Leadership

If you micromanage, no one wins

Micromanaging can not only demoralize your team members, but it can keep a lot of creative ideas from coming to fruition.

Throughout my career as an editor in the media industry, I've encountered many copy editors who, though they would stringently deny it, are micromanagers. They take what other people write and totally change the wording to better reflect their own writing style. They think they are improving the copy, but what they are doing is exercising a deep-seated belief that if someone else's way of expression is different from theirs, then that person must be wrong. When you take away a writer's personal voice, you lose something valuable.

Team management is no different. If you are a team manager and suffer from the delusion that your way is the only way, then you too may be a micromanager. The problem is that if you get too stuck on the way you would do things, you close yourself off to being witness to new and improved ways. And, you demoralize your staff in the process.

So do you want to break the micromanaging habit? The Dallas Morning News offers this list of tips to avoid micromanaging:

Part 1

  • Focus on communication and trust.
  • Assign tasks that include clear, specific, and time-bound expectations.
  • Allow employees to figure out how they'll accomplish the task.
  • Set up status reports that fit the scope of the assignment but aren't too burdensome.
  • Let employees know that you're trying to change and give them a safe way to point it out if you slip.

Part 2

Be a leader.

Leadership skills bring more value and will increase satisfaction for everyone, including you. Options include:

  • Investing in each employee through coaching, challenging work, and development.
  • Removing barriers to success that your team members face.
  • Expressing a meaningful vision to your employees.

Bottom line for IT Leaders

Micromanagement is inefficient and also demoralizing for the team. It also closes you off to being witness to new and improved ways. Learn to let go and let the people you hired do what they were hired to do.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

66 comments
saturnwings
saturnwings

I've had the honour of working for many micromanagers, and the problem is the micromanaging, yes, but it's also that many of them have recited the "I don't want to be *that* kind of manager" mantra to me. The big problem is that these people can't/don't recognize micromanaging when they see/do it. Micromanagers aren't great, but that's a problem easier to deal with than the managers who are too obtuse to recognize their micromanaging ways.

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

They get what they pay for and I get my money. PS: If of course you get it in writing, which I do.

duckboxxer
duckboxxer

The first step is recognizing or accepting (or information someone) that one is a micro manager. Getting past that should be the easy part.

me.ochieng
me.ochieng

Very insightfull. This information will go a long way!

chas_2
chas_2

Micromanagement is a cardinal sin. Thankfully I haven't worked for one of these obsessive creeps. The people that need to see this article won't see it. The only way they will is if someone is bold enough to show them.

scorpion_saga
scorpion_saga

These words speaks are true... We're all humanary stew... If we don't pledge alliegence tooooo... THE MICROMANAGER. The only thing people that come off as micromanagers are good for is the unemployment line. I have worked in many toxic workplaces. Many of these were due to people with control issues. It's real issue in today's workplace.

onthego
onthego

I've been (and currently being) micromanaged. I understand the message you are voicing and agree whole heartedly (as I'm experiencing the fruit of such management style). I've been in management. I've been on both sides of the fence. From my experience, there is a place for micromanagers. However, it is not with a professional staff. Technicians generally can perform a task, but have a difficult time with organizational skills or thinking beyond the codified procedure. A group of true technicians need micro management in concert with having a coach. Otherwise they would be misunderstood and fail. That said, there is still no place for the micromanager to perform the task itself, merely maintain organization and accountability for the group.

mabingle
mabingle

I worked for the ultimate micro-manager and she didn't even know she was one... or wouldn't admit it. I should have left the first month or two, but I stuck it out for 18 months. Life was hell in those months. She affected so many people in a negative way. She took a vacation day once and her boss asked me to take care of a problem immediately (I was with the company about 5 months then). So, I got my team together and fixed the problem... it was easy. She came back the next day and called me into a conference room at 11am. I left the conference room at 1PM after a 2 hour butt chewing. She told me that I must never do anything on my own without her permission first. The most crazy thing about it was after I couldn't take it any longer I said "Do what you have to do, I don't care". She looked at me strangely and said "But I'm glad you took the job and work for me". I immediately went back to my desk after that meeting and hit the job boards. My suggestion.... if you have a micro-manager, leave as soon as possible. By the way, about 7 months after I left that company, she was given another position with no one reporting to her. The question remains... what took them so long? I would have fired her.

