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Rude/Arrogant Managers

I work in India for one of those subsidiaries of US based IT companies. Recently we got a new manager for the team. He is very rude and arrogant. He's intimidated the team members to the extent that people hardly talk.

The team is demoralized. He makes it a point to pick on the team lead - calls him to his office n times a day and hogs his time. Then in the weekly meetings he criticizes the team lead for lagging behind in work.

The team lead is very protective of us. Yesterday as we were about to leave for home, the manager came over to the team lead's cube and started admonishing him for not putting enough pressure on the team. All along, he was wagging his index finger at him. After this was over, the team lead just trugged off.

99% of Indian mangers are unprofessional, incompetent and would like to please their US counterparts all the time, even if they don't understand what is required. Some as extreme as this.

The pain point is, these boss's bosses are also like that. So it only worsens the issue if the matter is escalated. These managers treat the people under them (usually the engineers, developers) like herd and deny them anything unless they suck up to them.

I felt very sorry for our team lead (he is very competitive, smart and gets things done).

I am sure that there must be many people who have interacted or worked for Indian managers. Please share your thoughts and tips on how you have handled such situations.

Ferdinand A
Friday, May 30, 2003

I don't have very much experience in cases like this, but I would like to say make sure the team lead knows that you guys notice what he's doing for you.  Thank him for his efforts.  If he knows that him being the buffer for the bullshit is keeping you guys in a good working environment, and he knows that you appreciate it, I would bet he'd be much more happy in his position.

Andrew Hurst
Friday, May 30, 2003

I second what Andrew Hurst wrote.

As for your PM and his bosses, there is nothing you can do about their unprofessional behavior besides sending each and every one of them an anonymous letter.

Btw, the behavior that you have described is not unique to Indian managers. This type of behavior occurs everyday all over the world.

Friday, May 30, 2003

I've noticed that once you get emotional, once your blood pressure starts to rise, your thinking gets clouded. Some people - salesmen for instance - intentionally or unintentionally cause this reaction in other people - if you're not thinking clearly, you're an easy target.

It's unfortunate that managers and people we have to deal with are also like this. Sure there's deadline stress and pressure to perform, but simply put, there are better ways of dealing with it. Better ways of expressing the need for extra commitment and performance than FUD.

Definately let the lead know that you appreciate what he's doing, and do what you can to make sure he keeps his job. You don't want your manager to think he's the ringleader and that getting rid of him will get him the results he wants. Make sure you perform when he asks you to. See, now that's how you get results.
Friday, May 30, 2003

Two points. First, yes, sales-trained people pride themselves on getting people to agree to a course of action, without concern as to the merits of that action for the other party or even the organisation. So, yes, the worst type of background for software management.

Two, I would think the type of behaviour described here IS actually more predominant among Indian companies, or the outsourcers anyway.

The reason is that the business is intensely margin oriented, and many of the people attracted into executive ranks in the Indian firms are selected and promoted for those goals, to a much greater extent than other firms.

In some contact I have had with Indian firms, I have seen a much greater respect for authority among developers, and a rather naive respect for the trappings of wealth.

Geography lesson
Friday, May 30, 2003

A friend of mine works at a company with an Indian manager that sounds pretty much like this guy.  In addition, his wife also works there... and uses his "power and prestige" as if it were hers.

Most of the developers, also Indian, are wimps - they bow to this guy in public and cuss him behind his back.

For good reason.  Any competent person on his team, anyone that would stand up to him... has either been terminated for that action... or simply moved on to greener pastures.

Joe AA
Friday, May 30, 2003

You think Indian managers are bad just try Saudi Managers!

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 30, 2003

As previous posters said this is not unique to your boss, and you are a low margin business.  I see Indian programmers working for American companies treated as day laborers or migrant workers.  You are not supporting American companies because you are highly skilled or professional.  You are here for lines of Code, as cheap as possible. 

If legal they would chain you to the terminal and use whips.  Welcome to global resourcing. America appreciates the economics of your service.

Friday, May 30, 2003

good rant R'n'A.

They should also remember, whatever they do, they must never form a union because that will erode their rights. Oh, and that stuff running down their backs is not piss, it's rain.

Basil Brush
Friday, May 30, 2003

The exploitationnentioned in this thread is nothing compared to that which people complain about in American companies.

Don't you remember the guy who wasn't paid for six months (myownprison is his latest moniker) or all of the comments that programmers should work 70 or 80 hour weeks, and anybody who left at the end of the day to watch little league games with his kids was unprofessional and deserved kicking out of the company?

