One of the SMs is supporting my promotion case but they are lately trying to micromanage me and ask all nagging questions unnecessarily. Unsure how to handle this professionally.

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Sounds like you can’t manage up, have a sit down conversation if these questions are stemming from his lack of understanding/confidence in the area that you’re a SME for, or if the questions are from your lack of delivery skills.

Who’s neck is on the line for delivery? Him or you?

Either way you’ll continue to have to occasionally deal with different types of management styles some pleasant some not so much. It seems he’s supporting your promotion so I would hope you can have an honest conversation.

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I agree and I’ve also seen that when I worked in Singapore for a Client (I’m NYC based) - I’ve still taken the same approach as I normally would but more carefully, I don’t comply to someone absolutely try to mow me over client or leadership. I’m going to assume OP is US based for now.

As a background I’m also Asian

Coming from someone who also has challenges managing up, just treat them like you would a client who doesn’t know what they are talking about. Try to understand the “why” behind what is being asked of you — you may get better appreciate for their perspective.

In consulting, having a supporter during the promotion year is critical. Do not burn that bridge yet. You most certainly can disconnect from them after your promotion.

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Answer their nagging questions, and let them micromanage until after promotion. We’ve all been there, suck it up for a bit, pushback later.

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M1, bullying is never ok. But it rarely stops. Find another leader or another job.

You're not understanding that they know the criteria for your promotion and are helping you dot your it's and cross your t's

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I have been in a situation like this on the SM side… now I don’t know all the lurid details but I had a junior who supported my team. They came in with all the right skills and a very approachable attitude… I committed to work with this person to make sure they had the responsibility, ownership, and exposure to provide a compelling story for the next level.
This person quickly went from approachable and coachable to a snarky know it all, at the end of the day, it got to the point that I had to roll them. We have all been there… taking roles we think will help us get the promotion only to have the program pull back, or operating to the letter of the suggestions put upon us by leadership and feeling like we are the only ones in the room without amnesia when annual results come out.
OP, if you can’t work with people, you won’t be successful. Today it’s your SM asking you questions you think are stupid and tasking you with work you see no value in… tomorrow it may be your client. These are not situations that can be easily remedied over a quick conversation… it can take weeks and months of expectation setting, and building that persons confidence in your abilities before they trust your judgement enough to allow you to operate with autonomy. In the end… your SM may be pushing you to see how you respond. Many juniors don’t see the whole picture, they receive cover everyday to allow them to focus on delivery while the leads work to decipher the big picture, manage client expectations, and provide opportunities for growth for there team.
All that said… I won’t go so far as to say all the analysts are snowflakes… but I will say that when I joined the company… I took the role that was assigned to me, I shared my knowledge when I was a SME with my leads to make them look good, I treated every task like it was the most important job on the program, and I trusted those who lead me even when I didn’t understand why… I figured they must have something figured out if they made it as far as they did. This need to be right and justified that everyone walks around with these days is toxic… and it’s getting in the way of all of our most important piece of work… making our customers successful. If we do that… the rest will follow.

likeupliftinghelpful

Because you said you’re an SME, it’s possible that some or most of the questions from others may sound silly to you and it’s okay. Imagine doing a C level presentation where the executive knows nothing about the technology and the process, but he/she has enough power to say ‘no’ to the proposal because you didn’t answer their questions properly, which might have been dumb or silly to you. 😊

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Give your SM the benefit of the doubt. He may be putting you through paces and guide rails to meet specific criteria he is aware of. You lose nothing by playing along and cementing your promotion and enhance your reputation. Pick your battles. I suspect this is one you do not need.

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I am leading a large program now and have a few people that think they are SMEs and should be up for promo; however, they aren’t delivering like they think they are and I have received negative feedback from the client and project team about them.

After dropping some hints and them not stepping up, I tend to micromanage them as a way to coach them up based on the feedback I’m receiving. If they still don’t step up, I’ll fill them in on the negative feedback I’ve received about them.

As much as everyone thinks they can take negative feedback, I’ve found very few people respond well to it and it’s better to try to coach them through those issues first. I’m not saying this is the issue the OP is facing, but SMs who micromanage are normally doing it for a reason.

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OP - All the advice provided in this post is very good. Bottom line:
1) You are the one under the microscope
2) Your performance matters, not the SM’s
3) Show them that you deserve the promotion to SM

SM is the hardest level to reach (IMO), for the partners are considering you worthy of joining the small coterie of leaders. You need allies, advocates, and sponsors. It not what you know, it’s who you know. You already mastered your craft. Have you mastered the relationship part? As everyone here has already pointed out.

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Thank you. I get all the advices. It’s not entirely about how they treat me but this whole micromanaging and misdirection is definitely hampering the team to deliver expected results with quality on time. I do know how to set expectations with seniors but wanted to see all your responses when it comes to handling the same during a critical promotion phase.

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