update about the micromanaging boss who wanted all calls taken on speaker phone

Remember the reader in October who asked if her micromanaging boss could be rehabilitated? Among other problems, the boss wanted to review our reader’s emails to colleagues and wanted her to take all her phone calls on speaker phone. Here’s the update:

I met with my boss and followed your advice, asking if she had concerns about my work, and whether we can try having her pull back. You won’t believe this: she was completely stunned and mortified. She said that she did not ever rewrite or was that involved with my work! (That in itself was the most shocking part of this whole thing.) She said she was sorry I felt this way and thanked me for being honest; she said she would most definitely pull back.

Of course, I was a little skeptical, since it hadn’t happened after the initial meeting. But lo and behold, she did. She completely stopped rewriting everything and wanting to be looped in on meetings or phone calls or emails.

And then, unbelievably, I DID end up getting that promotion. Things have been much better; it was almost as if she was reading all of the reader comments and trying to change her management style. Since it’s only been a month, I’m not 100% optimistic or anything; I know she might revert back to her old behavior. But so far, so good. I am allowed much more autonomy and decision making, and I am definitely happier. (Which is a good thing, because upper management could care less about issues like this, and if the talk didn’t go well, I was ready to send out resumes.)

Thank you so much for your sage advice on how to approach my boss, as well as all of your readers who commiserated and reminded me that I was not being overly sensitive.

{ 15 comments… read them below }

  1. Ann Furthermore*

    So great to hear that everything has worked out! I’ve worked for micro-managers and it truly is the worst.

  2. Yup*

    Hurrah! I’m so glad this worked out for you. (I wonder if she had a moment of clarity that caused her to change her ways?) In any case, congrats on your promotion and your improved quality of life. :)

    1. Another Emily*

      I wonder if the moment of clarity was her manager telling her to change or be fired. Regardless this is sure a positive outcome.

  3. Coelura*

    Woohoo! Maybe she does read this blog & recognized that the whole email & comment chain was about her! Here’s for hoping it continues to be better!

  4. Anon*

    “it was almost as if she was reading all of the reader comments and trying to change her management style”

    It’s possible!

    I had an email exchange a while ago that seemed as if someone had read my question and advice here. They came close to quoting me at one point.

  5. Adam V*

    > She said that she did not ever rewrite or was that involved with my work!

    Wait… so does that mean she was having someone else rewrite it? Or that she was denying that anyone had ever rewritten anything in the first place? This part confuses me.

    1. Ruffingit*

      I think she’s denying she did it at all. The thing is, some people are so delusional that they do one of two things:

      1. They flat out lie and say they’ve not done things they clearly have.

      2. They truly do not realize the extent to which they are involved in certain things. Some people think “I rewrote one email that was poorly done…” when in fact, they’ve rewritten every single one of them. It’s sort of how family members will mention that “you know, you need to lose weight” 500 times and you say “You’ve told me that 500 times” and they’ll say “I’ve only mentioned it once!” They truly do not realize how often they’ve said something, it’s like they’re on auto-pilot or something.

      Have no idea if that is the case here, but if neither 1 or 2 above is the answer, it could also be the manager was desperately trying to save face so denied she had been that much of a micro manager.

    2. Cat*

      I think maybe just a word got out and the letter writer meant to she she didn’t “realize” that she rewrote or was ever that involved in her work.

  6. SerfinUSA*

    Sounds a lot like what happened with a micromanager at my job. We think the moment of clarity came as the result of a staff survey conducted after a previous survey showed a high level of dissatisfaction with supervisors. The follow-up questions drilled down into specific behaviors, and I know people in my department made copious use of the ‘other comments’ option to really throw certain supervisors under the bus.

    One supervisor was much worse than the other though, and I think the less-bad one wanted to demonstrate that she could be rehabilitated. I don’t know what upper management did or said, just that our supervisor did an about face and backed way off. She also made a point to be a better mentor in terms of channeling people into new opportunities.

    I still reserve a bit of wariness, but the change has been a pleasant surprise.

  7. EngineerGirl*

    Don’t forget to give her positive feedback for this new management style! You want her to keep on keeping on.

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