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I am a business analyst. My supervisor is a senior systems and business analyst. My supervisor is the nicest person I could ever meet, but there is always this wall of professionalism that I can't break with him. We both started the analysis on this project we have, later on he got busy and I started handling it on my own.

Lately I have been running into problems with the technical team. This has gone on a while now and has been getting more and more frustrating. The thing that made me break was that we went to a meeting with the client and the developer team leader kept cutting me off, undermining me in front of the client and "kept speaking for me" which was very rude.

While all of this miscommunication and issues were happening, my supervisor was on a 9 days vacation, he came back and I didn't see him for a week cause I was busy with this project and he was busy with another one.

I met him today and I started to talk about the project because I needed his opinion, but then I couldn't stop. I just kept venting and complaining to him, after I finished I told him "nothing of what I said you can provide a solution on but I just wanted to tell you how things were going on for the past couple of days". He was very understanding and kept saying don't worry but he seemed clearly bothered that this was how things were going on.

After I left the room I just felt really irresponsible and whiny. But in my defense this is the first time in the 5 months I've been working at this company I have complained about something. But I also feel like I should have kept those feelings to myself and handled them on my own.

Is it okay to let off steam with your supervisor or direct manager? Is there anything I should do to mitigate any damage my venting may have done?

  • The details here are likely to distract from the question you are asking, so I have generalized it a bit. Hope this helps – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 8 '17 at 19:38
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    I think one of my main responsibilities as a manager is to let my people vent at me. Then we talk about how to deal with it all in a calmer fashion. Knowing my folks, some I have to pry it out of them, some happily come in swearing about somebody/something. Then we work on moving forward. I'd rather have them vent at me then at a colleague or customer. – Jon Custer Jun 9 '17 at 1:09
  • You probably could have handled it better but in the end the manager is there to fix these sorts of problems. – Snowlockk Jun 9 '17 at 9:17
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In my opinion, providing someone to vent to is one of the key responsibilities of a good supervisor. If you're feeling frustrated, and venting helps, then that's a useful role for them to play - and they can learn something of the problem while you're doing it, and perhaps offer help, though a good supervisor probably will not really do too much of that. Mostly the point is to let you blow off the steam and let you know that they're there for you. It's much better that you whine to your supervisor than to someone else, after all.

As long as it's an occasional thing, and you don't go over the top (profanity, attacking people relentlessly, etc.), then there's nothing wrong with venting to your supervisor. Where it becomes a problem is when you're doing it constantly - then you're labeled a whiner and your legitimate complaints may be ignored. But if it's once in a blue moon, it's totally appropriate and not unprofessional at all.

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Boss I have been having some trouble that are frustrating me. Summarize in a couple sentences. Could we schedule some time to correct this or help me with how to deal with this?

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    Actually I wrote an email in the morning but then deleted it cause I felt like there was no solution. But when I met him in the afternoon I couldnt keep my thoughts bottled up anymore. I guess I wish I did send the email before speaking with him. – l1ghtblue Jun 8 '17 at 20:03
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TLDR; Most managers or superiors prefer constructive venting that I have worked with/for. They want you to approach them about work place issues, frustrations, and not just job specific tasks. What they don't want to have happen is you keeping it bottled up, and end up rage quitting the job or exploding on someone causing a huge scene or termination(s).

The manager may be able to talk to the others and sit them down and set that boundary that if he is gone, they need to respect your input as you speak for him while he is gone. He may also want to keep note of this because maybe that specific person already has a track record unknown to you, and is in need of HR actions. There are just many dynamics that go on you are not aware of which talking to a manager can help. As long as it doesn't come off as... whiny but rather showing concern about your own workplace health and happiness and your own personal boundaries it generally is okay.

As an aside to comment about dev's POV:

With that being said, I will also play a little devil's advocate here and speak possibly to the lead developers POV. I am a developer myself and I can understand his actions. I don't know you and I don't know HOW you work or perform, but usually... especially being 5 months new to a company... you probably have not done enough to merit the respect of him feeling like you are capable of talking to the client. In the end, this really boils down to a respect issue. The dev team cutting you off is a huge indication they don't feel like you can talk to the client properly. Whether that is true or not is not known to me. If it isn't true, then maybe... you aren't doing enough during your daily interactions to show you are capable of such. Devs tend to have a huge ego... We take pride in our work and because we are "technical" and you are not, "we know better than you" is generally the attitude I have seen in almost every IT shop I have worked for so far. It can make your job much more difficult and people who interact with IT much more difficult because of this. Most of the IT shops I have worked for so far have been hated by the other departments because of this attitude.

