I used to have a good relationship with my direct team manager (I am a software engineer). But turned out that all is fine as long as you agree with him and be submissive. I had noticed that he takes many things personally when interacting with other people but since I was not affected I hadn't given it much thought. Anyway, in a discussion he seemed annoyed by the fact that I pointed out that he was talking in a high tone to me and he took it personally. From my point of view I have understood that he considers himself like someone you should not speak back at. TBH I don't know if what I did is so bad.

I am not afraid that I will have issues with my employment but I suspect that I will have an issue with my performance ratings. Already in a discussion he started pointing out things to improve which were not an issue before and most were some minor things just to say something.
My problem is that I am not sure how to handle this.
I don't enjoy working with him anymore and I don't trust him since if he takes everything so seriously I don't know what to expect of him anymore.
If I ever get a chance to talk to someone e.g if I get a chance to somehow reply to his points in a performance review which could be read (supposedly) by HR or his manager should I openly counter his points? I am afraid this could aggravate him more on one hand on the other I don't want to just silently accept things I believe are due to personal grudge. This might seem subjective as many people are not good at accepting criticism but I think that I am objective since I always got a bonus. So how come these issues matter now? Can someone more experience help me out?

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    I am not sure that you are that good at accepting criticism either. From your narrative, I am not sure if the issue is you, or him, or both of you, or some unfortunate effect where the two of you rub off each other's negative energy, starting from a tiny spark, to escalating effect. I suspect that there are no saints on either side in this story. Sep 25, 2014 at 23:56
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    The bonuses you got were for getting your tasks done - These bonuses were not given to you for managing people issues let alone the people problem you now have. Sep 26, 2014 at 3:17
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    Bottom line is that code doesn't give bonuses. PEOPLE give bonuses. And the person who gives your bonus is peeved at you. Metaphysical discussions about what you think is fair or unfair are irrelevant, if the reality is that he can define performance any way he wants. And if he includes either explicitly or implicitly your ability to work well with him as a key criterion of performance, don't be surprised that the size of your bonus will be affected. You'd better solve that people issue instead of playing it down, because HE gets to decide what's fair for you. Basically, you are at his mercy. Sep 26, 2014 at 4:53
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    Without firm evidence to back you up, your raw, unadulterated feedback amounts to a "he said-he said" contest. Put yourself in the position of the manager of the team you want to join and think whether he is putting himself in your boss's shoes or your own when he reads and evaluates your feedback. Who do you think that manager feels more professional affinity to, you or your boss? And if the affinity is there, whose version is that manager going to bow more enclined to go along with? Sep 26, 2014 at 5:52
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    Having said that, you can't afford to let your boss's main points go unchallenged if they could be damning. In which case, it's your burden to challenge without sounding challenging, or shrill, or desperate, or negative toward your boss. Because that hiring manager could be reading your opinion and wondering what you could be writing about him. When you critique, you walk a fine line and a tightrope. Screw up on the style and you screw up on the substance. Sep 26, 2014 at 5:58

1 Answer 1


Frankly it doesn't matter if these things were acceptable before, they are not anymore, so stop doing them. Things change, sometimes a poor practice doesn't seem so bad until something breaks (and it may have been someone else's breakage not yours, but that kind of thing makes policy change.) Sometimes the boss doesn't realize you are doing something, sometimes he learns in his own professional development why something is a poor practice. Sometimes he is upset about something stressful in his own life. There are many reasons besides "he hates me" for something like this to change.

It is also possible that you are under more scrutiny because he feels you crossed a line. That is also normal and even a good management practice. If you have an employee who has proven to be a problem on something, it would be remiss of you not to look at what he is doing more closely. That fact that you think these things are unimportant is irrelevant as it is what he thinks that counts. Your view of what is important is from a different perspective than his. He has to consider all sorts of business things you may not be aware of. He may even have been ordered by someone else to change these policies.

The thing is you have to learn to manage your boss effectively. First, criticising him in public is an absolute no-no. Not unless the building will explode if he isn't corrected. Second even in private, the time to criticise is before a decision is made not after.

