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Today I had an argument with my boss. We had some problems with our software. A configuration issue that was partly our fault, but also a problem with the support team that didn't deploy it correctly.

When I ask that team to check their servers and see what differences they can find, their boss says it's a problem with us. My boss tells me to look at the problem myself. I explain that I can't do it (I can't reproduce the issue with my setup) and she again tells me to deal with it. I say "what do you want me to do?" and she tells me not to talk to her in that tone. Then I hang up.

I was really mad at the moment, when she disavowed me in front of everyone in a call.

Then we have a call with her boss, he gives me the reason, but of course without some "stern talk".

This has been a pattern lately. My boss doesn't stand up for the team and tells us to "deal" with things outside our reach. She won't listen to me and will always take responsibility for things that have nothing to do with us. Earlier in the day another team member had an argument with her. I talked to this person and she told me she's tired of being told exactly what to write in every email she sends (this is another thing our boss does. she wants us to have the same email writing style).

Anyways. My boss is overworked. We're not the support team but she takes responsibility for support issues. Clients yell at her. She gets stressed. Her stress starts trickling down on us.

How can I deal with a person like this?

Edit: My boss also doesn't respect her own schedule. She decided we should have daily meetings, but the first day she canceled them. "She had a meeting with a client". She won't sey no to clients, ever. Not even "I have a meeting scheduled at this time, would you mind if we met 30 minutes later?" This is not only annoying but personally I see it as disrespect to her own team.

closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, Rory Alsop, mcknz, virolino, IDrinkandIKnowThings Mar 29 at 14:07

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.

  • You can go up to her boss and tell him/her that you're getting concerned about her getting worked up and being unable to say no to clients. Sounds like she could delegate many of her tasks to support team for example. Why is she taking support issues in the first place? – Jenny Tengson Mandani Mar 27 at 3:42
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    @JennyTengsonMandani I did. Her boss knows how she is....it's her husband (let's not get into the conflict of interest thing). She's taking support issues because the support people won't treat clients the way she considers clients should be treated. She puts the weight of a 35k+ employee organization on her own shoulders, "because no one else will". She also expects me and the rest of the team to do the same. – hjf Mar 27 at 4:06
  • Sounds like she is legitimately asking for help yet can’t elocute properly how. Is the support team doing an objectively good job? I’m not sure yet but I am half suggesting that you get in touch with the support team and they have a word with her, then ask her how support should be done—it doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to heed her in that regard. Just so that you could have an excuse to lighten her workload. She definitely needs to learn how to let other people do their job. – Jenny Tengson Mandani Mar 27 at 4:51
  • What is your title? Are you a junior, senior, grad? – Gregory Currie Mar 27 at 7:06
  • @hjf so in other words, you can't go to your boss' boss cause it's her husband? That's some sweet setup they got going there. If you can't take this situation, then going to your boss' boss' boss (bypassing the husband due to conflict of interests) might also be an option before quitting. Managers come and go. If you go in as a team you might get results. – Xander Mar 27 at 8:42
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A configuration issue that was partly our fault, but also a problem with the support team that didn't deploy it correctly.

Problems like this are unavoidable. But when they occur, it is better to collaborate to resolve the issues rather than blaming each other.

When I ask that team to check their servers and see what differences they can find, their boss says it's a problem with us

The support team is not involved in the development of the software, is this correct? if yes, they are also kind of (super) user. "check their servers and see what differences" is too broad as an instruction, you are just telling them to investigate the problem themselves.

You need to be more concrete, e.g. which files, which ports, which environment variables to look at? If they refuse to answer such a concrete inquiry, that's when you need to tell your manager.

You developed that software, your manager and the support team are right to expect you to take ownership of that problem.

I explain that I can't do it (I can't reproduce the issue with my setup) and she again tells me to deal with it. I say "what do you want me to do?"

You can't reproduce the issue, and you can't access customer servers. But doesn't the software have debug flags that, when turned on, printing out, e.g. until when it worked normally, at which location the error occurred, and what kind of error: was it a segmentation fault, or connection failure and so on. If you haven't done that, I'm afraid the root cause of the problem is your technical skills and/or experience.

She won't listen to me and will always take responsibility for things that have nothing to do with us ... My boss is overworked. We're not the support team but she takes responsibility for support issues.