GreenPirogue
GreenPirogue

When I started managing, I was a micro-manager. This lasted about one month. Then I figured out what my role was - not a super-employee, who was good at the technical stuff and needed to make a bunch of mini-mes. I needed to lead, to guide. And when you stop micro-managing, employees solve problems, and you can revel in their accomplishments. That is what is exciting about managing others. Not just getting the job done.

mckinnej
mckinnej

It is VERY hard to get a micro-manager to change their style. Even when directly confronted with the facts and issues, it rarely does any good. The example used in the posting speaks to editing documents. I was on the other side of that situation. I would rewrite just about every document that crossed my desk. No one forced me to change my habit. I realized I was creating my own huge workload. I learned to fix the things that really needed fixing and keep my own style out of it (unless the writer used a totally inappropriate style). It wasn't easy, but I got the hang of it. The point behind this is insidious. You can "train" a micro-manager by overloading them. If they want information, give it to them. Give it to them by the ton. Make sure your coworkers are doing the same. It won't take long. The manager will either have to adapt or explode. Here's a different strategy I saw a lot in the military. They would move micro-managers higher up in the chain. Maybe give them a staff (overhead) position or the like. This did two things; it got them away from people that needed to be productive in order to accomplish the "real" mission and it made it easier to manage what they could micro-manage. In other words, limit their scope and minimize the damage. This action could seem like a "promotion", but the big bosses knew what they were doing. The micro-managers rarely made it to the big ranks because the promotion boards could easily recognize when someone was "contained".

mag.gracias
mag.gracias

I know a manager who edits other people documents to change only the pages format, paragraph style and so. Than she sends the changed docs as if they were of her own. This manager spends a great part of her days reading mails and composing her ones with parts of other people's mails (she is a copy/paste expert), than she sends these compositions (that add no value to the original mails) to the original recipients. I call this kind The Nanomanager.

alex.a
alex.a

>> They take what other people write and totally change the wording to better reflect their own writing style. They think they are improving the copy, but what they are doing is exercising a deep-seated belief that if someone else???s way of expression is different from theirs, then that person must be wrong. When you take away a writer???s personal voice, you lose something valuable.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Yes it is all too familiar. Having been on both sides of the fence, I have seen both views. I worked for a mico manager who couldn't really get anything done himself. When there was a new task at hand, perhaps I or another staff member had already experienced, he simply wouldn't give up the reins or even be open to suggestion, as he wanted control. I've seen a branch office open with no communications system, no working network, no email, no NOTHING (after planning it for 6 weeks). "Everything is taken care of" is all I kept hearing. ME- "Who's cutting over the phones?" Him- "it's being taken care of" Me- "you do realize that we have to have the KSU reprogrammed for the new CO?" Him- "Don't worry about it." ME- "You know we need Cat5 drops in the upper offices, right?" Him- "HO is taking care of everything" The day the new office opened, no dial tone from the key system phones, no network cabling run to offices, no IP Phones, no NOTHING. Just a bunch of guys sitting on their hands. HO, said, "well the interconnect said they cut it over." Unfortunately nobody understood that the interconnect was just going ot terminate their service at the main telco box for teh strata and not do ANYTHING with the KSU, the cabling etc. I explained that I had been in the industry for 10 years and new the routine inside and out, if they wanted me to sort it out I would. Even though the Canadian system is partially deregulated, the local carrier was the only one who could actually cut over at teh telco box. ANOTHER company had to take care of the data cabling too. They never did get it straight. I called a few industry contacts (despite what they wanted) and the office was up and running in two days at a really low cost, as a favour to me. When he (the micro manager without a clue)was later talking to the HO, "Don't worry I sorted it out and got some local guys to come in and resolve the problems." Uh yeah, sure you did, knob. As I also write copy, I understand exactly what you mean, but it is a bit different in that case. Often the copywriter has to recreate a mental picture in order to perform his 'art'; it is a creative process, not a technical one. Often that means rewriting teh entire work that has been submitted, but if that copy isn't effective, it is MY head that's on the line. Not the graphic designer or assistant writer's fault. If an ad/promotion is effective, it comes back to the entire team, but if it is ineffective, it comes back ot one person, the copywriter. Even if it was a layout or graphics issue that caused it to fail, it is still up to the copywriter to make sense of the visuals. So though i see micromanagement and your example of copywriting as different scenarios, I sure have seen teh failure of micromanagement and escaped before it happened again of course.

