Foreword: some specifics are related to software development, but this is a workplace problem, so I believe it belongs here.

I'm the only junior developer in a team of senior mobile developers, located in Australia. There's about five other people in the team that I interact with, the others aren't on my project. I've been in this position for about eight months, so while I'd say I know everyone pretty well by now, I'm still the newest member of the team, and the others are a lot closer within themselves than they are with me.

When we submit work (in the form of a "pull request") to be considered for inclusion in our codebase, it is required for every submission to receive two successful reviews from other members of the team. We are all expected to actively participate in code reviewing, and with up to four people available at any given time, this isn't especially difficult in theory.

In practice, though, I've noticed frustrating patterns of behaviour from my colleagues lately. Work that I submit will often be ignored for large periods of time. I know this because we have a wide range of channels that tell us when new work is ready for reviewing - emails from GitHub, a Slack channel with automatic notifications, frequent standups and informal conversations about each other's work. This specifically happens with my work; others' work is reviewed in a timely fashion, mine is not.

This in itself is a pain, but even worse is when my direct requests to review my work are ignored. I have tried speaking to people in person, posting to our Slack channels, discussing my review needs in standups and even mentioning this to my team lead in a performance review! None of these have led to any change in this behaviour; in fact, things have been worse since.

Yesterday a colleague closed a number of my older pull requests, dating from November last year. When I saw this was happening, I asked him to look at my current work, since it's more time-critical. He ignored me and continued closing my old work (which is another issue entirely).

It's telling that my colleagues can afford to trash work that's months old, yet won't even respond to my request to look at my current work. My Slack messages have been completely ignored by every single member of my team. This is frustrating from an interpersonal perspective for a number of reasons, but this is Workplace, and I'm here for a work-focused resolution.

How can I rectify this behaviour in my colleagues? What approach do I need to take to enact change here? This is having a serious impact on my ability to get things done, from both a pragmatic and a wellbeing perspective.

EDIT: Some clarifications:

  • If pull requests aren't reviewed, they aren't accepted, which means work isn't completed during our sprints, which means we fall behind on deadlines. I will never be held responsible for the consequences of this, because I've done everything I possibly can (and can prove it!), but it reflects poorly on the team's performance, and by association, it reflects poorly on my performance.
  • In the event that changes are required on my pull requests, I need time to make those changes, and if the time window for that is consumed by people not reviewing my work, there's a higher chance of the work not being finished by the end of the sprint.
  • Others' work will get reviewed on the same day. Mine will occasionally be reviewed a few days later at the earliest, often not at all.
  • My pull requests are usually smaller than average. I document them clearly, post images of UI changes, link back to JIRA tasks and write summaries of any aspects that require specific attention.
  • 5
    Surely they did not remain silent when you inquired about these reviews. What do your coworkers and leads say when you bring this up? Be as specific as possible because it helps us get into their minds. If we only get your point of view, we will come up with the same solutions as you (nothing). – Clay07g Jan 18 at 1:56
  • 4
    @Archmage What was actually said in your performance review? What did your manager say when you mentioned that your work is going unreviewed and being simply removed? Is it safe to assume that your relationships with everyone else there are bad? – Lilienthal Jan 18 at 9:01
  • 5
    Having been through this myself, the only option I see for a lack of respect is to leave. There are probably a multitude of reasons, but the underlying problem is likely that they consider themselves superior to you, and your work isn't really worth their time. Or they just don't like you for other reasons. Either way, there isn't much to salvage with no-one in your corner. – Dom Jan 18 at 9:03
  • 4
    @berry120 I get where you're coming from, and I think it's a toss up between the two. Either get ignored or get mean reviews. Mean reviews would be more easily identifiable and on record though, whereas "silent treatment" is pretty hard to prove (or hard to prove it's malicious). – Dom Jan 18 at 11:57
  • 3
    @Archmage, keep in mind that a "project manager" is not usually a "manager" in the sense of being responsible for workers. Try to find a senior trustworthy individual who will be frank with you in a face to face discussion, like berry120's approach (but talking privately instead of email). It is always hurtful to be ignored but if the whole team is doing it, there is probably not a malicious intent behind it. – teego1967 Jan 18 at 12:02
up vote 21 down vote accepted

You seem to be a part of a team that is more experienced than you yourself are. The fact that these people have been working together for longer, and perhaps feel that their work is higher quality may lead to the attitude you're experiencing today.

