1

I'm working on a project and running into deadline roadblocks due to technical issues pertaining to a pre-existing codebase my manager contributed to. I find when dealing with him, he's quick to dodge questions, not present all of the facts needed to provide a timely and thorough resolution to the technical issue but wants to pressure and micromanage when it comes to the schedule.

I'm working with a code base over 200,000 lines which he contributed to a few years ago but has largely left it untouched and moved on to other things, but occasionally will add things to the code base and not inform anyone else on the team nor explain what he did.

When it comes to clarifying and explaining his own code, he's hostile and evades being helpful with responses like "Dude, why are you asking me. Did you even look at my code?" but expects the same deadline to be met.

What is the best way to resolve hostility and technical conflicts with a not-so-technical dismissive micromanager?

7

What is the best way to resolve hostility and technical conflicts with a not-so-technical dismissive micromanager?

Step 1: calm down.

Your question is filled with loaded words about your manager - hostile, dismissive, micromanager, etc. As long as you're filled with emotion about your manager, you're not going to be able to communicate well, and you're not going to be able to work well.

Step 2: Are you sure?

Is your manager really a micromanager? A micromanager is someone that tells you how to do your job. All you've said so far is that they're being strict about the schedule. That's not great, but it's not micromanagement. You're always going to run into technical hurdles during development - that's part of the schedule (or should be).

Is your manager really evading? I mean, did you actually look at the code? There are many people who go through life expecting people to give them all the answers. They're a drain on all those around them, since all they do is ask others rather than digging in themselves and figuring it out. It's possible that your manager thinks you're that sort of person, and feels like they're being helpful by pushing you to figure things out on your own.

Now, based on your question I don't think that is the case, but it's always better to assume ignorance over malice.

Step 3: Appeal to desire

Okay, so now you're calm and you're pretty sure that your manager is a problem. But you need them to help you out. So what do they want? It sounds as though they badly want their schedule to be met. So appeal to that desire. "Hey boss, if you want me to get this done by the 24th, then I need to know how you did this thing here."

If they really value that schedule, they'll help. If not, well... you know just how bad a boss you have.

1

What is the best way to resolve hostility and technical conflicts with a not-so-technical dismissive micromanager?

The best way to avoid conflict is typically better communication. The best way to avoid technical conflicts is to define standards for code and enforce them. People are typically defensive about their code and being "challenged" by someone you're supervising can be taken the wrong way by some managers.

Here are some common ways to enforce code quality, communication and less hostility without introducing a paradigm:

  • Source control. Git can force via hooks non-empty commit messages, a line about any file you changed or other communication encouraging. On a less technical side informative commit messages are coding culture concept.
  • Integration, a CI server can enforce that code committed passes a test suite, that a system build can happen in a new isolated environment and that new code must come with tests that accompany it (90% coverage is a good start).
  • Solid bug tracking software, you can force commits to match work items and track progress and bugs.

How to introduce these steps? Not as if they're for him but as if they're for the team and for you. You can't tell someone their work is bad without being argumentative. By forcing objective code quality you can do something positive for your work environment and solve that issue doing so :)

Aside from technical terms, there are processes and methodologies that encourage communication but from your position I believe you'll have a hard time making that happen.

  • I'm afraid there are no methodologies. I personally use GIThub, but when I have made recommendations, they fall on deaf ears. He doesn't want to be involved in code nor does he want to support his prior code contributions. Its the nature of the organization, not just him. I'm simply trying to work with whats here though its totally lacking. No meetings, no communication beyond "hey I need this by this day and time" then he's either hounding by the half hour or gone for days, doesn't respond to emails, and expects things to flow smoothly. I like to think of him as the hit and miss manager. – Alex Jun 22 '15 at 20:19
  • Mind, you, I'm the only developer in the building. He's hit and miss on being in the office, but lives on his email. – Alex Jun 22 '15 at 20:20

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.