after my first serious talk with her, and she has on another occasion told me that she takes criticism very personally. There is an opportunity for a lateral/lower move to a different department (different work) in the organization, but then I wouldn’t be able to hold on to my promotion (if it happens). And if I do want to do the lateral/lower move, I would have to act pretty fast, within the week.

Can micromanagers be rehabilitated? Sure, but they have to have to either want to change or be forced to change by someone with authority over them.

Now, before we get into that, whenever we talk about micromanagement, it’s important to consider two big caveats:
Caveat 1: Is it really micromanaging? Dictating exactly how to do the work, watching over every step in the process, and refusing to truly delegate any decisions is micromanaging, and it’s bad. But being heavily involved in setting goals, checking in on progress, and getting more involved when the stakes on something are very high isn’t inappropriate; that’s good management. Sometimes people complain about “micromanagement” when it’s just good, hands-on management.
Caveat 2: Have you given your boss reason to use this level of scrutiny? If you drop the ball on things more than very occasionally, forget details, don’t follow up on things, miss deadlines, or produce work that requires a lot of changes from others, a good manager would get more closely involved.

But neither of these caveats are the case with you. What you describe sounds like egregious micromanaging. Requiring you to take all your calls on speaker phone? That’s crazy.

In fact, it’s so crazy that even if you’re able to get her to back off in some ways, I doubt she’s ever going to be a good boss — because someone whose instincts lead her to do this kind of thing isn’t likely to turn into a good manager even if you or someone else gets her to stop specific behaviors. (One exception to this: If she goes through some kind of training or intensive coaching, she could absolutely get better — but so far, there aren’t signs of that happening.)

So I’d think long and hard about whether you want your current job or the promotion if it means working closely with her, even if you win concessions on some of the craziest stuff, like being forced to use speaker or have her rewrite all your emails.

That said, there’s no reason not to try to talk to her about this and see where it leads. If I were in your shoes, I’d sit down with her and say something like this: “I want to talk to you how we’re working together. I’m struggling with the level of involvement in my work that you’ve asked for. I have X years of experience doing this work, consistently glowing feedback and strong performance reviews, and I’m used to being trusted to write my own emails, handle my own phone calls, and get my work done without daily checks. If you have concerns about my work that are leading you to manage me this way, I very much want to hear them. But if you don’t have those concerns, I’d like to revisit your level of oversight. When we talked about this a few months ago, you agreed you would pull back, but that hasn’t happened. I’d like to propose that we return to the level of oversight that I had under previous managers, which would mean that we’d agree on annual and quarterly goals for my work, I’d update you on my progress toward those goals monthly, and we’d meet once a week to talk about the work as it unfolds. I’d manage my own time and handle my phone calls and emails on my own, unless there’s some specific problem that we need to address. Would you be willing to try that and see how it goes?”

If she says no, well, there’s your answer. And if she says yes but then continues her same behavior, well, that’s probably your answer too. But there’s a chance that laying it out like this will actually push her (or shame her) into truly backing off. And if she does, then you’ll have some room to see whether you can work with her after all.

Aside from all that, there’s one more thing to think about. Is there anyone above your manager who you trust and have a good rapport with? Because if so, this is a situation where it might make sense to have a discreet conversation with that person. Not every manager will intervene when a manager below them is screwing up like this, but plenty will — and this is exactly the kind of thing that I’d want to hear about if I were your manager’s manager. But the key — and this is crucial — is knowing whether the person you’d be approaching is open to hearing feedback about the managers under her and competent enough to act on it in a way that doesn’t destroy your relationship with your boss.

And if none of the above works, then it’s a safe assumption that your manager isn’t likely to one day be magically rehabilitated and you’ll have to decide whether you want to stay under those conditions or not. Good luck.

Read updates to this letter here and here.

{ 55 comments… read them below }

  1. Yup*

    I don’t think your promotion will change anything with her, because her issues are fundamental “how to manage anything at all” skills.

    Based on your description, I don’t have a lot of hope for her turning it around. So it’s down to other factors. How does your organization reach to errors like this? Do they give it a little bit of time and then course-correct, double down on the mistake and hand-wring while it implodes, take immediate action, etc? That would influence my decision in your shoes. If you know that your office would rather burn down the building than move her out of an unsuited position, then you’ll need to think about what you can live with. If you’ve seen them fix stuff like this before, then it might be worth it to hang in there and tough it out.

