How to manage your manager?

MagicLab / Eng megamon
Jul 9 24 Comments

How to disagree with your manager? How to let him know that he is wrong without bearing the repercussions? How to let him know that his evaluation is unfair?

Why is it that an unhappy manager can make life difficult for an engineer, but not the other way around?

Any anecdotes/experiences welcomed.

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TOP 24 Comments
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • MagicLab / Eng megamon
      OP
      That “sounds” like a great tip. I am just wondering if it can backfire where your manager punishes you for going around him.
      Jul 9
    • MagicLab / Eng megamon
      OP
      Your case probably isn’t easy to replicate. But I definitely appreciate your thought process.
      Jul 9
  • Uber ShitIPO
    The best tip I can give is don’t make it about ‘you’ or ‘him/her’. Base the argument upon why it’s good for the business, team etc. I try to avoid saying ‘but I think we should...’, instead I opt for ‘I’m hearing from the team / the numbers suggest’. At the end of the day it’s about presenting a lot of facts. But if your manager still disagrees make sure you understand his/her reasons - disagree and commit to their decision. If you feel that they are continually overriding you at every decision and don’t believe in most of their decisions then move on.
    Jul 9 3
    • Red Hat / Eng johnniewic
      This doesn’t work in extreme political environments, where they don’t really care about company/stock performance. They’ll let go even star performers and maintain that there were managed out for Company’s sake, even when the employee is voluntarily quitting.
      Jul 9
    • Uber ShitIPO
      If it’s a toxic pattern, then the best course of action is to leave and find another opportunity.
      Jul 9
    • Red Hat / Eng johnniewic
      +2
      Jul 9
  • Microsoft jPzm21
    In software, most disagreements aren’t between wrong and right as much as they are one set of benefits over another. Make sure you are both on the same page in terms of priorities that drive decisions. It sounds like you generally aren’t seeking to understand your manager’s motivations or priorities. First seek that out, then you can talk to why your solution is better in terms they will care about.

    Trust me, unhappy or stubborn engineers do make a manager’s life difficult. Usually this is a day to day difficulty rather than a monetary difficulty. You shouldn’t aim to make your manager’s life difficult as it naturally makes them less likely to want to help you when it matters - defending you, unblocking you, providing you worthwhile feedback to grow your career, finding opportunities for you to grow and shine, etc.
    Jul 9 0
  • Amgen Fin4eng
    What does evaluation is “unfair” mean? That doesn’t sound like managing your manager and more that you think you are more of a rockstar and your manager thinks your average.

    To manage your manager, find out what’s important to him, solve those problems to make it easier on him and make sure he knows about it (consult him on how to solve when appropriate)
    Jul 9 3
    • MagicLab / Eng megamon
      OP
      If you don’t know what evaluation is “unfair” means, I probably don’t want your opinion.
      Jul 9
    • Amgen Fin4eng
      That’s not managing your manager. That’s a difference of opinion on your value and he’s not able to see your value and you need to better prove it to him.

      I.e you aren’t talking about technical decisions or focusing him on what will help you to stop micromanaging/etc. you just don’t think he is fair towards you
      Jul 9
    • MagicLab / Eng megamon
      OP
      Ok... how’s that not managing your manager? In my opinion if I feel my manager is being unfair, that is the best case scenario for managing him so that he IS fair towards me.
      Jul 9
  • Tesla
    J.B.

    Tesla

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    Amazon
    J.B.more
    Do you have data to back up your disagreement? Or is this more of an approach issue?
    Jul 9 5
    • MagicLab / Eng megamon
      OP
      You really think discussions with managers are data driven? If only...
      Jul 9
    • Tesla
      J.B.

      Tesla

      PRE
      Amazon
      J.B.more
      Yes. It 100% depends on the topic. If about compensation, show other offers to demonstrate market value. If about business decision, that should be pretty obvious that you can dig into assumptions in the business case.
      Jul 9
    • MagicLab / Eng megamon
      OP
      Show other offers? Why? Why not “accept” other offers? If I have to wait to show other offers to get salary bump, that is right there a huge failure of my manager. I hope you are not a manager at Tesla. Because you sound like the kind of manager I would want to avoid (given that you are a manager. Otherwise my apologies :) )
      Jul 9
    • Tesla
      J.B.

      Tesla

      PRE
      Amazon
      J.B.more
      Lol you are missing the point completely. Good luck bud
      Jul 9
    • MagicLab / Eng megamon
      OP
      Lol. Thank you.
      Jul 9
  • Uber uZ9mM
    Vote with your feet.
    Jul 9 2
    • MagicLab / Eng megamon
      OP
      Elaborate?
      Jul 9
    • New qworp
      OP probably means leave and find a new job
      Jul 9
  • Oracle not_larry
    Change manager. Plenty of jobs in this world.
    Jul 9 1
    • MagicLab / Eng megamon
      OP
      Plenty of bad managers too in this world. In every company.
      Jul 9
  • Nvidia btfd
    Your manager isn't your boss.

    You don't have to always take their direction.

    You manage your manager by setting boundaries and incentivizing them to let you work and stay out of the way.
    Jul 9 0
  • Nvidia fckm
    I have similar issues. After trying various things and failing, I've decided to let him be, and I avoid raising concerns to avoid confrontation or conflict with him. It sucks, but I'm living a happier life tbh
    Jul 9 0