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Ask Abi column: helping PAs and EAs with career dilemmas


Welcome to the first Ask Abi column – helping PAs and EAs with career dilemmas.

Abigail Jones, a career Executive Assistant, currently working at Instagram, answers burning career related questions sent to us by Assistants. Abi also provides professional coaching and mentoring to individual EAs and PAs and as well as corporate groups…


Abigail Jones


This first column’s question for Abi is:

How to handle a boss who micromanages you, and how to manage the expectation of living up to perceived impossible standards?

I completely understand how frustrating and stressful this is, particularly when you are competent and could excel at your job.  It’s very frustrating when you are made to feel as though you are somehow ‘always one step behind’.

The person doing the micromanaging is likely to either be insecure in their leadership, or overly controlling and unable to delegate- and it often shows up as a lack of trust and undermining.

First of all, try having an open conversation to set some boundaries. Schedule a focused one-to-one meeting, and come prepared with your expectations, parameters and limitations of what you want from the role. Encourage your boss to do the same. How much follow up is needed?

Helping PAs and EAs with career dilemmas – questions you can prepare before the meeting:

What kind of communication do they want?

How can you give feedback to them?

How can they give feedback to you?

Give some clear examples of times or projects where you would like to lead, without interference.

Ask if there is a reason why your boss feels the need to micromanage – is there something they feel is not happening?

Is there an underlying fear of failure?

The point is to find a solution that is going to work for both of you. Try to find out what the boss’s goal is – and what your common goal together is.

I really do understand how annoying and difficult it is to remain focused and calm when you feel you are being monitored. Try to stay focused, and keep a record of your results as it might help in their need to track your progress.

However, if the situation doesn’t improve, and becomes overwhelming, consider moving to a new job. You can take this experience of a micromanager as one of your future questions to ask in an interview. It’s a useful question in a situation when you need to find out the personality type of your next boss.

Life is too short to feel underappreciated and watched over!

Follow Abi at @thepacoach

Email your most burning questions and dilemmas you want to get help with to our Editors at with subject ‘Ask Abi’.


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