When Your Boss Criticizes Your Work

Coping with a Micro-Managing, Nit-Picky, or Critical Boss

No one wants to be criticized. When you try your best at a job and try to keep a good attitude it’s really hard to remain motivated if you are consistently criticized. If you have a boss that micro-manages your work or nit-picks, remember that their criticisms are in no way about you, it’s about them.

In his book, Coping with Difficult People, Robert M. Bramson says, “Bosses have power… Knowing this and fearing the worst, most of us hold off on coping with bosses until we can’t stand it any more. At that point [there are so many] pent up emotions that what was intended as coping slides into [anger, resentment], quitting, or copping out.”

He continues, “A better approach is to start coping as soon as possible, but with reasonable caution.”

Bramson explains, “there is a difference between a person who is purposely trying to hurt you and one who does it unthinkingly. When others’ intentions are benevolent, you have some leverage. You can point out that their actions have had results they didn’t intend.”

If you feel you are being nagged, or nit-picked, suggest having weekly meetings with at least one parent without the children present when problems can be discussed. You can explain that it’s difficult to hear criticism at the end of a long, hard, work day and it’s embarrassing to be reprimanded in front of the kids.

Anne Merchant Geissler, author of The Child Care Textbook, explains that a weekly meeting is an opportunity to talk to one another about the children or any issues that come up about the job when everyone is rested and thought more carefully how to phrase their concerns. Although most meetings will be simple and brief, nannies and parents can bring up any issues during that time each week.

During these meetings nannies and parents will get to know and like each other better because they have both taken the time to communicate, without criticism from anger, exhaustion, or frustration. This is a relationship maintenance practice which ensures that both parties value their relationship.

Finally, you can’t control what an employer will say to you, but you can control yourself. Remaining calm and respectful is always important. All you can do is make sure that you are doing your best work and suggest having a weekly meeting as the time to discuss issues about the job.

Stop by tomorrow when we discuss how to make a complaint to your boss.


  1. I once worked for a mom that micromanaged and criticized everything. Sometimes the boss's nature is just too critical and there's no way they will change. Sometimes it's just too late, they have been way too mean, way too critical, way too picky and at least for me I became too resentful I had to leave.

  2. It's really hard to be criticized no matter the job. Does anyone know how to figure out if a parent will be critical during an interview?

  3. I hate post it notes left around the house for things for me to do. Just tell me. I see the notes badly.

  4. My boss is great. But I have friends just criticized to death. Even when your wife or husband nit picks we don't like it and we love one another. Demoralizing to be nit picked. You hire us to help you so you can work. You do your work and let me do mine. Get over the small stuff and let us do our jobs.

  5. It works both ways. If you get overly mad at bosses it's not fair also. Once you are a full charge nanny with experience the micromanaging isn't needed and becomes depressing. I don't like text message thru day. Think parents shouldn't be texting all day unless emergency. I ignore it sometimes it becomes to much. Please and thank yous are better than "do this! do that!"

  6. To bad that during the weekly meeting they will still be criticizing lolFor nanny above asking about interview I think you can ask to speak with their former nanny or household employees and they would let you know whether the parents are easy to work for and their attitude.

  7. I've been told often to have a weekly meeting and it never, ever happens. I've tried and it just isn't realistic with such busy lives and schedules. But I get your point how it would help limit criticism during work week and by the time for the weekly meeting the criticism might not even be worth mentioning. The concept is good, just hard to put into practice.

  8. I think the issue with notes and emails and texting is that we can't hear the other persons tone. I have read post it notes that sounded fine to me but my friends have interpreted as nasty from their boss. So talking face to face is better than leaving notes.

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