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Background: I've been at my current place of employment for 18 months as a developer. I have in that time made some mistakes as I'm sure someone with the same tenure would, but I've had a lot more successes. I work really hard and care deeply about what I do, and I hope every last one of my colleagues are keenly aware of that.

I have an icy relationship with one of the two company founders. He actively ignores when I try to be personable with him and I find he barely talks to me like I'm a human being. This in itself isn't a big deal at all, but I've had a number of small flashpoints with him where I've come away preferring a different outcome.


The situation: On a current project, a decision was made earlier in the week that was clearly set in place that runs concurrent to the project (the use of a third-party service that enables the collection of certain information that every developer on the build needs). I offered to collect all of that information and put it into our chosen tool, but reluctantly because of the fact I really couldn't come off development work to perform that task.

The PM arranged for this tool to be set up, and once it became aware that there was too much questioning or discussion around why it was being made available, I suggested again that I might as well just do the task out-of-hours. This was denied, as it was already made quite clear that I have been working a rather silly amount of my own time on this project to try and bring it back.

Today, discussion on it ramped up in the project Slack channel, and the PM was nowhere to be seen. Questions such as "why is this a thing?" and "why can't Anonymous just get all of the data out?" when if I had spoken up with the full facts, it would've came across that I was throwing the PM under the bus. I'd have preferred to avoid doing this because I'm not that sort of person, so I sent the aforementioned Director a DM instead.

Me: "I'd rather communicate separately with you about this if that's OK"

D: "no thanks"

Perfectly verbatim. Nothing else was said. This was six hours ago, the working day has ended. When something like this occurs, all I can really do is apply my own mindset to what happened and put myself in the shoes of the other person. All I keep coming back with is, it would've taken the tiniest amount of time to come back with "hey, let's just park this for now" or "please can you keep any comments in the public Slack channel?" I have read that response about a dozen times and I don't see a relationship there where both parties have respect for each other. That feels like it's a problem to me.

As a result, my motivation to do any work has stopped for the moment because I feel I was treated unfairly. The fundamental question is, am I overreacting by finding a problem in that exchange, and in the series of events leading up to it?

I would've spoken up by now, but the nature of our relationship is as such that I don't really think he values me at all, and any comment I'd have to make feels a lot like I would have to trade my principles and integrity for my stable wage. I don't trust at all that he would have an open and constructive discourse with me if I were to raise it with him, we quite simply don't have that sort of relationship (regardless of how much I've tried, and how much commitment I show to my work).

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    The most useful thing you can do is work on skills for organized presentation of your meaning in communication. Even if this is written in an unfamiliar language and might show specific oddities resulting from that, on the whole you should still be able to better organize what you have written in a way which stresses what is fundamental and important, and avoids diversion into what is not. The better you present your meaning, the better your interactions with others in your company are likely to go. Consider using the edit button to restate your question in a better fashion. Sep 18 '20 at 18:10
  • Welcome to The Workplace. I took an edit to your post to make it more concise and readable. Feel free to edit it further if you feel it's needed. I also included an answer for you to consider.
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 18 '20 at 19:39
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    @ChrisStratton unrelated to this post but, on TWP the use of code tick for formatting is discouraged. Furthermore, if you want to link to the edit button you can write it between [ ] and it will link to the edit section of this post directly (I edited your comment in such way but you edited back...). This is more useful that just saying "edit" in code format. Just an FYI if it helps (I recently discovered the magic links TBH :0) See meta.stackexchange.com/q/92060/332286
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 18 '20 at 19:43
  • No problem @ChrisStratton just pointing you to tools to better help users edit and improve their posts. Feel free to use them or not.
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 18 '20 at 20:26
  • When you say you're "unsure what to do," do you mean you're unsure of how to raise it with this person (or someone else e.g. a manager), or you're unsure of whether you're overreacting? One thing I notice is that your question is full of assumptions e.g. "I don't think," "I don't trust." So ultimately, you don't know. Have you tried discussing it with him? It doesn't have to be adversarial, just focus on getting to the truth. And even if he doesn't like you, does that really matter? Nobody is liked by everyone they know, and everyone has had people be rude or terse with them.
    – Touchdown
    Sep 19 '20 at 17:33
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it would've came across that I was throwing the PM under the bus. I'd have preferred to avoid doing this because I'm not that sort of person, so I sent the aforementioned Director a DM instead.

