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In my company, I, along with some senior developers, were compelled to work overtime during a certain outsourcing project, and it's well beyond office time. Our office time ends at 6 pm, but we were made to work late until 10-10:30 pm. We were also told to work on weekends like Saturday. But after the project ended, we didn't get any bonus or extra salary due to working overtime and in weekends. Instead, our project manager stated, "It is your fault you worked overtime and on weekends. Had you worked more efficiently, you'd never have worked extra time. Now you can't expect anything from us."

I found it really, to be precise, extremely rude.

I've already mentioned in a previous post of mine that I have weakness in coding. My superiors told me that in order to improve my coding skills, they want me to work on all Saturdays.

Based on the above circumstances, how should I handle such situations in future? Should I embrace it, given my coding skill's not up to the mark so I need extra time to meet the deadline, or simply tell them flatly that I won't work overtime under any circumstances?

Country: Bangladesh, Unionization : NIL

closed as off-topic by Jim G., Jan Doggen, gnat, user8365, IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 19 '14 at 15:35

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave these specific reasons:

  • "Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here." – Jan Doggen, Community, IDrinkandIKnowThings
  • "Real questions have answers. Rather than explaining why your situation is terrible, or why your boss/coworker makes you unhappy, explain what you want to do to make it better. For more information, click here." – Jim G., gnat
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    Because your working situation 1) heavily revolves around the nature of your relationship with your project manager and any other bosses you report to, and 2) any obligations concerning overtime and weekend working are presumably also spelled out in your employment contract (whose terms you have not mentioned), there is insufficient hard information given in your question for it to be possible to comment in specific terms (e.g. to suggest anything more constructive than "It's time to start looking for another job"). Could you clarify the issues I asked about? – Erik Kowal Nov 19 '14 at 6:53
  • 1) Rapport between myself and my manager is ok, but still he insisted me to work overtime because it was a high priority project. 2) Nothing such was mentioned in my contact letter – Choudhury Saadmaan Mahmid Nov 19 '14 at 7:47
  • @JanDoggen - Have you taken into consideration the OP's admitted poor performance as a programmer before criticizing the manager? – user8365 Nov 19 '14 at 11:44
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    @jeffo Overlooked the reference to the other question. And I doubt the manager's motives ;-) – Jan Doggen Nov 19 '14 at 12:05
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    You could suggest to your boss that if you work very efficiently, can you get under-time? – user8365 Nov 19 '14 at 15:13
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The possible answers to your question will come down to:

1) How good are your coding skills (hence how marketable are they)?

2) What is the general environment like in your company (e.g. opportunities to acquire more skills, build a network of helpful colleagues, organize your own work, get promoted if you do good work, earn more money)?

3) What is the demand elsewhere in Bangladesh (or wherever else you would consider working) for people with your skills, and would working somewhere else benefit you more?

Ultimately, it comes down to the balance between your negotiating leverage, the opportunities you have in your current position, and the availability of better alternatives to staying where you are.

My feeling so far is that if, as you say, you have limited coding skills, it might be better for you to make it your priority to improve those as fast as you can, even though you feel your project manager has been taking advantage of you. Your PM will be a lot more worried about upsetting or losing you if the loss of your improved skills means that you'll be difficult or inconvenient to replace.

  • Hmm. Good answer. That pretty much explains everything. – Choudhury Saadmaan Mahmid Nov 19 '14 at 8:24
  • 1) I'm just a little better than an absolute noob, hence I'd say my coding skills are not quite marketable right now. 2) Opportunities to acquire more skills depend on getting a project. I've seen that our team has been without a big project for almost 1 year. Colleagues are helpful, but sometimes they are busy with their own work, hence unavailable. 3) In Bangladesh, plenty of opportunity, yes. Every day, new IT firms are opening, and they need a lot of IT persons and especially, developers. – Choudhury Saadmaan Mahmid Nov 19 '14 at 8:27
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    Then it sounds like the best strategy might be a combination of: 1) continuing to improve your skills, 2) networking where you can, and 3) staying alert for promising-looking opportunities elsewhere than in your current company. – Erik Kowal Nov 19 '14 at 9:48
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Start looking for a new job. Managers have no way to measure "slow" or "fast" developers, it is always relative to their expectations, which is based on your previous performance. So if the time was not enough for you to finish the job, your manager did his job wrong. It could also be on purpose to squeeze out more work out of you, some managers are like that.

The following is not legal advice, always get a lawyer to confirm it will work, but I would handle it like this:

  • Calculate how many hours you worked overtime
  • Find out if there are laws about overtime counting more, like 20% in the evening, 50% at night, then adjust the calculated overtime accordingly
  • Put in your two weeks notice, or whatever notice period applies for you
  • Calculate the two weeks minus the adjusted overtime minus any vacation time you have left

If you can afford it, never work for free! Companies are not charities where you spend your time and money to benefit a good cause, they are solely there to make profit for the company owner. Would you give a stranger on the street $1000?

