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Cover image for Dear Project Managers, Stop Micromanagement Now!
Mahmoud Harmouch
Mahmoud Harmouch

Posted on

Dear Project Managers, Stop Micromanagement Now!

Table Of Contents (TOC).

Introduction.

As a developer, you have probably experienced micromanagement at some point in your career. This is especially common in startup companies. In fact, it is estimated that up to 79% of workers have been micromanaged at some point.

While it is important for managers to provide guidance and support to their team, micromanagement can often have negative consequences. When employees feel like they are constantly being monitored, it can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress. This can impact their motivation and productivity levels. In extreme cases, it can even result in them quitting their job.

In this article, we will explore what micromanagement is, what causes it, and how to deal with it.

What Is Micromanagement?

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Image by Alan from Pixabay.

One way we can define micromanagement is when a project manager closely observes and controls their employees' work. It can be an effective way to ensure that work is being done properly and efficiently, but it can also be detrimental to employee morale and motivation. It may also decrease productivity, as employees may become afraid to take risks or try new things.

What Causes Micromanagement?

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

As someone who has worked in startups for years, I have experienced firsthand the feelings of anxiety and stress that can come from micromanagement.

I remember one particular instance where I was working on a project, and my project manager started to take screenshots of my laptop to check on my progress, using apps like Hubstaff. Every few minutes, like 10 minutes or so, she took screenshots to monitor what I was doing and how I was doing it.

After a while, I started to feel like I was being interrogated rather than managed. It was an incredibly stressful experience, and it made me feel like I wasn't trusted to do my job properly.

In my opinion, three primary factors contribute to micromanagement:

Lack of Trust.

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Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash.

A lack of trust may be the most obvious reason project managers micromanage. If a manager doesn't trust their team members to do their jobs properly, it stands to reason that they would want to keep a close eye on them and ensure everything is being done correctly. This can lead to a feeling of constant vigilance on the part of the employees, which can be very draining.

Fear of Failure.

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Image by Kleiton Santos from Pixabay.

This is another common cause of micromanagement. Startups are often under a lot of pressure to succeed, and managers may feel they need to control every aspect of the company to ensure its success. This can lead to them trying to micromanage every aspect of their employees' work to prevent any mistakes from being made.

Inability to Delegate.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

Some managers have difficulty delegating tasks. They may feel they need to do everything themselves to get it done right, or they may not trust their team members enough to give them responsibility for important tasks. This inability to delegate can make managers feel like they have to do everything themselves, leading them to micromanage their employees' work.

Whatever the reason, micromanagement can be incredibly frustrating and demotivating for employees. Now, you start to wonder: How to deal with micromanagement? And that's what we are going to discuss in the following section.

How to Deal with Micromanagement?

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Micromanagement is an unpleasant experience, but there are ways to deal with it.

For Employees.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are being micromanaged, there are a few things you can do to try to improve the situation.

Understand The Situation.


Image by Anand KZ from Pixabay.

Try to understand why your project manager is doing so. There may be a valid reason, such as wanting to ensure quality control or meet deadlines. Once you know the reason, you can try to address it directly.

Have a Conversation With Your Manager.

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Image by Tumisu from Pixabay.

Try to converse with your manager about their expectations and what they feel is not being done properly. I know it can be difficult to have this conversation, but it is important to try to get on the same page with your manager about their expectations and how you can best meet them. If your manager is unaware they are micromanaging, this conversation can be eye-opening and help them change their behavior.

Set Boundaries.

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Image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer from Pixabay.

If you feel like your manager is constantly asking for updates or checking in on your work, it may be helpful to set some boundaries. Let them know what you are working on and when you will be available to update them. This will help give you some space to work without feeling like you are being constantly monitored.

Stay Organized.

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

Make sure you are staying organized and on top of your work, so there is no confusion about what needs to be done and when.

Take Breaks.

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

When you feel overwhelmed by constant monitoring, it is important to take breaks. Step away from your work for a few minutes, take deep breaths, and clear your head. This will help you come back refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.

Focus On Your Work.

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Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay.

As simple as it sounds, focus on your work and do your best job. Showing your manager that you are capable can go a long way in helping them trust you and back off a bit.

As you can see, micromanagement is a challenging issue, but by following the above steps, you can help mitigate its effects.

For Managers.

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There are a few steps that managers can try instead of micromanagement.

Proper Communication.


Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay.

Communicate more with your team. Make sure they know your expectations and give them constructive feedback on their progress instead of giving orders. To do so, you can try the Feedback Wrap. This involves wrapping up your feedback by starting with the positive, offering any corrective comments, and finishing on a positive note. This ensures that your employees feel appreciated and motivated, even when offering criticism. Another step is to use the Improvement Dialogue. This involves having a conversation with your employees about what they need to improve rather than simply telling them what they're doing wrong. This dialogue allows for two-way communication and can help employees feel more invested in their work and motivated to improve.

Build Trust With Your Employees.

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Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay.

One of the most important things a manager can do is build trust with their employees. When employees feel they can trust their manager, they are more likely to be productive and engaged in their work. There are a few ways to build trust with your employees:

  • Be transparent with them: Share your goals and objectives for the team, and explain why you are making certain decisions.

  • Be consistent in your words and actions: Employees will quickly lose trust in a manager who says one thing and does another.

  • Allow employees to provide input and feedback: Show them that you value their opinions and are open to hearing what they have to say.

  • Be fair in your treatment of employees: Everyone should be held to the same standards and given the same opportunities for advancement.

Promote Accountability.

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Image by Firmbee from Pixabay.

