Saturday, February 19, 2011


Have you ever been micromanaged? Meaning, that your boss tells you every little thing you have to do. They may often challenge or second guess you anytime you try to show your own initiative. How did this make you feel? Did you feel productive? Stifled? Appreciative that you didn't have to think for yourself? Something else I didn't note here?

Aside from writing, (which I wish I could do full time, but alas, with four daughters entering their teenage years, that's not an option) I work in the business world. I've been a manager for various companies over the last numerous years, and have taken my fair share of management classes.

One of the classes I really enjoyed explained how managers need to adjust their management style based on the person and the situation. And it makes total sense. Someone who is new to a job needs a lot of hand holding until they are up to speed. Someone who has been in the role a long time and is productive basically needs support and trust, with little if no interference from their boss. And there are areas in-between. Again, I didn't make this up--it is from a highly acclaimed management seminar (which I won't mention for legal reasons).

I recently changed companies because I was being micromanaged to death. But it wasn't just me--it was everyone. In fact, when I left the company, several of my peers did the same. Why would you leave a job in such a harsh economic climate as this? Well, everyone has the point where they say, "enough is enough."

While I was debating on whether or not to leave, I would think of those sayings or songs that talked about not giving up, keep on fighting the good fight and all that. So, how do you answer when people tell you, "Ah, you couldn't handle it. You needed to hang in there and tough it out."

Here is the answer I came up with: I actually was the "noble warrior" by standing up and saying, "This environment is unproductive and unhealthy. Instead of surrendering who I am to become a pawn, or 'yes' man, I, as in me and myself, have decided to bravely leave this behind and venture into the unknown where I can better serve and be productive."

And so far so good. I've found a company that shares my values. They "get it" for lack of a better term.

As for the company I left behind where everyone was being micromanaged? Well, what I found ironic was they are the ones that paid me to attend the seminar about how everyone shouldn't be micromanaged. In other words, they paid me to realize that I was working for a company that didn't practice what it preached.


  1. Jason, this post hits close to home.

    My first job out of college was horrible for this very reason. I worked in HR and spent much of my time doing job fairs and interviews--the duties were fun, but my boss was a nightmare. I allude all too briefly to this experience in my memoir.

    I was young and fresh out of college, so it took a long time to see that I was being bullied.

    She would call me into her office for lectures almost every day over things like not buying a "good" brand of ice cream at an office party. I had been asked to buy ice cream for an event, and she said I made the whole company look bad for not buying an expensive brand.

    Anytime I left my desk, she would time me to see how long it took to return. She would often lecture me over this and even said that if I told anyone, my job would be on the line.

    Although, she told me I was the worst employee she had ever supervised, she never gave me a written reprimand, and I began to suspect that she knew how ridiculous her critique would look on paper.

    When I told her that I did not like to be spoken to that way, she insisted that I was just being "sensitive" and that it was her job to correct me. Whenever I spoke back to her, she always had an excuse as to how her reprimands were due to my own behavior: for not typing fast enough, for being away from my desk for more than a few minutes (once when I came out of the bathroom, she was at the door waiting for me), for not saying "good morning" to her as soon as I arrived.

    Eventually, I complained to the CEO and discovered that numerous people had filed reports about my manager and even told this CEO that they had seen me being harassed. Please note, these witnesses never said a peep to me, they only reported it to management who did nothing but keep a record of the matter. The CEO was surprised I hadn't complained sooner.

    After a year of secretly job hunting, I found a new job where I was shocked to learn that people weren't hounded over every minute detail. Not long after I left, my old boss was fired. The very thing happened to her that she had always threatened to do to me.

    Oh, how sweet the irony.

    The experience did open my eyes and made me realize how to identify harassment. This supervisor had used my naivety against me.

  2. I think you hit one of the major points: the people that are micromanagers tend to be bullies.

    I, too, have been told I was being sensitive when I stood up for myself. It's just an excuse they use when you give them "pushback".

  3. You're right. I always thought that if you told someone they were treating you poorly, they'd realize it and stop. Sadly, that's not the case.

    The important thing is that we got out and we learned what to look for if this kind of thing ever happens in the future.