New micromanager ruining my life

Jul 10 41 Comments

I am a SWE with 10yoe and have never had problems performing and dealing with my managers. I typically take large problems, produce an architectural document going over the major decision I intend to tackle, submit it to my peers for review and ideas, and once we reach consensus I start providing a task breakdown where typically every task is an independent unit that can be achieved in 2-4 weeks of work, and I implement it. I provide this breakdown for the whole feature, which might last from a few weeks to a few months.

I worked like this for 10 years, but for the past 6 months my new manager has been giving me problems.

She is massively micromanaging, she is constantly asking me for details nobody would ever care about.

The architectural document? Needs to be much more detailed, describing each individual step of the implementation.

The tasks breakdown? Needs to be much more granular, basically at a “I’ll write class Foo” level. A task for her is essentially something that can be done in a couple hours, so every day I need to churn 3-4 new tasks...

The task description? Needs to be much more detailed, basically a sequence diagram with the interaction of each classes and API call, and super detailed explanations of the work.

If I were to do things this way my productivity would seriously collapse by 70%+, and it’s just incredibly boring.

Also, this way of work wouldn’t produce any benefit: she doesn’t even read what I write and never in 6 months has provided a technical feedback that made any sense at all.

So, since I have a long tenure at the company and a good track record of working on hard problems, I’ve basically been ignoring most of her micromanaging behavior and got away with it, but I don’t fool myself thinking it’s a good long term strategy, management always wins in the end.

What would you do?

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TOP 41 Comments
  • Samsung / Eng ALvc28
    stop being a dick... and collaborate ... typical long timer mentality ...
    Jul 10 4
    • OP
      In what sense I am not collaborative? I am incredibly collaborative, I always involve most of the team in all my architectural decisions and take ample feedback from everybody and always take code review feedback super seriously.
      Jul 10
    • Marvell elkdead
      Basically you’re used to doing things only one way....your way. Now that has changed and you’re complaining about it. Every manager has a different outlook.
      Jul 10
    • OP
      I guess I could also just quit and tell my skip I’m quitting because of the manager and go to a company where I can keep doing things my way, which incidentally is the way all my friends work, and all the companies i ever worked at worked.

      You start your point by assuming that the way this manager is handling things is the right one not even considering that my point my indeed be the correct one, which in my opinion is very debatable.
      Jul 10
    • Samsung / Eng ALvc28
      this ^^^^
      Jul 10
  • Nintendo SQrE68
    Give feedback to her. If she’s not receptive to it talk to your skip level. If the skip level is reluctant to change the behavior you’re probably going to either just ignore her bullshit or leave the company/team. It sucks but shitty managers are the primary reason people leave companies.
    Jul 10 0
  • Oracle TLead
    Couple of things that are missing.
    Your TC, which company are you working at? Can you do internal transfer? What’s your promotion cycle like? Do you intend to stay in the company? Are you interviewing elsewhere? Did you have a talk with your team and manager about it?

    And for crying out loud, where is my TC?
    Jul 10 11
    • Oracle TLead
      And adding to that, your manager is not wrong as well. Asking for more detailed analysis isn’t a wrong thing. If your productivity decreases providing detailed analysis of your work, that clearly shows your poor time management skills.
      Jul 10
    • Cognizant vrguru
      @TLead, good suggestions, but why insisting on TC to answer a common non pay related question here? Just curious...
      Jul 10
    • Oracle TLead
      Found someone that’s new to blind.
      Jul 10
    • Cognizant vrguru
      True, thought you can enlighten me..
      Jul 10
    • UnitedHealthcare I’m money
      TC is EVERYTHING in this community and must be included in the main post or everyone will complain
      Jul 10
  • Airbnb BUPW32
    Why don't you provide the detailed spec that she is expecting from you? It's not a bad thing to write a detailed plan on a piece of paper so that someone else can know what's on your mind and verify if you are thinking in the right direction. She is just trying to ensure that your plan is solid. Cooperate with her for one project and I almost guarantee you that she will never ask you to do this again.
    Jul 10 2
    • OP
      Because it doesn’t make sense, that’s not the level of details that can be useful to anybody.

      This is what I currently do:

      Task: “create a new API to save a specific information”
      Design: I document the API and its format
      Task estimate: 1 week

      What she wants is a series of micro tasks such as:

      - Create makefile (4 hours)
      - Create class foo (4 hours)
      - implement business logic inside class foo (4 hours)
      ... and so on until you fill the week

      Each task need to have detailed content about what’s going to happen. So, for the makefile, I would write what make targets I’m planning to write (lol!) and stuff like that.
      Jul 10
    • Airbnb BUPW32
      I think you need to have a heart to heart conversation with your manager. It almost seems like you are probably not understanding what she wants. Talk to her about it. Ask her to convince you how this level of details could be helpful to her. I think she just needs more details to ensure that you are in control. Setup to an hour with her for few days and provide as much details as she wants. Sort it like an experienced person. Think from her perspective - a new manager, needs to ramp up and deliver. Wouldn't you like to ensure that you can meet the target if you were on her shoes.
      Jul 10
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • OP
      How do you structure your work, if I can ask? I’m genuinely curious.

