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Should I leave the job because the manager is micro-managing?

A Bhattacharya
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 22, 2007
Posts: 125
At the time of interviewing for the job, they had created great expectations - that the career growth is awe-awesome at the place, that the work environment is excellent. But I find my manager is micro-managing - Before starting on a new feature, he asked me to write up a design document. I did, and he suggested some changes, which I did and emailed him. No hassles about that. He had provided some comments (using microsoft word features) which I had not removed. After that he wrote back "There is no title for the document. Please provide one. Remove my comments wherever you have accepted them. Also it doesn't look like you have proof read the document before sending it out."
I felt ridiculous, no manager in my previous jobs has put so much emphasis on such trivia (which he could correct himself if he wanted, without sending back and forth emails). I have known from my long list of previous jobs, to spot red flags, for example if a manager puts too much emphasis on "coding neatly" by having so many whitespaces at the start of each line, it is almost certain that he can't be relied upon to be able to judge more important issues, and is usually ethically retarded, ie he will be a suc*er placing too much emphasis on processes rather than results. Nobody bullies me like that, so I ignored his email and just started working on the feature. Two days later, I emailed him saying the feature is complete and he can check it. But he did not reply one whole day, and then replied saying, "Where is the documentation I asked?". I replied back saying "Where are we uploading the document? I don't want to spend time styling a document that only you look at." . He then uploaded the documents at a intranet site and said he had indeed meant to upload it for others to read (which he did not until I questioned). Even if that was his intention, he could himself have done the cosmetic changes (the content was fine) instead of showing off his authority over me. Anyway, I feel the bridge is broken, you see?
I have authority issues and don't take bullshit well. I could otherwise tolerate his controlling behaviour, but in the light of the fact that I was promised excellent career growth and all, I don't see how a person so micro-managing can do well about the bigger issues and be helpful in my career. He just comes across as an insecure wuss who needs to show off his power over his subordinates. Either that, or he is trying to cover up the fact that there is no work at all to assign to his subordinates, so he wants them to keep themselves busy doing just something. In which case also (which is atleast partly true) there is no chance of career growth.
Shouldn't I leave the job already?
Jeanne Boyarsky
internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30537
    
150

Try looking at this from the point of view of the manager. He could have a few goals. It could be to micro-manage. Or it could be to teach you how he wants things.

If I have a new person who makes certain minor errors, I am going to ask them to be corrected. It's easier to do that than make the change myself because the former will teach the person how to create things the way we want them the next time. The later is only easier in the short term. I also look at every piece of code new people write for the first week or two. And do A LOT of nitpicking. But then the new person knows the issues, doesn't create them and I don't need to anymore. We have a two way sense of trust which works wonders.

The point being - how long has this been going on at your job? Also, trust was unintentionally sabotaged by you ignoring your manager's request and it takes longer to get to that point.

I have authority issues and don't take bullshit well.

This is a problem in the business world.

Has this type of problem happened to you before? If so, maybe now is time to learn how to deal with it?


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Andrew Monkhouse
author and jackaroo
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Joined: Mar 28, 2003
Posts: 11460
    
  94

As Jeanne mentioned, it is very valuable from your boss' perspective to teach you how to do the job according to the standard he needs. If he fixes it himself, then the next time you write a document he will have to fix that one himself, and so on ...

In addition, your manager probably has a number of employees working for him (10? 20?). If he is spending all his time correcting the work of each one of his employees, he will never have time to do any of the work that the company actually pays him for.

There is also a completely different perspective that you may not have thought of as well: what if your manager is grooming you for the career growth you mentioned? Your document may have been fine for passing amongst your peers, but not up to the standard of sending to a customer or to the CEO. Teaching you the corporate standard will improve your chances of success later in your career.

A Bhattacharya wrote:... for example if a manager puts too much emphasis on "coding neatly" by having so many whitespaces at the start of each line, it is almost certain that he can't be relied upon to be able to judge more important issues, and is usually ethically retarded, ie he will be a suc*er placing too much emphasis on processes rather than results.

We have obviously had very different experiences. I have found no correlation at all between having strong or week ethics and being concerned with minutia.

Following corporate standards is something that you will have to learn in order to enhance your career potential.

If you are not following a corporate standard, you will find that your colleagues will not want to work on your code: it will just be too hard for them to read.

In some cases a company may choose to terminate your employment for this - you may be writing good programs, but if only you can maintain them then you are creating a risk for the company: they cannot afford to loose you (even for sickness). Most companies hate that sort of risk.

Even if you are lucky, and you are writing such fantastic programs for a wonderful company who is willing to ignore you breaking the rules, you will probably never get promoted. Again, the same reasoning applies: you will be creating a job that only you can possibly fill - that of maintaining your own code. Plus they would never want you to be in a position where you could pass on the bad (from their perspective) standards to anyone else.

Every company I have worked for in over 20 years has had coding standards. And I think every single one of them has been different in some way. Personally I prefer having the standards since that means it is easy for me to read the existing code. And IDEs make it incredibly easy to adhere to the standards - I think I would have to work hard to try to create code that does not meet the company's expectations.

