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When my boss gives me a code review, he says my coding style is bad. He is constantly pointing out silly mistakes I've made and telling me that I am an amateur. He is very impatient with my making the fixes to these issues often telling me to, "Hurry up."

He says most of it in a joking manner, but it feels like he is picking on me when I am just trying to do my job. How should I handle this?

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closed as unclear what you're asking by ReallyTiredOfThisGame, Monica Cellio, CMW, Jarrod Roberson, jmac Mar 27 at 3:53

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Hi @designerNProgrammer. I've corrected your English and added the detail from your comments into the question. "How do I handle it?" is still very vague though, and risks being closed. I suggest you edit to work out what you actually want to do. Is your goal to stop him from making these comments? To not get upset when he does? Something else? –  starsplusplus Mar 26 at 16:26
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some comments removed: Please don't use comments to answer questions as this may prevent others from providing full, complete answers that the community would vote on. Please see How should I post a useful non-answer if it shouldn't be a comment? for more guidance. I left the remaining comments for context in case more people want to suggest an edit to the post to improve it. –  jmort253 Mar 28 at 1:23

7 Answers 7

Any rudeness is probably because of your superior not being very good at diplomacy. That's fine, not everyone has to be. If you don't want to go through more of these scenarios, don't give your superior the occasion to take you through them.

A silly mistake, as you call it, does indeed not mean much when it's the only one. Put more silly mistakes together though, and they pile up, forming one huge mistake.

Teams have their own coding standards and when your senior keeps on reminding you that you are not following them, it's time to actually do something about it, and follow them. Review the coding standards your team follows, and apply them in your own code.

Keep these in mind when you're working in a team:

  1. The code you write is not yours, the team owns it. When your code breaks, it's really a resource of the whole team that breaks.

  2. In a team you don't follow your own standards, you follow the team's standards.

  3. There's no "I don't like this, everyone do things the way I like it" in a team. Decisions in a team have to be taken via communication with all team members, or by an appointed team leader, or both.

  4. Whatever issue you have, you have to discuss it with the other team members, the team leader, or both.

If you believe you are not able to meet one or more of the points above, then you're either in the wrong team or you're not a team player at all.

Regarding the urgency for bug fixing: are there any deadlines set in place? Usually, you are being rushed when the team is trying to meet a specific deadline and you are behind schedule. Talk to your superior and give him some real estimates for when you think you'll be done with the bugs, and ask him if they're fine. If they are, try to actually meet the estimates, or finish sooner, if possible.

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A silly mistake, as you call it, does indeed not mean much when it's the only one. Put more silly mistakes together though, and they pile up, forming one huge mistake. - Exactly –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Mar 26 at 16:50

When I was young my boss pointed out to me that I needed to get a thicker skin if I was to remain in that business. He was right. No one in business can afford to get upset over such things. You need to stop getting upset at the idea of his making fun of you and concentrate on meeting his expectations so that he has nothing negative to say. It seems he has valid concerns to me. Deadlines come faster in the real world and you need to work faster than you might be used to. Not following coding standards and silly mistakes need to be fixed. Making the same mistake more than once is frowned on. Making the same mistakes repeatedly after being told to fix them is grounds for dismissal.

So you need start to listening to what he says. That means changing your behavior and that means not wasting time being upset at your boss's perception of you and spending more time on fixing that perception. Right now, you may be surprised to learn that your performance is clearly not adequate by your boss's standards (which are the ones that count in performance evaluation). If you don't fix it, you may be surprised to learn that you have been fired.

You also need to understand that the workplace contains plenty of people who are not going to worry about your feelings in how they communicate. They are concerned about the work product, not you. You need to be able to work with people you dislike, you need to be able to work with people you feel are not competent and you need to be able to work for people who are organizationally superior to you including making the performance changes they request whether you agree with them or not.

You also clearly need to learn to talk to your boss. If you feel he is being unfair to you, you need to address that directly to him not some strangers on the Internet. You need to hear what he has to say in response. Do this in private.

Then you need to fix the problems he brings out. There is nothing wrong with telling him in private that you feel made fun of when he says these things. But don't expect huge changes either. Not until you fix what he is upset with you about. He will likely treat you with more respect when he feels as if you deserve respect. Yes the better bosses do not usually treat people this way, but the better bosses also don't tolerate poor performance for very long because they know how it affects the projects and the morale of the other workers who are carrying the load for the poor performer.

