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coding for the proletariat since 1977

Micromanagement

I've been a consultant (more or less) since 1997. I've worked at a number of engagements both in the private and public sectors, each with their own flavor. The one overriding concern that always seems to get expressed badly is management of the consultant's time. Some engagements go so far as to require sign-in and sign-out sheets so that the "consultants" can be tracked. My current engagement allows the employees tremendous latitude regarding their work schedules. Some people are at work as early as 5:30 am, and consequently leave by 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon.

To a person the consultants I work with on this engagement are professionals. They all work hard, and we are meeting our goals in spite of politics and infighting between the various departments involved in the project. Some of us (myself included) are early risers and are at work by 6:30 or 7:00. Others don't arrive until 9:00 or later. However, the project manager (really an engagement manager) has decided that it doesn't "look good" for us to leave early on Fridays. You see we are contractually enjoined from working more than 40 hours per week. Arriving early and getting a running start on the week's tasks often results in 9 or 10 hours days. By Friday it is typical for me (and others) to only have a handful of billable hours left, and so we leave at 10 or 11 for the day.

Last week the engagement manager, in a fit of pique, sent an email to every consultant under his thumb demanding that we all be at work until 2:00 pm on Fridays from here on out. Reliable sources claim he threatened to set the time as late as 4:00 or 5:00. At first I was pissed that he was going to micromanage my time just so his company could "look" good. The engagement is struggling with large meaty problems like delivery dates, lack or requirements, and an inability of the client's management to keep their own process in check (resulting in a myriad of other problems). So naturally, instead of stepping up and demonstrating true professional mentoring we're going to instead focus on being at work until 2:00 pm on Fridays.

Amazing.

The silver lining in this cloud has been leaving work at 3:00 every day this week to ensure I'd have time for Friday. The extra hour at home every day is nice.

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Filed under: Project Management