Friday 9 April 2021

Management Vs Macro-management Vs Micromanagement (Extreme or otherwise)

An Excerpt from the “Khaos Management User Guide”*, Addressed to Doms

Those words and the spaces in between them mean a wide scope of different things to different people. 
 As such, when used without clarification, a whole host of misunderstandings can occur. This writing is an explanation of what they mean to me and regarding me, and, more specifically, some things that do (and don't) work well for managing me, as well as some more explanations about how my brain works, and understanding some of the things that I do that might piss you off, but are NOT deliberate (and how to shut them down effectively)

When I think of micromanagement, I tend to think of things like the following:

  • Asking permission for EVERYTHING, from getting out of (or into) bed, putting on clothing, going to the bathroom, using furniture, eating, or drinking, to leaving the house, going on a trip, talking with a friend, getting a haircut, etc.

  • Being told specifically what/when/how to dress, style one's hair or makeup, groom and bathe, etc. I don't mean once in a while, or, "I want you to shave your legs/touch up your hair/get a trim today/this week". I mean like, ALWAYS having to be presented just so or having those things specifically dictated each day.

  • Being told exactly what and when (like to the minute) to eat, or having very strict dietary parameters in terms of specific foods allowed/forbidden, portion sizes, and similar.

  • Having to account for every minute or action of the day 

  • Mandatory checking in several times a day and/or having all "free time" dedicated to one person.

  • Being constantly monitored/supervised, whether on cam or in person.

  • Giving unrestricted access to personal, password protected or other areas that generally have a reasonable expectation of privacy (Social media/email/messaging accounts, phone calls and messages, private conversations, etc.).

These are not the sorts of things I require, nor do really I desire any of them or their like. Some of them, some of the time, on a temporary basis, I could deal with, especially if it is for specific reasons, like reinforcing something, learning a lesson, as a disciplinary tool, or even just as a service because it pleases the D-type. I'm good with pleasing the D-type! I want that! It makes me feel accomplished, useful, and happy!

Not wanting or needing that level of (micro)management does not mean that I am fully self motivating, intuitively know what I should do, or that too much of a "hands off" approach will work with me, though. 

What I need falls more into the category of macro-management.

Likely due to being on the autism spectrum, there are lots of things that many, or even most “neurotypical” people might view as "obvious" that aren't to me. Same goes for hints and cues. More often than not, they fly right over my head. I am usually not deliberately obtuse, and I am honest and forthright, often to a fault, when queried or when I actually realise something should be shared. I am frequently, however, unintentionally obtuse or dense. I wish I weren't. I'm sorry. It is frustrating for me too! As irritating as it can be for you and others to deal with my imperfections, just imagine how I feel, having to deal with them every moment of every heartbeat of every day!

While I don't need to have someone monitoring my every moment and telling me at every turn what I should be doing or am allowed to do right then, I DO need, whether I always want them or not, clear and specific instructions regarding what is expected of me - an outline of what I should be doing regularly, may or may not do, which things require permission, at any given time, or within certain parameters, what exceptions there may be, etc. 

That means, if you say, "keep me informed of things I need to know", without specifying what sorts of things you feel are "need to know", I am left to decide on my own, and may well decide that if I handled something, or you didn't ask about it, or I don't think it is a huge deal, or.. whatever, I may neglect to mention it, even if it falls into the category of "things you should know", in your mind. Not deliberately - but more out of being unsure. In the absence of clear guidelines and protocols, I am more likely to default to dealing with things or trying to figure them out myself, "not bugging you" with anything short of the impending apocalypse, and/or withdrawing into myself.
 Same goes for communication/staying in touch/checking in. I often don't think to check in unless something major has changed and/or there is something specific to report, and I rarely initiate contact unless I have something in particular to ask/tell the person in question, or I have been specifically instructed to do so. 