    FWIW, I actually just stopped complying with one of my micromanager bosses. She had so many rules and meetings and demands that it was literally impossible to meet them, so I just did my job as I thought best and allocated 50% of my time to respond to whatever lunacy she launched that day. Half the time, she forgot her prior instructions two steps down the line or changed them anyway, so the overall level of awful remained consistent and I still got other work done.

    I sympathize with what you’re going through. Micromanagers make you doubt your basic competence in life. Be sure to keep a running list of your achievements, for reference on the days when you feel like you can’t even be trusted with scissors.

    1. COT*

      This is great advice. Your manager isn’t very likely to change on her own without serious pressure and help from her bosses. I’ve had workplaces where I could trust that performance issues would be noticed and addressed (and that I was safe to bring my concerns to higher-ups if needed), so it was worth waiting it out when problems arose. I’ve worked other places where it’s clear that major performance issues will never be adequately addressed by the leadership and that it’s not worth waiting around for the problem to be fixed.

    1. Jillyan*

      As someone who worked with a micromanager, I can tell you she ISN’T probably doing her work to her full capacity. She’s so busy monitoring the OP and from her question appears not to be very capable anyway. One of my old bosses’ seemed to delight in watching me as I typed emails sometimes but rarely found the time to get important things done. Later, I found out this person didn’t know the software, thought he was too important to learn it, and tried to blame me because he was busy ‘managing’ me all the time. His boss though didn’t buy the excuse thankfully!

      1. KarenT*

        I don’t know. The only two true micro managers I’ve known were both workaholics. They had plenty of time to do their own work and micromanage everyone else’s because they worked around the clock, all weekend, and on holidays (and even on vacation while on a cruise ship in France).

        1. AMG*

          I have known a few like this; they are the least productive people on the planet. They don’t know what to do, and/or are so insecure and paranoid that it grinds them to a halt.

          1. Esra*

            That was my last manager, also the reason I started a new job this month.

            The further he got behind on his own tasks, the more he would micromanage others. Eventually, I would get handed some of his tasks to do, and he would try and micromanage them instead of finishing the other ones.

          2. Jessa*

            I’ve found that to be true too, they’re usually NOT doing their work the way they should. They don’t have time to be productive if they’re spending that much time on other people. The OP is probably not the only person that this person manages. There can’t be enough time in a day.

            1. Jane Doe*

              Yep. I worked under a micromanager who would talk about how she was at work until Ridiculous O’Clock and worked all weekend. The truth was that she had terrible time management skills and spent more time looking over people’s shoulders than getting work done. She constantly asked people to re-f0rmat information for people who had never asked for it to be reformatted, creating lots of confusion and multiple documents with different information (since we were updating the data all the time).

              1. Tax Nerd*

                When I was fairly new, I worked for a manager that wanted me to double-check every number in a tax return or other tax calculation, in case someone had an override in there or something that I might not know about. I certainly double-check if anything looks like least bit off, but for the most part, I’m going to trust the tax software to add and subtract.

                His other scenario was some tax calculation where our in-house software used the tax rate schedule for taxable incomes of under $100K, instead of the tables, and how there might be a $2 difference. He wanted to know what I would do if a client checked the math and found the $2 difference. I told him I’d tell the client that our tax software rounds everything to the nearest dollar, so it was either rounding, or the difference between the schedule and the tables. And if the client persisted, I would write a $2 personal check to the client. My billing rate was $250/hour, so I thought most clients would rather not pay for me to use a calculator to check a computer.

                (I have identified math errors in tax software, to the point one vendor wanted to borrow me for a week to improve their Foreign Tax Credit calcs, but for the most part, tax software has very good quality control. I also don’t double-check Excel sums with a calculator, in spite of some issue MicroSoft had back in the 90s where the math was wrong.)

    2. jmkenrick*

      Right? I barely have time for my own phone calls. The idea that she’s able to micromanage all her staff to this extend is crazy. She’s probably running herself ragged and not accomplishing much…

    3. junipergreen*

      I wondered that too! Reviewing correspondence to donors is one thing, but internal emails?! Makes me wonder if she’s looking for tips on her own writing!