Accountability is key to culture change. Make sure that everyone on the team knows what is expected of them and that there are consequences for not meeting those expectations. This will help ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal and that everyone is held accountable for their performance.

Delegate Responsibility.

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Image by Firmbee from Pixabay.

One of the best things a manager can do is delegate responsibility. This not only takes some of the burdens off of the manager but also empowers team members to take ownership of their work. When people feel responsible for their success, they are more likely to be motivated and invested in their work.

Encourage Collaboration.

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Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay.

Micromanagement often stifles collaboration because team members feel like they have to go through the manager for everything. Instead, encourage collaboration by creating an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing ideas and working together. People who feel they can contribute are more likely to be engaged in their work.

By following these tips, you can start to build a healthy relationship with your employees and create a more positive and productive work environment.

Conclusion.

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Image by Werner Heiber from Pixabay.

Developers are professionals and should be treated as such. If you try to control everything employees do, it will only lead to frustration on both sides. Employees have the skills and expertise to do their jobs effectively, so trust them to do what they do best. Micromanaging will only hinder their productivity and creativity and result in subpar work. Respect their expertise, and they'll deliver the high-quality results you expect and deserve.

I've personally seen startups fall just because of micromanaging. Your employees should be your priority, don't make them unproductive, and lose confidence and faith in your company. If you're eager to practice slavery, try building a pyramid, not a company.

It is time for managers to trust their employees and allow them to work independently. This will lead to happier employees and a more productive workplace.

Has anyone else experienced micromanagement in their career? How did you deal with it?

Cover Image by HeungSoon from Pixabay.

Top comments (14)

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tqbit profile image
tq-bit • Edited on

One way we can define micromanagement is when a project manager closely observes and controls their employees' work. It can be an effective way to ensure that work is being done properly and efficiently

I can't imagine being more unproductive in such a scenario. If people keep checking in every hour to ask "How far I've come yet?", there's no way anybody gets work done at all.

Great article as well. Hopefully reaches the one or another manager in time.

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wiseai profile image
Mahmoud Harmouch Author

Exactly, dude. Like, how am I supposed to get anything done in 10 minutes or so, and I didn't even finish reading the brief? Hahahaha.

It is even funnier when you finish the daily standup meeting and have already discussed everything with the manager and other team members. But, the manager proceeds to keep checking on your work. Like, you must be kidding. It is such a stressful experience.

Great article as well. Hopefully reaches the one or another manager in time.

I hope so. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I hope you never go through anything like that in your career.

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jwp profile image
John Peters

30 years+ in IT have taught me:

No matter where we are there will always be good and bad. The key is to target the bad and work to make it good.
To do that requires humility, patience and a higher tolerance for pain. Without the pain we do not grow. In reality pain is a big motivator.

If we get to the point we can't take it any longer, we simply get another job.

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wiseai profile image
Mahmoud Harmouch Author

I couldn't agree with you more. No matter what we do, it is nearly infeasible to achieve perfection in our lives. However, we must also accept that there will always be room for improvement. We must be willing to learn from painful situations and continue growing and evolving as individuals. As Cynthia Eden once said: β€œThere is no growth without pain. No life without suffering.”

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incrementis profile image
Akin C. • Edited on

Hello Mahmoud Harmouch,

thank you for your article.
I generally agree with you and would like to add that transparency in the form of documentation is important to protect against claims and prejudice.

"Be fair in your treatment of employees: Everyone should be held to the same standards and given the same opportunities for advancement."
If I remember correctly, this can lead to legal problems, since it borders on bullying (at least in Germany).

"Has anyone else experienced micromanagement in their career? How did you deal with it?"
Not really. I experienced chaos(know-it-all attitude,pejorative behavior and disinterest), so I started micromanaging myself, which helped me avoid a lot of legal consequences. That was pretty annoying.

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wiseai profile image
Mahmoud Harmouch Author

Be fair in your treatment of employees: Everyone should be held to the same standards and given the same opportunities for advancement.

I think I didn't elaborate much here. But I was referring to fairness in treating employees according to their needs. As you may know, workplace fairness is extremely important to create a positive and productive work environment. All employees should be given the same opportunities, fair pay, and accepting their differences. Treating employees in an unbiased way ensures that everyone has a chance to succeed and feel valued. It also helps to build trust and loyalty among the workforce. When employees feel they are being treated fairly, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their job. Ultimately, this leads to a more successful business.

Not really. I experienced chaos(know-it-all attitude,pejorative behavior and disinterest), so I started micromanaging myself, which helped me avoid a lot of legal consequences. That was pretty annoying.

I am so glad you overcame that situation and established yourself. It is a testament to your strength of character, and I know you will be able to use this experience to help others in similar situations in the future. You have my deepest respect, and I sincerely thank you for sharing your story with everyone.

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wadecodez profile image
Wade Zimmerman

Transparency makes a huge difference. My first job had managers and employees who were very secretive. Everyone was working in silos but expected 100% loyalty. These people were rude and closed-off.

My next job was all about transparency. The difference was night and day.

IMO transparency promotes discovery leading to conversations. It's called teamwork. It makes it possible to celebrate small wins and practice empathy/compassion during losses. Without transparency, every conversation is a brick wall.

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wiseai profile image
Mahmoud Harmouch Author

As someone who has worked in both traditional and DevOps environments, I can say that I agree with this sentiment. I think this outlines the importance of the DevOps culture, which will only continue to grow in the future. For instance, DevOps encourages transparency and collaboration between developers. As you may know, In a traditional environment, developers are often isolated in silos, working on their code without much interaction with other developers. This can lead to a lot of wasted time and effort as developers try to figure out how to integrate their code with the code of others.

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