How To Deal With A ‘Too Salty’ Boss


“Like salt in a sauce, too much overwhelms the dish; too little is similarly distracting; but just the right amount allows the other flavors to dominate our experience. Just as food is rarely praised for being perfectly salted, leaders may somewhat infrequently be praised for being perfectly assertive.” ~Robert I. Sutton from Good Boss, Bad Boss

A too salty boss can also be considered a micro-manager. They have gone from being assertive to controlling.

I have worked with a few bosses that were controlling, or based on the above analogy, too salty. The most recent of which, was so controlling that she had to review every email prior to me sending it out. If for some reason an email came into me, and I did not show her the conversation, then I would receive the third degree.

This level of control made me feel incompetent, useless and demoralized at work. Plus the relationship between me and my boss was strained.

Why are bosses too salty?

I have to assume that the majority of micro-managers are not intentionally trying to make life at work miserable for their employees. Like any behaviour it is a good behaviour taken to the extreme; such as attention to detail, or a hands-on approach. I think that the extreme tendencies come from a place of fear. It could be fear of letting go, fear of trusting someone else, or fear that someone may do a better job than you. It can also stem from personal insecurities, feelings of job insecurity or pressures from the higher-ups.

Whatever the reason, you may be working for a micro-manager. So how can you try and improve the situation? Here are a few suggestions:

-Anticipate your boss’s needs. Once you work with them for a while, patterns will emerge and you will know what sets them off. Try and be pro-active and anticipate problems before they arise. Come up with solutions beforehand.
-Despite how you may be feeling, try showing some empathy. Perhaps your boss’s workload is too much. If you can, offer to help out on some extra projects that you are confident that you will be good at.
-Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Give regular updates to your boss. Keep them in the loop. Ask questions if you need clarification on something.
-Be dependable and reliable. Show up to work on time, complete assigned work by the deadlines. Show that you are a person that can be depended upon to get the job done, and done right.

Do you have any other tips for working with a ‘too salty’ boss? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.


  1. Model the way for your boss by demonstrating how you’d like them to work with you. Delegate, ask powerful open ended questions to your team, be confident about not knowing, be curious, etc.

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