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I am a software developer, I am always doing my best and OT if I need.

I recently joined a new company where everything is fine in appearance but completely fake behind, let me explain a bit more.

Basically, during my 1-1 my manager and tech lead are happy about my work. But behind my back (working in different cubicles), it's almost the complete opposite, personal attacks about how I look, how I behave, things that I never been told in face to face. Oh and one more thing according to them I am too straightforward, even when I make mistakes I am really upfront and say right away it's my fault, which for them is... well odd.

It makes feel really bad, it's like I cannot even rely on what they are saying.

Until very recently I was keeping telling myself that I must have misheard and that I am paranoid but once I recorded them for a while leaving my smartphone somewhere close enough well it turns out that no... (just wanted to be 100% sure since I tend to easily doubt about myself).

  • Good news: I am not crazy
  • Bad news: they just behave really bad

I just cannot believe that people can be so mean and super shallow.

Once thing I have noticed is that the tech lead is kind of insecure because I am more knowledgeable than him and he's the one among the two (the other one being the manager) to backstab me the most. I taught him things (even simple things like .NET async/await, fix their "beginner" concurrency issues...) and never ever got a sincere "thanks".

The problem is that this sort of attacks are sometimes (most of the time actually) really not legit. Like the way my jaw moves when I am talking, my accent, like even the fact I refactor "too much" my code (just pure non-sense to me since nobody refactors anything here... it "kinda" works, so "it works...", never try to improve anything), they don't have a CI and I am trying to help them with that, but still they slow everything down for making things not happening, it's just so uncooperative even if they pretend the opposite in front of you...

I am wondering if it is a strategy to kick me out...

I am not sure that recording them was legal... but it was really starting to drive me crazy. If you something to complain about my work or just me as a living being that should be as simple as just complain to me or fire me, period.

What can I do? Should I corner them with evident with the risk that this is not legal or worse that they just go full denial? Ask them why do you behave like that? and told them that backstabbing especially within hearshot distance is really counter productive for me?

Side-note: I am working in an engineering department not IT / soft dev so it might be different.

closed as off-topic by Philip Kendall, scaaahu, gnat, Masked Man, paparazzo Oct 15 '17 at 11:39

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  • @JoeStrazzere cause I wanted to stay more than two months in the same workplace... and don't show that I am unstable career-wise. – Jean-Pierre Patulacci Oct 15 '17 at 1:49
  • @JoeStrazzere that what I started to do a week ago, not that actively though, hope potential employers won't see as if I got "fired", I don't really get the point to destroy someone behind the back and play overnice in front of, is this what people call "passive-aggressive" behaviour?. – Jean-Pierre Patulacci Oct 15 '17 at 1:57
  • @JoeStrazzere you are right, I just thought the short timespan makes it the same "like fired". – Jean-Pierre Patulacci Oct 15 '17 at 2:11
  • I stopped reading the answer at the part about recording somebody behind his back using a smartphone. I hope you are not using your real name here. I vote close, since any answer to this may be considered to encourage criminal behaviour. – Sascha Oct 15 '17 at 11:16
  • If these impressions have been obtained by "secret" recordings, that can be very harmful to the OP if he's not equipped to handle, interpret and act on the information. Forget about legality, that's not even an issue if he isn't caught and doesn't share (or refer to) the recording. This OP needs a mentor to help him navigate the culture of the workplace. – teego1967 Oct 15 '17 at 11:18
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I just cannot believe that people can be so mean and super shallow.

The world was never fair, nor nice, although it is unfortunate, learning to work with such individuals is a necessary component of the modern workplace.

Once thing I have noticed is that the tech lead is kind of insecure because I am more knowledgeable than him and he's the one among the two (the other one being the manager) to backstab me the most. I taught him things (even simple things like .NET async/await, fix their "beginner" concurrency issues...) and never ever got a sincere "thanks".

There is a difference between fixing a problem you've been asked to fix and going out of your way to point out other people's problems. Were you asked to fix these issues? If you weren't what was your tone when mentioning these issues? It is one thing to say:

"Hey I noticed that X doesn't seem to work. Mind if I take a look at it?"

A whole other to say:

"This was done stupidly. Let me fix it."

Getting things done is one thing, the means and attitude of which you do it is also a critical component in the perception of your character.

The problem is that this sort of attacks are sometimes (most of the time actually) really not legit. Like the way my jaw moves when I am talking, my accent, like even the fact I refactor "too much" my code (just pure non-sense to me since nobody refactors anything here... it "kinda" works, so "it works...", never try to improve anything), they don't have a CI and I am trying to help them with that, but still they slow everything down for making things not happening, it's just so uncooperative even if they pretend the opposite in front of you...

