Is the behavior of the project manager justified in described situation?

Started by John, Mar 13, 2023, 07:01 AM

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I work as a tester in a small company. One day I came across the following passage:

    Cross-competence down refers to a situation where an individual specializes in one field, achieves results in that field, and therefore considers themselves competent in all other areas below their expertise. For example, when a manager believes that if they can manage an organization, then they know how to effectively run a department better than the head of that department. (Sometimes this is true, but often it is cross-competence).

Cross-competence up - the performer may believe that they are a good manager and would be able to handle the management of a department or company no worse, or even better than the current head. Experience proves that not every good performer becomes a successful manager.

After reading this, I couldn't shake the feeling that something was off in my life: either I don't understand the industry specifics, or I am constantly stuck with "interesting projects".
It seems to me that project managers tend to interfere in everything, even where they shouldn't. I decided to speculate on why this happens. And I came to the conclusion that it's because regular workers have tangible and measurable results of their work: lines of code written to fix bugs, completed testing reports. Whereas a manager's results are often abstract and intangible: talking to clients, attending important calls, sitting in meetings...

Here are some examples:
- The first manager liked to tinker with the frontend and promoted their own solutions in JavaScript instead of their colleagues' solutions.
- The second manager would often (unsuccessfully) fiddle with setting up PHP-FPM and Nginx for project needs, had income from a pet-project in Ruby, and would say things like "how difficult it is dealing with people, unlike with programs. With programs, it's simple: true or false, but with people..."
- The third manager was a former technical writer. They would review documentation, guide juniors on working with databases, and also held the position of a test lead.
- Now I'm in another office, with a new manager... they interfere in literally everything, just like Julius Caesar. They "suggest" how to test, but their ideas seem ridiculous from an outsider's perspective.

They validate input values less, stick to basic scenarios (which can be understood to some extent), only rely on objective quality criteria (but respected testing experts like Bach, Bolton, Weinberg state that the concept of quality is subjective for each individual, and here...), and automate the project as much as possible so that testers don't have to pay attention to it in the future. They can quickly take over a request assigned to me and "check" it (within a couple of minutes), and then complaints come in from the client.

In their opinion, half of what testers want is not a bug, but a feature. They cut down the deadlines for the test lead to the minimum. They make cynical jokes about bugs, which I would consider acceptable only for anonymous comments on a website with a .it domain. When it comes to development, they have their own strong opinions about which technologies are true and which are not. Estimating time, assessing implementation feasibility, and managing man-hours - isn't that the job of a team lead? Apparently not. The UX design department is overwhelmed with their vision of proper design based on articles from Habra. At the same time, there are only backend developers employed, with no dedicated frontend programmers. People who have the ability to optimize database queries and understand the intricacies of ORM and Nginx settings are forced to work on frontend, making 2-3 additional bugs for every edit, which testers then have to deal with later.


We once had a leader who had a habit of repeating the same dogmas and starting letters with "as I have already said." Naturally, we all rolled our eyes in response. However, when he left and his responsibilities were taken over by two of our top programmers, they admitted two months later that things were actually better with him around.

He had the skill to both convince others and shut them down (a master manipulator), and this ultimately helped us by eliminating any unnecessary requirements. He sought clarity in concepts and documents, and he would dismiss bugs that were not relevant to our team. He would deflect blame onto others, all in an effort to protect himself.

So, on one hand, the leader's qualities may not be deserving of respect, but on the other hand, they can be useful. It's important to try and understand the specific useful aspects they bring to the table.

Speaking from my own perspective, having a leader who can effectively communicate and filter out unnecessary tasks can lead to a more streamlined workflow and prevent wasted time and effort. However, it's crucial to find a balance between these qualities and genuine respect for the team members and their contributions.


From my understanding, the question seems to be more rhetorical rather than seeking a practical solution or a code review. It's almost like the cry of a soul that has departed from a comfortable body, so to speak. We've been through it, we know.

