Countering the Control Freak Manager
Terry Braverman and Company

Countering the Control Freak Manager


Over the course of most professional careers, one is bound to encounter an arrogant, overbearing, intrusive, abusive, difficult and/or know-it-all manager. There are bosses who have an agenda to micro-manage their subordinates over exemplifying inspirational, productive team leaders. Some crave power and dominion over others’ lives. The reasons vary, from their own psychological weaknesses to more extreme personality disorders, to act out as dictators, persecutors or nannies.


Some managers lack fundamental training in managing people. And, even more importantly, managers lack the values, awareness and sensitivity needed to relate effectively on a daily basis with people. Skills and techniques are easier to teach, but values, beliefs, and attitudes can be much harder to modify - and tougher for managers to learn. Yet, these are the underlying issues that will most make managers successful, or not.


When the control freak manager is impairing your ability to focus and do the job, it is always best to arrange a meeting with the manager and address the matter upfront. There is a humble, tactful kind of courage required to intervene effectively. You need to deal with this situation very patiently, politely, yet strategically and firmly. Do not engage this person when emotionally upset. You can be direct and ask questions about why they are (being sarcastic, harshly critical, probing about your personal life…). Ask if there are concerns with your work performance. Get specifics and take notes. Document! If it becomes clear that the manager is abusing their authority because it is their modus operandi, ask, “Are we not all here to (improve productivity, increase sales in the next quarter…)?” Let him/her know their behavior is counterproductive to workplace objectives and further discussions with higher ups may be necessary. When consequences are stated or even implied, this will often correct the negative behavior.


Document all such instances of continued abuse so that if it still gets out of hand, to the extent that it hampers work, you must present your case to the appropriate stakeholders at a company forum that addresses such issues. When managers start getting too control-obsessive, there may be something else going on -- probably pressure from above. So politely explain about boundaries, libel, slander, adverse impact and such issues as needed, and suggest the behavior be adjusted.


All of us deserve a workplace environment that is pleasant and conducive to productive professional relationships, so address the perpetrator immediately. If the abuse continues, there is always a remedy, e.g., call for disciplinary hearing on grounds of harassment, violation of private life, just name it specifically... but make the list as long as needed to cover all areas of transgression. Keeping quiet and tolerating his/her behavior is not an option.





Add comment

Security code

15 Tips to Lighten Up at Work

Receive 15 Tips to Lighten Up at Work from
Terry's best-selling book...

AND get a FREE subscription to The Weekly Manager.

The Replenisher