If someone can't find flaws in your knowledge, they will find means to attack your persons. This is considered an Ad Hominem rhetorical strategy. Although it is baseless, it is effective in rounding up similarly minded individuals to rally against a person. Don't take it personally.

I am wondering if it is a strategy to kick me out...

To my knowledge, an employer can't fire you for having an accent (which may indicate racial discrimination and thus legal issues) but it can fire your for not fitting in with the culture of the company. In other words, it can get to the point where you are ostracised based on social conventions rather than professional, despite it being completely baseless and argumentatively illegal.

I am not sure that recording them was legal... but it was really starting to drive me crazy. If you something to complain about my work or just me as a living being that should be as simple as just complain to me or fire me, period.

Yeah... don't do that. Depending on State laws, what you did might be illegal. If what they are doing is definitely illegal, harassing you, stealing your stuff, breaking your stuff, then that would qualify as something I would record, regardless of the circumstances.

What can I do? Should I corner them with evident with the risk that this is not legal or worse that they just go full denial? Ask them why do you behave like that? and told them that backstabbing especially within hearshot distance is really counter productive for me?

A couple of options:

  • Reconcile your relationship with the people in question. Say that despite stellar formal review, state that you still have some reservations about your work and you were wondering if they can help. By addressing them as subject experts on some weakness of your behalf, you stoke their ego. Read about Franklin's Effect.
  • Approach HR with a written testimony of their actions. Keep an active log of such activities. Although this may escalate the issue to the point of no return, it is an option.
  • Approach a confidant/mentor in the company and ask them for suggestions. Based on their knowledge of how the company works, they may better guide you given their knowledge and experience either working with the people in question or of company policies.
  • thanks for your answer! this is really complete and detailed. I am still a bit too idealist (even though experience taught me the hard way that world is not unfair I still expect a bit too much in that regard). – Jean-Pierre Patulacci Oct 15 '17 at 5:06
  • "Say that despite stellar formal review, state that you still have some reservations about your work and you were wondering if they can help." Should have edited my post but I already did that and it ended up that I was the only one criticizing my own work... while the tech lead said "you're probably the only one who can bring us some new technical knowledge", it was really awkward. For some reasons it still sounds fake to me (mostly because of what I've heard... through this very thin "wall") – Jean-Pierre Patulacci Oct 15 '17 at 5:08
  • "Hey I noticed that X doesn't seem to work. Mind if I take a look at it?" I did that and it helped them in many ways. Still I've noticed that people don't share knowledge much in this workplace, I tried to organize a training, got refused... they will do that on their own (tech lead). A bit too much like "free for all" mode in a team... – Jean-Pierre Patulacci Oct 15 '17 at 5:08
  • "learning to work with such individuals is a necessary component of the modern workplace" - Respectfully disagree. Life's too short to deal with jerks, and there are enough companies out there that keep such individuals at bay, that there is no need to learn to work with them. – Denis de Bernardy Oct 15 '17 at 7:08
  • @DenisdeBernardy not everyone has options in this world. Whether due to age, gender, ethnicity, country, knowledge, the genetic lottery that we are born with doesn’t mean that we all have the opportunity to live in absence of such ugliness. – Frank FYC Oct 15 '17 at 8:24
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Sounds like you're suffering from a rather strong culture mismatch with this copmpany.

If you want honesty, openness, and respect, then you should look for a company that values these things as much as you do. Your current one clearly does not. This is something you can try to probe during interviews, you should be able to pick up on it.

You can try to change the company culture, but everyone will tell you it's the hardest thing you can possibly do and that's if you're already in charge of something. If you're just another employee your chances of change aren't very good. So decide for yourself if you can tolerate a workplace that includes backstabbing and gossip, and if not, look for one that better matches your preferred way of working.

  • you are right, but like in my other question spotting flaws during an interview, it is far from being easy. If there is one thing I really suck at is telling that someone is lying, especially about values. I am still really naive when it comes to dealing with people. Another thing, officially the company I am currently working for, prone those values: openness, team work, etc. but internally it's a complete different matter. Frank is right, an insider is my best bet, however, that also means that it requires you to have enough network. – Jean-Pierre Patulacci Oct 15 '17 at 6:33
  • I also think that Frank is right I also have to be flexible. At the same time when it comes to core values, it's hard to become someone else. I have the feeling that it's a bit like lying to myself to believe that I can handle backstabbers. – Jean-Pierre Patulacci Oct 15 '17 at 6:38
  • @Jean-PierrePatulacci when it comes to core values, it's not about what people say. It's about what they do and how they act. – Erik Oct 15 '17 at 7:06
  • exactly, that's why I think that spotting the real values carried out by by a team during an interview is really hard since people are almost exclusively only talking during an interview, there is a bit more light when there is a technical tests part but the outcome is quite limited. – Jean-Pierre Patulacci Oct 15 '17 at 7:17

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