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Background: I am a software developer with little over of a decade experience in my job, based on India, but now I am working in Toronto through my Indian employer for 3+ years. ( I am a full time employee to this employer in India).

As per the current employer(client bank) at Toronto, I am a contractor and they can end my contract anytime by giving 15 days notice which may force me to return to India which I don't want at this point.

Yes, within that notice period or within 1 month, I can find another client through my Indian employer, but this requires to pass couple of interviews which I am not technically prepared of, as of now.

Due to personal reasons, I am planning to return to India after 6-7 months, So, I am thinking like - "why should find another client for this 6-7 months".

Problem: My manager ( full time employee of the client bank), is giving troubles. Please note, he is also based on India.

  • He is conducting daily status meetings for 40-45 mins, ( scheduled for 30 mins), we are just 4-5 members team which contains developers and QA. He usually keep speaking, keep repeating for the 5th time, dig deeper into technical details etc. He is not a technical person, but literally expects developers to explain, repeat the explanation in various ways (4-5 times), so that he can understand.

  • If I say , I am working on this jira item, there is no blocker issues, I can complete by EOD today. He is still asking 5 unnecessary questions further.

  • He even keep asking status of the item which closed a week before and we will repeat - " we already completed and delivered this last Wednesday".

  • MAIN problem: he keeps his face looks very angry and literally starring like - he is going to kill us. This disturbs my voice/wordings while replying, I feel like a DOG in front of him at that time :-).

Please note : I am working on the same project for 3+ years and always delivering quality code, on time. There is no complaints about my work in last 3 years, but this guy replaced our previous manager before 7-8 months.

I am getting very angry while treated this way and keep suppressing my anger.

Now-a-days I am avoiding eye-contact with him. I knew avoiding eye contact is not good but I don't know any other solution ( than arguing / fighting with him ).

  • I doubt this is going to get better. I suggest you learn to bear it or look for another job. – paparazzo Oct 19 '18 at 19:40
  • @paparazzo, Yes, Trying-to-bear for next 6-7 months and back to India is my current approach, but by following that approach, I am losing respect from myself. – NiceGuy Oct 19 '18 at 19:46
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    Does he look somewhat angry the rest of the time too? Some people just have an angry look, and they aren't really angry. If he does, research RBF (Resting Bitch Face) - that one thing might be something you can ignore. – thursdaysgeek Oct 19 '18 at 20:26
  • @thrusdaysgeek, nope. He is purposefully doing whenever he wants. He is able to smile with innocent face ( but only to the people above him ). And very rarely to us. – NiceGuy Oct 19 '18 at 20:28
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    It only hurts if you let it. If you don't respect him then don't let it matter. Just comply. – paparazzo Oct 19 '18 at 21:26
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How to handle a boss who constantly stares with an angry face in meetings?

I am getting very angry while treated this way and keep suppressing my anger.

You handle it by putting up with it and controlling your own anger for the next 6 or 7 months until you go back to India.

You don't have to be friends. You don't even have to like him. But knowing that you are leaving soon anyway should allow you to tolerate him.

Keep a low profile. Smile as much as you can. Grin and bear it if you feel you must.

If you absolutely can't bear it, just give your notice and get a short term gig. Not what I'd recommend, but perhaps I have more control over my anger than you.

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On the "Angry Stare": My ex wife accused me of frowning and being angry during many of our 'discussions'. I was not frowning or angry - My brow was furrowed as I focused in concentration - attempting to understand what she was saying and how it fit in with what I'd previously understood her to say.

Given what you've described, it is quite possible your manager is very focused, rather confused, and (vainly?) attempting to understand what he is being told. It sounds like he is a bit out of his depth, but is making an effort.

You might find it easier to tolerate his demeanor if you were able to 'reinterpret' your understanding of him "being angry" to an understanding of him "being out of his depth (technically) and struggling to stay afloat". You now have the option of choosing to help him stay afloat, or let him (and possibly you) sink.

