Why You’re Being Micromanaged

Why You’re Being Micromanaged

Just about everyone has experienced being micromanaged. I have helped people both the person being micromanaged and helped the micromanaging boss. What many do not know is that often, the micromanaging boss is often, but not always, being micromanaged themselves. Let us begin by defining the term micromanage. Your micromanaging boss is giving you excessive attention and trying to control your behavior to achieve specific results. So the keywords here are excessive, attention, and control. By doing this, your boss is attempting to attain consistent high-quality results by their standards through monitoring your behavior. So, why are you of all people the center of their attention?

You’re Being Micromanaged out of Fear

One way people try to cope with fear and anxiety is by exerting control. Think of a parent pouring a glass of milk for a child. Could the child pour a glass of milk on their own? Perhaps they could, however, the parent lacks confidence in the child not spilling milk which will result in the parent doing extra clean-up duty. Essentially, your performance is your boss’s spilled milk. Herein lies the problem, you are not a child and there is more at stake than spilled milk. When adults are being micromanaged as if they are a child, this leadership style promotes a host of other problems. Problems such as a breakdown in communication, low morale, low retention rates, and poor work performance to name a few.

What is Your Boss Thinking?

Sometimes, this behavior is a result of being micromanaged. It is the same result of someone at the top of the company becoming angry and yelling at a subordinate. That subordinate becomes angry for being yelled at and yells at their own subordinate and down the chain it goes. This is not always the case as I mentioned earlier but it is one way this leadership style permeates through the entire company. The goal is to be involved in as many steps as possible to give approval for the work being done. Since you as the subordinate are not likely aware of all of the moving parts, your boss is trying to make sure everyone is going smoothly by having a say in not only what you do but how you do it. There are a few downsides to this process.

Your boss runs the risk of becoming overwhelmed with work. By checking all of the details of your work, they are also checking the details of their own work and anyone else that is being micromanaged. This results in a higher workload. This can effectively double the amount of time any task can take leading to longer working hours. The long hours can lead to burnout and stress. Thus causing your boss to become irritable and sometimes hostile. Which then adds to workplace toxicity. The ultimate goal of all of this is for your boss to avoid negative or unwanted attention. What I mean by negative attention, is attention that leaves others thinking poorly of your boss in any way. Again, we are back to micromanaging out of fear. This is what I call fear-based control. It is when decisions and actions are grounded in fear.

Impact on You

As an adult, you are not interested in being babysat. You probably did not want one when it made sense so surely the notion of being micromanaged agitates you. This is probably what it feels like to have a boss who exhibits this leadership style, which often leaves you feeling annoyed, angry, and sometimes resentful. By having to check most if not all of the work you do with your boss, you spend more time than you feel is needed to get anything done. This can result in the same burnout I mentioned previously. The lack of faith and trust you feel creates a rift in the relationship you have with your boss. Why bother talking to someone who basically second guesses all your work? This leads to a breakdown in communication and the general sense of mistrust eats away at your motivation. You can feel that despite your best efforts, nothing you do is good enough so why bother trying at all?


So, why are you of all people the center of their attention? Unless there have been recorded issues with your work performance, it probably has nothing to do with you at all. You just happen to be underneath a boss who is trying their best to deal with their own fear and anxieties.

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