Jessica Miller-Merrell | , , , , , , , ,| By
Dealing with a Micromanaging Boss
We’ve all dealt with bad managers and a shitty boss. Heck, my career has been defined by craptastic managers. I’ve worked with my share of horrible bosses, and it’s likely I learned more from them than I originally thought. I learned what I didn’t like as an employee and the kind of boss I didn’t want to be. I learned how not to support my team, the wrong way to communicate, and I learned how it feels to be micromanaged. Looking back it was a horrible yet valuable experience, and I’m glad that it happened.
I’m always a bit surprised that people consider managing a virtual or remote team as a new thing. For my entire career, I have only had one boss who actually worked with me in the office. Working in retail human resources, you are typically responsible for the HR function of a group of stores or region, and my boss was always in another state. His visits were usually planned or coincided with some other important corporate muckity muck visiting the office. In retail HR, you travel to your stores to meet with employees, conduct employee investigations, train your management teams, or surprise visits. Those surprise visits were always my favorite because they were a surprise and I got to see how the store and team operated in real life.
Managing and leading a virtual team whether your employees are in the field like I was or working from home or other location is one of the most challenging tasks. I can attest whether its a simple project team or your staff leading someone remote is tough stuff. You must provide support, communicate effectively and thoroughly, and trust your employees. Except that many managers do none of the above. For me, I was bombarded by emails and received accusatory phone calls at all hours. My manager, Sam spent a ridiculous amount of time listening to the grapevine and over-reacted, and so I learned the art of managing up.
Working For a Toxic Boss
When it comes to working with a remote team, it’s a team effort. Trust must happen and managers must communicate and trust their staff. And your staff must do the same. The problem lies in that many managers are promoted because they are good are meeting reporting goals and executing corporate programs, but have little experience motivating, managing, inspiring and leading a team. There is no “I” in team afterall. When it came to Sam, I learned that he liked a schedule and wanted to be in control. I sent him a weekly recap by email at the end of the week giving him an update and broke it down by our company’s objectives. This was a great map for our twice monthly calls which I referred to every chance I got. And it worked for a while until the next HR and workplace crisis would erupt. He was a toxic boss, and I did the best I could.
That’s why I was angry this week when I received a comment on my blog from a vendor who left a salesy comment promoting what they call their virtual team management solution. They’re called Time Doctor. Take a look for yourself and see.
Thoughts on Best Virtual Management Team Software
Software like the one listed above are the core of the micromanager’s guide to leading and managing a virtual team. It’s 1984 but corporate style. I don’t trust you, and you don’t trust me so instead of having a conversation or scheduling weekly calls or meetings, I’m sending a message that I don’t trust you to do the job I hired or promoted you to do. The cost for this amazing software varies but it can be $9.99 per month per employee. Installing software like this should be an insult to the manager and is a message from his supervisor that says, “I don’t trust your management style, and I haven’t given you the right training to lead this team. In fact I’m afraid to, so I’m paying a ridiculous sum of money because it seems like the easiest and most comfortable solution.”
And personally, if my boss installed this software on my computer, I’d be applying for new jobs at a frantic pace. I put in 60 plus hours a week at that job, and my opinion is that if I needed to shop online on Amazon for 20 minutes, I’d earned it. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think that’s the case.
Here’s the comment I left in response to the commenter mentioned above on Morgan Norman’s post last week on How to Manage In-House vs. Virtual Teams. Am I wrong? Is monitoring the best answer for managing and leading your virtual, remote, or in-house team or am I do I just expect too much out of managers who are put in charge of leading teams?
So let’s go all 1984 on their ass? I am against monitoring as I think it is a bad option. Most virtual employees are salaried so it doesn’t really matter how many hours they do or don’t work as long as they get their work done. Managing a virtual team is a serious challenge for managers forcing them to be very good at their job. Having worked in HR most of my life my boss has always been in another facility and not in my office. We scheduled weekly calls, I completed reports to show my progress and I copied him on important emails so he knew what was going on. If a manager was going to monitor my activities from my virtual office, I would just set up a work around and that would be my ipad or other computer to do the “fun” and personal things I needed to do like check my Facebook or pay my bills online. I don’t need big brother breathing down my neck.
**I’m sure their product is great, but I think it only provides a micro solution to a much bigger problem. I’m also a fan of privacy and treating employees like adults.