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Thank you for helping with this - How do I handle conflict with an extrovert boss?. I did work on my communication and I started talking more to my lead sharing updates on what am I doing and asking his feedback and thoughts. This seem to work really well and he is happy and started to share more stuff with me. Now I'm here with a different problem.

Short background: We are a team of two programmers(lead and I) working for a small company.

We were working on a project and when the project was supposed to go live, my lead had to take off for few days but he was happy to help me if I need and I was the only person responsible for that which I don't have any issues with.

We were doing final testing and we identified an issue which is an environment thing which we are well aware of. As this is the final round of testing, this had got much attention in our organisation level and since we found an issue,it made my manager(lead's boss) involved because my lead is not here. I wasn't much worried about the issue because it was something I am aware of and I know how to fix it. I explained this to my manager but he did not seemed to be convinced and he wanted to be tested in live - Ideally in the live environment with out touching live system. In fact we did have a discussion with my manager when my lead was here and agreed not to do any testing on Prod.

I strongly disagreed to that because this is something we tried earlier and didn't go well which he is well aware of. Lot of things are manual and there are high chances things may go wrong because already I'm on stress of all the happenings, after all I'm a human. We do have other environments for testing like dev, test and pre-prod and I don't understand in having all other environments if he wanted to do testing in prod. But he didn't convince and he wanted to get prod ready so the testing can happen. Finally I agreed to do but it was very stressful for me.

On the next day, my manager kept on adding things to be tested in prod which made me upset because though we were not touching live system, we were still playing in live environment for testing and he wanted me to do lot of tweaks for testing and his list keeps on changing. This made me go mad and I was firm that I would not make any further changes in live for testing and after several conversations and arguments, I managed to get him agreed not to touch prod until the project go live but it was very hard for me to get him agreed.

My manager call himself a technical person, well, he do understand technical things but most of the times he is pushy onto a point where we cannot achieve something due to technical/environmental or other complexities and he keeps changing things. Always it's my lead who protect me from all these things and they both seem to have good understanding. I have a feeling my manager didn't convince easily because he didn't trust me or I didn't put my reasons in the correct way.

My lead was back and I did tell him what had happened. On the day we went live, he asked me if we could get things ready in prod in advance(not for testing though) and it made me furious because I fought so hard with my manager not to touch prod till we go live. I was strong and sort of rude and said I don't prefer doing it. He listened to me and we didn't touch the prod till we go live and the project went successfully

Now the problem is my lead behaves differently after the incident and I think he feels I am not happy and having concerns and not telling that to him. Well, I was unhappy about that incident and I had to fight hard with my manager and since my lead asked me to do the same it made me upset. I am happy to talk to him and apologise because he is the one who always supports me and we are just a team of two but this is something to do with my manager which he has very less control on.

  1. I want to apologise or explain myself to my lead and this will be the third time I'm apologising for going mad in the last 5 months. Lead and I didn't have good relationship before 2 months and we both started working towards better communication and things were very smooth for the last 2 months till before this incident.So to apologise, I think I should give assurance that the same thing won't happen again. But this is something which I have no control on and I am forced to do. I am working on handling my emotions better. How can I better explain my position to my lead?

  2. Frequent change of things in our organisation drives me crazy, means we agree on something but things keep on changing till the last minute which adds more stress to me. A good example is we did agree not to test in prod but I was forced to help testing in prod and then more things in addition to that. Is there anything I can do to handle frequent changes better?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Caleb, JasonJ, gnat, Chris E, scaaahu May 16 '17 at 4:04

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    It seems way too long, could you synthesize your question ? – sh5164 May 15 '17 at 13:23
  • The other thing is your question is seeking for advice more than a solution. For example you could ask "how to apologize to him professionally ?" instead of "Should I apologize or explain myself ?". You will have to choose what you want to do before we can help you achieve it. – sh5164 May 15 '17 at 13:28
  • Getting mad, furious or even just upset are a huge faux pas in a workplace and usually career limiting moves so that's something to work on. Losing your temper tends to require an apology, but I can't tell what your specifically asking about here. You need to condense this down to just a few paragraphs I think. – Lilienthal May 15 '17 at 13:37
  • @codercoder The trouble stays the same, you're asking us to help you with a choice in what to do instead of telling us what you want to do so that we can help you do it. – sh5164 May 15 '17 at 13:41
  • To be honest, I'm not sure if I have to apologise or I'm overreacting and that is one part of the question I'm looking answer for. – coder coder May 15 '17 at 14:02
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On the day we went live, he asked me if we could get things ready in prod in advance(not for testing though) and it made me furious because I fought so hard with my manager not to touch prod till we go live. I was strong and sort of rude and said I don't prefer doing it.

I suspect that the issue here is that you were rude to your lead, whereas the impression I get from the question is that you're more focused on testing in a production environment. So yes, you should absolutely apologise that you lost your temper - this is never an appropriate reaction.

In terms of going against agreed best practice - wherever you are, at some point your boss may always tell you to do something like this. If you feel this is not appropriate then you should absolutely advise them otherwise, but never by losing your temper!