You also might consider that by saying this in a joking manner it is possible that he was trying reduce the sting of his criticism (clearly not, in your case, very effectively). So maybe instead of making fun of you as you think, maybe he was using a little humor to save face for you, but still get his point across. If you assume that people are trying to help but just didn't say it right, you might find the workplace easier to navigate than if you take things personally. They often are not meant personally. Atrribing better motives to people or realizing that some times something not at all related to you (like personal stress) can cause someone to be less than kind in communication. Give people the benefit of the the doubt and you will be much happier in the long run. It may not seem fair that he treats you this way, but life is not fair.

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This is the problem with everyone getting a trophy, no grades lower than a B, and no tolerance policies about conflict in school... No one learns how to deal with conflict or critism. Expectation in the real world are much more harsh than they are in schools. They always have been but the learning curve has become extreme these days. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Mar 26 at 18:50
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@theGreenCabbage I believe Chad was referring to public schools, specifically grades K-12 here in the US. There is undoubtedly a sense of coddling that exists in most public schools. –  Dryden Long Mar 26 at 19:31
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Ah I see. I studied HS in Canada, so I can't give a reasonable reply towards that. I have indeed heard of the low quality of American highschool education, however. –  theGreenCabbage Mar 26 at 19:44
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I work with alot of Indian developers and their bosses and the management style there is often much harsher than the US style. This is just something you need to learn to live with. –  HLGEM Mar 26 at 20:02

How do I handle this?

You handle it by assuming that while your boss may be blunt and a poor communicator, particularly with this sort of feedback, there is likely some constructive criticism in there.

You work with him to understand specifically what is meant by "coding style is bad" "silly mistakes" and "hurry up". Then you work with him to find ways to do better.

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Without knowing what your mistakes were and hearing the conversation, it is very hard for us to understand the context and get a read on your manager, but I would suggest you consider the your part in the whole situation.

If you are really repeating silly mistakes after being told about them, that is a problem. While "amateur" may be a little blunt, it may also be very accurate. You need to take corrective action on your part to improve this. As a software development manager, I don't mind if my developers make a mistake or aren't on top of coding standards. I do mind if I tell them about it and explain what I expect and they do nothing to improve. I try to be very pleasant the first time we discuss the situation. However, the more often we have that same conversation, the less pleasant and more serious I get. My team is getting paid to be professional developers and if they can not do that or are not making legitimate attempts to address that, they won't be long for my team or likely the entire company.

Introspection can be a valuable thing. You have to ask yourself if the substance of your manager's comments is accurate. If it is, you need to work on improving. If you believe it is not, then you need to work with him/her to get more detail on the expected results and understand why he/she doesn't believe you are accomplishing them.

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How about getting your code reviewed by someone else before your boss gets to it? A second set of eyes is a good thing, and, if you get to choose those eyes, even better.

Perhaps he is right, and you do need to improve your code, and getting help is a good thing.

Not only will this improve your relationship with your boss, but it will help you develop yourself as a programmer.

You should even consider using CodeReview (a Stack Exchange site) if your company permits it, or if you can adapt it so that satisfies the corporate requirements.

Solve the problem at the source (which may be you), and you will be better off.

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Since you feel you're being picked on, your boss is probably recognizing it as well. Stop reinforcing his bullying behavior. Don't show him it upsets you.

If that doesn't work, just tell him to stop. You have to be willing to stand up for yourself.

Start asking when things are due. This should put an end to the "hurry up" comment. If he can't give you a timeframe, it means he doesn't know what he is doing. Any fool can just tell people to finish faster. Also, ask for the coding standards. My guess is, there aren't any. This is another sign of incompetence on his part.

Sorry your boss is an idiot. Unfortunately, the only thing he may understand is a punch to the face. Hopefully, it won't come to that.

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The first thing to do is talk to your boss: Ask him to specify clearly what he expects from you. Is there an official coding standard? Is there a policy on testing? It seems to me there are a lot of unspoken assumptions between your boss and you. Take your boss to a private meeting room, and get everything clear.

The 2nd thing to do is: Check that your own game isn't getting lose. Even if your boss is a bully, it won't excuse any weakness on your part. You need to have a minimum standard of work, which vary by industry and field. Have you read books like Code Complete? There are dozens of books which teach you the best practices. Read them, read blogs, and you will understand where your boss is coming from.

But do have a talk with your boss as well. Maybe he just isn't aware that he is being offensive.

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