My boss is a journalist, and I am a web developer.

He thinks I am late on the project, and he doesn't appreciate the effort I have spent. He wants quick and complete service. He is not easy to communicate with about my work — once he has an opinion, it is difficult to change it.

How do I help my boss understand the nature of my project when it is not his job role? Specifically, I have trouble communicating the cost of requirement changes and other tasks he asks us for.

  • 1
    What is your real question? I can appreciate that you have some problem; however, rants disguised as questions are not productive. If you need help figuring out your real question, please feel free to visit meta!
    – Nicole
    Apr 26, 2012 at 6:39
  • 2
    This Q&A on Programmers SE may be of interest: Explaining technical things to non-technical people
    – jcmeloni
    Apr 26, 2012 at 10:41
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    You are not going to be able to explain the technical reasons you are not meeting his expecations. When you were assigned this task, did you estimate how long it would take, have you gone past that estimate? If you have then your excuses while valid, are still excuses, and very little can change the impression that is being formed.
    – Donald
    Apr 27, 2012 at 13:47

2 Answers 2


First things first: you don't get paid for effort, you get paid for results.

What it sounds like here is a case of expectations management. I think your boss understands the nature of your project just fine, it's just that his perspective is a bit different than yours and you need to understand his perspective as much (or even more) as he needs to understand yours.

Likely as not, your boss cares less about the implementation and technical aspects of your work than the results you can produce and how they work to further his business goals. So that is how you should communicate with him. Make it clear that you have a limited capacity to deliver, bounded by the number of working hours each day. Whatever requests he makes, establish scope, estimate the cost (how much time) and ask him to prioritize against other requests. Based on that, you can make predictions on when you will be able to deliver what. Never agree to do anything or commit to any delivery schedule until you are in agreement about scope, cost and prioritization.

  • An added tip: Use toggl or something to track every 5 minutes of your day - it will help you immensely with time estimation. Sometimtes the things that feel the quickest take the longest, and vice versa.
    – Dagelf
    Nov 24, 2020 at 5:38

Treat him at the level of customer.

Like bosses, most customers also tend to be less technical as well; and at times, even if they have some background, they might want to avoid technicality.

Every communication thus needs a little more perspective and details from overall view. In a way start from a 50,000 feet view and add detail as you go down - till the point he is sufficiently happy to know. So in all this is a problem of structured communication.

This structured communication implies:

  1. getting them to know overall elements of the system and how they work,

  2. getting then to appreciate a general process that goes in development of such systems.

  3. when you are stuck in some problem, you need to give them some background and how you are planning to solve them. They should also know what remains essentially straight forward but common situation and what remains essentially non-solvable problems.

In all cases, whatever you say, should make sense to them and should never sound like excuse (in the guise of technicality)

The essence is, how do you translate most of your issues and status in a layman language, there will be improved communication and learning; and when people begin to understand stuff, they tend to listen better and increase the appetite to dig more or at least trust you that you are on your way to get things right.

All that sounds like more work, but that's what you need to pay for having such a boss.

  • *** "whatever you say, should make sense to them and should never sound like excuse (in the guise of technicality)" this is really an important point, many thanks,
    – mfadel
    Apr 26, 2012 at 8:02

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