Managing a tyrannical boss is nightmarish for many. This blog helps in giving a few quick tips in managing micromanager boss. Read on to see how Rohit manages his boss Shekhar.
A 3 – minute read.

Here’s a story that most of us will identify with.

It was a cold and frosty morning. Rohit found it tough to get up and get going. He dreaded going to office, it seemed a drudgery, a heavy burden. It was not as much about the content of the work – it was more to do with the boss he had. The moment he stepped into his office, he could feel Shekhar’s presence. In fact, so much so that Rohit felt Shekhar was omni-present and omni – prescient. Rohit felt that Shekhar controlled, dictated and obsessed about every minor detail in the work. Rohit on his part always acknowledged and acquiesced to Shekhar’s opinions. And most of the times, Shekhar was right. The more corrections Shekhar did, the more mistakes Rohit made. Rohit tried to learn and do better everyday, but in his heart, he felt uncomfortable, disrespected and more importantly, no longer valued.

This is a typical cycle that every micro-manager and his subordinate go through. Rohit did what all of us are usually advised to do in such times – 1. Talk it out 2. Fall in line 3. Move on 4. Ignore

If only the typical advice worked!

Just like Rohit, most people say, “You don’t understand my boss – he is a hardened villain and he is not going to change.” Well, he may not change, but your response to him definitely can. We don’t get to choose two things in life no matter how hard we try – parents & bosses. What we can do is manage them better.

Here’s a better way of managing a micro-manager (read tyrannical) boss and this is what Rohit did.

Ask yourself two fundamental questions

  • Why is he worried?
  • What can I do to make him feel comfortable?

The primary reason for micro-management that bosses cite is their concern that something won’t get done on time or in the right manner. If as a subordinate, you can build the trust with your boss, your battle is won. And every time you deliver, the deposits in the trust account increase.

Ask – Ask for space, ask for time, ask for clear goal or better still ask for the problem or the challenge. And when you have asked, assert your capability by outlining the direction you wish to take, keep him in the loop and lastly, deliver on the promise you made. Rohit started asking for the problem statement he needed to work on rather than just taking down instructions. This also helped him assert his own capability.

Show him your strengths. If you know what you are good at and how you can best be utilised showcase it. Rohit had great project management skills. He initiated a small project and ensured that the impact was felt in the whole department.

Find a common purpose. This is easier said than done. But having a common goal, a common ground always works. Go beyond the obvious – the appearance, the tone & the language – listen and understand the intent. Rohit did this by telling Shekhar that he wanted to take down notes as Shekhar was talking. He said that this helped him in reflecting on the discussion points. Suddenly Shekhar became the co-actor in the movie rather than the villain Rohit thought.

Admit your follies. Mistakes are great learning points. Admitting them, citing the lessons learnt and not repeating them helps the manager in building faith in his subordinates. Rohit decided to keep his ego aside and made the first move of admitting last week’s faux pas in the client’s presentation. He also showed Shekhar how he would ensure that this mistake would not be repeated.

Show them you can do bigger & better. Rohit identified a stretch assignment which would take off a burden from Shekhar’s shoulders and soon he was learning a new skill. Most of us wait endlessly to be picked up / identified for the challenging assignment. Why not ask for it – it builds in confidence and shows that you can do a bigger job.

Rohit started doing well over a period of time. And later Shekhar cited Rohit as one of his best buddies at work.

One option we always have is to ask – “why me & why now”

Instead, we can be smarter at managing our boss and say ” It isn’t me & it isn’t forever “

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