Jenny and I are working on an article about how open source projects have such great practices. We’ve been talking a lot about what corporate IT can learn from open source, and what kind of chronic problems routinely and repeatedly happen on corporate projects. Our idea is that open source projects adopt practices which corporate IT teams can adopt as well. But thinking about poor practices on project teams really got me thinking about another serious problem in IT projects: micromanagement.
I have a hunch that a lot of people on development teams who are micromanaged and don’t even realize it. Like a lot of terrible practices, they just think that it’s part of being a professional software developer. I’ll bet that an “Are you micromanaged?” checklist might help open a few eyes. Here are a few things I might put on such a list:
- Do you feel like you’re often blamed for not doing things you don’t have time to do?
- Are you routinely asked to stop what you’re doing in order to take care of something “urgent” or “an emergency”?
- Does your boss often fail to even follow up on your “urgent” or “emergency” work?
- Is there a rule that you’re not allowed to release anything without sending it to your boss first?
- Does your boss make a lot of changes to your work?
- Is your boss constantly tapping you on the shoulder, wanting to talk about the last two hours of work you have done?
- Have you ever been reprimanded for doing something differently than how your boss would do it, even though you got the job done in a reasonable amount of time?
- Do you feel like part of your job is reading your boss’s mind?
- Do you spend more time reporting your status than you spend doing your job?
- Do you feel like you’re not allowed to make mistakes?
I think a lot of people have trouble recognizing symptoms of being micromanaged because they’ve never worked any other way. In fact, I have a feeling that if someone was able to conduct an accurate survey, they would find that a surprisingly large number of managers are micromanagers.