Considering your bad performance or skills mentioned in other questions and comments, this is still a problem of management, they hired you without assessing your skills and they kept you around although you didn't live up to their expectations.

Back to your question, here are my 50 cent:

You should embrace overtime when it is neccessary and gets paid, but you should avoid unpaid overtime at all cost. Otherwise you will end in a vicious circle where every slowdown will be argumented as your fault and overtime expected as compensation.

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It's up to you which way you want to go. We have no idea how badly you want to hang on to your job - you know yourself, your preferences and your individual circumstances. We don't.

From your narrative, it doesn't look like you can have it both ways e.g. hang on to your job and not doing the overtime. It's one or the other but not both. Choose your poison.

  • @Phuvan Sorry to ask a personal question. Are you a PM yourself? – Choudhury Saadmaan Mahmid Nov 19 '14 at 10:36
  • No. But I work closely with PM's and my management. I am more valuable making sure that the deliverables are in for critical projects, so I'll never be a PM - that's fine, the best PM's are non-technical types who won't take b.s. from us and who know how to react in an adaptive manner and who can get priorities and deadlines readjusted and resources reallocated. I absolutely, positively don't want my best software engineers to become PMs - I lose a good software engineer and I may get instead a lousy PM in the same person. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 19 '14 at 10:47
  • @Phuvan You don't seem to believe in any such thing as "Work-life balance", do you? – Choudhury Saadmaan Mahmid Nov 19 '14 at 10:49
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    @CaptJackSparrow There is a Russian proverb that states that you don't worry about your haircut when you are about to lose your head. Your concern about your work-life balance when you are a couple of steps away from losing your job - that concern seems to be a bit misplaced. Life is not always about what you want to do but what you have to do - and do it well even if you hate what you have to do. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 19 '14 at 10:59
  • @VietnhiPhuvan i never worry about my haircut because i have a good barber. also, you're right. – bharal Nov 20 '14 at 1:19
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Should I embrace it, given my coding skill's not up to the mark so I need extra time to meet the deadline, or simply tell them flatly that I won't work overtime under any circumstances?

Here's the kicker - you don't need to be at work to improve your coding skill.

As for working overtime, it depends.

  • If you committed to a deadline, and needed to work overtime to hit it, then work the overtime.

  • If you had a deadline thrust upon you (despite your pushback), then I wouldn't work overtime to account for other people's inability to schedule appropriately.

And of course, if you can't get another job, you're likely going to need to work overtime. If the overtime is paid, because it's important to the company to get stuff done quickly rather than well (instead of an inability to schedule their project) then I'd weigh the money/favor versus quality of life.

Regardless, if your coding skills are weak, you'd benefit greatly from working on improving them. Personally, I think that improving them is easier on your own time, in your own way.

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I've already mentioned in a previous post of mine that I have weakness in coding. My superiors told me that in order to improve my coding skills, they want me to work on all Saturdays.

The issue is that you work for people of monumental stupidity.

Let's change that up a little to illustrate:

  • My horse has a bruised hoof. The vet said that in order to improve its hoof, he should be ridden an extra 3 hours per day.

  • My car has bad brakes. The mechanic told me that in order to improve braking performance, I should race up on stop signs and brake as hard as possible.

  • My saw has dull teeth. The foreman said that in order to make it cut wood more efficiently, I should use it to cut oak instead of pine to "toughen it up."

Your manager knew (or should have known) the strengths and weaknesses of his team members, and planned accordingly. The only "fault" with you would be if you were deliberately sandbagging on the project. If you put your best efforts in, and you didn't misrepresent your skills to your manager when you were hired, the fault is not yours.

Your manager is either inept or malevolent. You'll have to figure out which.

  • I would disagree with your analogies. Many programmers I know learn better by doing, so programming more is a reasonable plan to become a better programmer, although it really doesn't need to be in the office to be beneficial from the learning perspective. There is nothing about horse hooves, brakes or saw teeth that suggests they get better with experience. – cdkMoose Nov 19 '14 at 18:19
  • Learning is a task. Yes, you learn while doing, but you need to focus on development specifically, too. The manager knew he had a "green" resource, but expected better results through overwork. Any competent manager knows that "punishment" will not lead to talent development. Developing your staff's capabilities is one of the primary jobs of a manager. This manager failed. – Wesley Long Nov 19 '14 at 20:10
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    I don't agree with requiring the extra work to be on Saturday. But I think that saying to a developer who is weak that he needs to do more development to learn and improve is not a failure. Depends if the extra work is to deliver the project or become a better developer. – cdkMoose Nov 19 '14 at 20:29
  • As a manager, you need to help weak employees develop, or replace them. "Punishing" them for being weak in skills accomplishes nothing. – Wesley Long Nov 19 '14 at 22:28

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