Why people micromanage others?

nobody intends nor wants to be a micromanager, it just happens

SImple Answer

They are afraid of failure, they don’t want their projects to fail (no one does!)

Fun Fact

nobody intends nor wants to be a micromanager, it just happens

But what’s the problem then?

Those who evolve into micromanagers fear failure but at the same time doesn’t know how to scale operations via delegating and often paired with hiding information/access/power to stay relevant within their organization.

These people are often the ones that got promoted because they are good at their job/field, but that does not equate to being good a teaching/replicating yourself/your skills to others and this causes the problem, the micromanagers (whose thinking got clouded with the fear of failure) starts thinking that “I am good at this, this is why I am here, so all i need to do is tell them how i would do it!”

Does micromanagement ever work?

yes it does, but the question is to whom?
It works for people who purposely took on routinary tasks (I’ll probably explain Routine VS Creative tasks at another post) .
Routinary work requires a specific set of rules… so that the workers can mindlessly work on them.
Who are these routinary workers? they are the ones who set aside their creative brain for their main life goals, like a student studying post-grad while taking menial/routine work or those who just wanna take a break from their overly taxing/creative work (this is why some people join non-profits and volunteer groups!)

How can we avoid being micromanagers?

“The first step in solving a problem is recognizing there is one”

― Will Mcavoy

it all starts with acceptance, this is why we need to cultivate Psychological Safety in the workplace, we need to make people feel
that we listen and Ideas area heard and processed empathetically, so our teammates will honestly tell us if we are slowly threading the path to being a micromanager

Next is to identify “Why you are good at your job” and try to extract those core values/its “first principles” and teach them to others

Then learn to set Goals/Purpose/WHYs and learn to create good K.P.I. (assuming our goals are S.M.A.R.T.) that measure how close you are to reaching the desired state of your project.

This eliminates the fear of failure and makes our teammates more happy. And it has been mentioned over and over that happy workers are more productive workers (maybe this stems back to Maslow’s Pyramid of Human Needs, so as long as physiological needs are met with proper salary, relationship/acceptance needs are met by not being an ass micromanager, people reach the top of the pyramid, which in turn means more productivity for your team).

Bill Gates on using technology to connect people

from BIll Gates via reddit (an Ask-Me-Anything thread)

A lot of people feel a sense of isolation. I still wonder if digital tools can help people find opportunities to get together with others – not Tinder but more like adults who want to mentor kids or hang out with each other. It is great that kids go off and pursue opportunities but when you get communities where the economy is weak and a lot of young people have left then something should be done to help.

Why we need to build positive work environments

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we need good work to happen naturally, and to do that we need to start with Psychological Safety,
https://www.impraise.com/blog/what-is-psychological-safety-and-why-is-it-the-key-to-great-teamwork

This list came from Google’s quest to find the perfect team, Project Aristotle

image source: https://www.impraise.com/blog/what-is-psychological-safety-and-why-is-it-the-key-to-great-teamwork

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Books that inspired my way of working

Why Books when we already have the Internet?

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First of all, why books when we already have THE INTERNET

Problem with the internet is that too many things are taken out of context.
You get full context, mapping of coherent ideas, frameworks and disclaimers from books, mainly because there were kind people (thanks to all the authors out there) who took the time to organize knowledge.

It was 2015 when I realized this, I was working in Tokyo with Japanese programmers and I learned this habit of theirs. Maybe they do this because they have limited access to materials written in Japanese so they treasure whatever books they get translated, and I believe that’s one thing that makes them very good software developers.

 

I  believe that the answers to most of our problems have already been written somewhere and is just waiting there on a shelf, or in an online ebook/Kindle/PDF store waiting for us to accept them.

 

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“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”

― André Gide

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Reading just one book can improve your career, simply because it gives you an edge over your peers who rely on out-of-context, easy-to-misinterpret, misguided data from the internet.

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So after that long explanation, here is a list of some of the books and short notes on what I learned from them

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Bored during WFH? try listening to some Robert Martin (Uncle Bob) Lectures

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Uncle Bob is the author of the famous book “Clean Code”

and is the one who organized/coined the S.O.L.I.D. Principles

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The Bus Factor and why every team lead should know this.

from deviq.com

A project’s bus factor (or truck factor) is a number equal to the number of team members who, if run over by a bus, would put the project in jeopardy. The smallest bus factor is 1. Larger numbers are preferable. Essentially, a low bus factor represents a single point of failure within the team.

from wikipedia

The bus factor is a measurement of the risk resulting from information and capabilities not being shared among team members, derived from the phrase “in case they get hit by a bus.” It is also known as the bread truck scenario, lottery factor, truck factor,[1] bus/truck number, or lorry factor.