I have no way to tell whether you've done anything to make the rest of the team feel like their behavior is justified. However, in my personal opinion, there's really no excuse for this passive aggressive approach.

One thing that I would do in your shoes, is sit down with whomever is the leader of the team, or the person you get along with best, and voice your concerns. I wouldn't try to judge them, or attack them. I would instead ask for explanations, and help:

Hey John, there's something I wanted to talk to you about. There have been many situations in the past few months when my work has been overlooked in code reviews. I'm starting to think that maybe there's something terribly wrong with my work that you guys are simply not telling me. Could you give me some guidance here? What's going on?

By approaching him in this manner you're far more likely to get an answer out of him. If he does respond along the lines that your code is "not good enough", don't take it personally. Instead, point out that you need more feedback, and mentor-ship!

NOTE: Remember that what constitutes good vs bad code can be very subjective. If these guys embrace certain principles religiously, and you don't that could result in them feeling your code is sub-par when it really isn't. This is one of those situations where you can either "get with the program", or find a new job. But there's only one way to find out why they're avoiding your code.

If they continue to refuse to communicate with you, you will need to escalate to your manager. Ask to speak privately, and approach the situation seriously. Don't point fingers, but make it very clear that there's an issue:

Hey boss, there's a serious matter that I want to discuss. Over the past few months the code I've been submitting for various projects has sat ignored in the review queue for days, or even weeks. In fact, some of my older code submissions have simply been deleted, leading me to believe that my contributions to the team are no valued at all. I've asked for guidance, and feedback, but so far I've heard nothing from the team. I'm here to ask for your help and guidance.

Listen to his answer, and decide whether you should start looking for a new job.

  • 4
    I spoke to a coworker as you suggested, and he gave me some helpful advice to do with approaching people about my code. It turned out that one of the PRs needed changes, which was poorly communicated by the team lead, but everyone else knows how he operated and was able to infer meaning from brevity. Going forward I'm following the advice posted by @berry120 - I need to be a LOT more direct in these situations. Thank you for your answer, I'm glad it didn't have to be escalated any further! – Archmage Jan 19 at 0:06

Something's really very wrong here - especially if you've mentioned this to your manager and still nothing is being done. You shouldn't have a PR still awaiting review from November while others get approved the same day. There are reasons I can think of that might be why other members of your team are reluctant to review them, but they're just speculation, and in any case you should have received feedback from your manager on why this is the case.

Note: Based on the comments, perhaps the following email is not the best example to follow, but I'll leave it here for completion nonetheless.

You say you've mentioned this to your manager, but I think you need to be a lot more direct, as clearly this hasn't worked so far. I'd send an email along the lines of:

Dear X,

I know I've mentioned the issue of my pull requests not being reviewed before, but it really has got to a ridiculous point - it now seems that they're often being left months without review, and then just closed off without explanation.

I really do need to get to the bottom of why this is happening - the issue isn't just one of morale, we've often missed deadlines due to work I've submitted not being reviewed on time, so it's costing the company money and reflecting badly on the team as a whole. I'm more than happy to take on feedback if there's anything I'm doing wrong, but so far this has not been forthcoming.

Hopefully with a more direct message, you'll get a more direct response - even if that's then a list of things you're doing wrong, and can therefore do something about.