Really? You developed a software that was only tested in your machine, and whether it runs on customer's machine is other people's responsibility? With this attitude, I'm afraid you will have troubles wherever you go, not just at the current company.

While your manager does have problem with her management style, I don't think she overworked, nor she took the responsibilities that were not hers.

  • We are a team of 30 people. I'm no longer in the "core" team. But since I've worked there and often fix things when they break, they call me. I'm not allowed to enable any debug related information in production services. The "testing" part was decided by a higher manager: "we trust you have a high enough seniority level so you don't need a dedicated tester". – hjf Mar 27 at 12:10
  • But if you want to know, the error was produced because MSDTC service doesn't work properly in the production server. It's the implementation's job to figure out why MSDTC is misconfigured. We told them this in the call. They said "Oh no, MSDTC again, I don't want to deal with that. I need a fix so this won't happen again". So basically they expected us to turn transactions off, so they won't have to deal with MSDTC setup. – hjf Mar 27 at 12:13
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It seems like you are dealing with a poor manager here, who believes she can micromanage everything and possibly a control freak. Also, it appears, she does not know how to say "no". They are fairly poor signs for a manager.

My boss doesn't stand up for the team and tells us to "deal" with things outside our reach.

Indication that she does not know her team and team's responsibilities well. She does not believe in the team itself.

She won't listen to me and will always take responsibility for things that have nothing to do with us.

"Not listening" is one of the worst possible habit of bad leaders/ managers.

My boss is overworked. [....] My boss also doesn't respect her own schedule

Sign of poor time management.

At this point of time, I really have no option but to say: Look for a new boss. , even if it comes at the expense of the current job. Trying to stick around is not going to take you anywhere, you'll only be dragged more and more into the mess, until "you" fail and eventually have to face a bitter ending. Better end it sooner.

  • OK, what did I miss here? – Sourav Ghosh Mar 27 at 5:29
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I'm hesitant to write an answer, as I feel that @qsp says it very well with their answer But there were a few things I wanted to stress.

If you have a problem with how your boss treats you, you should raise it with them. And then with HR if things don't improve.

Do not make suggestions that they cannot handle the pressure or the stress of the job is getting to them. It is not your place to discuss this with them.

Working in an organisation sometimes involves people going beyond strictly what their job description is. Sometimes an organisation requires people to beyond, or even well beyond what their level of responsibility would dictate. And often those people are recognized by the company, while those that refuse to do anything other than what is strictly required languish.

Bosses also often expect their employees to be proactive and try to be emphatic to company (and thus client) needs.

Passing the buck is common with businesses. Support teams are often chronically overworked, and have a wide variety of things to deal with. At a previous company, the support team had to manage the delopment of 200 different application. Not instances of applications, but different applications. That's 200 different configurations and application requirements.

If you can't figure out the issue, you try to add more logging, you try to add more error checking, and you add more reporting to mitigate the impact should it happen in the future. There is no excuse for refusing to look at an issue.

If your boss asks you to do something, do not say that you cannot do. Say you cannot do something is the same as refusing to try. Say that you do not know how to do it. Also, don't hang up on your boss. It seems you are quite willing to justify your own unprofessional behaviour, but not extending any courtesy to your boss, who you understand is under stress.

Regarding the same email writing style, I dare say you may not be qualified to understand the reasons why. Maybe the client has complained that the company seems unprofessional. Maybe there are legal reasons about what can or cannot be said in an email. In any case, it's irrelevant to your question.

And last point, clients are important. If you think it's disrespectful that a meeting got cancelled because there was an urgent client call, that's unfortunate. It's a reality of business that sometimes things come up.

  • 1
    See my comment's to qsp's answer. I refuse to try because I know the outcome: I can't try. I simply don't have the tools. Production servers are well outside dev's permissions. This company hasn't embraced DevOps. They prefer some ISO model where a dev never, ever touches production (but has to debug it "by feel"). We're limited by layer after layer of firewalls, passwords, security policies, etc. Regarding clients: the problem is there is never time for her team. There is a client meeting every day, and those meetings push delay us even longer. – hjf Mar 27 at 14:17
  • At my old company, we were using an ISO model. Developers could still decide what level of logging and monitoring were required, and what was monitored and logged. We still had access to machine logs. If we couldn't figure out something, without fail, we added more logging so the next time it happened we could diagnose. – Gregory Currie Mar 27 at 15:47

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