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[i]Getting past that should be the easy part. [/i] Micromanagement is a habit, and not a good one. I would expect it to be difficult, not easy, to break.

Fredz
Fredz

I loved the nutshell example of just rewording to reflect the writing style. Take that to apply to everything and we have the micro manager who has to change everything his/her way. When I was first a manager, I didn't know the details of the operation and was saved any possible micro managing. I had to listen to my employees! We were able to come to some agreements and minimal procedures that everyone could agree on. I typically only got agreement to 1 out of 5 of my suggestions for improvements. But, I got one and they got 4! We used the simple what's next and how will we know when it's accomplished approach. In addition, my hardest job was with my management to get what my employees needed to do their job! Thanks for your insights

grrltechie
grrltechie

I'm sitting here wondering if I could get away with printing this and sliding it under my boss' door. The first three sentences are her to a T. I don't even bother to "fine tune" memos or mass emails any more because she is going to tweak whatever I send to her for approval, regardless of how grammatically correct it is or how accurately it conveys the message we want to send.

rush2112
rush2112

People will follow someone who leads the way. People will run from, ignore, or otherwise ridicule(mostly in private) those that do not lead effectively but rather allow their emotions to drive policy. As everyone is aware the spectrum of emotion can drive policy around in a circle many times before a reasonable person will stop that and pick up the LEAD and allow people to become effective again while they follow the LEADER. Leadership is important on a team. (any team) Contradicting policies based on emotional responses or even just contradictory decisions can seem whimsical to everyone on the team who is NOT the designated leader. Whine if you like, bemoan to your uppers if you prefer, micromanagers will always be here..(wherever HERE might be) Picture the parents at a little league game, telling their kids NOT TO DO THIS and DO THAT...while the COACH is attempting to instruct and coach the player. In this example the parent is the micromanager. There are many examples. The best rule to follow on this subject is "LEAD FOLLOW or get the HELLOUTTA the way." Technicians are no different than little leagers...as are customer service reps and accounting people and sales people, and laborers, etc etc. "Once you learn to HERD a group of CATS you will have mastered LEADERSHIP" As in baseball PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE (everyday)

don.gulledge
don.gulledge

As a constant, I always find that Micro, Pico and bico managers are people that have luckily fallen into a job that they are totally unable to handle simply because they're idiots. Most micromanagers I've met, may be very smart in many ways, usually BullShit, but technically very challenged. So, their base instinct is to micromanage every decision, intertain every question, and never know what they're doing because they have to have someone under them teach them what they don't know before they can render a decision. As with your example, I worked for this one myself and found that even after I explained the technical side, she still didn't understand it and always default to me or someone else under her. Seems like America has gotten into this mode where you can hire anyone as a manager, no how lacking they are despite having education in a field or not. Like the one said, "cream doens't rise to the surface any more, but shit floats". Being much older in the work force, I'm glad that I'll be able to retire in the not too distant future because the way things are going, I don't think I could work in this environment any longer. I always feed my micro managers as much info as they want. I don't hoard my knowledge or keep it from them because I know that even armed, they're going to keep trucking the way they are and not change for my sake.

glgruver
glgruver

If you can find a copy, read Scott Adams' book entitled "The Dilbert Principle". Takes the well known "Peter Principle" to the next level of hierarchy as described by mckinnej.