So, if you expect me to, say, message you every morning on waking and every night before bed, or X times per day, or to report what I have been doing and/or what daily tasks I have completed, what I have eaten, if my blood sugar has been above/below a certain threshold, etc., I need that spelled out for me. If you tell me to text you every morning, that could mean any time before noon. If you want it to be "by [time]", or, "within [X time units] of waking", each morning, then I need that information. Completion of tasks or assignments also falls into this category. If you want something finished by a certain deadline, or an essay should be a minimum and/or maximum length, or answer/address specific points, or you want a task to accomplish a particular outcome, I need to know. I don't do well with open-ended questions, prompts, or instructions. I am GREAT at problem solving and coming up with a plan for something if there is a specific goal, and I can follow precise instructions, even if I don't know the goal (though I may baulk more at those and need to be ordered to just do it).

Too often, I have heard, "You know what I meant!", when that is not, in fact, the case. I take many things literally, and rely heavily on my very pragmatic sense of logic and reasoning, so, much of the time, I assume you meant exactly what you said - nothing more and nothing less. 
If I ask for clarification, or my obedience doesn't include something that you think is obvious, but was not explicitly stated, then I probably do/did not know what you meant. Tell me, and then I will know, and probably remember it in future. In fact, I will most likely mentally add it to the list of preferences, expectations, or rules for future reference, so if it was just for that instance, you may want to tell me that too! Otherwise, I will probably refer to the last instance for handling circumstances which I believe are similar. So if I texted or called one morning and you were unhappy that I woke you up, or interrupted something, don't be surprised when I wait for you message me first, going forward, unless there is some other instruction already in place.

I don't usually need to be continually told these things, or reminded constantly of each, individual thing, as long as I have a clear list of rules/expectations laid out for me, to which I can refer if I haven't been given specific instructions for a day (or week, or...). I DO somewhat regularly need to be reminded to stay on task.

In addition to the autism spectrum disorder, I have severe, combo type ADHD. That means I tend to space things or get distracted. It isn't exactly that I completely forget them.. It's more like they drop from my radar, usually cause something else – some random sight or sound or thought or even just seemingly nothing – got in the way for the split second it takes to distract me sometimes. The odds of that happening has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with how important or how much of a priority something is. It really doesn't. I will swear this on everything I hold sacred. You may not understand it. You may have trouble believing it. Perhaps you can't even conceive of a mind functioning (or malfunctioning) in that way, but mine does. If you can't come to terms with that, and take me at my word, you may as well just give up on me now, and save us both a lot of time and trouble.

I need a timeline and a roadmap for my days, and need to know you will hold me accountable to them.

If it is important to you that some things be done in a particular order, or if you want something prioritised, I need to know that. Otherwise, I will get things done in whichever way makes the most sense to me and/or works best within my other tasks, my level of pain and/or ability, or whatever else is going on for a given day.

There are a lot of things that may seem like me “just doing whatever I want”, that are really me doing the best I can with the information and orders I have. If you want to know which it is, ask me. I will tell you the truth, or at least the truth as I understand it. Sometimes, deeper introspection leads to discovery that I truly wasn't doing my best to do what I should have been doing, but if I am directed to write an essay or fully explain myself or similar, and still insist that I didn't know better, then trying to force me into “admitting” otherwise is most likely just going to make things worse. I've got a lot of experience in self-introspection, and am unlikely to shy away from a truth just because it is unpalatable. If I refuse to admit to something, even after thorough consideration, it is probably because I've done my due diligence and am telling the unvarnished truth.

At those points, instead of continuing to focus on why I “should” have known or done or understood something differently, it's really best to just clear up the misunderstanding and concentrate on finding a way to make sure I DO understand whatever it is in the future. Trust me... I'm already punishing myself MORE than enough for screwing up. Punishing me more isn't going to fix it. It will just help me feel like an utter failure. And if that is what floats your boat, we are not compatible in the least.

I hope this has been helpful.

* There is, as yet, actually no such thing as the “Khaos Management User Guide”, but this post and the ones linked from it is the closest thing to it. ;)

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