A Bhattacharya wrote:Nobody bullies me like that, so I ignored his email and just started working on the feature.

Another way of looking at this might be that you ignored what he asked for and instead worked on what you wanted to work on.

A Bhattacharya wrote:.. he did not reply one whole day, and then replied saying, "Where is the documentation I asked?"

Your comment about it taking "one whole day" makes me think that you consider the time taken to respond to be important.
  • He is a manager - he almost certainly has other tasks to work on. It may take a day to respond to some emails.
  • He may not have believed that you ignored him, and so he spent a day looking for the document that you failed to send.


  • A Bhattacharya wrote:I replied back saying "I don't want to spend time styling a document that only you look at."

    One way of looking at this is that you are telling him that your time is more important than his time.

    A Bhattacharya wrote:Anyway, I feel the bridge is broken, you see?

    I agree that you have done some major damage. The question is: do you have the strength of character to try and repair the damage? Are you willing to go to your manager and say that there is the possibility that you have started off badly, and with his help you will try and become the best employee he can hope for?


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    A Bhattacharya
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Oct 22, 2007
    Posts: 125
    Please understand we should not look at this incident in isolation, but in view of the expectations set by them at the time of hiring. Entitlement mentality? Yes. I was in a great dilemma when I was offered this job, whether or not to accept, because they don't have many of the facilities and freedom my previous employer had - work from home, breakfast at company cafeteria, gym at the office, internet expenses reimbursable (outside the pay package). But I finally accepted the offer because the job consultant, the HR, and also one of the employee I talked to created such a great image about the company, that the career growth will be excellent, that the promotions will be fair, and all. Few days after accepting the offer I had a change of heart, because rational thinking is something, inclination of the heart is something else. Still I did not renege from joining, just to keep my word, it was a difficult sacrifice to make.
    But the kind of work has been mediocre at best, and there is hardly any work really, completely different from the "lot of exciting work is there" promises made to me, even after I joined. Another guy joined in the team soon after me, and we both are to fill the single position a previous person was occupying. It has become increasingly apparant to me that they didn't expect both of us guys to join, and there is hardly enough work to occupy one person's time. That also makes my old knight's way of keeping my word afterall undeserving for these people.
    If there was enough exciting work, where will be the time to micro manage a document, sending back & forth emails on that, even after I said to him the feature itself was complete and ready for him to see? What about the great career growth promises made? Won't I be a fool to believe that this person who has already lied so much, and micro-managing will be fair in promotions? It is clear that he wants to stretch time by making people spend time of trivia, because he knows there is nothing else to assign. In my previous jobs, I have seen managers focus only on the content. For trivia like styling issues, I have seen them do it themselves, because it takes far less time to do it than email someone and ask them to do, besides also not causing a show of arrogance. Heck, I have seen documents in big companies shared across inter-country teams that have lots of spelling and grammar mistakes, and nobody's productivity was lessened.
    Lester Burnham
    Rancher

    Joined: Oct 14, 2008
    Posts: 1337
    It seems that you've not considered (or rejected) most of what Andrew said. The problems you created far outweigh the problems created by your manager.

    A Bhattacharya wrote:What about the great career growth promises made?

    It sounds as if you've been with this company just for a short time, so it's too early to talk about advancement. You need time to show what you're capable of before there'll be any of that.

    Won't I be a fool to believe that this person ... will be fair in promotions?

    Seeing that you've apparently ignored what your superior told you to do several times, him being fair would most likely result in you not getting any promotions, or even getting fired.
    Henry Wong
    author
    Sheriff

    Joined: Sep 28, 2004
    Posts: 18842
        
      40


    Agreed. It sounds like you already decided, or have already, given up on the position. And this topic is more to vent, or to rationalize your (future) actions -- and less to get opinions.

    Henry


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    Deepak Bala
    Bartender

    Joined: Feb 24, 2006
    Posts: 6661
        
        5

    Henry Wong wrote:
    Agreed. It sounds like you already decided, or have already, given up on the position. And this topic is more to vent, or to rationalize your (future) actions -- and less to get opinions.

    Henry


    As hard as it is for you to digest, I think Henry summarized that pretty well.

    Where are we uploading the document? I don't want to spend time styling a document that only you look at


    Some people might be offended by such a response.

    You may not enjoy the change of work initially. But you need to give it some time to understand what things are like. How long have you been with the present company ?


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    A Bhattacharya
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Oct 22, 2007
    Posts: 125
    Its been 2.5 months with the company. Yes, I have decided to leave the company. I'm happy that he provoked me, as I'm now free to leave the job I joined so unwillingly. Probably I will go back to my previous company if they hire me back.
    pete stein
    Bartender

    Joined: Feb 23, 2007
    Posts: 1561
    A Bhattacharya wrote:Its been 2.5 months with the company. Yes, I have decided to leave the company. I'm happy that he provoked me, as I'm now free to leave the job I joined so unwillingly. Probably I will go back to my previous company if they hire me back.