GoodOh
GoodOh

This seems to be simple old credit-snatching and idea theft. Not sure it has anything to do with micro- nor nano-management.

Answerfactory
Answerfactory

If they are just plagiarizing work and calling it their own, then insert embarrissing mistakes into Powerpoint presentations to make them look really bad. Then, after they have been fired, you will be promoted to their position and can do things the right way.

niyas
niyas

Actually there is one way to deal with such type of nano managers. These guys would come with up some mistake on whatever you produce to show their authority over you in an attempt to demonstrate their knowledge. That is more of psychological issue, especially if they are not so good at what they do, they feel insecure and look for possible ways to exercise their limited knowledge which most of the times comes out as silly. In my experiences, one way to deal with them is to let them have their pleasure, do not produce anything fool proof, leave some obvious things for them to correct and they will happy to point this out and feel good about it. if they cant find any thing, they will turn to the more concrete things and exercise their power to alter things which might be against what we think and and what we are so sure about. So give them something to correct and let them feel happy about it. Regards

klaasvanbe
klaasvanbe

The picomanagers are pretty much alike. A striking difference is they have at least 1 subordinate mentioned in the bcc line, reason why we may just as well call them 'bicomanager'

GreenPirogue
GreenPirogue

My first thought: "Spoken like a true micro-manager." You said, "Ideally, as an editor, I should return substandard reports to the writers, with notations as to exactly what is substandard and why, and ask the writers to try again. However, time constraints don't always permit this." When returning work and commenting on it, you are helping the authors understand how you want their writing to be. By fixing it yourself because of time contraints, you have taught the writers that they can write in their comfortable style and someone else will come along and fix it. It also sends the message that sub-standard work is acceptable. There are consequences past meeting the deadline, house-style or not.

toni.bowers_b
toni.bowers_b

I've been editing for about 400 years so I completely understand the goal and the importance of it. What I was referring to is taking a "featurish" piece like something Dave Barry would write and homogenizing it into a "journalism" template. I should have been clearer.

GoodOh
GoodOh

What you describe is poor management but I'm not sure it's a good example of micro-management. My definition of a micro-management would be almost the exact opposite scenario. You having it all in hand and reporting this simple fact and yet being required to repeatedly demonstrate each and every step had been done to the satisfaction of someone above you (often with no idea of what the details you are providing means). Micro-managers may or may not be competent. Dumb managers are always dumb.

Sarnath
Sarnath

What you are talking about is an in-efficient manager who tries to hide his ignorance. Micromanagers are good technically BUT the problem is they cant simply delegate things to people. They tend to re-do the parts done by their subordinates in their own way.

ray.derkacz
ray.derkacz

The scenario you give is a classic case of project management failure rather than a micromanagement issue. There was clearly a project to set up a new branch office but it seems that, although there may well have been 6 weeks of planning, roles and responsibilities had not benn defined and agreed up front i.e in the terms of reference for the project. Good project management processes should reduce the risk of the micromanagement effect.

GoodOh
GoodOh

Reading through from the start to the end I feel there is little common idea of what micro-management is and isn't. Makes it hard to have a meaningful discussion when there is such a lack of shared ground on what it is we are talking about. Not that I am claiming to be right but I am definitely out of agreement with a lot of the definitions put forward here. Perhaps a bit more focus on what we are talking about (and a clearer example to start things off) would be a good idea as a review of this item in a couple of months.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

Use their energy against them. When I've had micromanagers, I give them EVERYTHING in painstaking detail. That keeps them so busy that they don't bother me.

maecuff
maecuff

is a micromanager. He's been out all week. I've gotten more accomplished this week than I have the rest of the month. If he would leave his capable staff ALONE, we'd all get more done. We aren't children, we don't need our hands held and the constant barrage of questions eats into our productivity. And for someone who ISN'T a programmer, he certainly behaves like he is one. Or wants to be. I can't tell you how many times he's told me a 'better' way to do things. And EVERY time, he couldn't have been more off base. And I'm not the type to not take suggestions, I welcome a better way. But the things he's telling me are just flat out wrong. I've just taken to avoiding him as much as possible.

