I am a manager of a family-owned post office. It's a rather intense job, and I ensure that I'm aware of the "status" of each of the 6 employees. If they're feeling unwell or worn out, I'll tell them to do the simpler jobs.
It's much like a typical retail job with handling of stock and money.. but there's a very important difference: we have strict procedures to follow for mail, money and identity services. I've told the staff that the procedures set out by Australia Post are paramount and that their "habits" when dealing with customers must ensure everything is verified and triple-checked.
Unfortunately, some of the staff have developed lazy habits. They easily notice any issues when it's quiet, they're feeling good and performing a typical transaction. However if it's busy, they're distracted or handling an unusual transaction, they are prone to making mistakes.
How do I help them develop better habits? If they are willing to change but having trouble, what do I do? If they are unwilling to change, what do I do?
I really don't want to micromanage, but they're simply making too many mistakes and we may be liable for them.
I've told them at times to go slower yet their comfort with their habits makes them go quickly even if I tell them to take their time and double check.
If I make a checklist for them to go through in the longer transactions, they just check every box without truly thinking about it.
Any advice would be appreciated.
Go with purpose first and don't assume it's the wrong path if it doesn't work at first. It's a hard path. Some simple things to start with: Do you ask your employees to provide input? Do you try to understand their input and adapt the company and processes accordingly? Do you show them how well the company does when they do their job well and how much it costs all of you when they do a mistake? Think of games. Show people numbers to optimize and they will do that because that's what we like to do!
Please come back and tell us your results from trying, maybe also start writing a blog. That's how you can interact with other managers to learn from each other, and to some degree to not feel too alone. ;-)
Realistically though there is always going to be some number of mistakes unless you have both automated double checking and a second human in the loop checking everything.
I bet you don't pay them much - maybe not even enough to live on (that would definitely be the case here in the US I don't know about Australia). I've worked shitty retail jobs (hotels) before, for years, if you're trying to assess their "status" they'll just lie to you to get you to leave them alone. A checklist is just an extra hurdle when it's busy (and even when it's not).
I've never been a manager so I'm not sure what to tell you as far as motivation. I think money might help. I'm sure you have your pets and the other employees will resent those people and you for having them. Maybe letting them vote on shift leaders or something so it's not you correcting them but someone they may already like/trust.
When you have people living on nothing they will perpetually be in a survival mindset - which is to say, cut-throat and self focused. I doubt whatever you want them to do is of any real concern to them and I doubt you can make it that way without spending money and showing that you actually care about the person and not just the job.
I can say for certain though, you'd be hard pressed to get people to hate you more and faster than to try to micromanage them. Your employee turn over will increase which will just mean more people for you to try to train "the right way".
The (Australian) national minimum wage is currently $17.29 per hour or $656.90 per 38 hour week (before tax).
Casual employees covered by the national minimum wage also get at least a 25 per cent casual loading.
You'd want to limit it to only things where you notice mistakes.
But sure if it's practical, just an idea. But it would take yourself out of the equation and might make peer pressure work for you.
Just going to cause resentment IMO.
The concept of double checking your own work doesn't really fly in engineering work. Not that everyone shouldn't do it but it doesn't tend to add much value to the end product. It is human nature to overlook your own mistakes.
In HW development, separate people verify and validate everything. The cost of a mistake getting through is too high to just hope it is all good.
The point is that mistakes will always happen. You shouldn't blame staff for being human but the mistakes can't get out the door. If it's that important, a second set of eyes needs to be there IMO.
However since this is a post office, really the important thing for the customer is to get in and out as quick as they can. The major complaint is probably the waiting time. So in one sense the employees are helping customer satisfaction by getting them processed quickly!
At the very least they should know that if something goes wrong because of their error and the business is held liable, they will be fired. If there's no way to know which worker committed the error, maybe that's the first thing that should be fixed.
Bonuses for error-free performance are also a good idea.
I'm all for treating workers well, but it goes both ways: the workers also need to treat the job well.
This world is not ideal. You'll want a caveat: talk to the people who are having trouble, _and make it clear that you're not just here to yell at them_. Your goal isn't to punish, it's to teach. Punishment is useless if you don't tell the person what they did wrong, or if you don't let them fix their mistake.
Track the time and say its "just for your own diligence".
An attitude of acknowledging there is always a clock running and you engage with how you allocate it has, in my experience cuts through this kind of poor teamwork quickly.
You never say they aren't important or you don't have time, you just make it explicit how much time and how often that liberty, which they are always free to take, is being invoked. In a way you value them more by committing your undivided attention.
This response is analogous to when people look at the health information on a snack and think " maybe i ought not eat the whole box in a sitting ". They are still free to do so, but the information makes the responsible and foolish choice more apparent.
At its core is teaching a new level of conscientious relationship with professional engagement. You're helping them grow as a human while maintaining dignity and encouraging a more intentionally sincere and personal relationship.
I think what you are saying is "tell the manager you are tracking their time". but not sure.
It's someone caring about the details of the results along with the details of the implementation, and the process, and every other factor but then hiring someone else to actually press the keys and move the mouse. It turns the task of programming from problem-solving to satisfying effectively onerous checklists of ceremonial acrobatics. There's other ways to solve that problem.
The original post is talking about debilitating flow and a structure (stemming from a culture and engagement) that is fundamentally destructive.
I made it known to management that "outsourcing wasn't working", when said micromanager proposed we give more to the outsourcing firm, I said "fuck no" with a myriad of reasons why. Said micromanager was pushing me on my tasks and ignored the work I had to do to clean up his messes.