      Oof, and joining calls on loudspeaker. How would you even go about framing that? I kind of imagine it like going out to a restaurant and having that awkward waitstaff-in-training earing “Hi, I’m Sarah and I’ll be taking care of you this evening. Oh, and this is John, he’ll be shadowing me and helping out. Can I tell you about our specials?”

  2. Another Day*

    This is micromanaging with a vengeance! I’m sorry you have to deal with this, OP. It can be hard not to take it personally, but it sounds like she didn’t know how to manage and isn’t making much progress in learning how….

  3. Erica*

    This story gives me PTSD flashbacks — especially the part where she doesn’t like you talking to co-workers.

    This is not fixable. This isn’t even micro-managing, this is … insanity.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Totally agreed. This is beyond the definition of micromanaging. Not sure there is a way out of this if you can’t go to her boss and talk about it.

    2. coconutwater*

      It gave me flashbacks too. An ex- co-worker monitored everything I did and said. Any conversation I had with anyone about anything was to include her. She was livid if I referenced a conversation which she wasn’t included in. She just got worse if I tried to set a boundary with her. She loved to make people (especially me) jump through hoops….unnecessary hoops all for the sake of establishing control. I feel sorry for the OP here. It really sucks the joy out of your work and can potentially bleed over into affecting your life outside of work.

      1. Ruffingit*

        How was it a co-worker made you jump through hoops? Was she an integral part of some project and you had to therefore be accommodating to her or something? Not being sarcastic, genuinely interested in the back story. Also, she just sounds literally mentally ill what with the wanting to be part of every conversation. That makes no sense at all.

        1. coconutwater*

          This is probably too much information…..I could go on and on with many stories and examples. She was obsessed with me.We were tasked with working together to update policies and procedures in a department where work volume had increased dramatically. We were the only two people to do the work and my load was close to double hers. Collaboration was difficult for everything had to be her way. Once we had our final policies and procedures in place and were implementing them, she would decide on her own that something should be changed just because she ” felt ” it should be changed. This meant I needed to start over each time. She would have huge mood swings when she didn’t get her way. Our Supervisor didn’t want to get involved- for he hired us more senior employees so that we would handle all of this work without his needing to get involved. There are many examples I could give about forcing me and others to jump through hoops…. One example is she would fly into panic mode about things (work related or not) make everyone stop what they are doing to attend to her need. Accusing me of taking files from her office and making me stop what I was doing to search my office for them is one example. I got to where I would start looking for them but as soon as she left I would go back to my work….for no matter what I said to her she would not listen to me explain I had not even entered her office so there was no way I had her files. She would always find them in her office then come tell me I could stop looking for them. It was all an act I figured, because these types of interruptions would happen at times when I had looming deadlines and/or high stress/volumes of work to deal with. Yes, she is a high functioning Cluster B Soup as far as personality disorders go.
          I had to leave that job for her obsession with me resulted in her stalking me on my lunch hour. My cPTSD was triggered and I developed debilitating autoimmune issues. Yes, she was reported and I followed all the proper proceedures but was told I still was required to work with her.

          1. Ruffingit*

            I am so sorry you had to endure that. How horrible. That woman sounds like quite the liability for the company. She stalked you on your lunch hour? Wow. That is too much.

    3. BethW*

      Flashbacks here as well, from a boss who very quickly escalated into abuse and name calling. I’m leaning towards “get out of there fast”.

  4. rlm*

    This is crazy! I’ve worked for what I would consider to be one of the worst micro-managers ever, but even SHE didn’t make me take my calls on speakerphone. Unfortunately, although she was given feedback by multiple employees about the behavior, it never ended up changing. It was in her DNA to be a complete control freak. It sounds like that might be the case here too. Although I love AAM’s suggested wording on how to give her another chance to improve. Good luck!

  5. Jax*

    I’m dying to know how this level of crazy started… Was it a slow creep into insanity or did she come into work with guns blazing on day one!

    Is this a case of just standing up to a bully? Reverting back to how you always answered phones, responding to emails without the CC’s, and politely giving her the cold shoulder? When she confronts you, to be assertive and say that the handcuffs have to come off?

    I had a similar situation, but the major difference was *I* was new to the job and my senior co-worker refused to let me out of training mode. In that case, I had to go over her and our manager used those exact words in our meeting: “THE HANDCUFFS HAVE TO COME OFF.”

