My boss won’t let me do this!

Last updated on 27th March 2024

This article was written on 2nd November 2018. Not much has changed, but I thought I'd mention all the same.

I have been in many discussions, usually about testing, which begin with these words. “They’re short-sighted”, and “They don’t understand the cost to their business” usually follow. Maybe the boss is right…

I’ve come to understand why some bosses make these decisions. I’m not a boss, and I don’t know if I would ever want to be. But, I do have some experience with trying to gather teams around a goal, to meet a deadline.

I also have some experience with people, in those teams, who don’t want to be there. You can see them a mile away, if you know what to look for:

  • Resistance to regular and clear communication.
  • Prevarication when asked for progress updates.
  • Constant appeals for preventative research.
  • Late for scheduled meetings and difficult to get hold of.

Perhaps you only really learn these signs after using them yourself. I have done all of these things, multiple times, in my career. I know what it looks like to not want to be in a team because I have not wanted to be in teams, before.

Sometimes it means the person is looking for other work. Sometimes it’s a sign of instability at home. Sometimes they’re just neck-deep in side-hustle.

Whatever the reason, these folks do more to halt team progress than they do to help it. They drain communication, with confusing dialog and insincere requests for help, while everyone else trying to figure out what they’re doing. They take on tasks, with no plan to do the work, leading to an explosion of incomplete tasks right before a deadline. They falsely inflate the perception of work hours available to the team.

It gets to the point where well-understood tasks aren’t ever started, because they want to debate the minutia. Expensive developers, who should be in a position to lead the charge, sit idle because; “they still have to debunk all the reasons I gave for not starting”.

Let me repeat that I have been this way in the past. And, let me also say it’s complete horse-shit.

Nobody should have to beg you to do your job. Not the people paying you. Not the people around you picking up your slack. Not the team leaders who will take the blame for your failure to take responsibility.

Maybe the reason your boss is saying you can’t write those tests, is because you’ve done nothing to help the rest of the team meet the deadline.

Maybe the reason your boss is saying you have to use that old, boring stack is because you’ve been an armchair-astronaut and they’ve been begging you to get a move on, for too long.