If you felt his tone was unwarranted, you should have addressed this privately (I don't know if you did or didn't but the reaction indicates a strong possibility that you did it where others could hear.) You also bring up an issue like that after you are both cooled down, not in the heat of the moment. And you bring it up tactfully. (Not knowing exactly what you said and in what tone of voice it is hard to show you exactly where you went wrong.)

This person apparently has a stronger need for control than you like. He appears to believe that subordinates should respect him for his position and do as he says without back talk. This also could be generational. 100% of the bosses I worked for in the 1970s and 80s were like this and if he is over 50, there is a strong possibility he is like this as well.

That is too bad from your point of view, but as long as you work for him, it is his decision how much control to exert not yours. It is his decision how he wants to interact, not yours. If you find this is incompatible with what you want, then you need to move on. Do not expect to change someone's basic personality or management style.

However, you need to look at how you contribute to the problem before moving on or this will happen to you repeatedly. Managers will always want more control than the employees would like them to have. A manager that allows total freedom is not earning his pay and will fail miserably the first time he has an employee who takes advantage. So you have to accept that some level of control is needed. You have to accept that you need to treat the position with respect no matter what you think of the person. You need to stop taking things personally. You need to learn to talk to people about issues in person rather than making assumptions about what is wrong.

Until you find another job (if you choose to look for one), you need to work on improving your relationship with this boss. Start by changing the things he asked you to change already.

Sit down with him in private and say to him, "I feel as if I have done something to make you mad at me and I am not sure exactly what is wrong or what you want me to do differently." If he says he is not upset with you, point out the changes in how he treats you and ask why they are happening (Politely, not confrontationally).

Ask him what you can do to be the best possible employee. Then listen to his answer without arguing and implement as much of it as you can. The answer may tell you whether you need to seek other employment or not. Some relationships can be salvaged and some cannot.

Even if you have decided to move on, doing the above will help you learn the interpersonal skills you need to deal with your next boss. Don't move on without trying to salvage this relationship. Or you will be running away from every job because no place is perfect.

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    1)You were right. My comment about the tone of voice was in public. 2) We already had a private meeting during the performance review and he mentioned that incident claiming that I should not have said that as he was not shouting 3) If I get a a chance to reply eg in a written form during performance evaluation about his points or about my opinion towards him should I openly do it or not? 4) I think I will just move to another team. My concern is if I go ahead with point (3) he might try to "sabotage". 5) No he is not not over 50. He (as well as I are young)
    – smith
    Sep 26, 2014 at 3:08
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    Example: if I have the opportunity to "score" him should I openly write what I think about his attitude or should I just be patient until I switch teams (to avoid retaliation)? Eg The fact that he is a "control freak" does not give me liberty to reach my full potential as he constantly tries to do everything his way. Is that something for example one can say about his personal manager?
    – smith
    Sep 26, 2014 at 3:27
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    You are over reacting in my opinion, he has done nothing worng at all. If you complain about him in writing, I can assure you that no other manager in your company will want you. You would be cutting off your nose to spite your face if you do that. It is not in your best interests. Accept that you have a performance problem and fix it instead of complaining about how awful your boss is. It is up to you to adapt to him.
    – HLGEM
    Sep 26, 2014 at 13:24
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    @smith I think I need to agree with Vietnhi here, in that you seem like you have trouble accepting criticism. Your response to this answer was to ignore it almost completely, instead going ahead with your assumption that you are totally right and that your manager is most definitely in the wrong. That speaks volumes. Sep 26, 2014 at 14:37
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    You protect yourself by making the changes he asked for and by working with him to improve your relationship by talking about what he needs to do and by never again reacting out of anger at work. Saying he is a bad manager is one of the single worst things you can do at this point to protect yourself, you are letting your anger get in the way of your own self-interest. It will make sure no one else wants you, it will make you look bad and it will not in any material way affect the manager's performance rating or respect. It will make people more convinced he is right about you.
    – HLGEM
    Sep 28, 2014 at 19:58

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