    1. Ruffingit*

      How did the crazy senior co-worker take that? I hope you were able to have a good working relationship after that. I wonder too sometimes in situations like this if the senior co-worker/manager is afraid you’ll do a better job than they will and therefore refuse to let you out of training mode. I think that is sometimes the fear behind this kind of behavior. Not always, but sometimes.

      1. Jax*

        She remained professional and let me loose to do my work. But she went from micromanager to mean, coldly pointing out my mistakes or even worse, being overly-dramatic about how they affected the company.

        She definitely feared being bumped from #1 position, but she made it a self-fulfilling prophecy by her nasty treatment of coworkers. When management saw that I could competently handle the department–ALONE–she was moved to answering phones.

        If she would have focused on doing her own job and being pleasant, I would still be her junior partner. She shot herself in the foot trying to hit me.

  6. Malissa*

    OP, you’ve been nice and that doesn’t seem to work. I’d go the route of blunt but respectful.
    “Why manager do you need to hear my call with x?” “Why do I need to clear internal emails with you?”
    She’s requiring stuff that should have a rational explanation behind it. And who knows, maybe she has one.
    Other than that I’d go the route of quiet defiance. “Oh I’m sorry I just can’t hear as well on speaker phone. The office is too noisy to take calls on speaker.”
    I really do second the suggestion that the best way to handle this would be to take it higher. Especially if you are looking for a promotion. Taking initiative and showing concern about how this might be affecting productivity and morale shows that you are focused on the goals of the organization.

  7. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

    Wow, taking calls on speaker phone is a bit much. What if that particularly obnoxious co-worker walks by and says something crazy while you are talking to a client? Or what if a client mentions something that wasn’t really meant for everyone else to hear, yet everyone does because you are on speaker phone. I am sorry, but I am going to have to say that this manager is so far gone that it is unlikely that she will change. However, since you really enjoy your work and seem to be great at it, it is worth a try to sit down and talk to her and then if that doesn’t work I do really like the suggestion of talking to her supervisor if you think that it might help. Hopefully she will just realize that this isn’t the right fit and move on, but I suppose that isn’t going to happen…. good luck with everything, I really want to know how this one turns out!

  8. Ali*

    I have some experiences like this with my boss, thought not on quite this extreme level. Like he’s always very quick to jump on me when I make a typo in something and chastise me for forgetting about an e-mail he sent. In the meantime, he cannot get himself to meetings on time 95% of the time. He frequently postpones saying he got caught up in something and will even joke about his own poor time management. He also once showed up to talk to me about three hours after the time I agreed with him on.

    Also, one day I agreed to work but said I had a prior commitment but I could put in hours until X time. He agreed to the schedule, then two hours later, was asking me to work something different even though it ran into my commitment. I had to remind him and he was like sorry I forgot. He also assigns work to people who have already been approved for time off on the day they will be off.

    He’s basically incapable of doing anything remotely resembling sufficient management, but he sure is quick to be sitting around and looking for typos, which, of course, he expects corrected immediately.

  9. Andie*

    OMG! The OP wrote exactly what I have been living for the last 3 years except for the phone calls on speaker. The only reason I am still working here is because the higher-ups have asked me to stay and try to intervene whenever they can. They know all my issues have intervened some but have not intervened enough that she stopped her ridiculous behavior. I’m pretty much done and looking for another job.

    My question is how should I respond to the lastet request to bring ideas to our next meeting about how we can improve our relationship. I’m pretty sure this request is at the prompting of her boss who is well aware of the situation. I don’t even knwo what to say. I know what ever I say she will respond with that was not her intention. I feel like it is a losing battle. I don’t think she really wants to change. She has been getting away with it for years now.

    Honestly I do not think the relationship can be repaired. I just want to get out of here but I need to figure out how to not go crazy until I do.

    1. Kaz*

      Can you ask one of the higher-ups who has asked you to stay if they can attend this meeting? This really doesn’t seem like something that should just be you and her sitting on opposite sides of a table.

      And why doesn’t she have to bring any ideas to the table?

      1. Andie*

        I’m definitely letting her boss know about it. Not sure if she is bringing ideas to the table but I am going to ask what her ideas are because she is the one with the issues not me. I have never been in a situation like this before and I have years of experience in the workplace.

          1. Andie*

            I have been asking the same question for the last three years! Now I am just looking for a new job…..