And how many programmers in the States are unionized? Isn't it the States we are talking about in the thread about keeping people on probation without health care?

And where do you get the idea that Indian software companies or US Indian subisidiaries are working on low margins? As far as I can tell their margins are massive. One of the main reasons US companies outsource is that cost overrun is not  disastrous. Fixed costs in Inda are considerably greater than in the US, but programmer salaries certainly aren't.

The behaviour mentiones is typical of highly hierarchial organizations, particularly those where a managers position is more a quesion of prestige and status than what he delivers. This is possibly true of Indian software companies at present, but is certainly not only with them.

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 30, 2003

Stephen: as a British friend remarked once of an American business partner he once had, "they wanted their pound of flesh".

We Americans do accept a ridiculous combination of factors: declining living standards, dramatically increasing demands in terms of breadth of knowledge, no job security, and no social nets to protect us when our employers ditch us on a second's notice in an act of hubris.

And programmers are both right at the center of that mix in two negative ways.

One, we are subject to that lowered expectation dynamic as badly as many industrial workers.

Secondly, like idiots, programmers as a class puff their chests out in pride that they accept such a dismal fate, as a character test of sorts. They tell each other that they're losers if they expect protection or equitable treatment.  The attitude seems to be that if you're weak or slip up or are marked for firing, even temporarily, you deserve to die and you're a loser.

It has to be just wonderful from an employer's POV, however. With the right culture, you can make programmers drive each other into a feeding frenzy of self love and self righteousness.

Bored Bystander
Friday, May 30, 2003

There's also the tendency of programmers to believe that they can actually be productive, top-of-the-line programmers in this sort of environment.  Sometimes, programmers are under ridiculous deadlines thanks to their own estimates of how easy this project would be....

Brent P. Newhall
Friday, May 30, 2003

At its core, business isn't about treating people with respect, humility and honesty; it's about the bottom line.  What these lead-headed managers are missing is that these three virtues are essential to managing highly skilled employees effectively.  The "bottom line" is always a byproduct, not a "first goal".

As with most things in life, it comes down to grey areas.  On the left, you have dot-com "un-jobs".  On the right, concentration camp prisoner.  How do you manage to get the most out of people in the long run?  Somewhere in the middle.  And, as a byproduct, you can pay people less if they know they don't have to bend over and take the hurt every single day.

I often wonder what kind of projects people work on where the developers are so expendable.  At my company, it's a huge ordeal to turn over even a single person.

Just a hunch, but if you examined projects that were delivered with high quality and low cost, the managers would consistently be a reasonable but firm group of people.

So, if it's any consolation at all, try to remember that this individual is COSTING MONEY with each of his outbursts.  Maybe the rules are different in India, but folks in the States will either cocoon, show battle fatigue, or just plain "check out" when confronted with such a manager.

If possible, try to think of it like a bonehead coding style or the guy that drives too slow on the freeway.  It's not about you or your deficiencies; it's about the manager being unskilled at what they do.

Bill Carlson
Friday, May 30, 2003

Brent, A good manager knows that his employee's estimates are unrealistic and adjusts accordingly.  That's what makes him a good manager.

An effective lead is always asking "have you thought of XYZ?".

One thing this business has taught me is that expectations need to be managed VERY EARLY.  No one wants to be the one who says "no, you can't have that" to the brass.

So many projects die this way.  Everyone knows what's being asked for is impossible, but they go along with the death march.

This is unique to software.  No one says "I'm going to do 5 knee surgeries a day" or "because I'm special, the soil is going to settle in 3 months instead of 6 months on the building I'm constructing".

We just need to grow up as an industry...

Bill Carlson
Friday, May 30, 2003

---" This is unique to software.  No one says "I'm going to do 5 knee surgeries a day" or "because I'm special, the soil is going to settle in 3 months instead of 6 months on the building I'm constructing".-----

You don't know Saudi Arabia!

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 30, 2003

OK, so the guy is in India working for an Indian manager who is rude and arrogant.

And so who to blame? Don't blame the boss! Where would that get you? Blame America instead! yes, this is al lGeorg Bush's fault, or maybe Clinton's fault, depending on which one you disfavor.

Never blame the person actually screwing you over! that guy doesn't give a hoot! Blame some third party! Hey, if you can get your Al Qaeda associates in on the action maybe you can go blow up some buildings  becasue of your rage over how america is to blame for the fact that managers in india and saudi are rude arrogant powermongering buttheads!

