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Is Your Project Manager Colonising Your Mind?

It is common for the term 'micromanagement' to be associated with managers aggressively intervening to conduct actions on behalf of their subordinates. The subordinates notice a loss of control and autonomy over their ability to execute actions. The experience can be debilitating for many and some may even feel demoralised, vulnerable and bullied.

However, there is another dimension to micromanagement, which is rarely discussed or acknowledged. This is when the offending project manager, micromanages the idea of subordinates, or in the worst case scenario dominates their ability to think and produce concepts.

Instead of providing guidelines and etching out boundaries of concepts, the project manager controls the entire process of building the concept from inception to completion. Under the pretext of challenging and brainstorming the idea, the project manager embarks on a painstaking process to supplant ideas into the minds of subordinates. No matter how weak or skewed the ideas may seem, they are gradually implanted into the minds of the subordinates until their minds are intellectually colonised.

Any resistance from the subordinates, no matter how justified it is, is met with ridicule and endless debates that quickly digress into accusations about the subordinates' inability to comprehend the wider picture, or understand what executives really want. If by chance, flaws in the idea are pointed out by employees of higher rank, the idea is immediately revised, but the mistakes are never admitted before the project team.

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    Mar 17 2012: It's not possible for a manager to do this without a degree of acceptance from the individual concerned.

    The individual has quite a few options:
    - go along with what the manager says for the sake of a quiet life
    - stand in opposition to bad ideas
    - give the idea some serious consideration to determine if they have missed the point, and possibly talk to others to get a wider perspective
    - Alert more senior management if the individual thinks the PM's views are damaging to the work in hand
    - Go elsewhere and work for a better manager.

    It's a fact of life that there are good and bad managers. It's a fact of life that there is peer pressure to conform with the views of a group. We're never going to get the perfect world where these problems no longer exist. So it's down to the individual to find ways of dealing with those realities.