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There is a manager at my company whose mindset I struggle to understand.

Thankfully I haven't had to work with him that deeply or for extended periods, but because my company essentially rotates us around projects, I figure it's only a matter of time before this happens.

The few times I have been exposed to him, I've found him difficult to work with, and others who have worked with him also share that sentiment.

Some examples of his behaviours:

  • Prioritises speed of delivery over product quality every time; will compress project timescales to unfeasible levels to appease customers
  • Doesn't introduce any order or structure into projects, just leaves people to flounder and "self-manage" with no guidance
  • Doesn't appreciate the time it takes to work with legacy projects he's previously managed and which are now in a bad state; expects things to be done quickly
  • Doesn't offer any constructive feedback during or after the project, just says e.g. "You need to fix this"
  • Never has time to listen; always seems to be in meetings and doesn't respond to emails
  • Similarly, although it's his job to interact with customers and clarify their requirements, this is done very slowly and shallowly
  • When we raise concerns e.g. lack of resources, they're not acted upon
  • When projects go badly, he blames the developers and says that they "Didn't work hard enough" or "Weren't organised enough" etc.
  • Is very headstrong; thinks that his opinion is the most important, will interrupt and talk over others, and shoot down their ideas

We have other managers who are much easier and more pleasant to work with, and their projects are often more successful. The problematic manager is fairly senior and well-respected within the company, and his voice is given a lot of weight. His projects almost always end up being trainwrecks that barely scrape by; he's more concerned with meeting the customers' requirements on paper and getting short-term revenue than delivering a useful product that can be maintained in the longer term.

I feel like I can't say any of this to this manager or anyone else, because his position makes him practically immune to criticism. I'm worried that when I end up working under this manager, it'll not only be unpleasant but also not good for my career since I'll be forced to rush development and do bad practices.

It's difficult for me to say that I don't want to work with this manager; at my company we're almost always short-staffed so you don't get much choice in what you work on. I'm also worried that saying such things will make me look like I'm not willing to put in effort.

My current approach will be to suck it up and do the best that I can, and hope that the project isn't a total trainwreck. Is there anything more I can do to make it more successful, or at least more pleasant?

I know that he's probably very busy and needs to fill some quotas; fine, but I think my question still stands.

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    Is the behaviour of this manager well understood by others, including senior management? Apr 13 '21 at 11:41
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    @GregoryCurrie I get the impression that it's generally understood, but because he delivers short-term results and technically isn't doing anything "wrong," nobody says anything. I also get the impression that people are reluctant to engage with him since he's so headstrong.
    – Touchdown
    Apr 13 '21 at 11:44
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    I suppose my comment would be that your reputation won't take much of a hit. My suggestion would be to swim with the tide as much as you can, which isn't much of an answer. I would be highly skeptical of any answer that tells you to rock the boat. Apr 13 '21 at 11:50
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There's good managers and bad managers, sometimes they're the same person, it's all in the perception.

Your best strategy is just to concentrate on your own tasks and let things that are not your responsibility or under your control wash over you. Working in high pressure environments isn't always bad, there are things you can learn from it that will give you valuable experience in later years.

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Do you best and improve what you can. If you get stuck with them document the behavior that you feel created a hostile environment and report it to HR.

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