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I just started a new job on a three month contract last week. After completing a mockup my boss had to present he sent out this email.

For context "Bob" is the developer who has been working for the last four years on this project, and has written 90% of the code, and the company is just now starting to hire new employees. This email was sent to all five developers (everyone but Bob is new).

Guys, congratulations! Nice job. We were extraordinarily well received and just received a compliment on our presentation.

I feel Bob carried most of the weight and am upset to see that you guys are not breaking your back to make this happen. You live life only once and you only get what you put into it. Especially since you are new to the company and inexperienced.

I am expecting extreme dedication and long hours.

We are sitting on a huge opportunity and now only scratching the surface. We were asked to develop the listings feature together and now have an even bigger shot at making our company the #1 real estate site in the city(for starters).

I want to write an email like "I don't want to break my back for anyone who doesn't show his employees respect", but I have currently settled on something closer to this.

I am glad the presentation went well. Considering it did, I am surprised you were upset with our performance. If you or Bob have any specific feedback for my improvement I am always open to hear it. Bob did an excellent job, and I know that the whole team worked hard to help him deliver this mock-up on such short notice.

I am still getting used to the codebase and tech, and my work station is not ideal, but I assure you I am putting forth my best effort.

If you would like me to work extra hours to work on a specific problem I would be willing to if I have time and you log the overtime.

I am excited to keep working with Bob on the TRD project.

The problem I have with this response is that I don't convey that his email could create a negative atmosphere, and I am not sure how to keep a professional tone while doing so. Also should this response be addressed personally to my boss, or to all five members?

Edit: To those suggesting I find a new job. I recently moved to a new city, spent a long time looking for a job, and it isn't clear yet if my employer is expecting unpaid overtime hours. I enjoy working, and I am not ready to drop out in the first week.

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    My only response would be to start looking for a new position. – jmoreno Jul 13 '17 at 0:13
  • If someone expects "long hours" and by that means unpaid overtime, start looking for a new job. – Tymoteusz Paul Jul 13 '17 at 0:18
  • I edited my post, My employer hasn't directly asked for unpaid overtime, so one of my goals in this email was to show that I will work overtime if I am paid for it. I am not ready to quit yet, as I just spent a long time looking for this position. – Gdubrocks Jul 13 '17 at 0:26
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    "You live life only once and you only get what you put into it." "Yeah, that's why I don't plan on spending more of my life than I have to making someone else rich." – Seth R Jul 13 '17 at 1:07
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    Your email looks perfect to me and it does convey that his email was stronger than needed. ('I am surprised' part). I think your response to long hours is also perfect. You are saying 'I will do it if you pay me' which is right. I do not think you should escalate it beyond this. – PagMax Jul 13 '17 at 6:05
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Absolutely do not include others in your response. In fact, it is probably better not to respond at all. Matters of performance and expectations are between you and your manager, even if he has similar feedback for others on your team. They also are better discussed in person than over email.

If you feel you must respond, keep it short and indicate that you want to discuss it in person. Something along the lines of (borrowing from your first paragraph): "I am surprised to hear you are upset with our performance. If you have feedback on how I can improve, I would be happy discuss it in our next one-on-one." Go ahead and set up the meeting.

It sounds like your boss' expectations may be different from what you signed up for. If that's the case, you need to get that clarified right now, or you will have a miserable time at this company (and you might still anyway).

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Is there a possibility that your boss was trying to motivate you guys? :)

IMO, it's best to discuss this in person and inform him that this creates a negative atmosphere and that you guys are trying hard to get to speed.

  • Yes, I think it was obvious he was trying to motivate us. I also feel like he went about it in the wrong way, and it had the opposite effect. – Gdubrocks Jul 13 '17 at 0:51
  • "Inform[ing] him that this creates a negative atmosphere" is somewhat condescending, because that's implying you think you can do his job better than he can. It's better to focus on how it affects you personally and what you think about it (without going on the offensive) and let him come to his own conclusions. – Dukeling Jul 13 '17 at 6:51
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Consider leaving your feelings out of it. Just pick out the objective and actionable pieces and drop the rest. It really isn't worth it to focus on his character and personality flaws. Cling to your passion for the job, product, etc. Say the minimum that needs to be said with 0 feelings. Get your point across about work. Don't get personal. It isn't really your place to manage him and champion his growth.

So, instead, save your feedback for a time when it is requested...maybe during a performance review or employee survey if you all have them. Or, maybe you can ask HR about how to provide anonymous feedback for a colleague.

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