Micromanaging and making Zombies

Came across an interesting article on how micromanaging makes people zombies all complete with a graph as below.

Now, ask any manager and he will tell you he does not micromanage. However, we do keep coming across such managers with a frightening regularity which makes me pause and think - why ?

Mostly I think it has to do with career progression. Most people join as lowly devs and become senior programmers, move on to team leads ... and then the transition happens. They look around and the future becomes very one sided. They see that the big pay cheques are where the managers are. So, they want to become a manager.

Not necessarily a bad thing, but management is a whole different ball game. From being a solo star, they have to become group stars and mostly they fail - miserably. That's where the micromanagement comes in. When alone, they had everything under them in control, and as they become managers they become control freaks. They NEED to know everything. So, they start to interfere in everything - and need a hour by hour breakup of what is everyone doing, in the misguided hope that everything will be going according to plan.

However, that never works out. Software work is never something that you can just keep doing all the time. It is done in fits and starts. Sometimes you are doing 200% and others just nothing gets done. Micromanaging in such situations leads to a zombieness. People stop thinking and just doing what is asked on a day to day basis - never thinking more or doing more than what they are told to.

But alas there seems to be no solution. The reward for good technical work is to become a manager and then (mis) manage everything. A comment at mini has the following :
I’m smart enough to know that I would not make a good manager, especially if my motivation for becoming a manager is simply to further my career. At least if I screw up as an IC, I’m not screwing up five other people’s careers.
Alas, not everyone is as wise or as selfless as that person. Till that time, we shall continue to get our creativity crushed under the micromanagers !

3 comments:

  1. Looks like someone has rediscovered Parkinson's Law. Competent software engineers rise until they reach their level of incompetence and then stay there. The technology of the business world advances, but the eternal structure of bureaucry remains the same.

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  2. I did not know which law it was, so had to do a little bit of searching. It is the Peter Principle and not Parkinson's Law.

    Parkinson's Law states : "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion"

    Peter Principle states : "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence."

    Thanks for the commet ... I would not have realized that laws existed for such issues !

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  3. Antonio ManettiApril 17, 2007 3:31 AM

    Parkinson's Law. Competent software engineers rise until they reach their level of incompetence and then stay there.

    That's the Peter Principle (which was inspired by Parkinson's pioneering work). According to Wikipedia:

    "The Peter Principle is a colloquial principle of hierarchiology, stated as "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence."

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