Seems to me that those questions where addressed to the PM, so she was the one that should have answered.

You didn't had to "throw her under the bus"; a professional response would have been to @ her and say something like "I see the questions you are asking, and I think that perhaps @PM can answer them better."

That way you are giving her the opportunity to answer and speak.

Now, to be honest, I think that saying that you would have "thrown her under the bus" is a stretch. Facts are facts. You previously offered to get the data out, and such offer was denied. Hopefully you have a paper trail or some evidence in your Slack channel or emails where your offer was denied and the reasons why (if you don't, this should be a lesson to you and that you should have a paper trail in future exchanges).

Now, instead of saying "I previously offered to get the data out and PM said no because I've already dedicated much resources to this", because that made you feel uncomfortable, you could have said what I suggested first and @ the PM and let her answer and explain why you getting the data is not an option.

The fundamental question is, am I overreacting by finding a problem in that exchange, and in the series of events leading up to it?

I feel that you are taking it personal, when you shouldn't.

I sense that the Director actually wanted to get clarification and answers in that Channel, thus why he said "No thanks" to you wanting to answer in private. Don't take it personal, and don't take it as rude. The Director simply wanted answers to be public or in that Slack so everyone was on the same page.

If any, this is a problem between the Director and the PM, a problem of communication it seems. Don't try to get in between of such problem, and, again, don't take it personal.

We know that perhaps your relationship with the Director is not the most close and personal there is, but I wouldn't mix that fact with what happened in this scenario.

As a result, my motivation to do any work has stopped for the moment because I feel I was treated unfairly.

Based on what I have posted on this answer, we can see that you weren't treated unfairly: the Director simply wanted an answer on the other Channel so it could be public and everyone be on the same page.

I encourage you to not feel demotivated by this; don't take it personal. If you take it personal and decide to be demotivated, and thus stop or halt your progress or work, that would be an unprofessional attitude from your part, and that could in fact turn out to be a problem that does involve you.

I know you may be overwhelmed or confused right now, as things are still hot. As Joe suggested in comments, I also think it would be wise to let things cool down a bit and very likely you will feel better.

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  • if your first thought that the problem for the director is that they would prefer OP to spend the time to get the data out, then I would assume the reason to get an answer in the channel is precisely that they wanted an official resource allocation answer - most likely from the PM and not an attempt to evade the answer. In that case OP's apparent tendency to be defensive would be what was that backfired a bit. Feel free to integrate or not. Sep 18 '20 at 21:08
  • @FrankHopkins we can conclude that it's a fact that the Director is not aware of why this is a thing etc., because they are asking. Director is also not aware of the decision PM took regarding getting this data, so yes it seems that Director wanted a public resource allocation answer (from PM) so everyone is on the loop. Thus why OP's suggestion to answer in DM was denied, and thus why OP shouldn't take it personal as stated in my answer, as it's quite evident this is between PM and Director (best not get in between).
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 18 '20 at 21:18
  • I agree with your comment, I just felt you focussed on getting a "public answer" in your answer and the resource allocation part makes it clear it's likely not about the technical issues or details or long winded explanation that OP could provide. so my comment was only a hint/suggestion to point that reasoning a bit more out. I'd not even see this as "a fight" just as someone asking for some information and being a bit annoyed/to the point when getting something they didn't ask for. (i.e. public vs. private can be a blame game reason, that might be, but might not be) Sep 18 '20 at 21:28
  • @FrankHopkins Thanks for the hint :) Although, I feel my answer covers all the points I wanted to address and with the focus I intended (the main one being: this is between PM and Director, PM should have answered and OP should have refrained from getting in between). Yes, the public part is relevant and I also focused on that because, Director could well have written a direct message to PM... but they didn't, and that tells us something important about the nature of asking it on a Public Channel ;)
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 18 '20 at 21:34
  • as I said, feel free to ignore if you don't feel it improves the answer, I just sometimes feel like using the comments as they apparently are supposed to - improvement suggestions^^ Upvoted anyway, have a nice day. Sep 18 '20 at 21:36
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There are a couple problems here:

Firstly, your team is not being given the resources it needs. You needed a bunch of data, presumably the PM knew about this, and the PM did not allocate resources to get that data (until you asked for it). Even when the resources were allocated, they were only allocated half-assed; the tool is there but the data is not, and now people are having problems.

