Who’s The Boss? On Micromanagement and Getting The Hell Away From A Bad Boss

Raise your hand if you want your boss to be so far up in your business she wants to tell you how to wipe your bits in the bathroom.  I’m not seeing any hands, am I?

Of course not! The fact is that no one wants that boss, but Cyn K ended up with one and here’s her story.

* * * *

“While we were very impressed with your interview, the committee has decided to offer the position to another candidate.”

I deleted the email and quickly got up from my desk. I didn’t want my boss to see me cry. More accurately, I didn’t want her to ask why I was crying.

Because I can’t get away from you.

Fresh out of college, I cockily turned down two jobs before accepting a teaching position I grew to love. When I decided to move back to my home state, I also opted to leave teaching. After a year of national service, I again had the luxury of choosing between jobs.

I may have chosen poorly.

I had been spoiled with great bosses up to that point and was completely unprepared to be micromanaged. I was used to autonomy. Hell, I had been entrusted with the minds of young children. I was used to thinking on my feet and using my best judgment. I prided myself on being self-motivated, acting professionally, making many decisions throughout the day and taking action immediately.

My new boss didn’t believe in this.

Suddenly, I had to submit letters and memos for her proofreading and approval. Without fail, she left a red mark on at least one page. She did this even on documents that I recycled from the previous year, ones she had proofed and corrected herself. She always had to change something, just to show that she could.

She wanted to be copied on emails. Despite managing a staff of three, each of whom composed multiple emails a day, she asked to “be kept in the loop.” She almost always replied to these messages to correct what she perceived as our errors or to simply repeat what we wrote in her own words just to show she was involved.

Heaven forbid I should talk on the phone when she was in earshot. She would hover in the doorway, shaking her head in disapproval over how I was answering a question. Of course, head shaking was always preferred to her talking at me, telling me what I should be saying while I’m trying to listen to the person on the line. If the client was physically present in the office, she felt free to take over if she didn’t like the way I was handling the situation.

My office mates and I had the sympathy of other staff. Even though we were her only direct reports, she didn’t let that stop her from telling other people what they should do and how they should do it.

I needed to get the hell out of there.

Since my boss liked to control everything and had never heard of delegation, I actually had a lot of free time at work. I used the time I wasn’t trusted to complete tasks to look for a new job. I made it part of my routine to look at job sites every day. I submitted applications, rewrote my cover letter and tweaked my resume on company time. I was applying for so many jobs that I had to create a spreadsheet to track my efforts.

Unfortunately, the job market had changed since the time I had been hired. I began getting form letters announcing that positions were filled without a call or interview. I had phone interviews that went nowhere. I had multiple interviews for jobs and got my hopes up only to get rejection notices via phone, letter and email.

When I did have interviews, I worried the most about the “why” question. Why do you want to work for us? Why are you leaving your current job? I always lied. My answer wasn’t completely false, but it certainly wasn’t the truth.

Oh, you’re company has such a great image . . .

I’m so impressed with the history of this place . . .

I’m looking for advancement opportunities . . .

I’d like to explore my other skills . . .

Maybe I never got those other jobs because I didn’t tell the truth.

Why did I want to work for them? Because after four years of being micromanaged, constantly corrected, and treated like I could not be trusted to make any decision, no matter how small, my boss said this during a staff meeting:

Sometimes, I think you forget that I’m in charge.

I may have made a lot of mistakes in that job, but that certainly wasn’t one of them.

* * *

Cyn K grew up in rural Ohio, spending her time doing chores on her family’s hobby farm, reading, writing and overdosing on network television. Her first job was the extremely glamorous position of “Production Specialist” at her local Pizza Hut. After teaching elementary music and movement in New Mexico for six years, she settled back in Ohio. Having survived the boss from hell described in this post, she found a nice, boring job that allows her plenty of time to take care of her antisocial husband, autistic son, and adorable dog. The current job also gives her time to tweet as @cynkingfeeling and blog over at that cynking feeling.


20 thoughts on “Who’s The Boss? On Micromanagement and Getting The Hell Away From A Bad Boss

  1. Being micromanaged has to be one of the most demoralizing things on a job. It’s frustrating and you don’t feel the need to really give something your all if someone’s just going to rip it apart later anyway. Glad you were able to get out of there.

  2. Pingback: Take this job and blog it | that cynking feeling

  3. That is so awful. In one of my first jobs after law school I worked for a start-up company and the lawyer I worked under wasn’t able to hire both an associate and a secretary, so she put me in both functions. I was basically a secretary with a law degree, and got the short end of both sticks because I worked lawyer hours, but didn’t get overtime pay like a secretary does. One day she called me in to her office and gave me a lecture on how to answer her phone to her satisfaction. That’s the day I started looking for a new job.

  4. I don’t know which one I like better: being micromanaged into oppression or being mismanaged into incompetence. It’s a toss up, really. Each brings such joy.

  5. Cyn, I sympathize! Being micromanaged is the worst! It drives me up a wall. It’s like, if you don’t trust me to do this job, then why did you hire me? My boss in 2011-2012 was a terrible micromanager, always wanting to be cc’d, etc. And isn’t “Keep me in the loop” the micromanager’s secret code for “Let me keep everything you’re doing under a microscope”? I was actually happy when they laid me off.

  6. If it weren’t for the fact that you live in Ohio, I would have thought that you and I had the same boss. Emails submitted for proofreading : check Being micromanaged: Check needing t o copy him on every email I wrote: Check. What’s up with that?

    • I just don’t know. My ex-boss always complained about how busy she was. It made me want to say, “No s***!” I didn’t say that, but I did snap one time and ask her what the big effing deal was about some miniscule detail she was obsessing over. Amazingly, I wasn’t fired.

  7. Pingback: That’s what she said | that cynking feeling

  8. I had an internship where for part of the time I made maps. They had arrows, among other features, on them (I’m being intentionally vague here). I showed the first map to my immediate boss because who wants to make dozens of maps wrong if the errors could have been corrected on the first one? Big mistake. He said, “They look fine, but check with ******* (his boss) to make sure your arrows are right.” Um, OK. Seriously? Only one problem. The big boss had gone to a meeting and was gone for the next FOUR HOURS! Could I proceed with the other maps? Nope. My immediate boss did not want the big issue of arrows hanging on him. So I sat around for four hours, got my arrows approved (along with a “Why the hell are you bothering me with this?” look), and made my maps. I was so glad they were on a hiring freeze when I graduated so I had a legitimate excuse as to why I was not applying for a full-time position from my internship.

  9. Pingback: A Veteran’s Day thank you: maintaining perspective | that cynking feeling

  10. Pingback: The cupboard was bare | that cynking feeling

  11. I also had 3 or 4 electric blankets to stay cozy
    on those cold winter and fall evenings after horse back riding with “close friends”:
    :)). It’s way better than going out and job hunting in a place where they don’t
    even want to work in. It stands out without being too bright and
    without using too much ink, and is sure to get you noticed.

  12. I know this is an old post, but it is very relevant to me, especially right now. I am currently going through this situation and would like nothing more to get out …ASAP. Thank you for the encouragement and I am glad you got out of there too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s