    It takes some courage to decide to leave a job before you have a new one lined up, especially in this day and age. Best of luck, no matter what happens, and please keep us updated on how things turn out.
    Deepak Bala
    Bartender

    Joined: Feb 24, 2006
    Posts: 6661
        
        5

    A Bhattacharya wrote:Its been 2.5 months with the company. Yes, I have decided to leave the company. I'm happy that he provoked me, as I'm now free to leave the job I joined so unwillingly. Probably I will go back to my previous company if they hire me back.


    Do not leave without a backup plan first. That would be my take on it. But if you have come to a solid decision then it is totally up to you.
    Jeanne Boyarsky
    internet detective
    Marshal

    Joined: May 26, 2003
    Posts: 30537
        
    150

    It's not the new companies fault you liked your old job better. Don't all companies talk about their position like it is the best thing since sliced bread? it's not like they are going to say it is a boring job with no room for growth.

    If you've been there 2.5 months, maybe there is a reason your manager feels the need to micromanage you. For example, if I asked you to update a document and you didn't - I would absolutely keep a close eye on things to make sure they didn't fall through the cracks. Maybe something happened earlier to cause this?

    Exciting work and time to "micro-manage" a document don't have a correlation. As Andrew and I said above, there are legitimate reasons to ask for it to be updated. And honestly, there isn't time *not* to get things right. Some things one has to make time for. Sometimes when the developer thinks a feature is done, the lead/managers feels otherwise. The manager has to be concerned with other things - maintainability, performance, extensibility, etc. I can't tell you how many times I've been told something was done when it wasn't.

    A Bhattacharya wrote:I have seen them do it themselves, because it takes far less time to do it than email someone and ask them to do, besides also not causing a show of arrogance.

    Regardless of whether you stay at this job or not, there is a lesson in here. This snippet I quoted shows you didn't take the time to internalize what many in this thread have said. If you truly believe that being asked to change something is arrogant and inappropriate you are going to be unpleasantly surprised at future jobs. And burning bridges when that happens is *not* a good idea.

    A Bhattacharya wrote:I Heck, I have seen documents in big companies shared across inter-country teams that have lots of spelling and grammar mistakes, and nobody's productivity was lessened.

    It's sloppy. It tells the audience you just threw it together. If you were putting a bid together, you would likely not get the job. This does actually remind me of something, but I'll start a new thread for that.
    Mike Isano
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jan 19, 2007
    Posts: 144
    You might enjoy working in a start up. The process jungle is cleared with giant chain saws. The management..... doesn't exist. You are free to create what matters.


    Bear Bibeault
    Author and ninkuma
    Marshal

    Joined: Jan 10, 2002
    Posts: 61221
        
      66

    Mike Isano wrote:You might enjoy working in a start up. The process jungle is cleared with giant chain saws. The management..... doesn't exist. You are free to create what matters.

    Doesn't sound like any startup I've been involved with. Good documentation and attention to detail are important in any development endeavor. If you're talking about "busy work", then yeah I agree. Otherwise, no.


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    Satish Kumar
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Oct 16, 2006
    Posts: 85
    Sometimes when the developer thinks a feature is done, the lead/managers feels otherwise. The manager has to be concerned with other things - maintainability, performance, extensibility, etc. I can't tell you how many times I've been told something was done when it wasn't.


    Absolutely agree with Jeanne. even i have faced this. software development is not just making the functionality work but there is a lot to it. good documentation, scalabality, maintainability etc.
    Jeanne Boyarsky
    internet detective
    Marshal

    Joined: May 26, 2003
    Posts: 30537
        
    150

    Thanks Satish. Well put.
    Rajesh K Singh
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Apr 22, 2006
    Posts: 38
    Hi A,

    You have a very poor case for leaving the job,
    > documentation is very important, you may be writing good code but how will other understand and maintain it after you leave the project.
    > clients want good quality documentation, who will create it for you, only you have to do it or else have your assistant in project.
    > code formating and indentation is also important, otherwise your code is not readable by others, rather than creating a issue why dont you use eclipse plugin and make your manager happy.
    > your manager is not going to correct the crap word document you have created, sober up guy, its your responsibility to learn how to make good quality word document, consider if he has 10 developers and each produce 10 documents, does he have time to correct 100 documents?, definitely not, he is not a proof reader for you.
    >what if you change job as a result of micro-managing and your new manager at new job does not micromanage but becomes a ugly timekeeper, what if he starts monitoring when you come and leave office, how much time you spend in lunch, tea, loo breaks... your life will be more miserable
    >what if your new company wants you to stay late and come on weekends,
    >i suggest, you try finding positive points in your existing job and remain happy,

    you may not like my views but you will understand it when you become Proj. MGR some day.





    arulk pillai
    Author
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    Joined: May 31, 2007
    Posts: 3220
    Well pointed out Rajesh. Software Development is not just all about cutting code. There is a lot more to it than just coding. Godd software engineers have both technical and non-technical skills to get things done.


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