Monday, September 12, 2005

Rant: Micromanagement and whining

Today I (and my fellow tutors) got an email from our boss, whining about the way we write our weekly reports. We write these weekly reports to keep him up-to-date with where we are on our hours; we each work 256 hours per year. He certainly has a point about keeping the reports up-to-date, but I am afraid the rest of it is not gaining much sympathy. I am even less sympathetic because this man can be a bit of a despot, someone actually said today "Oh, normally Joe* would be much less restrained" -- despite the fact that Joe's famous blowups are completely unacceptable behaviour. The other thing that was said (and bear with me, because I will post the email he sent below) was that Joe would only be happy with his workload if it was zero. So, below is the email that was sent out to us, and the reply I would have sent had it not been so likely that Joe would physically implode, thereby leaving me to teach his classes.

Hi Folks,
now as you are all aware, I have a relaxed attitude to my management role - so long as the job gets done, I prefer to let things roll along. But when I get dicked around, I'm inclined to get a little upset.

I'm a little upset. I'm tired, I'm grumpy, and I'm a little upset. No lets be honest - I'm a lot upset!

Weekly reports are just that - weekly reports. Please complete them
once a week.

I have extra work to hand out. I try to give this to those have done the least. If the numbers show that's you, even though your reports are a month behind, then from now on you're going to get the job.

Now why else am I annoyed? Because at the start of the year I gave a suggested format for these reports. It would help if more of you used it. I don't mind a little variation so long as everything I require is there - but some of you are forcing me to work harder than I think I should have to. I want this info so I know what you've done, and when you did it. Therefore dates help. I don't want to know the week number - people count those in many different ways - so please give a date.
More importantly, give a total - by WEEK! I'm really annoyed that I'm wasting my time having to total up your figures.

Thankyou - rant mode off.


PS Thank you to those of you who have got there reports up to date (and in the requested manner).
Now, here is what I would have loved to have sent in return:

Hi Joe,

now, as you are aware, I work hard and respond well to requests and direction, but when I am micromanaged and interfered with in the course of my work, I tend to get a little upset.

I'm a little upset...I'm tired, grumpy, being pulled four ways to Sunday by the complexities of my various responsibilities at university. No, let's be honest, I am a lot upset.

From now on, I will consider micromangement undue stress, and as you know, I have a chronic illness. I will take stress leave to protect my health when I am future stressed by micromanagement.

I see your point about keeping our weekly reports up to date; hell, I even see your point about wanting easily legible reports. However, the suggested format at the beginning of the year was just that -- suggested. If you wanted people to follow a strict guideline, you needed to make it a strict guideline. In particular, my problem is with your requirement for dates on the reports. I keep my logbook up-to-date, and there is a "date posted" automatically added to each post. I post by weeks, because that is what I can remember -- I work it out from the tutorial I am teaching. Most of us do not actually have access to the calendar functions on our computers; these require admin access. So I actually feel now like I am being asked to work harder than I should have to work; after all my time is limited to 256 hours in the year, and it would be a shame if I wasted time filling out the reports.

The last point I would like to make is that this is information you have never had before -- this level of information and the online format give you more information than has ever been possible in the past -- it also takes us more time. Consider yourself lucky that you have this opportunity to analyse what we're doing, rather than abuse it by micromanaging us.

Thank you. Rant mode off,


PS I am one of the people, by and large, that is following the rules. I suggest you do not alienate those of us who do as we are asked.

Like I said in my sidebar, I'm a smartass, and my opinion tends to get me in trouble sometimes, I thought this was a better outlet for it than putting Joe right into tin god mode.

*name changed to protect my ass

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