Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Is Your Project Manager Colonising Your Mind?

~ By Abid Mustafa

A hypnotist gesturing inducing a trance on a black and white swirl painted background

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.

Those subordinates, who possess a superior understanding about the idea under discussion, rapidly learn that efforts to persuade are futile and they eventually capitulate. Others, who refuse to be browbeaten into submission, are hounded until they resist no more, or they are isolated.

Because concepts take time to manufacture and polish, subordinates discover the repetitive invasion of intellectual privacy undermines their ability to control their own thinking. This is an earth-shattering experience and leaves an indelible mark on the psychological state of subordinates. There is little doubt that this form of micromanagement is far worse than micromanaging actions. The intellectual tyranny leaves subordinates broken and imprisoned within the mind-set of the micromanager. Subordinates lose motivation, team morale diminishes and conviction to publicise the idea to a broader audience is permanently lost. Subordinates have no real options other than become like zombies, or look elsewhere for employment. But in the epoch of economic uncertainty, the search for alternative employment can be a long torturous wait.

The lack of spirit and vigour is easily detected by other teams, but most fail to interpret these signs and dismiss the root cause (the meddling micromanager) as being too idealistic, or impractical for implementation. HR managers follow in the footsteps of their colleagues and fail to diagnose the tell-tale signs of intellectual dictatorship, and treat the problem of poor team morale through standard employee engagement methods.

The wise project manager is the one who implants the seeds of the idea in the subordinates and instils within them, the confidence and freedom to develop and nurture the idea, based on a few specified guidelines. In this manner, subordinates feel the idea belongs to them, and they develop conviction to defend the idea before others. The same principle should apply to actions. If there is a need to micromanage, it should be applicable to objectives only. Project managers all too often, set objectives but panic when they discover that the objectives are not being met. Hence they scurry to take control of their subordinates' actions, or seize ownership of their subordinates' minds. However, if they had micromanaged the objectives and provided feedback and direction on a periodic basis, then there would be no need for project managers to micro-manage ideas and actions.


Abid Mustafa is a seasoned professional with 18 years' experience in the IT and Telecommunications industry, specialising in enhancing corporate performance through the establishment and operation of executive PMOs and delivering tangible benefits through the management of complex transformation programmes and projects. Currently he is working as a director of corporate programmes for a leading telecoms operator in the MENA region.


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
How many letters are in the word four?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Top 10 Qualities of an Excellent Manager

The word excellent on a virtual interface with a businessman standing behind it

What are the most important qualities of an excellent manager that allows them to tap into talents and resources in order to support and bring out the best in others.

Project Planning Essentials

Tablet computer with project manager app and documents with Gantt and financial charts

Planning a project requires putting a series of tasks in order and determining dependencies between them. In practice it's never so straightforward.

How to Build a High-Performance Project Team

Business people and bar graph going upwards

What makes a winning project team? Why do some teams achieve greatness while others struggle? Let's look at the factors present on winning project teams.

Stepping Up SMART Goals

What are your goals question in vintage wooden letterpress printing blocks

Here are some strategies and six simple steps for making sure your goals will be concise, clear, and produce the results for which you are looking.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Lijoy commented on…
A Brief History of Project Management | Project Smart
- Fri 20 January 7:16pm

Kelly D commented on…
Managing Small Projects
- Thu 19 January 4:45pm

Sean H commented on…
Better Coaching Using the GROW Model
- Thu 19 January 3:43pm

Latest tweets

Managing Small Projects https://t.co/kLmCdOgGMJ An excellent summary of basic project management. #projectsmart #pmot #pm about 1 day ago

General Project Management • Newbie needing some advice https://t.co/R3kO7SHsUv #projectsmart #pmot about 2 days ago

General Project Management • Re: Junior PM needs advice - potentially being moved to a project… https://t.co/vJMX8Atrw1 #projectsmart #pmot about 7 days ago