            1. Ruffingit*

              That’s the best course of action and sometimes makes dealing with this kind of crazy a bit easier. You know that you’re taking the action you can take (looking for a new job) to move on from it so psychologically that sometimes provides some help with the crazy.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I am not a fan of crazy people who make their issues your problems to fix.

      My sympathies and I think getting out is probably the right call.

    3. Jill of All Trades*

      Andie, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I would bring a very specific list of the problem behaviors she exhibits, how those behaviors affect your ability to do your work, and suggestions for alternative behaviors that she could switch to and how those different behaviors would affect your work. During the discussion, work together on the responsibilities of each of you and how the progress should go and be measured. Also try to work out a pattern for checking in with each other to evaluate how the changes are working or if she’s not holding up her end of the bargain. I know this sounds extremely rigid and perhaps even like treating her like a child, but hope and ambiguity are not your friends. Since her boss is influential in this meeting occuring, you are in a great position to get progress in some way, shape, or form. Oh, and don’t make any of it personal, emotional, or about her as a person – it’s about the behavior and the work. Good luck and let us know how the meeting went.

  10. MR*

    The only way there is going to be a change is if the manager is removed from their position. I doubt a long-term correction in behavior will occur even if upper management gets involved. The OP’s manager will eventually be exposed as a fraud (if not already) and they will be reassigned or fired. Of course, this will only happen if there is competent upper management that can handle this situation.

    If nothing changes, unfortunately this falls under Alison’s often used situation of dealing with the circumstances, or you must go elsewhere. It sucks, but good luck!

    1. Seal*

      +1. I inherited a department from a micromanager who was forced into retirement for this very reason. She had been mistakenly promoted into a position that was far beyond her abilities and everyone – including her – knew it. Her tantrums were legend, as was her martyrdom. The sad thing was she hired great people, only to treat them like dirt to compensate for her incompetence; turnover in that department was many, many times higher than in the rest of the organization. After I took over and rewrote procedures with my new employee’s input, production and morale skyrocketed.

      What it took to get rid of this woman was patient but persistent pressure on the administration to address the problem, with plenty of documentation. In the end, she was actually relieved to go; in fact, after she was gone I heard from a number of people how much she hated her job. Unfortunately, she was one of those people who thought asking questions or asking for help made her look dumb. Instead, she insisted on reinventing the wheel as she went along, with often disastrous consequences.

      1. Jax*

        Yes! My co-worker was happy to be bumped down to answering phones! She went willingly (with her higher salary intact) and I keep thinking, “Why didn’t you just tell management you were in over your head?!? Why put yourself and everyone else through all your tempers and nastiness?”

  11. Elaine*

    Yikes! She sounds really difficult. If you can swing it, maybe wait to get the promotion, keep making her happy, *then* look for work, as your CV will be more impressive with a recent promotion, perhaps…

  12. WWWONKA*

    First off, why should the OP be pushed out of a job she likes without a “fight”. I would do as AAM said and find someone above her and enlighten them as to what is going on. Or if possible look for another job in a different department.

  13. AB*

    In my limited experience, things only get worse with a promotion, and here’s why:

    A boss who can’t trust her subordinates will deal efficiently and effectively with their day-to-day task will be even less inclined to trust someone who has just been promoted and consequently now has more responsibilities / higher level tasks.

    I’d be really surprised if the result of a promotion was the manager backing off and letting the letter writer do her work without constant oversight. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect any improvement in the micromanaging issue, except in the unlikely circumstance that AAM mentioned, of being forced by someone in authority to change.

  14. BCranston*

    Is the promise of a promotion a sure thing or is it the dangling carrot to keep you in line and not question her insanity?

    I worked under a terrible, TERRIBLE micromanager for 2+ years, who never onboarded me correctly, never did any development, expected me to read his mind, and called me out on every.. single.. error, no matter how slight, would correct my work to within an inch of its life, and then correct the corrections he made (or my favorite, give me a tough time over his own thoughts that I had translated into the work), and round and round we went. Any chance of “subordination” i would have attempted would have been not shouted down, but strongly commented on so that it looked like I was the one in the wrong. He also couldn’t understand spreadsheets and would go over them with a fine tooth comb, and if you couldn’t defend your rationale for how you constructed the damn spreadsheet, he would give you a smarmy comment and make me redo it. It was horrific and it shot my confidence to hell.