Ben
Ben

Hi Toni, Great insight ? except the present editor of my leadership columns in the Denver Business Journal is not a micro-editor. :) The tips you included from the Dallas Morning News are great. Sometimes, micro-managers will respond to reasoning and statistics by seeing the benefits of backing off. But more often, I can do something as a coach or consultant that enmployees can't get away with. Often, I can get micromanagers to make the inner shift necessary to become motivated to change their habitual, external behavior only after I refer to them as ?bullies.? The emotional impact of calling them ?nit-picking, control freaks? or ?micro-bullies? seems necessary. Maybe the gut aversion to being known as a bully overcomes either the adrenalin rush of feeling powerful enough to make the world in their own image or the gut-wrenching fear that drives them to try to control every little detail. Micro-managers are often afraid that any mistake, no matter how small, will doom them. Until they make the shift on the emotional level, the micromanager?s reasons, excuses and justifications for continuing to bullying people to ?get it perfect,? will be more compelling than the potential benefits of, in their words ?letting people mess it up any way they want.? On my blog (http://www/BulliesBeGone.com) and in my book, ?How to Stop Bullies in their Tracks,? I focus on stopping bullies at work as well as in personal life. There?s even one on ?Know-it-all-bosses? ? http://www.bulliesbegoneblog.com/2008/03/19/stop-verbal-abuse-by-a-know-it-all-boss/ Hope this adds to the discussion. Best wishes, Ben

TownsendA
TownsendA

Reading the replies so far few really deal with micro managing. These are the managers who destroy confidence and bully their workers by constant " have you finished yet?" "How far have you got?" "I need that now not tomorrow" ust to pressure you. In many cases they cannot do it themselves. When you reach saturation level you have to tell them to back off or they won't get what they want. "Let me do my job for the next 2 (or 3 or 4 hours) and I'll come back to you on my progress." Workers can have their confidence destroyed by having these people hound them.

Nil Po
Nil Po

My experience was with an inarticulate micromanager. Her department wrote quality improvement guidelines. She would typically change everything her 3 employees wrote but she could never explain what she wanted. When we asked for examples or direction she could not give them. We were left to guess what she wanted and it was invariably re-written. Her managers liked her because she did know the subject well and what she wrote passed outside audits. The Peter Principle set in as her department was given management of technical projects. The difference was night and day. She was one of those people who can barely turn on a PC and wanted absolutely nothing to do with anything technical. She turned over the project management responsibility to me. Although she remained my manager for a couple of years I just turned in a quarterly list of projects and didn?t even see her for weeks at a time. Eventually I began reporting directly to the CEO. Last I heard, my former manager was still re-writing everything her employees did. Ironically, one of her former employees now works for the auditing organization that will be evaluating her work. I?d like to see how that turns out.

TheSwabbie
TheSwabbie

I think they Micromanage because they THINK they know it all. I had an IT Director at a small hospital in rural South Carolina who tried to convince everyone that he knew EVERYTHING. The problem was the he wasnt smart enough NOT to talk his game with people who DID know more than he did. When people like this start jacking thier jaws with true IT Professionals they show instantly how much they "DONT" know. Robbing ideas to make themselves look better, strutting and making comments such as "Its good to be king" (yes - he use to say that) all worked to make the entire IT Department miserable beyond belief. Being a no nonsense person - I started calling him on things. Of course it came to a head but I finally let him know what I and others thought of him when I left. Now I manage the IT departments of 2 companies and I couldnt be happier - and I learned what NOT to do and BE because of HIS actions....so in some ways - he taught me to be a better Manager.