Blaming the presons actually screwing you up the ** would take some cajones, something in short supply around here.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, May 30, 2003

So I'm not just letting off steam, let me offer you some constructive advice. Justice in india is not like the US. You can  get away with more. Track down the SOB who is doing you wrong and give him a pounding he won't forget out in an alley somewhere. That's the solution. Someone screwing you over? You can roll over like a cowardly dog, or you can go kick his ass into the ground. The world's not civilized. People get their heads chopped off just like it was the middle ages. don't let them do you like this. Track them down and put an end to it.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, May 30, 2003

---"You don't know Saudi Arabia!"

Or Iraq! ...or, well, America, or...

In short, the cause is, effectively, "because they can". Give people the ability to oppress others without retribution, and that is precisely what you will get. The reasons change, and you'll never run out of excuses to hear, but the behavior persists across all temporal and geographic boundaries.

Friday, May 30, 2003

This thread is ripe for a reference to Noam Chomsky, so I figured I'd make it.
Saturday, May 31, 2003

You are sorry and demoralized because the manager is wagging his finger at your team lead?

Ask the team lead what /he/ thinks about it, if you like: perhaps it's bothering you more than it's bothering him. And if you want to help your team lead, you might be better able to help if you too don't feel demoralised about it.

I had a (non-technical) manager once, who expressed his emotions (including, occasionally, anger and frustration). Maybe his anger /is/ counter-productive, but there's little sense in punishing yourselves, your team, and your project by feeling demoralized about it.

You (I) can't be sensible when conflicted, and lose the sense of proportion, the sense of how much or of how little something matters. You (I) want peace of mind to work with software, and won't necessarily find a solution on this board, outside yourself.

> Please share your thoughts and tips on how you have handled such situations.

Open the Bhagavad-Gita and begin reading.

Christopher Wells
Saturday, May 31, 2003

Christopher... Couple his situation with people being laid off left and right around you and you do begin to get paraniod...

Bhagavad-Gita may be good, but I don't think it'll help him in the next couple of months.

The best thing here would be to reduce your expenses so that your income clearly overshadows them. Eventually you will be able to live for a year or more without income, and you will take your job less seriously because you're less afraid of being laid off to begin with.
Saturday, May 31, 2003

... but again that will take more than a couple of months. Sorry, did I say best. I didn't mean best, I meant "another good thing."
Saturday, May 31, 2003

Dear Dennis,
                    Having seen your solution for teachers - gang rape inside bars

                    And for managers who get on your nerves - "Track them down and put an end to it"

                    I am now waiting for the third instalment. What shall we do to programmers who write buggy code?
                    a) Cover them in honey and tie them to a post for the red ants to get at?
                    b) Tie their balls with CAT5 cable and castrate them?
                    c) Force them to spend the next ten years developing apps for OS/2 using Oracle Developer 2000?

                      However horrid the solution we come up with, we are sure you can top it? Go for it my boy!


Stephen Jones
Saturday, May 31, 2003

Mark...Perhaps you do get paranoid, but I don't know that people ARE being laid off. When my ex-company closed my division and sent its product to India, I helped to train the developers (from Bangalore) who were replacing us/me: I received a friendly message from one of them recently, saying that they'd just "hired another resource". The labour market may be fluid there, but I haven't seen a hint that the IT job market in India is shrinking.

Re. having savings, of course that contributes to a sense of financial security... some people call that "'fuck you' money" (meaning enough money in the bank that you can say "fuck you" to your present boss and set off for better pastures).

It's good of you to suggest that.

Money is NOT a panacea though... I have enough personal savings to last me about 10 years now, but STILL a close interpersonal or especially any intrapersonal problem can prevent me from working effectively... model that, if you wish, as my left brain hemisphere not working well if it's getting interference from my right brain hemisphere... I know from your first post ("thinking gets clouded") that you know what I mean.

I DIDN'T get the impression that the poster (Ferdinand A) was especially worried about himself; rather, that he's sorry for his team lead, who is "protecting" his team but whom his team feels unable to protect in turn... a matter of personal loyalty (like family), not only of finance... and an unhappiness that the management seems to be counter-productive... some (many) people are socialised to be protective and productive.