    My point, however, was that the implication was that I had to learn things THE RIGHT WAY and I couldn’t get promoted until I had. Its been 3.5 years. I have not been promoted, despite coming in with 8 years of experience doing this sort of work and a good skill set. I know of an instance where he threw someone else under the bus to his manager as a “poor worker” because that person stood up to him at one point and wouldn’t stay past 5 pm to move a box on a powerpoint slide .5″ to the right with that manager hanging over him. I suspect he has done the same to me, because hey, according to him, I never did things THE RIGHT WAY, therefore I am useless.

    By the way, he was just promoted for the second time in three years, despite not having had a single direct report move up or develop and only managing half a person for 3 months.

    I moved to another boss last year (who then left and now I am under yet another), but I still have to sit near that guy and it gives me the creeps every damn day. Now he is torturing someone new and I have to leave my desk when I hear the same words and tone he used with me.

    Since my company is one that would prefer the building burn down to fixing something like this, I made the decision to move on and have been biding my time (a few more weeks). But its terrible, he will never be fixed, and I wasted SO much time thinking it was me or that eventually I was going to please him and get a promotion. So definitely judge how your company works and the chances of her being removed or if you can potentially mitigate her issues enough to wait her out. Micromanagement is awful to go through, but you sound like you have definitely taken some steps here to try and take care of it – maybe with luck she will be moved on!

  15. Dang*

    I had a manager like this. She would take any ‘independence’ I exercised as subordination. Total nightmare. I feel your pain, OP, and I hope that being blunt and direct will help.

  16. Ruffingit*

    It’s so weird that this boss is advocating for a promotion for the OP and yet, doesn’t believe she can handle her own calls and emails. This woman clearly has massive problems and something has to give. I cannot imagine living with this kind of ball and chain forever.

  17. Hcat*

    this is just a comment, I cannot stay silent anymore! When are organizations going to stop hiring and promoting incompetent unqualified managers that are supposed to be leaders and engage their teams, seems to me what I read on this blog is a lot of employee disengagement, unhappy workers who for the most part, love their job, but have douchy managers, as the saying goes, people don’t necessarily quit their jobs, but quit their douchy managers. While that’s really not going to help the OP,I guess I can sympathize with what she’s going through. I agree with AAM, just be direct and see where that takes you, either way you will have your answer.

    1. MR*

      I’d love to hear Alison’s response to this, but I suspect it has something to do with backing up and supporting management so that they themselves don’t look weak. In addition, falling on their swords with regards to bad hires as upper management really isn’t worth it when dealing with the ‘minions’ of the company.

      As long as the results continue to come in, why mess with a situation like this? Upper management will likely only get involved with a poor manager if beneficial results to the company are not happening.

  18. mdc*

    I left a job because of a micromanager who treated me like I was five years old despite me having more skills and experience than him in various aspects of the role. He would do things behind my back in an attempt to “get one over on me” and look good in meetings. Explain things to me that I already knew, repeatedly. Expected me to defer to him in all aspects of the role even though I had my own good relationships with stakeholders. Tried to shut down any independent views of or questions about our work that I expressed.

    He came from a military background where this was probably drilled into him so I gave up on trying to change things. When I did confront him finally after he completely rewrote a report of mine the rage he expressed made me 100% sure that leaving the job was the right thing to do.

    Some managers can only operate in a certain dysfunctional power dynamic so leaving can be the healthiest choice sometimes.

  19. AMG*

    I wish people like this could live with being treated like this for just a little while to experience how awful it is.

  20. cf_programmer*

    If your manager has any level of trainability, then yes, she can be changed. But you will have to change first. Changing someone’s behavior (spouse, boss, child unit, dog, whatever) is about controlling your reactions to, well, pretty much everything. When she behaves as you want, soft eye contact, smile, nods, etc. When she behaves inappropriately, no reaction. Like, none. No matter what you are feeling.

    This is classis Skinner. Read the wonderful book “Don’t Shoot the Dog” by Skinner protege Karen Pryor. Up your game.

    -a successfull dog, boss, and spouse trainer.

  21. Mena*

    If your manager is inexperienced, insecure and bluffed her way into this position, I suggest you continue trudging along and wait. Odds are high that she is not going to be successful, and will either leave or be asked to leave. So, just keep doing your work well and see if this problem solves itself.

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