Update: OP has since asked the question, with an overwhelmingly positive reception:

How can I help my direct report to understand he is not being micromanaged?

I have a professional problem, and I'd like to ask for your help. Do you think The Workplace is the right place for this question?

Working Title: How can I help my direct report to understand he is not being micromanaged?

A couple of weeks ago one of my direct reports, (we'll call him Brent,) went to my boss to complain that I am micromanaging him. When I heard the accusation, I was flabbergasted, since I don't see myself as a micromanager at all.

After talking with my boss I sat down and talked with each of my direct reports to solicit their feedback. I asked in no uncertain terms, am I doing anything to hamper your success or the success of the team?

Some people had some really good constructive criticisms for me, but nobody thought I was a micromanager. When I brought up the topic specifically, each time the answer was the same: a categorical no.

On the heels of that, I sat down with a senior colleague who has been a mentor to me while I have worked for this company. He shares a workspace with us, so he has a decent amount of information upon which to base his opinion.

I asked him bluntly if I was micro-managing the team and he laughed. He expressed his opinion that I am too relaxed in how I manage the team. He speculated that perhaps I had given Brent too much leeway, and that is part of why he is now feeling micromanaged.

I left those meetings with the reassurance that I am not a micromanager. While it helped to buoy my spirits, it really did nothing to change Brent's perspective on things, so I went and did some research.

I spent a lot of time reading some really good articles on what micro-managing is, and ways to avoid being a micromanager like:

5 ways to stop micromanaging

8 tips to stop micromanaging and start leading.

And I read a lot of great questions and answers here. Some of them helped me to understand the problem from the perspective of the victim:

How to work with a micro-manager?

How to deal with a bossy, micro-managing co-worker

But I haven't been able to find any good questions or answers from the perspective of the perpetrator.

Nonetheless, I tried to look at my behaviors to see where I could improve on my relations with Brent. I started using some of the phrasing suggested in the articles linked above I had read, and I tried to make Brent understand that I only wanted to support his success. I've been working at it for two weeks now, and I thought we were making headway.

My boss called today to let me know that Brent has applied for a position at another company. It just so happens that the owner of the other company is friends with the owner of our company. So, he called our owner to make sure it would be OK before calling Brent back.

My boss called Brent and the two talked. Among other things they discussed why Brent is seeking employment elsewhere. According to Brent, nothing has changed. My micromanaging ways have persisted, and he can't stand to work under me any longer.

How can I help my direct report to understand he is not being micromanaged? Is there anything that can be done to salvage the working relationship with Brent?

What do you think? Is this question appropriate for The Workplace? Is there any hope of finding a helpful answer to this question? Or is there perhaps a better way it could be asked?

**Thanks very much for your helpful suggestions. I have edited the question in an attempt to be more brief and to the point.

  • 1
    Let him go, his perceptions haven't changed, he'll also think his next manager is micromanaging him, the whole world is trying to micromanage him... it's not in the slightest his fault... and he has zero interest in meeting you halfway, you are now the excuse for him leaving, and that is not going to change. Your biggest mistake was wasting all that time asking people if you're a micromanager.
    – Kilisi Mod
    May 12, 2016 at 4:00
  • 1
    OP, while this isn't really the place for it I wanted to mention that I'm impressed by the contributions you've made since joining earlier this month. You've submitted some excellent questions both here and on the main site, added some well-written and well-reasoned answers and commented your close or downvotes. Well done. Consider joining The Workplace Chat if you want to be even more involved.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    May 20, 2016 at 8:19

2 Answers 2


Your working title is a bit unwieldy but covers your topic well so that's fine. I think you should try to shorten this a bit and at the very least put in a TL;DR at the top, but this seems like a clearly scoped question with the possibility of practical answers so a good fit for the site.

In its current form it's already good enough to post on the site, though I think it can be improved further with edits by you or the community.

  • I definitely agree with the shortening and cutting out some of the backstory. It should be enough to say that your direct report went to your boss about feeling micromanaged, but after talking to your boss and your other direct reports, no one else views you that way.
    – David K
    May 12, 2016 at 12:43
  • Thanks very much for your feedback. At your suggestion, I have removed some of the backstory to make the question less wordy. Curious to solicit your feedback on the edits: is the question better or worse in your opinion?
    – Lumberjack
    May 12, 2016 at 15:41
  • @Lumberjack Looks like a good improvement. I'd probably keep a phrase on how you requested input from a mentor (who presumably has management experience) as that should help avoid comments like "are you sure you're not micromanaging him". Like I said, I'd go ahead and post it. You can add a comment encouraging people to edit the question if they see a way to improve it but that's optional. I've considered submitting an edited version but our writing styles are fairly different and I don't want to butcher a well-written question. :)
    – Lilienthal Mod
    May 12, 2016 at 17:03
  • Thank you @Lilienthal
    – Lumberjack
    May 13, 2016 at 16:18

Yes, it's very appropriate.

And I'd expect to see some great answers too.

  • 1
    Thank you Jim. I hope you are right!
    – Lumberjack
    May 13, 2016 at 16:18

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