I mean seriously, how do you tackle a guy who even changes our variable names (even though they are reasonable) and sends back the code (after review) like 4 times? I know for sure I'm not that bad a developer!

So many times, he enforces his ideals, which are not even best practices in the industry! I point out to him whatever link I can find on the internet trying to prove my point, but in the end he uses his authority to shut us out.

Sick and tired. Frustrated. Do I have any way out other than quitting the job?

  • 3
    I have seen many boss like this
    – pramodc84
    Sep 15, 2010 at 5:10
  • 11
    How, do you deal, with a Programmers.StackExchange.com user, who so blatantly misuses, commas? :P Sep 15, 2010 at 6:00
  • 2
    @Fishtoaster, English language is scant on commas. And many people (including me) still haven't even tried to learn the rules.
    – P Shved
    Sep 15, 2010 at 8:45
  • 3
    What do you do with the employee who won't even follow the most basic coding standard...?
    – TGnat
    Sep 15, 2010 at 13:15
  • 5
    How do you tackle him? Like you would in football. :) Feb 9, 2011 at 20:04

10 Answers 10


Quit and find another job.

Doing something about your boss is a lost cause so you might as well just find a new job and hope that your new boss isn't a douche like your previous one.

Also, judging by his character, I'm pretty sure that even his boss won't be able to do anything about his attitude problems.

  • @pavanlimo, you should think about it more. Just because most of us suggested it doesn't mean you have to do it. Try to talk about it with people you know personally. They may have a different take on this. Sep 15, 2010 at 6:56
  • 45
    I suggest the reverse order: find another job, then quit.
    – Wizard79
    Sep 15, 2010 at 7:23
  • @Lorenzo, I guess that is the better way to do it. It's safer for him. Sep 15, 2010 at 7:25
  • True, esp. the edited part.
    – pavanlimo
    Sep 15, 2010 at 7:30
  • Quit a bad job? But hey, some people say that they won't hire you if you quit bad jobs! See: programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/3272/…
    – P Shved
    Sep 15, 2010 at 8:44

Introduce a duck (item 5) before submitting your code for review.

A feature added for no other reason than to draw management attention and be removed, thus avoiding unnecessary changes in other aspects of the product.

  • Unfortunately, this actually works.
    – Drew
    Sep 16, 2010 at 2:31
  • 1
    Link is broken and the answer can no longer stand on its own as it makes little sense.
    – user28988
    Sep 6, 2013 at 19:53

How to Win Friends and Influence People has some suggestions:

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  1. Don't criticize, condemn, or complain.
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person's name is, to him or her, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in the terms of the other person's interest.
  6. Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.

Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  1. Avoid arguments.
  2. Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never tell someone that he or she is wrong.
  3. If you're wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  4. Begin in a friendly way.
  5. Start with questions to which the other person will answer yes.
  6. Let the other person do the talking.
  7. Let the other person feel the idea is his/hers.
  8. Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
  9. Sympathize with the other person.
  10. Appeal to noble motives.
  11. Dramatize your ideas.
  12. Throw down a challenge; don't talk negatively when a person is absent; talk only about the positive.

Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  2. Call attention to other people's mistakes indirectly.
  3. Talk about your own mistakes first.
  4. Ask questions instead of directly giving orders.
  5. Let the other person save face.
  6. Praise every improvement.
  7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  8. Encourage them by making their faults seem easy to correct.
  9. Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.

Which of these have you tried with your boss, really?

  • Superb list. However, with the type of boss described by the asker, recognizing one's own mistakes reinforces said boss' opinion that the world is wrong, but he is. My 2¢, give the list to your boss.
    – MPelletier
    Oct 7, 2011 at 17:41

Been there, done that. Some bosses see (junior) colleagues as competitors who will undermine them and lose them a job. In some cases they might be correct. Either way, they want to force them out through unreasonable demands.

If there's a REALLY good reason to try to keep the job (eg you live next door) you can try to put everything he says down in a formal coding standard. If he signs off on it, at least it can remove the frustrations of changing stuff, even if you have disagreements over the standard.


Talk to his boss if he has one and explain your frustration. Explain how much time and money is being wasted by this person.

If they won't do anything about him, or if he doesn't have a boss then start searching for another job.


If the boss is the kind that can be reasoned with, try to support your position with data.

Code Complete, for example, has a ton of citations with actual research and experimental data at least providing semi-scientific evidence for doing things a certain way rather than "this influential guy on the internet says it's good".

I point to him with whatever link I can find on the internet trying to prove my point, in the end he uses his authority to shut us out!

This doesn't bode well, however.


You say they are reasonable and he sends back the code. Do you have coding standards? Did you agree to follow them? Are you following them?

The fault may be with you.


Here's some ideas:

  • Intelligently present him with the cost that's incurred by his "reviews".
  • Have a team "intervention" (yes, like the show).
  • Physically tackle him :)
  • If all else fails, I see no choice but to quit.
  • Option 3 looks more viable ;)
    – pavanlimo
    Sep 15, 2010 at 5:06
  • 2
    Go talk to his boss!
    – Sam Dolan
    Sep 15, 2010 at 5:14

I agree with Terence - A guy who fails to admit faults and is oblivious to his own stupidity will never see reason.


Depending on how strict the chain of command is, you might be able to talk to his boss about what is happening if you feel comfortable with that. Now, if it's the same type of person then you're barking up the wrong tree.

If it's absolutely unbearable and you see no resolution then there's obviously only one possibility...to find employment elsewhere. There's no need to subject yourself to this type of management if at all possible.