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Few months backs my project was changed and I was moved to a new team. It is a small team and I was the only person who was new to the framework we were going to work.

The first month I was assigned relatively easy tasks so that I can spend time learning and exploring the project. During that time most of the pull request I submit goes through 2-3 review cycle(by my manager) and I generally end up doing completely opposite of what I initially thought and implemented.I learned a lot during that time.

But now I have a fair amount of knowledge about the project and framework. But I still get a lot of review changes(by my manager) no matter how hard I worked. Initially, i thought it must be me doing something wrong but now I think manager always want to complain.

For example:

Problem-1: I used Approach-A and he complained that Approach-X is better.

Problem-2: I used Approach-X and he complained that use Approach-B it is better.

Problem-3: I used Approach-X and he complained that use Approach-A is better.

Problem-1,2,3 were quite a similar problem.

If I try to explain why I have used this approach he would tell me that you don't listen to me.

And these things go on. If I do X he would say to do Y. And I do Y he would say X.

Only things that is constant is that no matter what I do he would complain.

This attitude of him is really annoying me. And I don't know what to do.

closed as off-topic by Masked Man, Dukeling, scaaahu, IDrinkandIKnowThings, Mister Positive Nov 5 '17 at 15:42

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  • 1
    Do you ask him why he recommends what he recommends? For the big things, do you discuss possible approaches with him before you start? – Dukeling Nov 5 '17 at 14:31
  • @Dukeling Yes I have asked him and final conclusion of the discussion would be that his approach is easier to understand or his approach is what we use in this project or his approach is easier to maintain. Any further question beyond this point will be you don't know some-random-topic go read it. – coder76 Nov 5 '17 at 14:47
  • The following questions might be similar, although not related to manager-subordinate relationship: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/42334/… and workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/360/… – A.S Nov 5 '17 at 15:00
  • 1
    @coder76 - Have you tried doing things the way that he has instructed you to do them? That seems the way that would solve your issue. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 5 '17 at 15:01
  • @coder76 OK so you have asked your boss why he prefers a particular approach and he has explained to you his reasons. So what seems to be the issue here? – Masked Man Nov 5 '17 at 16:53
5

If I try to explain why I have used this approach he would tell me that you don't listen to me.

And that seems to be the problem. Instead of explaining your choice, try asking about his reasons. For example, try something like:

Could you explain why Approach-X is better here?

Then listen to what he says, and, if you are still not clear, ask again:

Why [your reason here] is not valid?

or

So [his reason] is more important that [your reason]?

Don't concentrate on defending your reasoning, get to know his.

3

If I try to explain why I have used this approach he would tell me that you don't listen to me.

My guess is that this exactly is the crux of the problem. See, the problem is not your solutions but the manager's perception that you lack respect for him, that you lack trust in him, and the humility to accept his authority.

You perceive the issue to be purely of technical nature: solution X vs. solution A vs. solution B.

Instead, try to look deeper at the pattern of interaction: When you use approach A and he suggests approach X, does he ask for your opinion about why you used approach A? Does he want to spend an hour justifying and defending approach X to you? My guess is no: he wants to tell you what to do, and he wants you to simply do it. On a higher level, he merely takes the code review as an exercise in you accepting, trusting, and listening to him. And the best evidence of this is you doing as told without a fuss.

From your narrative I am inferring that even though you may do as told, your attitude does not necessarily align with your actions: you remain argumentative and, therefore, fundamentally fail to 'learn the lesson' which he is trying to teach you through repeated revision of your work. Until you learn that lesson, you will continue to bump heads with him.

Here is what I suggest: For several review cycles and/or several months (whichever is longer), make an effort to simply accept his revisions without asking any questions that imply your disagreement. You can ask clarifying questions, and if you want to be strategic, even fake interest/excitement/motivation to do things exactly as he says. The main goal is not to implement the approach that is objectively best, and not even for you to learn this or that approach to coding. Rather, the main goal is to change your manager's perception of your attitude. This is what you are trying to solve for.

You can reinforce this change of perception by exhibiting behaviors that are associated with compliance, such as: acceptance, agreeing with what you are told, asking only clarifying (but not undermining) questions with the goal to execute on that feedback in the best way possible, and seeking additional feedback (without coming across as overly helpless/needy/annoying).

It's a balance that may take a little time to find but once you hit the stride, and continue in that mode for a few weeks, you should start to see gradual change. You will notice this change in subtle ways when your manager will seem to be a little more relaxed, less tense around you. Your manager may begin to seem more enthusiastic about speaking or meeting with you, more friendly or at least more attentive to the words that come out of your mouth (e.g. when you give status updates).

Don't expect overnight change -- trust takes time to develop. But try this approach for a few months and see if you see change for the better. Have patience and be consistent in this new attitude, and I guarantee you that he will come around and you will eventually find yourself in a much better position. Good luck!

  • Good answer. Just one issue I see is it sort of seems to imply that the OP's reasoning is correct but he should follow the boss just to keep him happy. If that was your intention, it is fine. To me, it sounded like the manager is explaining why his approach is correct, but the OP is confronting him unnecessarily, which gets even worse if the OP is actually wrong. I strongly suspect that to be the case here. – Masked Man Nov 5 '17 at 16:57

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