In the end, I left but outsourcing core components didn't happen. I'm pretty sure said micromanager was getting kickbacks for outsourcing.
Karma caught up and said micromanager didn't advance as expected mainly on other key engineers being done.
Startup exited ok, but they had shed said individual.
I'm really curious how companies let this kind of stuff happen. I guess I expect this kind of stuff from larger companies with so many staff no one is really in charge? A friend claimed at his company managers were picking outsourcing companies based on where they wanted to vacation next. They'd then book business class tickets, get a refund, then buy 2 economy tickets with the refund and take their lovers.
At least one company I worked at had a whistle blower policy to report this kind of stuff without retribution and, at least at the time, seemed to be very serious about it to weed out bad people like this.
In this case, the inability to justify "they are doing logging code, I still spend 20% of my time which is supposed to equate to 4 people contributing and their product is shit and I still have to review it" was the only argument that held weight.
Unfortunately, for me, this particular attitude is very particular (multiple companies) to a certain region/country.
The way I correct employees work, this would be in a professional kitchen, is by cooking a dish they way I think it should be done and have the employee cook the dish how he thinks it should be done. Then I ask the employee which dish he thinks is best, or which technique has the best result either in quality or is quicker. They decide. It's their decision how to run their work station. Most of the time they choose my way. However, sometimes they don't. I have to respect that for two reason. First, I'm not always correct even if I think I am. Second, they have to be the one's making the decisions and they have to believe in themselves.
I was gone within 2 months after that with half the other team.
We're currently in the Death March phase, because our wishful thinking has caused so much stuff to slip that our milestones are slipping.
I'm currently working on my resume.
It's a bad situation, and I think it's fairly transparent to most people who've worked for any significant length of time that it's not a good way to manage, but once someone is in that sort of situation there never seems to be a good time to move to a better model of management without having to let some commitments lapse. That's a very hard sell to make to the rest of the organisation: Yes we're going to make mistakes, and yes we're going to miss some deadlines, (or need some forgiveness on deadline,) because we need to actually develop our staff.
The situation is, of course, exacerbated by the fact that even where that time is available; you're working on a less intensive project; a lot of people want to think that what they're doing at the moment works. They want to think well of themselves. And there's a certain penalty that people, especially people with large egos, are going to pay in admitting that what they've been doing up until this point has certain flaws in it.
Luckily he only lasted 2 months.
1) he even scheduled a 7:30AM and 5:30PM meeting one day
It ends usually with most of the team just having fun time and couple that really works hard but in the wrong direction.
And I am pretty sure that most developers rather prefer micromanagement than no-management if you would do a survey.
Ideally it should be somewhere in the middle whereby the developers have enough freedom to make decisions and management to steer the outcome.
That's just the "grass is greener on the other side". I've seen both at work - I would take no management over micro management any day - particularly because micromanagement is a result of bad management - so you get a bad manager micromanaging you.
A good micromanager can push an amazing level of performance out of a team for a short time, but at a high cost - it is a bit like giving the team amphetamines - the performance is great for a short time, but the downer later is a killer.
The point I was trying to make was that close attention to detail can be a powerful tool to solve a short term issues, but it comes at a high cost in the long term. I am not arguiging for micromanagement as the default management style you should use, but it should be a tool every manager can draw on in the right situation.
With hard-to-elucidate projects, it's probably not possible to have everyone precisely on the same page, especially in a large organization.
I'd say good micromanagement is best employed as a last line of defense against work that, for whatever reason is not living up to the vision or ideals of the project.
Good micromanagement is also not judgemental, and doesn't involve the micromanager being an asshole to people.
On the other hand I have managed in situations where this pressure didn’t exist and it was much more pleasant for me. I could just explain what was need, let the person come up with the best plan of attack, and if the project failed have a quiet chat afterwards on how thing might be handled better next time.
> Did someone on your team do something differently than how you would do it? Reprimand them! They might tell you that it works just fine, and that their way is just as good. But it’s not your way, so it’s not right.
An important question to me: what is a reasonable level of code-style guidelines for a manager / lead code-reviewer to enforce? I was in a position where all my code had to be reviewed and approved by this guy before it would be merged. It felt like I had to read his mind in order to get it correct and get it merged. I would spend as much time tweaking things stylistically to appease him as writing actual code.
So how do you determine what's an appropriate level of strictness and what isn't? Obviously a consistent code-style in a codebase helps make it more readable, yet obviously it's also possible to be too pedantic. I have trouble knowing where the line is. In my case, I don't know if the guy reviewing my code was the problem, or if I was the problem for being annoyed by it.
And then of course, there's the minor changes that don't actually bring any improvement at all. It's tough though, because I feel that pushing back against these things, at least in the short term, just eats more time, is more of an effort, and causes tension.
I worked for someone early in my career who followed every item on that list, especially this one. It made me pause -- I thought it was just him.
But thanks to the experience I've completely lost my taste for this kind of management; give me the specs and the authority to make small executive decisions and I'll get it done (that's what you're supposed to be paying me for). It is definitely demoralizing, and is a great way to lose your employees.
In addition, I'm unable to believe that constant attention is bad... unless the boss is a jerk and his attention is of an incorrect kind.
As a former employee, I loved real micromanagement, with a liberal but attentive boss who would never forget to ask for my input and would always set clear and realistic goals.
If there are over-detailed micro-goals and accompanying micro-status updates on everything, it devalues the employee. The goals have to have significance to the end product.
When managers sweat over details that have no meaning they lose their authority. It leads to bad morale.