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Me and two other developers (A and B) work remotely for an IT company. Here's the situation:

  • Coworker A has a hostile attitude towards others, sometimes mentions that they don't work well enough when talking in person, refuses to help others to find bug causes (even if he knows them) and so on. This occasional behavior clearly annoys most of us, including management, but he is a stellar performer who always works overtime, so he gets away with it.
  • Coworker B is a nice guy, and, in my opinion, more competent, even though he does not always perform as well as A.
  • A and B recently got into argument the details of which I don't know. After that, A started harassing B at each opportunity.
  • A couple months ago A told me that he "will be responsible for our part of development and mentoring new employees in our area, as discussed with management".
  • B and I recently started working on another project of the same company (though we still continue to work on our main product) by request of the management. This annoys A, because "not enough work is done for the main product".
  • A now asks me to compare my performance and B's performance working on that other project.

I am hesitant to provide this info, because I cannot imagine any good use for it (he probably could've just asked us both about hours spent on that project, but I suppose he avoids talking to B or doesn't trust him). I could just ask management if I should provide this info, but everyone always shares information openly in our company, and I don't want to create an impression like I don't trust my coworkers in general (I only don't trust this one).

I am also afraid this info can be used for malicious purposes and cause harm to either B or me, but I'm not sure how.

Is there a way I could phrase my concern to the management while avoiding sounding suspicious? Also, if management will then ask A why he needs this info, he won't trust me anymore and probably use an opportunity to get me fired if he gets a managerial position.

What should I do in this situation?

Thanks!

  • @AnneDaunted Yes, regarding our performance on than second project everything is fine, and we get along well. Our performance on the main product is not that good, but this is mostly because the other project was prioritized as urgent by the management. – user83311 Feb 26 '18 at 7:12
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    Do you have evidence of this management-discussed authority? – Jane S Feb 26 '18 at 7:31
  • @JaneS No, I don't have any. I haven't noticed any workflow changes except that A started to ask more questions and discuss our performance more. I'm pretty sure he really had this discussion with the management (I haven't noticed him lie about anything, and while we were talking he mentioned he knew my salary) and probably was given additional responsibilities, but I don't know the details. – user83311 Feb 26 '18 at 7:43
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    The "Stellar Performer" is a result of "working overtime?" If he's so stellar, why is he staying late? I've personally been in position where I outperform the next guy by factors of 5 or more, and I don't do that by staying late. – Nelson Feb 26 '18 at 8:52
  • @Nelson He does a lot of work during the regular workhours too (we're remote and 100% flexible, so it's hard to measure), and I know he usually works at weekends as well. I wouldn't say his code is the best I've seen, but he gets a lot of work done. – user83311 Feb 26 '18 at 10:03
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It sounds like you're just taking A's word for things, and not running them past management at all. I'd even go as far as to say you're letting him scare you into not going to management.

A couple months ago A told me that he "will be responsible for our part of development and mentoring new employees in our area, as discussed with management".

At this point you should have fired off a quick email to your manager asking for clarification - is A now your manager, since he's responsible for your part of development? Is he just the team lead? And can your manager confirm that what he's saying is accurate?

A now asks me to compare my performance and B's performance working on that other project.

Again:

I could just ask management if I should provide this info, but everyone always shares information openly in our company, and I don't want to create an impression like I don't trust my coworkers in general

You're overthinking it - if he's requesting something odd, you should absolutely run it past your manager (and ask exactly what you should be sharing.) You don't need to skirt around the issue particularly. You should just state that this seems like an odd request (as B could just pass his hours on directly) and you want to get clarification that it's definitely ok.

Also, if management will then ask A why he needs this info, he won't trust me anymore and probably use an opportunity to get me fired if he gets a managerial position.

If he doesn't trust you because you've run a request for something that seems rather odd past management, and then would want to fire you or make your life miserable if he's promoted, is that really somewhere you're keen on staying anyway?!

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What sort of management do you have? Ideally it should be the sort where you can just informally ask your manager if they know about this request for information, and what it's for. If A is surreptitiously trying to do something behind management's back, you and management may be better off knowing that.

Is there a way I could phrase my concern to the management while avoiding sounding suspicious? Also, if management will then ask A why he needs this info, he won't trust me anymore and probably use an opportunity to get me fired if he gets a managerial position.

You seem to be talking yourself into a situation where A is allowed to talk to management, but you aren't for fear of the consequences. That's not going to end well for you.

If you do send a reply to the question, try to word it very carefully so that nothing in it can be used against either you or B. If you can word it to say how well you and B get on as a team, then that's all the better.

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If you don't have the request from A in writing I would require it in writing before acting on it. Unless specifically instructed to keep this from B I would work with B in developing a fair and thorough comparison document clearly co-authored by both and deliver it to A in an email with B and your manager CCed. Stupid games win stupid prizes.

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