You could phrase your in-meeting updates so he's less likely to ask for more details in the meeting ("As you requested/directed yesterday, I am focusing on completing the jira item today. I don't anticipate and issues and I will let you know immediately if there might be a hiccup. I'd be happy to send you an email with more details, but I'd like to keep it brief so I can spend the time completing this line item"). If he asks you more questions in the meeting, respond with: "I will make sure that is addressed in the email.")

You could also just respond to additional queries for details with "I'll send you an email so we don't waste the rest of the team's time". Or even cut of a repeated/detail querry to someone else with "Can Julie just send you an email on this, or can the rest of us leave the meeting now so we can to get back to the coding".

If the other members of the group had some similar approach, those daily time-sinks might even finish early(!). However, if you were all going to have that approach, make sure the manager knows that's what's going to happen, so he does not feel that you are all in collusion against him - Present it along the lines of the group shifting how things are being done to have a more cost-effective use of everyone's time while ensuring he gets the information he needs, with time to digest it off-line, so we can all do our jobs more effectively and efficiently.

The best manager I had was quite non-technical. He dealt with the administration, scheduling, and forms, budgeting, and all the meetings with people higher in the company. I got to (mostly) focus on programming and system engineering. I would send him weekly updates that contained sections of "Last Week:" and "This Week:". Each section was a single (brief) line (not necessarily a full sentence) for each item I'd worked on or was planing on working on. Ideally, the "This week:" lines would move to the "Last week" section prefixed with "- DONE", but some "This week items would be in a subsection of "Carry Over" (and appended with a date that was my estimate of when it would be completed). There were also usually unexpected items added to "Last week" like: "Responded to marketing drama: Did mark-up on their customer 'one pager' for upcoming system", or "Manufacturing stalled with bring up of 2 systems. Diagnosed cable being crimped when stage moved to +Y limit. Mfg process updated. Wrote utility 'cableTestStage' for them (source in version control)".

These updates took much less time for me to write than they would to discuss in detail in a meeting. If you did this, it might help your manager to only look at the items that were current - Eliminating the "What about X from last week?"

It does sound like your manager might benefit from a daily "End of Day Status Report". Perhaps you could suggest that everyone do that for him, so he still gets the details (and giving him time to digest/process them over night), but the meetings could be cut to only once a week. It is quite possible that coordinating with the other members in the group to give him one nightly report might be beneficial (for you, the group, and the manager).

You can also approach it with the (internal) perspective of: "They are paying me full $/HR to waste my time". It took me a few years as a salaried employee before I understood those little smiles the contractors always had in those long meetings where so much was discussed that had no relevance to the contractors work & they actually only needed to be there for 5 minutes of the 2 hours. When I did hourly contract work, I was delighted with all times I was 'required' to be in meetings and on conference calls - sporting my own little smile.

If you felt "too much" time was being wasted by these meetings (& jeopardizing the project schedule), you could always approach your manager with something along the lines of: "I want to complete this project in a timely manner and a significant part of that is time budgeting. Can we either schedule the meetings for more time, or else make more of an effort to finish on time so my project is more likely to remain on schedule", or "I believe our group would be able to be more productive with fewer interruptions during the day. Can we each send you EOD Status reports and only have these meetings once a week? This should allow us to be more productive while still making sure you were able to stay on top of things. It would also give you an opportunity digest the reports off-line and an opportunity to email specific team member for any additional details needed".

Bottom line, they (the bank and your manager) want productive contractors who do (at least) what they were contracted to do, they want to not be unpleasantly surprised along the way, and they don't want to balloon either the project budget or the project's time to completion. If you present what you want while keeping those items in mind, I think you'll be more likely to get the manager's buy-in.

Good luck

  • +1 for They are paying me full $/HR to waste my time :-). This will ease my angry mood. – NiceGuy Oct 22 '18 at 21:00
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If he always looks like that, then that's his normal face. You need to get used to it. Plenty of reasons he could seem to be staring, bad eyesight etc,. No point getting angry with or even judging anyone because of their looks.

I know plenty of reasonable chaps who have full face tattoos and weren't any sort of model material prior to getting them.

  • As I commented, he is not always angry. – NiceGuy Oct 22 '18 at 21:02

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