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would appreciate advice on how to get correct mindset to deal with too much pressure from managers.

Satyaprakash Joshii
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Joined: Jun 18, 2012
Posts: 131
I am from India.I enjoy given any programming work in java-j2ee. As soon as any work is assigned to me I am happy and enthusiastic writing the code. Managers have at times praised me saying I am dedicated.However problem only arises when managers exert pressure saying I should finish the work within deadlines. Some times the deadlines are fair and sometimes may be unfair(how can someone complete whole application in a single day). Managers say I do not give work status properly and not finish fast. Seeing this I think is it mistake from my side or managers are like that only. But the pressure of deadlines gives a lot of tension to me.I get tensed and sometimes skip lunch in tension to work as per their deadlines. When managers say I have to give a demo of my work after 2 hours, I get very tensed because sometimes it is impossible to finish things and everything so fast. I think may be I am not in correct mindset to deal with situations when managers exert work pressure on me. Might be I need to work smart and might be it is more of thinking process and mindset to deal with such situations.Please advice me how to change my mindset and what all I should do to change and deal with such situations in office.
Thanks a lot.
Ulf Dittmer
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Joined: Mar 22, 2005
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  43
In those sitiuations, have you tried explaining why the givem deadlines are unreasonable? Are those managers knowledgeable enough about technical matters that they would understand the reasons? If not, who in your organisation is, and can make it clear to them that they need to set appropriate deadlines?


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Satyaprakash Joshii
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Joined: Jun 18, 2012
Posts: 131
I do not say that it was always a case of incorrect deadlines.It might have happened rarely but cant be always. It is as if there is something I am doing wrong from my side and need help to rectify.What I want to say is may be I am not in correct mindset while dealing with deadlines. For example I am happy when a new programming work is given to me but the moment manager comes and says you need to give us a demo on what you have done within say 2 hours, I get tensed and do things like delaying lunch etc...I get the feeling I am not in correct mindset while dealing with such situations.These are normal situations in IT industry (in service industry). So I need advice from experts on forming a correct mindset to deal with such situations in a better way from next time.
chris webster
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Joined: Mar 01, 2009
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  13

How good are you at estimating how long a job will really take? For example, if your manager comes to you and says "Do this in 2 hours", then it will be easier for you if you can say to him "Sorry, that can't be done in 2 hours, but I will have it ready in 3 hours". But you need to give good estimates i.e. realistic ones, so that (a) you can finish the job in the time you say, and (b) you are not taking longer than necessary to do the job. Sometimes you need to stand up to your manager, but you need to be able to give them good reasons for doing so.


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Satyaprakash Joshii
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Joined: Jun 18, 2012
Posts: 131
Yes that also is a reason.Infact a major reason.Once my manager came to me and asked me in how much time will I complete the work.At that time i was already lagging I got pressurized and said 4 hours and work did not get even completed perfectly in 3 days.I get pressurised when manager asks me do work fast.
Satyaprakash Joshii
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Joined: Jun 18, 2012
Posts: 131
As a result, he kept asking from time to time and I got tensed.
Luke Kolin
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Joined: Sep 04, 2002
Posts: 336
Satyaprakash Joshii wrote:Once my manager came to me and asked me in how much time will I complete the work.At that time i was already lagging I got pressurized and said 4 hours and work did not get even completed perfectly in 3 days.I get pressurised when manager asks me do work fast.


I don't think he was asking you to work fast - you assumed that. It's not unreasonable to ask when something is likely to be finished; at those points you need to calm down and give an accurate answer.

Cheers!

Luke
Satyaprakash Joshii
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Joined: Jun 18, 2012
Posts: 131
Thanks for the advice.I will make sure I implement that next time. Now when the question was asked that we need to show a demo of this and it needs to be done urgently,In how much time will you finish this, what should have I said. (knowing that 3 JSP pages with functionality had to be developed which needed some time). How should have I replied ?
Ulf Dittmer
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Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 41066
    
  43
In the same way - estimate as well as you can, and maybe have a colleague estimate as well if you don't have much confidence in your estimation skills.

A manager can only tell you what the demo should contain, or when it should be done, not both - you get to determine the other part.
Satyaprakash Joshii
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Joined: Jun 18, 2012
Posts: 131
Correct Estimation requires time to think.If the manager is sitting on one's head and asking on the spot it is not easy.And if the manager says we need to show demo by today afternoon and you know that work cant be finished even by End of day, then how to deal with situation.
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Joined: May 26, 2003
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You can also estimate in pieces. For example, "I think you can have 1 screen on Tuesday and the rest on Friday." It's also important to let your manager know when you become aware you are going to be late. It happens sometimes and early notice lets him/her plan.

managers say I have to give a demo of my work after 2 hours, I get very tensed because sometimes it is impossible to finish things and everything so fast.