Snak
Snak

... how come so many companies had such bad managers; that the people at the 'top' were so consistently bad at their jobs. The answer was easy: Sh*t floats.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

Years ago we had a real problem due to employees ignoring a "minor" safety rule. Part of the problem was the rule was too complicated. The amount of paperwork required to follow this really simple rule meant people ignored it. When I tried to suggest this and alternative ways to work around it the managers got mad & I'm afraid I got mad back. The result was a stern tongue lashing and warning that anyone caught not following the rule would be written up. Since I was the outspoken one I followed the rule strictly for about a year. It looked like everybody else just nodded their heads at the meeting and went right on doing the same thing they had been doing. So I started implementing my suggestions without management approval. At least the safety aspect was covered if not the paperwork. Eventually management changed the rules and we do it the way I suggested all those years ago. The point is don't give up on the important things. Just because you lost the battle today doesn't mean you lost the war on the issue. Wait until everyone has a chance to cool off. Think everything through, try to come up with a different way to explain your idea.

$dunk$
$dunk$

I usually leave spelling errors in my comments when my code is being reviewed because this appeases those who feel they have to find something. If they can't find simple fixes like spelling errors then they feel obligated to pull something out of their @ss. Usually this is much harder to change and still adds nothing to quality. Thus, toss a carrot to the useless people so they can feel like they accomplished something. Now the people who actually add value to code reviews will seldom comment about grammar or spelling errors. I only say something if it changes the meaning of the comment.

glgruver
glgruver

Works like a charm most of the time, but try not to make it too obvious. I have encountered the occasional "power" micro manager who decided that the presence of one glaring error is sufficient reason to scrutinize the rest of the work. I usually throw in a "fat finger" type of spelling error such as "teh" in place of "the" or something along that line.

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But I wonder, do you have any amusing anecdotes about taking that strategy too far, or being caught in it?

GoodOh
GoodOh

Ideally if work has to be fixed feedback should be supplied as well. But grown-ups who want to do better should be looking at the changes made and learning from them. If the original writer is 30+ and not prepared to learn without being led by the nose then it might be time to start looking for new talent.

alex.a
alex.a

>> By fixing it yourself because of time contraints, you have taught the writers that they can write in their comfortable style and someone else will come along and fix it. It also sends the message that sub-standard work is acceptable.

eiwacat
eiwacat

The definition given by the original post is a good behavioral definition of a micromanager. (these habits often result from obsessive-compulsive personality characteristics promulgated by overall lack of trust.) If a manager is fulfilling the requirements of their position, then their habits fall out of the realm of micromanaging. The key is to determine if the person persists in making unnecessary changes or performing unnecessary follow-ups. As many have pointed out, bad management comes from many angles and is not soley from micromanagment.

alex.a
alex.a

I understand. I do, however, think my webmaster may be micromanaging with some of the things he insists go into the house style.

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"Microman_ger Kung-Fu" I'm nit-picking a misspelling [b]of the word 'micromanager'[/b], tee-hee!!

IT2MD
IT2MD

Where do you find the time to give them everything in painstakingly detail? I was hired as a part-time employee. I did 40+ hours per week of adminitrative work when i was at work. Then I came home and did 40+ hours per week of IT work FOR FREE. And i was still behind...

IT2MD
IT2MD

I felt the same way about my former micromanaging VP and Supervisor...If one wasn't there, I could get alot more accomplished; if they were both out, I could get TWICE as much work done! I looked forward to those few days like i look forward to a holiday! The supervisor had every other monday off, that was GREAT! but the VP was seldom out...she came to work with Bronchitis and just stayed in her office but she came...she would put every other Friday as her scheduled day off, but she was always there, or came in before noon...and scheduled vacations were never taken unless she was going out of town with her husband...that happened once during the year that I was there. Talk about micromanaging control! they both drove me crazy....literally!

