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I work as a software developer. Recently, I've been frustrated as my coworkers have been keeping me out of development work. My workgroup is a small part of a larger company - my boss is responsible for the entire group. She isn't always able to be directly engage us.

During a performance evaluation, my boss explained that my coworkers have said they assigned me work in the past, which I refused to do. This came as quite a shock, as none of them had communicated this to me. I expressed pretty significant surprise, and my boss seemed to largely view this as an issue of communication. I quickly reviewed our issue tracking software, and did not find significant outstanding issues assigned to me.

I don't really know where to go from here. Should I approach my coworkers? Should I request more development work? I feel as if I've been punished for something that didn't happen, and that I have evidence supporting my claim.

This doesn't seem to have impacted my Boss's impression of me, as I received a positive review. But it impacts the tasking I'm given and my day to day satisfaction.

The issue currently isn't that I don't have enough work, but rather that I am disproportionately responsible for undesirable work and largely passed over when it comes to tasking for desirable work. I could attempt to take ownership of issues using our tracking system, but I'm concerned that could be viewed as an escalation (and I've done this on a small scale in the past with no success).

  • Did you (politely) make it clear that you had no idea what your boss was talking about? How did they respond? Why would you request more work? Don't you have enough to fill your day with? Is receiving work from your coworkers necessary or desired? – Dukeling Oct 6 '17 at 0:14
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    To be clear - did they (supposedly) assign it in the past and just tell your manager now? Because that seems strange on their part - why allow someone to go months without performing their work if they're blocking you. Or did they tell your manager in the past and he's just bringing it up now? That's also strange - why would a manager not resolve such a huge problem immediately. And why is this new to your manager, as if they're stopping you from doing work, he needs to know. So elephant in the room - what are we missing? Something doesn't add up, and probably can't be answered without it! – corsiKa Oct 6 '17 at 0:53
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Should I approach my coworkers? Should I request more development work?

If the problem is that you are not being assigned tasks, or that those assignments are not done in a clear and evident way, you should approach your coworker(s) that are in charge of assigning you those tasks to ask for such clarity. You Boss didn't change his perception of you, as he probably is aware that those issues were not assigned to you (or not done in an evident way).

I suggest you don't approach them saying "Hey, the boss told me that I refused to do work you assigned...". Your coworkers may not take this in a positive way, and could develop in more problems and relationship harm between you and them.

You could try politely talking to them about what can you do to give a better use to the Issue Tracking software, as well as asking them to be more evident, or notify you when such tasks or issues are being assigned. It is more tactful to refer as the problem being the Issue Tracker, and not your coworkers (even though they were the problem, but this is something your boss should decide anyways).

It is always recommended to discuss a problem with the ones directly involved first, before escalating to other resources or bring it to management. However, if you see this problem is reoccurring then it would be necessary to bring it up with your boss, so he can come to a solution regarding the effectiveness of the Issue Tracking Software or the way your coworkers are using it.

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    Since the manager is already aware of the situation, I'd recommend at least keeping them updated on how you're resolving this. One should probably assume the worst and try to protect oneself in case the coworkers are lying and trying to make you look bad. – Dukeling Oct 6 '17 at 0:34
  • Yes good suggestion, one has to be naïve enough to trust your teammates but keen enough to CYA all the time – DarkCygnus Oct 6 '17 at 0:42
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Definitely discuss this with your coworkers and ask them why they are not giving you development tasks. I would also suggest actively looking for programming work to do after you have finished all of your other tasks. This might mean that you'll be stuck doing boring jobs for a little while that no one else wants to do, but you have to be assertive and proactive when finding development jobs to do if your coworkers are trying to keep you out.

You should also definitely talk to your manager about how you feel that your coworkers are not allowing you to work on the software side of things. Perhaps you can get your manager to assign you some development tasks if that is a part of his role in the organisation.

Don't keep this feeling to yourself though, you need to making some noise around the workplace that you are looking for more development work to do and are happy to perform, that way your coworkers cannot tell your manager that you are being lazy!

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