My advice for these situations is always to write down your concerns in an email, and then send that on so you have a "paper trail" if anyone tries to pin the blame on you for later consequences. However, if your boss still insists then, at the end of the day, it's your job to do what they say - you work for them!

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    +1 for paper trail & at the end of the day, it's your job to do what they say – Sebastien DErrico May 15 '17 at 15:04
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First let me jump into an alternate strategy when you're getting direction (especially from above your typical level of supervision) that runs counter to what your common sense is telling you. Don't get mad, get a way of moving forward... this would be my recommendation:

  • Realize you are all culpable together - if you have an organization where you're absolutely convinced that the individual contributor will be blamed, even when they were acting on direct orders from above - realize that you've lost faith in your management chain, and it's time for for work to either fix a very broken trust situation, or move to a new opportunity

  • Assuming everyone's in it together - spend a whole lot of time figuring out WHY you're being asked for what sounds crazy. Instead of a direct denial, offer options for why your way gives the same or better results, with less risk.

  • If you can't give the same or better results your way, suck it up and do it the boss's way. At some point, in my experience, the boss has to have the right to decide to something that may be awful from an engineering point of view, because it's vital from a business point of view. You can (and should!) absolutely demand lots of explanation on why it's important. But you're not necessarily in the position where you can dictate what is or isn't important, or what resources (time, money, expertise, etc) can be applied to make a solution that is an all-around good thing.

  • Document your compliance in email, CCing your supervisor, and making it painfully clear what you're doing without getting too whiny. Something like

"OK, < big boss >, I've added testing in production to my schedule. I took a look at the steps needed to do this a safely as possible and I should be able to do < xyz thing > within < blah > time, impacting the schedule < these ways >.

FYI - < direct supervisor >, I talked this through with < big boss > and he voiced concerns that went counter to our discussions on this, so I'm acceding to the needs of the business until you get back and we have a chance to discuss a long term strategy - I have some great ideas I'd love to discuss."

  • All bets are off if this is illegal or completely immoral or a violation of your own personal rights or abilities.

My observation here is that usually the intermediate lead/manager gives their biggest value at that third bullet - they have tricks up their sleeves for convincing their boss or addressing his/her concerns in a way that doesn't make the individual contributor shake their heads in dismay. But as the person on the bottom of a skip-level conversation, you have the weaker position - you don't understand the big boss as well, you don't know all the tricks your direct supervisor does, and you are less familiar with the tradeoffs because it's not your every day

On your specific questions:

I want to apologise or explain myself to my lead and this will be the third time I'm apologising for going mad in the last 5 months. Lead and I didn't have good relationship before 2 months and we both started working towards better communication and things were very smooth for the last 2 months till before this incident.So to apologise, I think I should give assurance that the same thing won't happen again. But this is something which I have no control on and I am forced to do. I am working on handling my emotions better. How can I better explain my position to my lead?

I think it's well worth it to point out that you realize that 3 times in 5 months is NOT cool. My approach would be to avoid an email apology and make sure to do this in person or on a high-fidelity communication band (video, phone, etc). That way you can see & convey body language or at the very least, vocal intonation.

I'd point out that you have been making a conscious effort for the last 2 months, and that you're chagrined to find that another blow up occurred. Showing that you are aware is really important. Also, showing that you value your improving relationship with your lead goes a long way. Don't skip the step and assume your lead knows - most leads are not psychic.

I would NOT mention that you "have no control" - I suspect you mean this hyperbolically - it's not that you are completely out of control, it's that tempers are really hard to control (for lots of people!!) and it's a real weakness for you. But saying "it's out of control" weakens the apology, because it makes it seem like you are trying to avoid responsibility - which is not your intent. Having a temper this hot is a bad pattern, and it could be career limiting if you aren't continually trying to find ways to manage it better. A way to strengthen the apology is to say "I know this is a problem, and next time I plan to try this strategy..." so that you're showing an intent to keep working on it, and some thoughts on what to try next.

Frequent change of things in our organisation drives me crazy, means we agree on something but things keep on changing till the last minute which adds more stress to me. A good example is we did agree not to test in prod but I was forced to help testing in prod and then more things in addition to that. Is there anything I can do to handle frequent changes better?

I wish I had a magic bullet for this one! :) I think it's a pretty common problem (myself included!)

My best thoughts are:

  • give yourself time to breathe - when you're met with a horrible change, take it in, get all the info, and then walk away from it before responding. Try to avoid that visceral reaction. Don't be rude and just walk away - say "let me take a sec and ponder this - can I get back to you in 1/2 an hour?" - that's pretty reasonable, and having just 2-5 minutes to breathe will let you calm down before responding.
  • give counter offers
  • be aware of and point out changes in scope - when you drift out of what you agreed on, point out that changes will take more time.
  • drive to think all the way through a problem - when a change comes up, make sure that everyone involved knows, and that the whole picture is considered - often fast-paced situations cause an absence of full communication and deep thought, because of the hurry

In the moment - not all of these strategies are consistently applicable. But the more you can apply them, the more you command respect. None of these deny the need for change, but they all give you time to respond thoughtfully vs. emotionally.

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