When I was chief developer (like a team lead), the owner/CEO occasionally used "management by intimidation"; he himself was afraid, I'm sure, of the whole company going under. His 'intimidation attempts' didn't affect me too much on the few times that he tried it on me (I just "trudged off when it was all over"); the two times when it bothered me the most was when he bypassed me, and instead picked some other, more junior members of the team. I especially recall one incident of this which bothered me excessively; I had a long kind of psychoanalytic conversation about it with my older online buddies; a few days later, it occured to me that perhaps that little incident was bothering me more, AND bothering me for longer, than it was bothering EITHER of the two principals involved (the CEO/owner and the junior team member to whom he had been 'threatening'); after a conversation of 50 or so messages, it occured to me that I would better serve them both by spending less of my time worrying about their feelings and more of my time concentrating on delivering their software. Whether or not that was the best solution, that was how I handled that situation... and my referencing the Gita was an attempt to get this point across.

Also I still expect to take my job seriously (though with less fear now, I expect), irrespective of money. Look at what Bill Gates is trying to do with his money, now that he's growing up. My owner/CEO was devastated when a downturn in sales caused him to lay some people off, and vowed he'd never do that again... he sold the company for 26 million, some of which went to him... but he isn't merely idle now, however, he's currently busy trying another startup involving some medical equipment, which sounds serious as death to me.

Thanks for the opportunity to rant. <g>

Christopher Wells
Saturday, May 31, 2003

Christopher - good post.

I think my previous manager used intimidation because he himself was intimidated. He was a new manager (an experienced manager, but new to this division) and given a seriously difficult project and wanted to prove himself. Since he wasn't the development manager, he had no way of knowing whether or not the status reports he was getting were accurate, or if the application would fall apart once he showed it to the world.

So... he was stressed and passed it on in a negative way.

As far as the money thing, it's not a panacea, but it does help ground you. I remember when I was driving, every time I'd almost avoid an accident, hit the brakes hard, get cut off by an asshole, I'd see $$'s. How much the accident might cost me.

If that wasn't a worry, I'd've been a much happier driver.
Saturday, May 31, 2003

Yo Stephen,

Yeah all three of  those would probably work.

My point of view on this subject is that we see this all the time, developers treated abusively by a manager. Some kind of epidemic or something.

So - let's unionize! Nope, we're all identically agreeing that we're too individualistic thinkers to form som union.

Let's lobby for credentials then. Nope, we don't need no stinking tests.

Have you tried talking to the boss? Nope, that wouldn't work as he is too much the self-absorbed bully.

What about anti-dperessants for the programmer? Oh, I see, he's already taking them.

Well... since we've seen this question a million times and nothing suggested works, if that's really true, there's just one think left to try... vigelante justice! Rogue chain gangs of disgruntled programmers who just can't take it anymore roaming the streets... looking for some pushy arrogant and incompetant middle managers they have an issue with! Watch out! Here they come!

Dennis Atkins
Saturday, May 31, 2003

Tell you what, I'll say something helpful for a change. Ferdinand, check out this article:

It's a seller's market for IT folk in India - switch jobs and name your price. You got a boom going on there. Ride it and cash in.

Dennis Atkins
Saturday, May 31, 2003

One of my ex-coworkers is from India. It's insane what US Dollar amounts they get paid over there. I surfed some indian job search sites and did the money conversions.

On the other hand, I know that if I don't find a job, I can just move to India and with $100 in my pocket, live like a king. It's my plan B.

(just kidding)
Sunday, June 1, 2003

Why should I care?

I hope the whole IT industry in India implodes into a stinking pile of shit.

Sunday, June 1, 2003

Which I am sure it will.

Sunday, June 1, 2003

Don't think you'd live like a king in India for long on $100.

The salaries quoted in the Yahoo article are a bit better, though you'd still have problems buying a house, and a basic desktop computer would cost you a month's salary.

And make sure you get broadband at work, because you wouldn't be able to manage the phone bills.

Welcome back to humanity Dennis! Is it for good, or are you just visiting?

Stephen Jones
Sunday, June 1, 2003

This thread gives an impression that all Indian Managers are rude and arrogant. Having worked in India for 20 years and came to USA, I found that the rudeness and politics are more here except that they make sure that the target employee is cornered within the legal limits. Also, I found that most of (not all) employees always think of "never enough" - 30% work and 705 chit-chatting (even in fortunes) raising the project costs too high.

Abraham Nathan
Tuesday, April 6, 2004

I think we should nuke india.  One nuk sub would do the trick.  Kill everyone there and then when its burning rost marshmello over the burning indians.  At least this would kill the smell of these fuckers.  Don' they have fucking soap in india.  I have seen so many people treated like shit and their jobs shipped to inida. I say move your whole fucking compay to india and fuck you and burn in hell.

ozzy devil
Tuesday, June 8, 2004

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