The Pinedale Shopping Mall Has Just Been Bombed By Live Turkeys! Or, How To Make Micromanagement Work For You

Yesterday: We recapped the classic WKRP episode “Turkeys Away”, where the bumbling station manager comes up with a Thanksgiving Day promotion involving live turkeys, and a helicopter.

Today: We’ll use that story recap as a springboard into this week’s topic: Micromanagement, and its implications for product managers.

People being micromanaged can improve their situations.
Usually, before turkeys start crashing to the ground like bags of wet cement.

“It’s Time To Tighten Things Up Around Here”

As we’ve seen in “Turkeys Away”, managers often start micromanaging when they feel threatened, out of the loop, or sense that projects are taking too long and aren’t meeting certain standards.

Sometimes, that leads to poor morale and turkeys crashing through the windshields of parked cars. Sometimes, that leads to a team embracing a more acceptable form of micromanagement called agile development.

Today, we’ll look at micromanagement from the perspective of a product manager being micromanaged by his supervisor.

A Product Manager’s Anti-Micromanagement Action Plan

Good news! As a product manager, you likely already have the tools and skills to deal with micromanagement–they just need to be marshaled in tighter formation, more consistently.

First, be sure to review your own performance. Have you given your supervisors reason to distrust you? If so, that needs to be addressed immediately–because, frankly, without trust nothing else matters. For help with that, “Trust – the key to success” by Michael Ray Hopkin.

Assuming you have some record of accomplishment…

Don’t Enable The Micromanager

Micromanagers want every decision run through them. Don’t. Take initiative. Make decisions. Just remember to start small, work your way up, and communicate the results. Gently let your supervisor know when their help is needed, and when it’s not.

Keep The Boss Up To Speed

Supervisors with micromanagement tendencies always, always, always want to know what’s happening. So tell them about the core issues. Keep them in the loop by providing brief, regular status reports on key areas of concern. Show progress, and results (the good, the bad, and the ugly).

Do Your Homework–And Theirs

When you’re at a point where you need your manager to make a decision, don’t throw the problem over the wall and wait for a response. Lay out options with supporting facts, analysis, and probable outcomes. Help the boss look smart, and be smarter.

Wait. Shouldn’t I Just Quit?

Yes, if you’re being micromanaged to death, you could always quit and find a new job. In the long term, that could absolutely be the right decision for you. However, in bad economic times, that’s not always an option–and may actually rob you of a good opportunity for growth. The choice, as always, is yours.

Just watch out for falling turkeys.

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