I've asked teammates for things like this. It means I want to see whatever they are up to in 2 hours. (usually to see if they need help or are on the right track.) I don't ask for it often, but I don't think it is unreasonable. And it certainly doesn't mean everything must be completed.


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Jayesh A Lalwani
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  28

This is one of the reasons I don't like "pure" managers, espescially if your team has very young programmers. The PM should be able to provide an "finger in the air" estimate. When the developers estimate differs from the PM's estimate be able to understand why there is a deviation, and if the inexperienced programmer is estimating correctly.
Luke Kolin
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Joined: Sep 04, 2002
Posts: 336
Satyaprakash Joshii wrote:If the manager is sitting on one's head and asking on the spot it is not easy.


"Give me a minute to come up with an answer."

And if the manager says we need to show demo by today afternoon and you know that work cant be finished even by End of day, then how to deal with situation.


"We can't finish the amount of work needed to do a demo by the end of the day."

This really isn't hard; instead of telling the truth you are giving the manager what you think he wants to hear, but you cannot deliver on. Just tell the truth.

Cheers!

Luke
Satyaprakash Joshii
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Joined: Jun 18, 2012
Posts: 131
I understood one important point from Jeanne's reply that even if everything is not completed in given number of hours, it is important for me to make sure that I am on the right track.


It's also important to let your manager know when you become aware you are going to be late



In that case will the manage not shout on me?


"We can't finish the amount of work needed to do a demo by the end of the day."

Wont this too make him angry and yell at me?



Ulf Dittmer
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Joined: Mar 22, 2005
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  43
In that case will the manage not shout on me?

Possibly, but that would be a sign of a bad manager (in which case you may want to evaluate whether you want to continue working with him). But not telling him, and instead letting him find out at the moment when you're supposed to be delivering, is worse.

Wont this too make him angry and yell at me?

Again: The manager doesn't estimate times - you do. He can tell you to deliver something by the end of the day (in which case you're responsible for the scope of that delivery), or he can tell you what to deliver (in which case you provide the time at which that happens). There's no way around providing honest answers if you want a sane working environment, no matter how uncomfortable that makes you. The alternative will just make you more uncomfortable, anyway.
Luke Kolin
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Joined: Sep 04, 2002
Posts: 336
Satyaprakash Joshii wrote:Wont this too make him angry and yell at me?


If he does, he's a lousy manager. You're in software development, not a Roman galley slave.

Cheers!

Luke
chris webster
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Joined: Mar 01, 2009
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  13

Satyaprakash Joshii wrote:

It's also important to let your manager know when you become aware you are going to be late

In that case will the manage not shout on me? ... Wont this too make him angry and yell at me?

Give your manager an honest and realistic estimate of how long the work will take and why, and tell him if you think there are problems that will cause delays. If you give good estimates and deliver on them, he will start to trust you more, and you will gain confidence in your ability to manage your work properly. But if he tries to bully you instead, remember that the bullying process requires two people to play their parts: a bully and a victim. You don't have to play the part of the victim.
Satyaprakash Joshii
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Joined: Jun 18, 2012
Posts: 131
(in which case you may want to evaluate whether you want to continue working with him)
...

In that case is it a choice I have? Isnt it like this that whatever is decided by the company I have to do under whosoever manager they say?

There's no way around providing honest answers if you want a sane working environment, no matter how uncomfortable that makes you.


What does this mean on what should be done by me?

You're in software development, not a Roman galley slave.


Still isnt it that I have to do whatever the manager tells...?


But if he tries to bully you instead, remember that the bullying process requires two people to play their parts: a bully and a victim. You don't have to play the part of the victim.



How to know where is the boundary between normal work process in IT companies and bullying?How to know whether its my mistake of doing work slow or I am being bullied?

Jeanne Boyarsky
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Your manager can ask for anything he/she wants. Doesn't mean the manager is going to get it. Sometimes that is due to the manager not knowing how long it will take. Sometimes that is due to the manager trying to rush you. The manager is responsible for timelines. And you being overly optimistic or hiding info doesn't help that.

You ask about it being uncomfortable to say you can't do something. And it is the first few times. After that, you and your manager get to a place of trust and it gets easier. Also, keep in mind it isn't always your fault if something is late. Sometimes there are unexpected problems. Especially on short duration tasks.

The reason I say it is important to let your manager know something will be later (even if you previously said it would be done) is it lets your manager replan. Your manager wants to be the one to determine whether to cut scope, give you more time or have someone pair with you to speed things up. Because your manager has more information than you do about which of those is best.

