This editorial was originally released on Feb 4, 2013. It is being republished as Steve is out of the office.
I've been working at home for a decade, first for my own company and now for Redgate Software. In that time, I've learned to manage myself, motivate myself, find work to do, and meet deadlines, all of which I've done without having anyone manage me. Over the last five years I've worked at Red Gate, I'd like to think that I was one of the easier people to manage since I work well on my own. I'm not sure if my various managers would agree, since I know that I can be particular about how I work and not necessarily work closely with others, but at least I haven't required much of their time.
A short while back I was talking with a friend that was under pressure to complete a deployment that was proceeding poorly and their manager stood next to their desk, watching, commenting, and asking how long each process would take. I've had to deal with that situation in the past, and it was maddening to me. It's hard enough to focus and work on a task when there are problems with the technology. Having someone that can't contribute but is in a supervisory role nearby usually makes things worse.
Ultimately I think micro-management says more about the manager than the employee. There are trust issues or control issues, or perhaps pressure from the manager's boss. It can be hard to deal with micro-management, but if you plan to continue your employment, you need to find some way to deal with it.
There is no shortage of ideas. You can search for "dealing with micro-management" and you will get a wide variety of advice. I've tried different techniques in the past and some have worked, some haven't. The best way to handle micro-management seems to vary with the situation, but it's good to have a few things to try.