The concept is similar to the much older idea of key person risk, but considers the consequences of losing key technical experts, versus financial or managerial executives (who are theoretically replaceable at an insurable cost). Personnel must be both key and irreplaceable to contribute to the bus factor; losing a replaceable or non-key person would not result in a bus-factor effect.

tldr; if a key perso is hit by a bus, can operations continue?

Sample Scenario #1 there one key person doing a role without backups, this results in a bus factor of 1, with a fault tolerance of 0 if that person gets hit by a bus, there is 0 recovery, operations is affected

Sample Scenario #2 there are two key people doing a role with absolute information, this results in a bus factor of 2, with a fault tolerance of 1 we can get by if 1 gets hit by a bus, operations run as usual (but may have some slow downs if certain knowledge/skills are only known by the poor guy which was run over by the bus)

Is your operations rattled each time a key-role leaves the team?

if you answer is yes, then its a sign that you have a low BUS FACTOR and you need to increase it.

As a team,department, organization-in-general we should be aware of this concept,and actively discuss how to increase it for business continuity.

How to use Management to increase Producing Capacity

effective-management-fulcrum

Management is essentially moving the fulcrum over, and the key to effective management is delegation – Stephen Covey, (Habit 3) Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Where Micromanagement Does work

  • it works for E people (see Alderfer’s ERG theory),
  • routine people who LIKE being told what to do
    • because they dont have to think, so they can think about something else.
    • like students or those busy with other big things
    • for people like them, routine is a breather.

Where Micromanagement Doesn’t work

  • it does not work for G people (see Alderfer’s ERG theory)
  • if u are a G person.even you won’t enjoy being micromanaged (but subconciously we tend to do it to others)

How do you increase output with G people?

the key is delegation

proper task delegation have the ff: characteristics (much like a task delegation guidelines)

How to remove the fear when programmers are asked to work on your codebase

nixcraft_codehandover.png

Problems

  • Sharing Projects/Codebases within a software development team is hard.
  • Programmers sometimes outright say it can’t be done.
  • This affects project deadlines negatively.
  • This is a type of Muda((https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muda_(Japanese_term))) Information Waste which is rework
    • the Author already created the codes, debugged it and made it run.
    • then the next developer has to do it again because THERE IS NO AUTOMATION NOR DOCUMENTATION (see comic above)

Proposed Solution

  • INNERSOURCING – https://resources.github.com/whitepapers/introduction-to-innersource/
  • Borrow proper README formats from opensource projects
    • there are many guides/templates available online like this
    • github.com/PurpleBooth/README-template
    • this removes the question of WTH do i do with this repository?
    • this removes the muda rework because a copy+paste guide is already available
    • this allows a new-developer-in-the-project to quickly start working on business requirements and not waste time on technical specifics that should’ve already been handled by the author/initial team who worked on the project.

Quick Breakdown of the sections of the proposed README format

greatly inspired by https://gist.github.com/PurpleBooth/109311bb0361f32d87a2

  • Project Title – a meaningful name that indicates the problem you are trying to solve
  • Getting Started – any piece of context you wish to share to future maintaners
  • Prerequisites – skills you need to have, tools you need to know and software needed installed
  • Installing – how to get the project runnning~
  • Running Tests – how to ensure that the project really works before others start working on it
  • Deployment – how to release the finished project and some details where the application is actually in use right now
  • Built With – tools/frameworks used, to quickly match people who could work on this project.
  • Contributing – Coding standards / Architecture Design Decisions so the codebase will retain looking like it was written by a single person and therefore easier for future maintainers to understand.

Proposed KPI for a maintanable Software Project

  • Software Developers (Especially Tech Leads) metrics should include “how easy is it to onboard new developers on projects that I led”
    • this is in contrast to smartass developers who take pride in obfuscating their code because it makes them look smart.

From Wikipedia

Muda is a Japanese word meaning “futility; uselessness; wastefulness”,[1] and is a key concept in lean process thinking, like the Toyota Production System (TPS) as one of the three types of deviation from optimal allocation of resources (the others being mura and muri).[2] Waste reduction is an effective way to increase profitability.

From Wikipedia