And yes, there are bad managers. There are also good managers who lose their temper or accidentally say something they shouldn't every once in a while. Remember your manager is just a person too.
Satyaprakash Joshii
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Joined: Jun 18, 2012
Posts: 131
"Sometimes that is due to the manager trying to rush you"


How to conclude that you are working slower than how fast you should have worked OR manage is trying to rush you.he
Also in the company there will be all kinds of resourced fine,good,bad. For any work there will be some super brilliant resource in company who would have done faster than you. so how to know whether you are slower than how fast you should have been or manager is trying to rush you. In such a case what should be the general strategy.


give you more time or have someone pair with you to speed things up.


In that case will the manager not think that this resource has something lacking in him that is why I had to bring in more resource who is doing faster than him and because of new resource only work got completed.Often happens in companies.
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Satyaprakash Joshii wrote:
"Sometimes that is due to the manager trying to rush you"


How to conclude that you are working slower than how fast you should have worked OR manage is trying to rush you.he
Also in the company there will be all kinds of resourced fine,good,bad. For any work there will be some super brilliant resource in company who would have done faster than you. so how to know whether you are slower than how fast you should have been or manager is trying to rush you. In such a case what should be the general strategy.

You work at the speed you work. To some extent you can learn to work faster. But overall some people are going to work faster than others. (I think and code quickly.) But this doesn't matter on any given day Tomorrow you are going to work at the speed you work. You can talk to your manager if this is an acceptable speed. Preferably in a discussion separate from any tasks. That way you know if your manager thinks you are doing ok. Or ask a more senior teammate how long he/she thinks a task should take.

Satyaprakash Joshii wrote:
give you more time or have someone pair with you to speed things up.


In that case will the manager not think that this resource has something lacking in him that is why I had to bring in more resource who is doing faster than him and because of new resource only work got completed.Often happens in companies.

Not always. I had to pair with someone when my laptop hard drive died. That clearly wasn't my fault. And two people working together is almost always faster than one person. That's the point. Pairing to speed things up. And so that both people learn something.

I see a trend in your comments. You don't sound confident in your abilities. And are afraid that management will "notice" if you ask for help or can't meet (potentially) arbitrary deadlines. It's possible that is true. In which case, management is already grumbling that you can't be relied on to meet deadlines in addition to being slow. Different people work at different rates. I'd rather someone be consistent and honest with me. That way I can plan. And if they are truly going too slow, to identify the problem so we can offer training/help/etc so the person learns.

Going back to the original question, I think it's just that you aren't confident in estimating - and not that you are working too slowly. One way to deal with that is to start small. Can you estimate how long it would take you to fix a typo and test that change. (don't say 5 minutes, that isn't realistic.) Then pick a slightly larger task and estimate that. By doing these estimates for yourself, you will get a better idea of how long tasks take. Which will let you communicate better with management about how long things take. And get less nervous about deadlines.
Satyaprakash Joshii
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Joined: Jun 18, 2012
Posts: 131
Thanks for your valuable advice(and everyone else too). I think it high time to change my attitude in dealing this. and what better time to start off a change then new year time. I have decided few things do tell if this approach is correct or any correction needed?

-Once the manager asks me for any urgent task (or non urgent one) then :

A) I will not take that emotionally that manager is trying to pressurize me or something or I will not ask myself the question that what will happen if I dont finish it fast. I will approach this without any emotions and without any tension or pressure in mind. Rather instead of thinking about pressure and tension I will just concentrate on work.

B) I will try to break the task into smaller steps and try to estimate better (Without thinking about what the look on manager's face is when he hears that). I will just keep focusing on work and not how manager feels about doing it urgently.

C) I will not focus on who is thinking what and just think about myself doing things good and faster.

Do let me know if this approach is correct or any correction needed?




Ulf Dittmer
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Joined: Mar 22, 2005
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  43
I think that's the foundation of a good mindset. One thing to keep in mind about managers is that they don't keep track of all the tasks they gave you. They may assign to you 5 tasks that are due by the end of the day tomorrow, and every single one may be possible to finish by that time, but not all of them. It is your responsibility to keep track of all 5 tasks, and if you don't think you can finish all of them by that time, you need to tell your manager a) that finishing all 5 is out of the question, and b) ask him/her to prioritize them. At that point you'll usually hear "oh, task C can wait until Monday, and task E until the end of next week." They just set a deadline of tomorrow because they assumed that you would be able to finish by that time given your current workload.