  • 2
    I wouldn't send such a message to my manager under any circumstances. I agree that more clear communication with the team/management is required, but that example is absolutely detrimental to the OP's workplace relationships. – AndreiROM Jan 18 at 14:08
  • 5
    You should not use "ridiculous" and not word it like an edict. You don't know deadlines have been missed. – paparazzo Jan 18 at 14:42
  • 4
    There are ways to strongly word a message without coming across as childish, or self important. Using words like "ridiculous", and phrases such as **"I really do need to get to the bottom of why this is happening"**would send massive red flags to any manager reading it as to the maturity level of the OP. – AndreiROM Jan 18 at 14:45
  • 2
    @Paparazzi "Fall behind" and "Missed" are synonyms for not meeting deadlines as far as I'm aware. – berry120 Jan 18 at 14:49
  • 2
    I upvoted because of one line - being more direct. The rest is honestly borderline unprofessional and having been a manager myself I'd tend to mostly ignore the things said by people in this type of a tone.He needs to just sit down and say look, my stuff isn't getting reviewed. Here is an example. Here is another. Look at all of these. See? Now look at a small sample of each other developer and see how quickly they're done? I've tried asking them for freedback but they never do. I need to know why. Then you send a follow up email summarizing talking points in case this ever blows back – BirdLawExpert Jan 18 at 14:56

You need to ask yourself why your team doesn't want your code in the codebase and why they don't want to talk to you about their reasons. You may want to introspect to see if you can think of anything in your own behavior that you could do differently that might change the current situation for the better. It's a lot easier to change our own behavior than try to get someone else to change theirs (although they may reciprocate if they see us willing to take the first step).

Until you understand their motivation for behaving the way they are behaving, there's really not much you can do. If they won't tell you why they won't review your pull requests, you either have to become a mind reader or see if you can improve your professional relationships to the point where someone will give you a hint.

  • 3
    Or polish your CV – Mawg Jan 18 at 13:47
  • 8
    @Mawg It is possible that the team is trying to push Archmage to find another job by giving them the cold shoulder. I think most of us have (unfortunately) seen that tactic before. – ColleenV Jan 18 at 14:17
  • Me too, hence jump before you are pushed, or before life gets too unpleasant – Mawg Jan 18 at 14:30

One thing that needs to be clear:

How can I rectify this behaviour in my colleagues?

You cannot force a change of the behavior of attitude of others, except to make it worse. The only person you can really change is yourself.

You have already asked and you are getting non-responsive answers, so stop asking -- you really don't know the cause, and therefore you cannot address the problem directly. It could be a number of things from your skill level, a dislike of your personality, to even something like racism or other discrimination. It could even be something "political" where they fought adding you or anyone else to the team and THEY lost that battle before you started. Or an old member was let go (and they didn't like it), and you were the replacement. Even though it may not seem fair or logical, they do have their reasons (even if they are bad or prejudicial).

But there are still things that you can do:

  1. Continue to improve your skills: review the reviews, ask questions about why they picked a particular solution (start small), look up terms and techniques that are unfamiliar, etc
  2. NEVER let your assigned tasks suffer: they may not choose to include your pull request, but that responsibility falls ON THEM as long as your work performance is not at fault
  3. Be on time, and offer to work late: (unless you are hourly and there are HR policies in place) this demonstrates commitment to team and gives you a reputation as a hard worker
  4. Offer to do "grunt" work: QA tasks, sifting through customer support reports, etc
  5. Occasionally ask for help on your tasks: but do your research... "do you think A or B is better?"
  6. Be the first one to offer assistance: if another team member needs something (work related or not) help out if you can
  7. Try to become more friendly with the individuals on the team: buy small birthday presents, chat about non-work things, offer to take them to lunch/drinks, offer to do a coffee run during your lunch break, etc

Essentially, right now the team feels that you add very little value... and that is HOW you need to change: by demonstrating your value.

It is most likely only be one person is steering the team to treat you this way, This person might be the team lead, but it could also be the social lead (popular/clown). Regardless of who it is, this person will be the most difficult to convince... so don't focus on them... focus on convincing everyone as equally as you can, otherwise you might cause a split in the group.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.