      I thought I was pretty agile myself by keeping things organized with loosely defined tasks to allow myself the freedom to incrementally redefine them as the implementation progresses, making sure before the project that JUST the big architectural picture is agreed among the stakeholders.
      Jul 10
    • OP
      Wait, so if you are planning to implement a completely new data pipeline architecture relying on several off-the-shelf distributed systems and complex behavior (that’s the kind of things my startup does), you are saying nobody is going to take the time to create a document outlining the whole architecture end to end and the major components, and gain consensus from all the technical authorities in the company?

      That’s what I meant with architectural document and high level task breakdown. I typically work on very large macro features that heavily affect the product line and take 6-8 months to build, so it’s massively important to consult all the technical leaders before embarking into sprint task management
      Jul 10
  • Taylor Farms azerty_
    She sounds like she needs a little something something
    Jul 10 0
  • Marvell elkdead
    Except telling us that your productivity would come down by 70% what other argument you’ve shared? Rather what more can you share here on blind. You can threaten to quit and get your way or quit really. But are you getting beaten up on schedule? Did you ask for more time for effort to produce elaborate documentation. You are a long timer, you should be easily able to have 1-1. There are so many things that i’m too tired to type can be done beside going to skip
    Jul 10 4
    • OP
      It’s simply not just the way I want to work, I’m not a junior (but I certainly still learn a lot from smart junior folks!) and I proved to the company over the years that I can effectively execute projects without having to create a task for taking a bathroom break.
      Jul 10
    • Marvell elkdead
      As i said you only want to work your way.
      Jul 10
    • OP
      Ok but when does it stop? At some point you also have to value someone’s experience.

      So let’s imagine for a second that I was a really high achiever, say an individual contributor who has done crazy stuff and has reached the level of principal inside the company (I’m not saying that’s me): would you still say that this specific person would have to bend backwards and allow being micromanaged, despite all their technical achievements just because they happen to be moved under a micromanager? There is a point where your way of working must carry some weight, you are not incapable of organizing and tracking your work just because you are not on a management track...
      Jul 10
    • Marvell elkdead
      Why don’t you ask her what additional value she’s trying to add to your exisiting documentation? When companies get closer to acquisition they tend to hire people who are process oriented, not really micromanagers. Companies need to add value which aside from their products also lies in their documentation repo, processes etc. yoy may be a high achiever but am i right that your were rewarded equally too? Take her out to lunch, you are an old timer there with 10yoe, this should occur to you naturally. Read whats on her mind.
      Jul 10
  • Apple Tim cock
    >She
    There's the problem. Better start kissing ass or say goodbye to your retention bonus.
    Jul 10 2
    • OP
      What do you mean specifically? I had other female managers in the past (I’m male myself), and generally never had any issues with them.
      Jul 10
    • Apple Tim cock
      You won't be able to change her behavior, unless your skip gets involved. Either go with it or leave.
      Jul 10
  • New mrbox
    I completelly understand your situation and I believe most of the people here just dont, because they have not encountered such cases. Being in industry for 20 years I can say that from time to time you get to work with IDIOTS, no literally idiots, somehow they have some skills to survive in the corporate tree of life. After a while those people eventually get fired, but it can take many years, and after that they end up polluting nother company and another. My opinion: skip her level, talk to someone higher, just complain until you get aomething moving. You are in the position to have valuable knowledge and experience for the company, a manager can always be replaced. Or quit. Never sit and take pain, because life is to short dealling with such loosers.
    Jul 10 1
    • OP
      Thanks. That’s exactly how I feel. Surprisingly, she has 15 years of experience, but never had more than 2 years at the same company on LinkedIn. It might be legit, but can also be a warning sign.

      My tenure at companies is generally long (currently at 5 years).
      Jul 10
  • New / Product XVrn30
    Sounds like she is process oriented and you are results oriented. Tell her you could do what she's asking but it would be very painful for you. Ask if she's willing to compromise.
    Jul 10 1
    • OP
      Wow that was beautiful, I don’t know why it never occurred to me.

      Yes, she is a process person, all she cares about is the process. I am a result person, I don’t care about the process because I don’t know what the process is, I am in the camp of “I know roughly how the solution is going to look like, so let me start and the work in front of me will exactly tell me what are the next set of tasks needed”.
      Jul 10
  • Marvell elkdead
    Sink or swim.
    Jul 10 1
  • Expedia камрад
    Your manager doesn’t know agile methodologies, likely comes from waterfall and is probably nervous as hell. I had a product person like that and it took a lot of effort to get him to not obsess about every single detail. Fair to say that he got that way because his previous teams didn’t do well and he felt that if he didn’t ask for every detail, it would be missed.
    Maybe this can help you come up with a strategy
    Jul 10 0
  • Facebook / Retail bookfacer
    Switch teams. She’s not going to change
    Jul 10 0
  • New / Product XVrn30
    I am against skip levels but it depends on your company culture. If u bring the hierarchy into it u also risk having other managers think u will do the same to them even if bad manager goes away. Political weak move.
    Jul 10 0