The solution to this is to figure out how to get the team the data it needs. You know what the data is, but you don't have time to do it. Presumably the PM knows you need this data and/or you can explain to them why the data is needed, and, as with the tool itself, the PM should (might) be able to allocate resources to get you the data. If the PM can't allocate resources, you should warn the PM that the project will not be done on schedule, so the PM can negotiate with management as to what can be done about this.

I should emphasize first and foremost: YOU ARE NOT AN OWNER. You are an employee. When your pay grade is the same as the CEO, then you have justification for working as hard as the CEO. As long as you and the CEO do not have the same salary, then it's the CEO's job to work outside of normal business hours and not get paid for it; it is not yours. If the business fails because this one project did not get out, that's not your problem. It's the PM's problem for not notifying HR or upper management that they did not have enough hands, or not negotiating a timeline properly, or not interfacing with developers to understand the timeline before overpromising to sales, or not listening to the developers when (or if) the developers said the timeline is too ambitious. It's upper management's problem for not listening to the PM when the PM said this project's timeline is too ambitious. It's HR's problem for not hiring people. It's literally everybody's problem, except yours. You are there to do what you're told, and if you are told something that is bad, then that's the problem of the person who told it to you. So, management is absolutely correct when they say you are already doing too much work on your own time, and you need to stop that. And if the project fails because of that, it's not your problem.

Now, the question is: Is this lack of data blocking anyone, or is it a "nice to half in 3 weeks from now"? If it's blocking, then you tell the PM, "we can't continue working without this feature, because [reasons], and it's blocking the team", and then you build the thing you need, during work hours. If the project timeline slips, you've given the PM notice and it's their job, not yours, to damage control. If it's not blocking (e.g. something like Jenkins logs, which are nice in the case of a failure or crash but not strictly necessary if everything goes well), then do it later and just tell the team to work without it for now, and explain to the PM that this is something important that needs to be prioritized as urgently as possible and let them make the decision.

Now, secondly, your team is asking questions about why this isn't done and it seems they're upset. You are being thrown under the bus because everyone expects you to do it, when in fact you can't do it because you're too busy. How complicated is it to do this thing? Can you task someone else with it? If you can, then just do that. If you can't...

What you have to understand is that right now, PM is throwing you under the bus. They are letting your teammates believe that you aren't doing your job because you're not getting them the data they need. There is nothing wrong with throwing them under the bus in response by telling the truth. However, you don't want to do this in public. Firstly, you should mention this to your manager in private, that your team needs this requirement, and you've mentioned this to PM, and PM hasn't allocated resources to get you what you need. Ask your manager what they can do to help you; it's your manager's job to facilitate you doing your work. Then, if they fail, all bets are off; without including anyone except your direct teammates (not including your manager), send them a message and explain the situation, that you've spoken with PM and asked for resources, you've spoken with your manager and asked for resources, and nobody is being responsive, and you are too busy with your own tickets to "just do it". That's not throwing people under the bus, it's keeping your team informed of the state of the project, and that's something they need to be informed about. Then they can take their complaints to PM and to your manager if they are upset.

EDIT: I actually just realized I completely forgot to answer the main question, which was about the exchange with the Director. In short, it's not your responsibility to raise issues to him directly. That's PM's problem. You raise your issues with PM. Then you do what needs to be done. Then it's PM's job to damage control. Then, if it turns out PM's definition of "damage control" is to throw you under the bus in front of upper management for doing your best but not able to deliver under an unrealistic timeline, then it's time to find another job. As always, remember: YOU ARE NOT AN OWNER. You have no responsibility to this company except inasmuch as what they are paying you for, and being thrown under the bus for someone else's screwup is not part of that, so if that's what starts happening then feel free to find employment elsewhere.

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  • This was a great answer, thanks a lot. I feel like the issues I have with my Director are just a smaller part of a wider issue that has occurred on multiple projects now. I sent an upvote your way, but my account is brand new and a little message came up to let me know it won't count.
    – Anonymous
    Sep 18 '20 at 19:01

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