15 Signs Your Boss Is A Micromanager (And It's Making You Miserable)

A micromanaging boss hurts your mental and emotional health.

man at the computer with boss standing over him totojang1977 / Shutterstock

We've all had a bad boss.

My worst boss liked to call me into her office and talk to me about why I needed to wear better makeup if I planned on getting ahead in business. To be clear, the business was answering phones, not exactly the first rung on any sort of ladder.

But the worst sort of boss? Well, that, my friends, would be the micromanager.

What is a micromanaging boss?

A micromanaging boss spends all of their time in your business, slowing down your process and zapping you of any desire you might have to produce good work. They seek to control every aspect of your position, constantly monitoring the work of their employees.


Micromanaging bosses don't trust their employees to make even the most basic decisions and doubt their abilities or competence. This undermines the autonomy of their employees and can create a toxic workplace environment.

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Having a boss who micromanages means they are unable to delegate tasks, lack communication skills with fellow employees or subordinates, and can be highly critical, diminishing morale and hindering productivity.

Having a boss who is a micromanager is a rite of passage, but science is saying that the effects of having a micromanaging boss could actually shorten your life. That's why, if you notice any of the following signs, it may be time to look for a new job.

Here are 15 signs of a micromanager boss.

1. They never delegate tasks.

If your boss is a micromanager, they are always, always, always busy. The killer is they are often busy with stuff that could be easily handled by other team members. But micromangers? Yeah, they can't hand off projects to others. If they aren't doing it, in their mind, it won't get done right.

2. They have to be involved in everyone else's work.

You might be puttering away on a special project for months and then come into the office to find that your boss has changed the entire layout without consulting you — and for no apparent reason. A micromanager has to put their mark on everything, whether or not it's beneficial to the team.


3. They ignore the experience of their team.

A micromanager could have the most experienced team in the business, but that doesn't matter. When it comes to doing things well, only the micromanager can be trusted — at least, in their mind. It doesn't matter if you've been doing this for 20 years and they're brand new; their word is law.

4. They overwork themselves by doing the tasks of others.

A micromanager will complain passively about their workload, often taking away projects from other people, believing that they are the only ones who can do things properly. This leads to burnout, serious stress, anger, and resentment all around.

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5. They are obsessed with pointless details.

A micromanager cannot see the big picture and focus all their attention on the details. Why worry about the end of year numbers when you can focus on making sure that the weekly newsletter really sings? A micromanager can't think about the future, as they've made themselves too busy to do it.


6. They have the wrong priorities.

A micromanaging boss is more concerned with how they are being perceived than they are with the success and happiness of the entire team and the entire business enterprise. As long as they are seen to be hardworking and industrious, the rest truly doesn't matter to them.

7. They don't trust others to make decisions.

This goes hand in hand with refusing to delegate. In a micromanager boss's mind, they are the only one who is capable of making a good decision. Even simple decisions like blue or black pens has to be made by the micromanager. They just don't trust anyone else to do it right.

8. They hover.

A boss who is a micromanager needs to closely monitor everything their employees do, despite having their own duties. Along with hovering, they also tend to interrupt the workflow, asking for updates and keeping a close eye on productivity.

9. They have ridiculously high standards.

A micromanaging boss demands perfection, regardless of whether it is a small or large task. They nitpick and obsess, causing anxiety, stress, and lowered productivity. Their standards are often impossible to meet and can make employees lack confidence in their abilities.


10. They don't trust their team.

Trust is an essential part of any professional relationship, but a micromanaging boss doesn't trust even their most dedicated employees. They may second-guess their work or must be involved in any decisions. Employees may start to think that they don't have the capabilities to maintain this job position.

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11. They offer no feedback or communication.

A workplace cannot thrive without open communication. Unfortunately, this type of boss doesn't offer any feedback to their team, leaving employees in the dark about their performance. In addition to not offering feedback, they may also be highly critical without offering any comments on how to improve.

12. They overcomplicate tasks.

An employee may have a very simple task, but then here comes the micromanaging boss to complicate the assignment. The boss may give an employee detailed instructions, cutting out autonomy or creativity entirely. It's suffocating, to say the least.


13. They are highly critical.

When they aren't offering helpful feedback, micromanagers in the workplace are quick to point out mistakes, focusing instead on what their employee did wrong instead of praising them for progress. Their criticism, often for no reason, makes employees less likely to make decisions for fear of being critiqued.

14. They are never satisfied.

No matter how much effort their employees put in, the boss is never satisfied. They make their employees feel inadequate, leading to burn out and low confidence in their abilities. Because there will never be praise from the micromanager boss, employees often feel unfulfilled.

15. They have a team that is unmotivated.

It's no surprise that a micromanager has a team of people who are often frustrated, tired, grumpy, and totally unmotivated. Why bother trying if your work is just going to be totally redone? Why show what you are capable of if your boss will never help you climb the corporate ladder?

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a freelance writer, editor, former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek, and former Senior Staff Writer for YourTango. She has a passion for lifestyle, geek news, and true crime topics. Her bylines have appeared on Fatherly, Bustle, SheKnows, Jezebel, and many others.