The relationship between you and your manager is essentially that a) your manager assigns work to you and does what s/he can to ensure that you can work on it as efficiently as possible, and b) you do everything you can to keep the deadlines agreed between you and the manager to deliver as high quality work as you can. S/he has a boss, too, after all, for whom s/he needs to deliver results on time that depend on your work.
Jeanne Boyarsky
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I think that approach is great. If you can talk to your manager, you might find it useful to tell your manager you are "trying something new" and explain parts of it (the estimating part in particular.) The reason being once you get into a rut, others tend to see you in that rut. Which means before you open your mouth, your manager is likely thinking that you won't meet your estimates or you'll be nervous. Letting him/her know about the change gives you both a chance to start over. It also gives him/her a chance to support the new endeavor.

And another pice of advice: even if it seems uncomfortable, try it for a weeks. It will get easier and in the long run, that is a good thing for your job and career.
Prasad Krishnegowda
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Posts: 507

You need to believe your ability and be confident about your estimation skills, if not as already suggested get your colleague help, if needed.
If you tell your manager that its not possible in say 2 hrs, i will do it in 4 hrs, and complete before 4hrs it will be great.
I personally like a resource who tells me (s)he can do within this much time and complete that, instead of simply agreeing to whatever i tell and not finish that on time( what i gave).

You have not told us how much experienced you are, if you are an still an junior developer, your manager should not exert pressure on you, like say, even if the demo is there in next 2 hrs, (s)he should tell you we need to finish this task, as soon as possible. I feel freshers/juniors get pressurized when managers give them deadlines and that will not bring out their best, even i faced this in the beginning of my career, i could easily finish a task say in 2 hrs, but if my manager tells me that i should finish in 2 hrs, sometimes, i was not able to do that, due to pressure.

If you are experienced developer, then you should learn how to estimate things, you simply cant allow your manager come to you and tell i need it in next 1 hr, you should estimate and at the same time, convince your manager. This is where your interpersonal skills comes into picture.

P:S: Above are my personal opinions only..


Regards, Prasad
SCJP 5 (93%)
chris webster
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  13

You can practice your estimating skills every day.

Each day when you get to work, take 5 minutes to write down the list of tasks you have to do that today, then write down how long you think each task will take. This will help you to plan your work for the day e.g. you might decide to get 3 small tasks done before you start one big task, or you might decide to shift the big task until tomorrow. As you finish each task, write down how long it actually took. This will help you to spot where your estimates are not so good e.g. you might be good at estimating programming tasks, but under-estimate testing time. As Jeanne says, do this for a few weeks - even if your manager is not asking for the estimates - and you will start to develop a better instinct for how long things really take. Another advantage of doing this is you have a record of what you've been doing each day, so when your manager says "Why haven't you finished Task A?", you can say "Because you told me Task B had priority and that took 6 hours yesterday".

Finally, when you're a grey-bearded and forgetful old developer like me, you will find the daily list very useful as it will help you remember what you planned to do that afternoon when you come back from your lunch-break!
Satyaprakash Joshii
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Joined: Jun 18, 2012
Posts: 131
"You have not told us how much experienced you are,"


I have 4.5 years of experience on Java. (Before this i worked for technical support for 2 years).
Prasad Krishnegowda
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Joined: Apr 25, 2010
Posts: 507

Satyaprakash Joshii wrote:
"You have not told us how much experienced you are,"


I have 4.5 years of experience on Java. (Before this i worked for technical support for 2 years).


Then, you should learn how to work under pressure, also improve your estimation skills.
As a experienced resource, you are required to slog in few situations and finish the work in lesser time than the estimated one..
Satyaprakash Joshii
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Joined: Jun 18, 2012
Posts: 131
Then, you should learn how to work under pressure, also improve your estimation skills.
As a experienced resource, you are required to slog in few situations and finish the work in lesser time than the estimated one..


Hi Prasad, I have got lot of good advice on this forum and have started implementing them. Does your reply mean life of a senior software engineer is always in tension.If what you are saying is true how will a senior software engineer live in such tension?
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Joined: May 26, 2003
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Satyaprakash Joshii wrote:
Then, you should learn how to work under pressure, also improve your estimation skills.
As a experienced resource, you are required to slog in few situations and finish the work in lesser time than the estimated one..


Hi Prasad, I have got lot of good advice on this forum and have started implementing them. Does your reply mean life of a senior software engineer is always in tension.If what you are saying is true how will a senior software engineer live in such tension?

No. You learn to deal with deadlines and they become less stressful.
Prasad Krishnegowda
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Joined: Apr 25, 2010
Posts: 507

Agree with Jeanne.
What i meant was, sometimes, deadlines could be too close to our comfort, but we should learn to handle those situations.
 
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