If you're looking for an answer, the majority of project managers can be quite difficult, unpleasant, and have an inflated sense of self-importance. They often suffer from the Dunning-Kruger syndrome (well, it's actually an effect, but these individuals undoubtedly suffer from it).

Since there isn't a specific profession for project managers, they engage in various activities ranging from "making snobbery look good" to "let's make everything on bootstrap with flat design, we'll create a spa." Essentially, they could either be incompetent developers who have realized the futility of their development attempts, or middle managers from MVideo who have recognized the trendiness of modern technologies but aren't capable of being developers themselves. Some consciously and responsibly chose this path, and while they are few in number, they become the driving force behind projects. They possess strong people skills and excel in planning, serving as the company's guardian angels, much like Charlie's angels. This species is rare, endangered, and could be listed in the Red Book.

It's important to acknowledge that project management can be a challenging role that requires a unique set of skills. While there may be some project managers who lack expertise or exhibit questionable behavior, there are also those who genuinely contribute to the success of a project. Effective project managers prioritize communication, organization, and team collaboration, ensuring that everyone is aligned and working towards a common goal. It's crucial to recognize and support the valuable contributions of the dedicated project managers in our midst.


I have come to the conclusion that a good boss can always be a good subordinate, but a good subordinate cannot always be a good boss.

The reason for this is that a boss has a comprehensive understanding of how the office should function smoothly. They observe from an elevated position, providing guidance and knowing the challenges and pitfalls involved. On the other hand, a subordinate is primarily an executor, though they may believe they know better. Each person has their own sphere of responsibility.

For example, a programmer is accountable for their code, while a manager is responsible for their understanding of the customer's needs and their proposed solutions. The manager has a holistic view of the project and knows how everything should come together.

When a manager assigns a task, they do so with a clear vision and understanding of the project. If they start instructing the coder on how classes should be connected and which patterns to use, it exceeds their area of responsibility. Similarly, if a programmer starts giving opinions on whether a spa should be implemented or not, it is not their concern.

It's essential to hold individuals accountable for their work. If a manager decides to proceed with a spa, resulting in a doubled development cost without any objections from the client or it being indicated in the task requirements, then the manager will be held responsible. Likewise, if there are bugs on a page, the issue lies with the competence of those who coded it, not the manager.

In general, my advice is: focus on the tasks you are responsible for rather than worrying about what the manager is doing.


 It's not uncommon for managers to have opinions and ideas about different aspects of a project, but it can become problematic if they are not aligned with the expertise and responsibilities of the team members involved.

In some cases, managers may believe that their experience in one area makes them competent in other areas as well. However, as you mentioned, this is not always the case, and it can lead to less effective decision-making and potential negative consequences.

It's also important for managers to have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of their team members, and not overstep or micromanage. When managers try to take over tasks assigned to team members without proper expertise or understanding, it can lead to inefficiencies and mistakes.

Additionally, it's important for managers to value the input and expertise of their team members, including testers. Testing and quality assurance play a crucial role in ensuring the overall success of a project, so it's important to have a collaborative and respectful relationship between testers and managers.

In your situation, it's essential to communicate your concerns with your manager or someone in a position of authority. It may be beneficial to schedule a meeting to discuss your observations and the impact on your work and the overall project. Approach the conversation in a constructive manner, focusing on finding solutions rather than simply venting your frustrations.

During the discussion, you can bring up specific examples of how the interference from managers has affected the project negatively, such as delays, decreased quality, or increased workload for testers. Use data and evidence to support your points and emphasize the importance of allowing team members to work within their areas of expertise.

If your concerns are not addressed or resolved after this conversation, you may consider reaching out to HR, if available, to share your experiences and seek guidance. They can provide support and advice on how to navigate the situation further.

If your frustrations persist and you feel that the management style is incompatible with your professional goals and values, you might want to explore other job opportunities in companies that value and respect the expertise of their team members and have a more effective management approach.

Remember that it's important to advocate for yourself and your professional growth, and sometimes that means seeking out environments where you can thrive and contribute effectively.