Dealing with a micromanager

So I got a new Head of Department about this time last year, and he is driving me to distraction.

Bearing in mind there’s one layer between me and the Head, he has taken to emailing me long lists of things “to do” ranging from stuff to be done today to stuff that should be done at some point in the distant future. And then literally asking me on a thrice-daily basis as to how I’m getting on with it. This morning I woke up to a 10-point list of things he thinks I should be doing.

He rated me well this year in reviews, and I get awesome feedback from clients (I’m a portfolio manager - buy side institutional), so I don’t think I suck at my job, but the micro-managing is making me feel pretty useless, and resentful. We had a Stephen Hawking-esque smart PM leave last year and I am fairly sure this was a major issue for him.

Any ideas on how to reverse psychology a micro-manager?

How important is the ‘stuff’ he is asking you to do? If there is one layer between the two of you, then have a conversation with your manager. I am sure he/she will understand.

In terms of reverse psychology, insert a ‘Read receipt’ on every email you send to him to ensure he reads them all. (If he doesn’t read one, send a reminder email the next morning) And then ask him specific questions related to the things you did for him… Flooding someone’s inbox is the best way to fight these shenanigans.

Have you tried providing updates before he asks for them? If you do this for a month or so, maybe he’ll back off.

The key is to understand why your boss is doing this. Probably he does not have a detailed understanding of what you do. To him, you are just an amorphous resource and so, he is trying to shape you into what he thinks you are supposed to do. To counter this, add meticulous details and extra information to everything you send him. Eventually, he will convince himself that he knows what you are doing, and he will leave you alone.

Given him a weekly list of bulletpoints telling him what he needs to get done in order for you to accomplish your bulletpoints, and swing by his room three times a day, tap on the side of the wall, and say, ‘bullets?’

Like this


Overall, good advice on this thread. I feel like I need to watch Office Space again though.

Been a while since I worked in investments but I was always under the impression that if you are a PM performance talks. Reading this I thought you worked in ops or something until I hit the PM part.

If this is true it seems to be pretty absurd.


I dont work in your area at all, but the above has definitely worked for me with a client manager in the UK. Even though he has rated you well, may be he still has some way to go before he trusts you! In my case, that exactly what it was… My organisation wasnt well trusted, but then I had to kind of go out of the way to get that guy to trust me.

Good luck!

Thanks guys. It’s given me some food for thought. I think I will need to become pro-active and just start “upwards micromanaging” to a certain extent, which I absolutely hate the thought of, but we’ll see how we go.

For those interested - this is the kind of stuff I’m dealing with. A few weeks ago, I received a CD of information on an investment that we wanted to review, and the CD was corrupted. I knew the file was too big to email, so I called the company concerned and asked the investor relations staffer to print me two copies, bind them and deliver them over. Mentioned this to my HOD. My HOD then literally asked me every single hour for the next day how the other company were getting along with printing out these documents. There was no urgent need for the files as we didn’t need them for a few days, but he was obsessed with how quickly they could be printed and sent over.

Introduce him to twitter. Just to see what happens.

Oh oh, he looks like a “Nano” Manager and not a “Micro” Manager!!!

Can I call my manager a “Kilo” Manager - he doesnt care what the hell happens in the project cool

I tend to micromanage people when

  1. Tight deadline and i need things to get done ASAP

  2. I dont get status updates as frequently as i would like

  3. Ball gets dropped.

  4. No trust