The only thing I can suggest if you don't want to keep running to the manager is to start proving yourself capable. If you can show them that you can speak the lingo, that you do have a solid understanding of how they work and what is actually needed vs what is being asked and wanted. Many times, clients give a list of wants that are just not functionally sound or possible. This is a classic and probably something you have seen before but below image can best help with my point:

enter image description here

Client wants a seat on top of seat on top of seat. You can only sit on the top seat and lose out on the other 2. The other 2 useless seats would be the features and wants a client has that may not be what is actually NEEDED. Everyone thinks that their way is best or interpretation is best. While you may not agree with all design points all the time, or you each may interpret a customer need a certain way, it it boils down to respect. If they know YOU understand them and they know you know what you are talking about... you will be able to have more discussions and less fighting for control/respect.

  • +1 because i thought the answer was in the first sentence – bharal Jun 8 '17 at 19:57
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    Thank you for being so asuuring that what I did is ok. You're right, I should prove myself more and more. Actually he really agreed with most of my concerns and told me that this had happened before with the same team on a different project, but that was 3 or more years before I joined the company. I guess all I wanted was not to come off as whiny because I really felt bothered at that time. – l1ghtblue Jun 8 '17 at 20:05
  • @l1ghtblue Ya it is a hard line to walk between venting frustration and being too whiny. It sucks being in your situation. I have watched many PM and BA's get really annoyed at lead devs or architects because issues similar to yours. My advice is to not let it get to you and if you want, to try to prove you are someone who knows what they are talking about when speaking to a client. – ggiaquin16 Jun 8 '17 at 20:41
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OK, first what you should have done was talk to the guy privately immediately after the meeting and told him that you didn't appreciate being talked over and not to ever do that again. As a business analyst, it is your responsibility to translate technical into client business terms and he did not allow you to do your job. His reaction when being confronted privately will tell you a lot about how to handle this in future interactions.

Be prepared to hear something about what you were doing that caused him not to be confident in our client interactions. Take that to heart rather than getting upset, you can't fix a problem that you didn't know existed. But often in these cases, the person is just a dominant person who will walk all over anyone who will let him. So make it clear that you will not let him.

The first step is always to let the person know he or she overstepped and that you are not going to be a pushover who will accept that.

If the person does not have confidence in you, then discuss with your boss what you need to do to fix that idea. One thing that has helped me in the past was to get together with the people in other technical ares before the client meeting and go over what we were going to say so that we presented a united front on the message. In these meetings, make it clear that you want to hear their input and that you may adjust your approach depending on what they tell you.

Now as to telling your boss. If you hadn't let this stew in your mind by not confronting the perpetrator immediately, then you could have handled this in a less stressful way. What you should do in the future is handle it so that your boss knows what you are asking for is support from him or her when this sort of thing happens. Some people will persist until someone higher in the organization confronts them. You want to know your boss has your back when these things happen. And knowing the personalities and office politics involved, your boss is in a better position to give you advice more tailored to the individuals involved. So ask him/her what you should have done differently.

If however, someone gets to you so badly that you need to vent before you can be calm and professional in dealing with it, the proper way to talk to your boss about it, is to warn them that you need to vent and go someplace private. Some bosses are people you can do this with and others are not, so be aware of what type of boss you have. If this is someone who will take you less seriously for getting frustrated and needing to vent, then do your venting outside the office or by writing a email describing everything you are upset about (make sure to leave the To line blank so you can't accidentally send it).

If you do vent, afterwards, think about the actual actions you want your supervisor to take and then bring them up now that you are calmer.

Be aware that there are two possible special cases that may cause issues in a situation like this and you may need to directly address them.

First if there is a male/female or older/younger or racial difference, you may need to address that. Many studies show that women are interrupted more, talked over more, not allowed to speak more, not paid attention to when they do speak, etc. If you are treated as less than because of your gender or age, then you need to be especially careful to be assertive about the matter. I have also seen this happen to people of color or employees who were significantly younger than the person treating them badly.

When I was a young woman, this was far worse in the workplace and I had to grow a thick skin and learn to speak up in the meeting (although perhaps not starting with a client meeting) and not allow anyone to interrupt me. If they try, I interrupt them right back and claim my voice. If people claimed my ideas as their own, I pointed it out; I stood up for others having the same issues.

When people know you will stand up for yourself, they spend less time trying to undermine you. Many women, however, are socialized to not do those things and then the situation tends to get worse instead of better. If you are in this situation, there are some books on communication that you need to read to understand how to better get your idea across. Deborah Tannen has written several goo books on this subject and Talking from 9-5 is a good place to start to become a better communicator. As a business analyst, your job is communication, make sure you learn to do it well.

Another issue is that some developers have a problem with anyone who isn't one. Your boss can tell you if this is a problem here. With a person like this, it is better not to automatically invite them to client meetings, but to get their inputs beforehand instead. Remember, communicating with the client is your primary responsibility not theirs. You should be controlling all interactions with the client and they can't behave, they don't get to play.

  • Thank you for your reply. I am actually a female Business Analyst, and my issue was with a male developer team leader who has worked for the company 8 years or so. I actually was thinking that this was the issue but I didn't want it to get to my head. I feel like next time when this happens with somone else I will address them because I want to assert myself. – l1ghtblue Jun 9 '17 at 16:26

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