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How to lead when E6 is micromanaging?

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya year ago

I'm an E5 at a Big Tech company. My EM's pushing me to lead projects on our team so I can work on getting to E6. This is challenging when the E6 on my team tries to micromanage everything. How do I lead when I keep getting overruled? The E6 usually makes good decisions, but oftentimes struggles to articulate his rationale / justification.

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(3 comments)
  • 2
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a year ago

    It seems there's a pattern of disagreement and dysfunction between you and this E6. Zooming out, can you reset the relationship with the E6?

    Don't worry about a specific project, issue, or deadline. Can you just have a "get to know you 1:1" and figure out how they work and what their motivations are?

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    Anonymous User [OP]
    Taro Community
    a year ago

    Yes, I had a 1:1 with the E6. He told me that it’s nothing personal — he’s just frustrated about a bunch of stuff in general (e.g., having to spend hours justifying everything to the backend engineers instead of them just doing whatever he needs, our company seems to prioritize catering to the backend engineers vs mobile engineers, leadership not being technical enough to understand the technical challenges, etc.) and his frustration’s coming out in these ways. He micromanages our team’s other engineers as well. I just happen to be the only other engineer with his skillset on this team, so it’s easier for him to micromanage me compared to the other engineers on this team. He apologized to me and said he’ll take a larger step back, so we’ll see what happens.

    My EM told me he’ll give the E6 feedback as well — E6s are expected to empower E5s and this E6 is not doing that. We have company-wide performance review feedback conversations next week.

  • 2
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    Engineering Manager at Blend
    a year ago

    Tough situation.. I don't think there's a "silver bullet" here to solve the situation but here's some thoughts:

    1. Belief change – you mentioned that the E6 treats other engineers on the team this way, which IMO means that this person has a fundamental belief that micromanaging style is better than the alternatives. In order for this person to change their style, their beliefs around this behavior must change.
    2. Rare for people to change quickly – I'm assuming the E6 has behaved this micromanage-y way for a while, and if so, then it's unlikely to see any permanent long-lasting changes quickly – the E6 might be momentarily deterred to behave that way temporarily due to some feedback but most likely will revert back to their default behavior.
      1. it's rare for people to change quickly, it's rare for people to change at all (especially when their mode of behavior has served them over a long period of time)
    3. Clarify areas of ownership – feels like there's opportunity to clarify areas of ownership – when areas of ownership are clearly defined, then it becomes clear who is the point person/decision maker within a certain domain.
      1. If you are leading a meeting / initiative and the E6 is "overruling" you in that moment, you can suggest to take that conversation offline (separate time).