GoodOh
GoodOh

I'm afraid what you describe, Townsend, is not what I (and I believe most people) mean by micro-managing. Micro-managing is usually thought of as more having someone checking and/or correcting every tiny detail (often with good intentions) of their subordinates' work. I read your examples as more just garden variety bullying.

alpw
alpw

Dear Swabbie, couldnt agree more with all the details you've got on that micromanager of yours in comparison with mine. The only difference is mine was hell lot of bias and he was being pressured by the fact of being confirmed by the management, ....u see, he's a new manager, and he's desperate to get his well paid position confirmed. Working under such bosses are surely a sign that's gonna limit one's ability in growing, and of course 'overshadowing' his incapabilities when he THINKS he KNOWS-IT-ALL. (rolls eyes) In this case.....instictively, I felt he knows that he didnt know much as he CLAIMS he did. Unfortunately, the initial team that consist 4 of us are now left ME alone with a newbie under this MR. KNOW-IT-ALL, since most have left due to the crap he's been feeding us with. Sigh.... looks like I'm heading the same path soon. Its getting dreadful to be manage by such micromanagers.... a PAIN to be exact.

IT2MD
IT2MD

when the manager that hired me left for greener pastures, she left me with a micromanaging manager/vp from HELL...i was able to look over and work over her micromanaging ways...but 3 months later the RECEPTIONIST was promoted to dept manager and things went from bad to worse...neither vp/micromanager had ANY type of IT background but they both "knew better ways for me to do my job" ...between doing clerical and admin duties, i never could get any IT work done..they eventually stressed me out to the point that i had to leave...and my partner left two weeks later...i kinda felt guilty for just leaving, but working for one micromanager was very difficult, but working for two, for me, was impossible... was it only me or could y'all have done it?

$dunk$
$dunk$

[i]When people like this start jacking thier jaws with true IT Professionals they show instantly how much they "DONT" know.[/i] Unfortunately, while the technical people recognize this, it doesn't matter too much. The people who have to be convinced are your manager's managers. And sadly, they are usually not technically savvy enough to understand. All they see is a "take charge" kind of guy. They like that kind of stuff.

$dunk$
$dunk$

The main reason that there are so many bad managers is that you can only advance so far before hitting a brick wall if you stay on the technical path. Most managers think their job is more important (has more impact) than the lower level grunts. Thus, the higher pay for managers. It also doesn't hurt that managers are the one's in charge of the money, so why wouldn't they tip the scales so the money goes towards management pay. In any event, most technical people jump to the management side so they can make more money, whether they want to manage or not. Usually they are sorely lacking in management skills. Thus, the reason for so many bad managers. P.S. I completely disagree that management is more important. Let management disappear for 3 or 6 months. Guess what, the company still operates, probably better than with management. Let your technical people disappear for a week. Guess what, your company becomes a disaster. Who's more important? Thus, I don't understand the logic behind hitting that wall if you prefer to stick on the technical path.

ShaneHo
ShaneHo

While I agree that persistence can be productive, it can also get up the noses of your target audience. I took a persistent approach to some proposed changes in arrangements about shower rooms/lockers for staff with a previous employer. I went for interview for a promotion about 3 years later, and the senior manager doing the interview (someone who I had/have great respect for) mentioned my approach to this issue in the context of overplayed strengths. Tread carefully.

GoodOh
GoodOh

Your explanation of what micro-management is and isn't is one I can get behind 100%. Not sure everyone has as clear a picture of what they mean by micro-management as you do.

alex.a
alex.a

No complaints. We mostly just indulge in harmless kvetching. Some of the house style elements seem arbitrary and are not in agreement with generally accepted "style sheets." The webmaster is not open to discussion, however, and insists that his personal preferences be the house style. That's his prerogative as webmaster, I guess, but it does make him a micromanager.

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I have the impression that you're working in a situation where "micromanaging" would not be a valid complaint (even if it's an accurate description) because the "house style" was known in advance. Toni is talking about something else. [i]They take what other people write and totally change the wording to better reflect their own writing style. They think they are improving the copy, but what they are doing is exercising a deep-seated belief that if someone else?s way of expression is different from theirs, then that person must be wrong. When you take away a writer?s personal voice, you lose something valuable.[/i] Rather than a "[b]house[/b] style" Toni is talking about an individual, the copy editor, who imposes a [b]personal[/b] style, with the implication that the writers were given reason to expect some freedom to write in their own "personal voice." Being micromanaged is what your writers should expect, if I understand you correctly. Do you hear many complaints from them about it?

