I've been a software developper at an IT company for the last 3.5 years now and I've pretty much enjoyed it so far. About 9 months ago, I've asked to work on another project as my former attributions were getting a bit redundant. Although my wish's been granted, I've been struggling with a few elements of my new environment since then. Those include communication and getting along with my new project manager.
There are several things I want to mention first :
- Communication is both essential and inevitable as the "team" involves only the two of us
- I'm guided by my principles and try to be as assertive as I can
- I've regularly been told that I'm hard to read by various people (family, friends, girlfriends...)
With that in mind, what bothers me most is :
Above many things, I value my time, which is why I mentally sum up everything I want to say before I actually speak. This way, I only ask straight and very precise questions (yes/no questions most of the time) so that time is not wasted either listening to undesired explanations or trying to understand what I want to know.
It works very well with many people but not him as he never answers a question directly (even yes/no questions) and often gives so much explanations that I end up either forgetting what I asked in the first place or simply more confused.
I've tried a few things to make him understand I'm in the middle of something and I just need a short answer to go on doing what I do but these don't seem to do the trick :
- Ask the most precise questions possible
- Explicitely start with "yes or no, do you think blablabla..."
- Sum up his explanations when he's done giving them ("so the answer to the original question is yes/no, right ?" at which point he rarely confirms/deny what I just said)
Moreover, the covid outbreak imposed remote work on us so we agreed on a "short" daily meeting each morning which inevitably lasts for an entire hour though everything he says could be summed up in at most 15 minutes. The fact that he repeats himself a lot and does not expose information in an organized manner gives me the impression that he never comes prepared for those meetings which I strongly resent as it wastes a lot of my time (my former project was agile/scrum so daily meeting concision was not only appreciated by everyone but also constructively imposed between us) and he even regularly refers to upcoming deadlines, ironically pointing out the fact that we need to be faster than we are. I've tried to implicitely point out (but it doesn't work) :
- Redundance ("yes, as you said earlier blablabla...")
- The fact that what he says is clear to me (basically answering "OK" to everything he says)
- What we can't know before another step is taken ("we need to ask the client as only him knows that...")
2. Cognitive abilities
I'm an introvert and as such, I need to be able to focus to work efficiently. I can be interrupted and will gladly be when someone needs help that I can provide or has a critical information that they need to convey but I can't stand to be bothered repeatedly as it makes me restart my mental process from scratch each time, this is simply the way my brain works. Also, I work in an organized manner, writing down each task I have to carry out as a one liner that is meaningful to me in my notebook as they come up. I've come to understand that my project manager does not handle things this way as he :
- Does not focus on one task but rather 3/4 simultaneously (I don't think that works very well as he rarely finishes as initially planned)
- Brings up many unrelated topics one after the other, often right after I asked a yes/no question (meaning I don't get my answer but get flooded with info instead)
- Does not gather important informations as a list (even though I feel his project manager status should make him)
- Does not care to use our internal issue tracker thus enabling me to access information in a clear, well organized manner
- Starts talking to me when I walk out the door at the end of the day as if I'm still focused on work and able to efficiently remember information at that time (plus it makes me angry to have to stay out of politeness)
To sum it up, he has this mental "cloud" of info that I can't handle and what he does is (I don't think it's intentionnal) implicitely impose this mental representation on me which is very uncomfortable given the (different) way my brain works.
As a person, I like nicely done things and as a professional, I feel like it's my responsibility to produce well designed, efficient, robust software ("I care"). This is why my employer pays me and also more than probably why I've obtained significant raises each year compared to others in my company. However I also get that overquality is a threat to any IT company as quality is time and time is money and I accept that but my project manager :
- Imposes obsolete (>30yo) technologies on me because "it works" although it's a pain to maintain over time and newer technologies are readily available for nearly no additional cost (a day's work at most which will save us so much more in the future)
- Produces low quality code/tests that I later have to refactor/rewrite to ease readability, maintenance, performance, etc... and then blames me for taking the time to do it as "it worked"
- Rarely/never checks his work, introducing bugs and generating code warnings because "I did it quickly, we'll fix it later" (meaning I'll fix it because I need to in order to carry on)
- Won't listen to my technical opinions as he just seems to see the deadline (but I'm the one who will have to maintain the software and I don't intend on being bored refactoring/rewriting shitty code for the rest of my career)
Edit : even more details
- I sought for a new assignment as soon as I understood I'd probably not be able to defuse that situation by myself
- I'm not trying to make a friend here. I made very good friends during my former assignment but that came after we found a good work dynamic as I feel this should be preoccupation #1 at work.
- I do not ask yes/no questions all the time but only when I feel the need to restrict people's options (when I suspect/know they'll talk "too much" although I know there is a short answer). I wouldn't ask a question if I didn't trust the answer (thus, the skills of the person I'm asking), I'm just trying not to have to hear the whole reasonning (as it interrupts my mental process). If I want/need to, I'll ask "why ?" when given the answer.
- It might sound like it but I did not intend to "list all my virtues", only to describe why I do what I do how I do it. Likewise, my manager does not "do everything wrong" (else he would probably not be in his current position and I wouldn't even ask him questions, let alone rely on his answers) but given the size of this post, I needed to focus on the actual problem(s).
- I do not expect/need my manager to trust me personally or even to like me (though it would obviously be way more enjoyable that way), again, we're not friends (yet ?). Still, I'd rather not resort to explicit confrontation as people might get uncomfortable or even hurt, but so far, implicit suggestion have not yielded any positive results, thus my posting here.
What I'm asking for is an elegant way to not have to resort to explicit confrontation. How do I make my manager realize our differences are OK as long as we both understand we need to adapt to each other ?
Thanks a lot for reading.