I am now the team lead of a known argumentative team. I was chosen by them, and upper management approved. I thought that because I was chosen by most of them, I would at least be someone they respected. Most are being very cooperative, and working well as a team but about 3 members are not.

Two of them are a couple in a relationship (this is allowed by upper management). I am required to go by every hour and input the number of tasks done. They all know this, and every team has to do it, this isn't something new.

Every hour I come around, these same 3 people make it more complicated than it needs to be. They make up numbers in front of me, and when I explain to them that upper management checks these numbers and that they know what times are actually being submitted, these members start arguing that they know this isn't true.

I have explained to them is true and it has been explained to the entire team by upper management before. After working side by side with them and now being the team lead I believe that they do not like being told what to do. Also, I believe they wish they were in my position.

There is one, the female in the couple who is the main one being uncooperative and the others follow. she tries very hard to have a relationship with upper management. In fact, those are the only people she will listen to. No one else. Furthermore, she likes to intimidate other co-workers.

This has all been tolerated in the past for two reasons: no one wants to stand up to her, and she produces results. So far when she does argue with me, its been "watered down." I know she is capable of more, but she holds back a little with me. At least that is something I can try to work with, but how can I get her to be more of a team player?

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    With that level of micro management I would argue too. Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 8:35

5 Answers 5


Whilst, as has been pointed out, this level of micro management will always be unpopular what we don't know is what these people signed up for. If this is the nature of the work and everyone has to do it, and that has always been the nature of working in this job for this company then they either need to comply or leave. If it is a recent process, deployed to "fix" or monitor some kind of dysfunction then the situation is both deeper and more problematic.

What are your other duties as Team Lead? If your job is merely to gather data from the workers and input it elsewhere I would suggest you will have little leverage to change perceptions. Don't blind yourself to the possibility that the team chose you because they thought you might be the easiest to manipulate to their needs. If you are more like a true Team Lead, then one approach might be to share the problem- People respond better to being asked to do things they don't want to, if they fully understand why they need to do it. At the moment it seems they don't believe the reasoning behind the request and therefore have no motivation for complying with a process they see as a waste of their time. If you can show a real and direct consequence (not neccessarily what Management say is the consequence when they tell everyone to do it), and share your problem with the team as a whole (i.e. what are the consequences for you personally, and the team as a whole, if the numbers are "wrong").

A second approach is to do with accountability- what would be the consequence of taking their numbers, or lack of, at face value and reporting them as-is? Would this not highlight to the powers above exactly where the problem people lie? Of course management may hold you personally responsible for ensuring quality of numbers, but then they need to invest authority in you to make it happen and if they don't then you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. It is either your job to fix this, in which case you need to follow a standard performance management process with these people, or it is not, in which case you are wasting your life and emotion trying to fix it, just report it upwards and let the cards fall where they may.

Everyone thinks being a manager is just about telling people what to do- It is never that easy :)


That level of micromanagement is always going to be highly unpopular. I would strongly advise getting a good understanding of why the management team want an hourly breakdown of tasks done and, most importantly, what decisions they drive with that data.

If that's the main point of conflict, understanding why that process exists is probably the first step you should take. You can then work with the team to find a way of giving the management team information to make decisions in a way that feels less like they're just being checked up on and more like they're providing something of value.


I think that @MarvMills hits the nail on the head - accountability. Who is accountable for what. (I also think this isn't a project management question, but that's a different discussion). Who is accountable for the data?

If team member X submits value Y, but audit later reveals that the true value is Z , what happens?

If the consequences of bad/missing/erroneous data fall on you, but you don't have the power to pass those consequences on, then the only strategy is to find a new job. If the consequences of bad/missing/erroneous data fall on those who supplied the data (or can be passed to them), then you are in a good place - you need to find a procedure that minimizes the pain and suffering for all.

Aside: Some people have a great deal of trouble answering a simple question. I don't remember the Meyers Briggs type - I believe it is "P", but people who are strong "P"'s have trouble answering closed questions because such questions restrict reality. Sounds like one of the teammates you've got is a strong P. There are strategies for dealing with strong "P" individuals - I'm not qualified to summarize them, but some quick google research may provide options. Update: One of the ways to tell if the problem is a "P" issue is to ask a simple question like "What color is a rose?" - most people will say "red". An extreme P will probably reply with something like "Depends on the Rose. Belgian roses are striped, while Pomeranian roses tend to the orange, and of course the leaves and stalks are green, but the thorns on a mature rose can tend towards brown, and the pistils are generally white..." It isn't that they're trying to be difficult, it is that for them, to answer such a complex question with a single word would be a lie. If I remember correctly, one strategy is to give them an inaccurate estimate. If you know that they worked for 37 hours on a project, go to them and ask, "I'm going to report you worked about 40 hours on project X last week". Let them revise the answer to "37" and both of you can walk away reasonably happy.

The general case is "I need to collect data that you aren't interested in providing". Depending on the people involved and my relationship with them, I may do any of the following

  • Here is my estimate of the data; can you confirm this estimate, or do you have better numbers?

  • I'll just wait till you can provide the data. No, I'll wait here. Take your time, I'll just sit at the front of your desk and wait till you provide the data. Yes, I understand that you're doing something else, but there is nothing in my day more important than getting this data and I'm willing to wait. Like I said, the most important thing I can do is to wait here. At your desk. Staring at you.

  • We both know I'm wasting your time collecting this data. The sooner you give me data, the faster I'll go away and we can both go back to doing useful things.

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I'm not sure if this is the right forum for the question (Perhaps it's better suited to the Workplace)

Its unlikely the team member is just being awkward to spite you. As David has said being micro managed every hour might really be causing issues with the team (is there a valid reason for this?) or it may be something else?

Could you provide a mechanism for the team to update their tasks themselves? (perhaps a KanBan that you populate at the start of the day and then the team are responsible for moving tasks to the done state)

If these updates are just part of the job then you are the team lead then you need to set them objectives. It's a clear SMART objective to give you this information, if they don't they fall behind and that is reflected on your regular reviews and impacts their performance rating.

So in essence I'm saying. Look for a better way of working together. Use coaching methods such as TGROW (http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_89.htm) to work with the team, however if it comes down to it and you have to provide this information then they are responsible for it and you are accountable for it so link it to their performance.


Marv makes good points here. Usually, the job of middle management is less about making people do work and more about making sure nothing gets in the way of them doing work. The way you write about this practice doesn't make it seems like you agree with it any more than your team does. What's worse is that, if management can verify those numbers, then that means that it's possible to get them without ever talking to the team members. The hourly check for team members to tell you what you already know seems like a very passive aggressive policy.

I assume that you aren't going to get your company to simply drop it though, so I'd like to suggest an alternative path to look down. Scrum offers a daily stand-up to bring up impediments and problems. There's nothing that says you can't have those stand-ups more often, but understand that the point of having it once a day is not bog the team down, so be wary of that. This also means that once per stand-up, you are making updates to the burn down chart, or progress through that iteration. It's not quite the same as an effort or number of tasks measurement, but it may offer the same kind of insight that the management team is looking for without that oppressive overhead of someone coming by every hour.

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