GoodOh
GoodOh

Couldn't agree more with this "Micro managing has different faces". You correctly identify that there are different ways for people to be micro-managers and different intentions and different motivations. But then you describe just one of these 'faces' as THE description of micro-management and it's intent and motivation. I have seen micro-managers just as you describe. I doubt they would be at all surprised to be told they are destructive. They know there are and simply care less for the well-being of the company and their subordinates than for themselves. They are bullies who use micro-management as their 'weapon of choice'. The problem is their attitude not their micro-managing per se. I have also seen managers who mean to simply make the work better, help at every step with good intentions and give full credit for work they have done to the sub-ordinate. Are you suggesting Toni's editor snatched the credit for the rewriting she did. Toni doesn't suggest that was happening. This well intentioned micro-management is stifling and demotivating and this would be huge surprise to those indulging in it. They 'mother' people into passivity and despondency. And then there is every variant in between these extremes and other forks into new and specially awful forms of micro-managing. By attributing the same intent and motivation to a common behaviour is overly simplistic and very likely to be misleading. Just as you said "Micro managing has different faces" and each different one needs to be slapped into sense to treat the problem. Focussing on only one face (what I call a bully) will miss all the others and fail to treat the problem.

TownsendA
TownsendA

GoodOh There are different aspects to this dilemna not just the scenario you felt was likely as you have seen from the replies. The problem is the psyche of the micro manager - to control - it becomes more evident when they feel they are losing it. They are bluntly control freaks who want things to be done only one way - theirs. They want the kudos as well.

GoodOh
GoodOh

Not sure what I might have done (I wasn't there) but if it was getting you down then walking away, hopefully with restraint and with your dignity intact, is exactly the right thing to do. Bad managers survive because performance is maintained in spite of them and subordinates don't draw attention to the problems. Nothing says "This is bad." better than people walking away. Best of luck with moving onwards and upwards from this bad experience.

GoodOh
GoodOh

I completely agree with "I am still inclined to believe that management and technical are EQUAL partners, but that is not the way things are." is true in many places. Good performing companies are rare (that's why 80% go broke every five years) but those where EQUAL is real and not just lip-service are the good ones.

$dunk$
$dunk$

[i]Identifying that a company doesn't need management for 3-6 months shows the company is being well managed.[/i] Well...I guess I like your glass is half-full way of looking at it. However, I am more inclined to lean towards the glass is half-empty outlook and conclude that it shows how little value management does provide. I think management can certainly kill a company or project (which I have seen one time too many), but I have yet to see them be the result of success. Unless you count them being too busy doing other things to interfere with your project as their being the result of success. With that being said, I am still inclined to believe that management and technical are EQUAL partners, but that is not the way things are.

GoodOh
GoodOh

Identifying that a company doesn't need management for 3-6 months shows the company is being well managed. Good managers are focused out into the future and leave the day-to-day operations of the strategy to the technical people applying their tactical skills to the short term challenges. What you are describing is a positive example of what can be achieved if people stick to their roles and avoid micro-management. Having been a manager and technical at different times (technical again now) it's a joy when things work as you describe. The killer is when managers don't let the details lie in the hands of those best suited to handle it or when technical people try to do the management job. Neither management nor technical is 'more' important. It's a partnership relying on good role definition and mutual respect. When this breaks down on either side things go wrong, often badly.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

Dealing with people has to be "played by ear". BTW, that's happened to me also. Not the interview, I wasn't even invited to the interview. OTOH, micromanagers are great at coming up with some "paper" plan that is almost immediately ignored by their people. When a boss hands me an order I hate ignoring it, but if nobody else is following the plan it doesn't work either.

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