Managers Need Information
Sometimes, managers micromanage when they need information. In that case, it’s easier to create an information radiator rather than have the manager come running to you every thirty minutes. Or you can work with a buddy so that someone else is running interference for you, so you can concentrate on your technical work and some other manager will receive the information.
Often, a senior manager needs the information. You can ask your immediate manager to provide the cover for you. If that doesn’t work, see if a tech lead or someone else who has the manager’s respect will work with you. It’s worth a shot.
Team Members Have to Provide Feedback to Managers, Too
Managers need feedback to know that they are micromanaging. They don’t need to know when they are headed to the Ops meeting, but they need to know.
Damon explained to Sharon, “Here’s where Heath is right now. I’ll be working with him for the next hour, so you can be sure we will be making progress. And there’s something else I want to discuss with you. Check with me when you return, OK?”
“No problem. Maybe by then, you two will have fixed the problem,” Sharon replied.
When Sharon returned from the Ops meeting, she checked with Damon. “OK, I’m ready. Did you two fix the problem?”
“Not yet. Heath has a good handle on it right now. I’m going to work with him later. But I need to talk to you about something else.”
“Oh, what’s that?” Sharon asked.
“When you ask Heath for status that often and tell him how to design and implement, you’re micromanaging him. Are you aware of that?”
“Well, no. I thought I was being a good mentor or coach. I thought that’s what good managers did.”
“No, good managers offer suggestions—if people want them. You can ask, ‘Would you like help?’ And if people say, ‘No, thanks,’ you back off. Believe me, I know how tough this is to take. Even as a tech lead, I want to tell people what to do sometimes. But I can’t. I can offer, but I can’t make them do things.
“When you were promoted, did anyone ever tell you about delegation?”
“No, no one ever did,” Sharon admitted.
“Hmm. Do you ever have one-on-ones with your manager?”
“Oh, no. Steve says he’s too busy. I’m winging it.”
“That’s a problem,” Damon said. “If you want, I can tell you what I know. Joakim is a great manager. I’m just a tech lead, so I don’t do ‘management’ per se, but I have a lot of the same quandaries. If you want, we can meet once a week and I can tell you what I know.
“That sounds great.”
Read more of Johanna's management myth columns here:
- The Myth of 100% Utilization
- Only the 'Expert' Can Perform This Work
- We Must Treat Everyone the Same Way
- I Don't Need One-on-ones
- We Must Have an Objective Ranking System
- I Can Save Everyone
- I Am Too Valuable to Take a Vacation
- I Can Still Do Significant Technical Work
- We Have No Time for Training
- I Can Measure the Work by the Time People Spend at Work
- The Team Needs a Cheerleader!
- I Must Promote the Best Technical Person to Be a Manager
- I Must Never Admit My Mistakes
- I Must Always Have a Solution to the Problem
- I Know How Long the Work Should Take
- I Must Solve the Team’s Problem for Them
- I Can Move People Like Chess Pieces
- Management Doesn’t Look Difficult From the Outside, So It Must Be Easy
- I Can Compare Teams (and It’s Valuable to Do So)
- It’s Always Cheaper to Hire People Where the Wages Are Less Expensive
- If You’re Not Typing, You’re Not Working
- You Can Manage Any Number of People as a Manager
- People Don’t Need External Credit
- Performance Reviews Are Usefult
- It's Fine to Micromanage
- We Can Take Hiring Shortcuts
- I Can Standardize How Other People Work
- I Can Concentrate on the Run
- I Am More Valuable than Other People
- I Don’t Have to Make the Difficult Choices
- I Can Treat People as Interchangeable Resources
- We Need a Quick Fix or a Silver Bullet
- You're Empowered Because I Say You Are
- Friendly Competition Is Constructive
- You Have an Indispensable Employee