...but I love everything else about my job and I don't want to leave it! I'll just quickly list boss's attributes:

  • Absolutely radiates negativity
  • Consistently in a bad mood (I'd say like 80% of the time)
  • Sarcastic, condescending
  • Micromanaging silly, trivial things (my biggest pet peeve)
  • Asks sarcastic rhetorical questions when he feels you screwed up (which is always because...)
  • Impossible to please
  • Nothing is ever his fault. Case-in-point: he borked a server migration by missing the DB part (only moved the frontend stuff, like web UI) and blamed vendor documentation!
  • VERY poor communicator: hard to reach, gives vague instructions, not enough info. Constantly on DND in IM/chat.
  • Widely disliked in the company

I am sending him daily emails now about what I'm doing, trying to gain his trust. I've read in multiple places that over-communicating things (everything?) is helpful with a micromanager boss. I can only do so much though since he is such an incredibly poor communicator. God help me, I am trying to find solutions and "build a bridge" with this man but after a whole year at this job, I'm almost not sure it's humanly possible.

Of course my story here is one-sided, so take that into consideration I suppose, but I will say one of our absolute best technicians (I work in IT Ops) quit a few months ago. He and I were fairly close and he confided in me before he left that the only reason he was quitting was because of our boss. Also, we frequently commiserated about the IT director (our boss) before that. Lastly, I know said ex-coworker was extremely critical of our boss in his exit interview, but it doesn't seem to have done much good, if any.

All that said: I do not want to quit, so please don't suggest it! My questions are:

  1. Is there anything that can be done to fix this? I know there's no definite answer here, but in general. How does this typically go?
  2. If there is hope, what can I do to fix the situation? Other than over-communicating things, which I am already trying to do.
  3. Perhaps I can use some kind of metrics to prove I am doing a good job? We use tons of software for tracking things.
  4. What are my options as far as filing a formal complain or requesting a different boss? What if I got another job offer and demanded a different boss or that I quit? This is a small-medium sized business so I'm not optimistic on that front, but it easily could come to that.

Any other feedback appreciated. Thanks.

  • 3
    Welcome to Interpersonal Skills. Please take a moment to visit the help center and take the tour. I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this looks more like a rant about your boss rather than a question about interpersonal skills. If you edit this ask a specific question it's likely that it could be reopened. – sphennings Aug 1 '18 at 1:50
  • Ok, I have added specific questions. Please don't vote to close this. Thanks. – KidACrimson Aug 1 '18 at 1:59
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    That's a lot of questions. It's a good idea to limit yourself to one question per post. None of the questions you asked are really a good fit for this site. Some of them might be a better fit for The Workplace. I'd strongly recommend reading through their help center before posting to make sure what you're asking is on topic. – sphennings Aug 1 '18 at 2:03
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because you aren't asking for help with interpersonal skills in any of the questions. #1, #2, and #4 seem like Workplace questions. #3 might make it on Software Engineering. – Brythan Aug 1 '18 at 3:58
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    Is this company big enough that requesting a move to a different manager might help? – Erik Aug 1 '18 at 5:26

I've worked for a horrible micromanager in the past, so I'll say this in the clearest language possible: there was no way that I could change that situation. The only thing that kept this person out of my hair was their being so busy, they had too little time to micromanage me. How does this typically go? Staff turns over completely about every 2 years - long enough to gain some experience and then get the heck out. The MM calls them "quitters", says that they weren't working out anyway, or that they need to be more careful selecting staff; very seldom do they question the turnover rate.

Micromanagers, believe it or not, need to feel that involved. They as a group don't trust their staff and some have a "hero complex" - they need to be the one who "saves" the staff from their own incompetence or "save" the users from their staff. The one I had was too uncertain of their position to share decision-making with their subordinate managers, making me into a highly-paid technician.

Proof of doing a good job to a MM is that you're doing what you're told, the way you're told to do it, and getting the result they envision. All other metrics are just fluff.

WRT filing a formal complaint: that's a pretty risky move. HR departments like to say that they're there for the employee, but their real function is to keep the employer from being sued. If a dispute comes in between you and management, the vast majority of the time, HR and upper management will side with your manager. You will need a lot of proof of malfeasance, incompetence, and malpractice to gain the attention of upper management. Even then, they will want to hear the manager's explanation. That's not a route I would recommend going down. If you get another job offer, take it and be happy. Unless you are impossible to replace (and you most likely aren't), most corporations will take your demand as precisely that and not negotiate on it. Even if they did, you will still have that broken relationship to contend with. (I saw a manager at one place I worked at try to file formal complaints against a horrible boss he had. The response this boss had? To try to promote his position - with requirements he couldn't meet. Then they could fire him for performance and not have it be retaliation.)

Sorry if I come across as cynical, but I've worked for a couple of micromanagers and found that there was no way to please them, no matter what anyone on the staff did. One thing I've learned is that there are a LOT of really good jobs out there. Even if you love what you're doing, where you're doing it, except for one factor, you can find a different place where that one factor is replaced with a different annoyance (and it may not be nearly as bad). Nothing is perfect, but work shouldn't be something that you dread spending a third of your waking life at.


I think that you should certainly continue sending your daily progress emails to your manager; in addition, there's something else you can do to appease him when you're meeting him in person:

Always bring a notebook and pen with you, when you are meeting to speak with him, whether the meeting ranges from a few minutes to a few hours. Now, actively take notes when he is speaking, write down as much as you can, with brief periods of you repeating back to him what you wrote down in your notebook, just to confirm that what's written in your notebook is indeed what he meant to say. I have found that this makes a micromanager feel considerably more comfortable.

It's important to use a notebook and not several pieces of printing paper, which makes it look like you're doing some mindless scratch work. A notebook signals that you are treating the note-taking process seriously, and you could earn more respect from this micromanaging boss.

Last but not least, from my experience in the past, we persevered and hoped that the company will eventually get rid of a widely disliked manager, and sure enough, it happened. We were all feeling the same as you did - we loved our jobs, with the exception of an aggressive micromanager who tended to want to make others look bad, in order to give off the perception that he was a hero and saving our department. If you wait long enough, I would bet that things will eventually work themselves out.


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