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I was hired to work specifically on a new project for a large company. After working there for 4 months the department head scheduled a team wide meeting to discuss the project.

We all gathered (about 10 people) in the meeting room, where our boss shared for the first time the milestones and deadlines for the project. He continues to state that these deadlines have already been communicated to customers, and that other departments can't do their work unless these deadlines are hit.

He then presents the designs for this new system. There are huge number of screen designs. Many iterations of revisions took place to reach this point. Much of the database design has already been decided and many of the technologies to be used were already decided, but very little work had been done in the area of programming the software.

The first deadline is was 2 months away.

I am only 1 of 2 programmers hired to work on the project.

I speak up during the meeting and say something to this effect:

You've outlined here a schedule for the project that is directly inline with the milestones of the business. The business has to achieve X on that date Y and therefore the project has to be finished by Y. You're only looking at the business side of things. Software development doesn't work like that. These things require estimates, and those estimates drive what features can get finished by date Y. This is all made more difficult by the fact that there are only 2 programmers here and we still don't know what our output level is.

This did not go over well with my boss. I was taken aside after the meeting and reprimanded by my boss. Later, while returning to my desk another manager from another department stops me in the hallway to voice his concerns about me not hitting the deadlines.

After returning to my desk. Another manager sees I'm feeling down and comes to sit down besides me. She says something like this:

Let me give you some advice. I've been working here for 7 years, and you know how I've survived this long. I don't talk in meetings and I don't ask questions. I just mind my own business. If you want to work here. You should follow my advice.

  • Do you think she was right?
  • Why do you think she was right or wrong?
  • How would you define the company's culture?
  • Is this typical of companies in this situation?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Dukeling, paparazzo, sleske, user7360, gnat Dec 10 '17 at 5:02

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I know nothing about your company culture, but what you said during the meeting sounds like lecturing (because you rephrased what they said, implying they didn't say it well, then explained how things work, in a way that emphasises that they're wrong, without being asked, then reminded them of a fact they're well aware of). The same information can be conveyed more efficiently and gently by simply saying (roughly) nothing more than "we'll need to create some estimates to determine what's achievable by date Y". – Dukeling Dec 9 '17 at 23:29
  • @Dukeling I didn't feel like I was lecturing, but now that you say it. I can see how that it comes across that way. As a programmer. I reiterate what I hear in my own words and I provide my input directly. That's how my brain works. – user7360 Dec 9 '17 at 23:43
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    "Here lies the body of William Jay who died maintaining his right of way. He was right, dead right, as he sped along, but he's just as dead as if he were wrong." – Retired Codger Dec 10 '17 at 1:06
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    I'm sorry, but why was the question downvoted? If we all know what the answer supposedly is beforehand, we do not need to ask questions anymore. We should be exactly the right contact for supposedly dumb question which could lose the job. – Thorsten S. Dec 10 '17 at 10:54
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    Whenever someone says "If you want to work here, you should X" and X sounds crazy, it's time to re-evaluate whether you really do want to work there. – Erik Dec 10 '17 at 11:18
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Do you think she was right?

Yes.

Why do you think she was right or wrong?

She's been there 7 years and knows how to behave within that company's culture.

How would you define the company's culture?

Unhealthy.

Is this typical of companies in this situation?

Not typical, but unfortunately not uncommon

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    +1. I think "Unhealthy" on #3 is being generous. I would say, "Toxic to the point that the EPA should be involved." – Wesley Long Dec 9 '17 at 23:47
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    @WesleyLong understatement is a British trait... – HorusKol Dec 10 '17 at 0:00
  • I will add that, in every environment I've been in (all around the toxicity scale), OP's response would have been considered very unprofessional. I know this is harsh and maybe judgmental, but toxic workplaces hire toxic employees and OP should consider how he wants to affect the environment. – kmc Dec 14 '17 at 20:03
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After returning to my desk. Another manager sees I'm feeling down and comes to sit down besides me. She says something like this:

"Let me give you some advice. I've been working here for 7 years, and you know how I've survived this long. I don't talk in meetings and I don't ask questions. I just mind my own business. If you want to work here. You should follow my advice."

  • Do you think she was right?

There's no real way to know for sure. It's possible that asking questions in private and without the lecturing tone would have gone over better.

That said, she was there almost 7 years longer than you, and presumably has more insight than you did. If you were still working there, you could have spent more time with her and learned more about the company as it actually was.

  • Why do you think she was right or wrong?

See above.

  • How would you define the company's culture?

I wouldn't attempt to define any company's culture without knowing a lot more about it than this one incident. It could be the norm, or it could be an isolated incident. And I'd need to learn a lot more to determine the why this incident happened the way it did.

I've worked for many companies that had deadlines imposed from outside the development team. Sometimes that was due to promises made to an important customer in order to make a sale. Sometimes that was due to regulatory changes that must be met. Sometimes that was due to stupid sales people and/or stupid upper management. In one case, the deadline had to be met in order to allow the company to stay in business.

  • Is this typical of companies in this situation?

There is no "typical" and no way to categorize "this situation".

Every company is different. Some are very deadline-driven. Others are not.

With time, you can learn the company culture.

  • And in a situation where decisions were being made in the meeting based on the plan laid out, so the time to raise exceptions was in the moment, the right way to do that is with an approach like, "I have some real concerns about our team's ability to meet that deadline." Then, bring up one specific problem that can be addressed. After some discussion of that, move on the the next one, and so on. In your lecture, you pointed out flaws you saw and blamed him for a lot of your assumptions about those flaws, and never even made it clear which details needed to be fixed. You just dumped it on him. – kmc Dec 14 '17 at 20:00