(Skip below for timeline and summary)
Recently, I have been asked by one of my managers to do a security analysis for one of our new software products. While I have only recently graduated university, and have only been with the company for a few months, I took several classes on network security while at university and have read a lot on the topic in my spare time. Because of this, I felt confident in my skill and agreed to work on the analysis.
After doing the initial groundwork for the analysis, I asked my manager for feedback, who told me to first run this past another manager, who had previously agreed during a meeting to work on designing a part of the application which would have a large influence on what security options would be available.
I went to see this other manager and asked him if he was indeed working on this topic and if he had some time to answer a few of my questions in relation to that topic for the security report he knew I was working on. He then went on to tell me, in no uncertain terms, that he would not "do any work on that whatsoever", even though he claimed he would (as my other manager assumed as well) during our last meeting. After that, instead of simply asking me to leave so he could work on other things, he continued to lecture me for 10 minutes straight on parts of the application which were completely irrelevant to my current assignment, all the while interrupting me each time I tried to ask clarifying questions.
Finally, he pointed me to a specific part of the application. I asked for an explanation on why it was designed that way, as the design choice was unclear to me and there could be a potential security issue which I would have to address in the report. To which he responded: "It is that way because I say it is. You do not get to speak, you only get to listen. Just get me the report when you're done, OK?" That comment made me a bit angry. I finished the conversation then and there, saying that I did not have to tolerate being spoken to in that way, and that if he prefers to read my conclusions in a report rather than having a face-to-face discussion about them, I would send it to him when it's done. I admit that my response there may have been a bit aggressive. After that, I immediately left his office.
I returned to the original manager who gave me the assignment, told him I did not receive any useful answers (without mentioning the rude response), and asked him how to continue. He asked me to simply finish writing the report with the information I had, and to fill any gaps at a later point. I went back to my office to work on the report, taking note of the security issue, its possible consequences, and how to resolve it. (EDIT: I believe I have already sufficiently addressed my concerns in the report, and that it will be dealt with through the appropriate channels. My question is not about the security issue, but rather how to interpret and what to do about the comments my manager made towards me after mentioning this issue.)
Please note that we're a small company (20-30 employees) which only employs highly educated people (at least a master's degree or PhD) and we only work on very specialized projects, which means we require, and are usually given, a large amount freedom in our decisions. Most of the time, discussions about projects are first done on an informal level, before being written down. This is the first time something like this has happened to me at this company, and up until now, I have never had issues with any of my other coworkers, including other managers.
How should I proceed after this? Should I discuss this incident with my boss (the CEO of our company) and/or HR? What can I do to try to (re-)establish a healthy working relation with this manager? While I can somewhat understand his perspective, with me being the "new guy" and all, I feel that his comments are degrading and unprofessional, and it makes me afraid to take on any future tasks if this is the kind of response to expect.
EDIT: Timeline, for clarification
- Weekly progress meeting. Entire development team, Manager A, Manager B and CEO are present.
- Manager A asks me to do a security analysis and propose a full security solution for our product.
- Manager B claims he will work on designing Component X, as he has designed a similar component before, but "can't promise anything".
- After the meeting, I research our possible security issues, and options to resolve them.
- I report my initial findings to Manager A, but state that I was unable to come up with a full solution, as I do not know what Component X is capable of.
- Manager A confirms that I have to talk to Manager B regarding the specifics of Component X.
- I go to Manager B's office.
- I ask Manager B if he has some spare time, say that Manager A has sent me in regards to the security analysis and Component X, and ask to confirm if he is indeed the right person to ask about Component X, and if so, if I could ask some questions.
- Manager B denies being responsible for Component X, stating that he, quote, "would not do any work on that whatsoever".
- Instead of simply dismissing me after that, Manager B starts to lecture me instead on Component Y, which I didn't knew existed and is only vaguely related to my original assignment.
- I am unfamiliar with Component Y, and try to ask clarifying questions. Manager B keeps interrupting me.
- Manager B becomes visibly agitated with the fact that I did not know Component Y existed or how it works, even though no-one, at any point, mentioned the existence of Component Y to me.
- After 10-20 minutes of this, Manager B finally reaches a part of Component Y which is relevant to my original assignment.
- I ask a question about this part of Component Y, mention there may be a security issue (which I was assigned to find and solve), and ask why this part of Component Y was designed the way it was (as I genuinely did not understand at this point).
- Manager B responds with the quote: "It is that way because I say it is. You do not get to speak, you only get to listen. Just get me the report when you're done, OK?"
- At this point, Manager B has essentially wasted 20 minutes of my time, I still don't have an answer to my original questions, and now Manager B is condescendingly stating that my input is irrelevant, even though I was explicitly assigned to give my input on the topic of security.
- I coldly reply that I was not OK with the way he just spoke to me, that I only came to his office so that so that I could ask some questions and ask for his input, and told him that if he did not want a discussion, I would just send the report to him later that day.
- Manager B seemed a bit shocked or surprised by this response, as if he didn't expect me to react that way, quickly said a few more things about Component Y, answering part of my question, after which I left his office.
- I report to Manager A that I did not get any useful input from Manager B, but did not mention his rudeness.
- Manager A asks me to continue writing the report with the information I have.
- About an hour later, I finish the report, noting all of my concerns, and my proposed solutions, and send it to both Managers A and B. I am done with my assigned task; the ball is in their park now, and any security issues left in the system design is their responsibility, not mine. I start work on my next task.
- Manager B is now very angry with me. I will have to work with this person at least until the end of this project, probably as long as I work at that company. I don't think apologizing from my side will do any good, as I did not get rude until way after he did, and I don't want to strengthen his idea that he can easily abuse me. At best, I hope to establish an atmosphere of mutual respect, at the very least, we should be able to work together for the duration of this project.
So again, my questions are:
- How should I approach Manager B after this?
- What can I do to improve my work relation with Manager B?
- Should I inform my boss or HR about this incident?