9

Short backstory. I joined an engineering company (around 150 employees, 35 in my department) as an intern 2 years ago, short before finishing my master's degree. My task when I joined was to aid a senior engineer, Bob, in his area. Bob had been doing that work for 7 years.

Soon after I started, Bob took a long leave (1 month) and I had to deal with all the work he was doing with very little experience. This stressed me out so much, but everything worked so well that I was hired and, since then, I do his work, and he has been assigned other tasks of simillar difficulty. He has, though, kept the role of "responsible" of the work I do, even though he just checks everything is OK for 5 minutes a month. He does it as a routine, and doesn't really check, he trusts me blindly. He lost the track of the work I deal with. The whole company knows that I do the work.

Do not get me wrong, Bob is a great collegue, he is not the problem of this story. He never took credit of what I do, and taught me barelly all I know.

Now comes the problem, our boss: Jules. He is the boss of Bob and I. Jules is the only person who still seems to think that Bob and I do the work like 50% each, and what I hate the most, is that when an important decision about my work comes around, he asks Bob to decide, not caring for my opinion.

I want to solve this in a way that doesn't undermine Bob by mistake. Basically I would like to say the following to Jules: "How can you not notice that I do all the work, that Bob no longer knows what is needed to do in this area, and I should be the one making decisions here".

Obviously, if I said that like that, I would undermine Bob, who happens just to be in the middle of the issue, but he is not taking any credit, it's just Jules not understanding the situation.

Thanks a lot.

EDIT to clarify some things.

  • I don't think it is a duplicate because Bob is not taking credit voluntariely. Jules assumes he has it.
  • I finished my master's degree 5 month after getting the internship, so timeline goes like this: Internship for 1 month--> Total crisis and work overload for 1 month---> Getting hired as a bachellor engineer for 3 months --> Getting hired as a master's engineer.
  • Bob is not my manager, he just happens to have more experience (or at least more time doing the work), in the area I deal with. We are at equal level in heriarchy. He does not act like a manager, he passively gets the credit for my work without claiming it.
  • Other managers of the company who are not "my" managers acknowledge that is me who does the work. One of them, in an informal hallway chat, confessed that does not understand why Jules asks Bob to decide stuff.

Second edit: First of all, I want to say thanks to everyone for your time. Most of you have made quality comments that made me think about the situation from different perspectives. I have seen that the ideal outcome of this situation would be to ask Bob to make Jules aware of the situation. I am afraid though that he could take this as an "attack" to his situation. It shouldn't be the case, but every person is different.

Third edit with examples:

Example 1: A year ago, I had to make a procurement proposal for some hardware (around 100.000€) and assign tasks to 4 people for 4 months. One week ago, the CEO asked Jules if this year the company would have to make upfront to a simillar amount. When Jules answered he put Bob and me (I was in CC) in the loop and literally said: "I will ask Bob, he is the one who did it last year".

Example 2: A new intern was hired (I asked for him last summer) to work in my area around 2 months ago. Jules asked Bob instead of me what the intern should do. I emailed Jules with my proposals even though I wasn't asked: No answer. The intern is finally in another area.

  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Handling Credit-takers – gnat Mar 2 '18 at 5:57
  • Is Bob asking for your opinion regarding the decisions he's asked to make? If yes, well, then he's your manager and not a bad one. If no, he's part of the problem if he's not up-to-date regarding what you are doing. If you want the current situation to change you need to talk to Bob and get his support. He then should talk to Jules. – Roland Mar 2 '18 at 7:27
  • 3
    If Bob never took credit for your work, couldn't you ask him for help with clearing this misunderstanding? – Dirk Mar 2 '18 at 9:35
  • Beat me to it by 5 minutes! this is the obvious thing to do (+1) – Mawg says reinstate Monica Mar 2 '18 at 9:42
  • @AnonWorriedWorker - Thanks for updating your question. – Rob Mar 2 '18 at 11:32
10

When an important decision about my work comes around, he asks Bob to decide, not caring for my opinion.

Since Bob seems a benevolent colleague, you can try talking to him about this aspect.

Ask him if he would be a sort of mentor to you - so that you can take some of the work off his shoulders and free his time for his own tasks. Mention that you would like to take on more responsibility and be more involved in decisions about your work.* Ask him to consider whether you should be involved in the dicussion when Jules comes to him about your work. Ask him to refer Jules to you or to include you in the discussion.

Having an ally and a respected advocate speaking for you should be very helpful to get recognised as a competent and self-reliant employee.

Make sure to mention Bob's benefits in this arrangement (more time?) and also acknowledge that by mentoring you he's doing you a favour.

*) Because the flip side of Bob making the decisions is that Bob will (or at least should) also get the blame if things go wrong.

updated to reflect question update:

Example 1: A year ago, I had to make a procurement proposal for some hardware (around 100.000€) and assign tasks to 4 people for 4 months. One week ago, the CEO asked Jules if this year the company would have to make upfront to a simillar amount. When Jules answered he put Bob and me (I was in CC) in the loop and literally said: "I will ask Bob, he is the one who did it last year".

Personally, I'd not react and wait. Bob is now saddled with a task you did last year - so it sounds likely he'll come to you and ask for help (or just the old proposal). Tell him "Sure, just tell Jules to come to me with this and I'll handle it."

Try hard to avoid giving Bob the old proposal or any work on a new proposal. Instead, ask him to forward Jules to you ("It'd be much easier if Jules came directly to me"). If Jules doesn't ask you to do the proposal, don't do the proposal. Train Jules to come to you directly by delivering your best work when he comes to you and by doing nothing if he addresses his requests to Bob. Don't proactively do work assigned to Bob because you think you should do it. Let them come to you.

3

"Jules is the only person who still seems to think that Bob and I do the work like 50% each, and what I hate the most, is that when an important decision about my work comes around, he asks Bob to decide, not caring for my opinion.".

Ask for a significant raise when Jules shows his face; why else would Jules show up: to credit another for your work, to ignore your input.

Emphasize to Jules:

  1. When Bob took leave you covered perfectly,

  2. You work with minimal supervision and the work is accepted,

  3. You are the one doing the work and both Bob and you (Jules) think it's good.

You should be able to advance, to be compensated for your efforts.

  • That leaves Bob, for the most part, out of any finger pointing.

  • Informs Jules properly of the importance of his input (from your perspective).

This forces Jules hand, to put up or distribute credit fairly - or confess he's blind to how it works.

Understand that Bob is taking the heat for how long you take (or are you speedy?) and if/when you screw up Bob's gonna hear about it. Then you hear about it from Bob, and not Jules - or doesn't it work that way ...

Make sure you're getting ahead and not getting stuck there for years until you're Bob, or Jules ...

If you've been ignored by Jules for two years you should have brought it up 18 months ago, and not let Jules think differently; not clearing that up and letting it fester has what has engrained Jules' false beliefs.

It would have been good of Bob to have been clearer that he can't take the credit and that 99% of the work in question is a result of your work; and Bob's 5 minute monthly look-see.

Initially your question made it seem like you had been kindly taken on as an intern whom had not yet finished school and an opportunity (red flag word) came up where they were able to hire you beyond your abilities and credentials.

Understand that many companies need to pay new hires more than current employees and trying to beat people down is a common practice to keep wages low - there's no reason you couldn't be making within 5% of what Bob earns (either way) whether it's more or less depends upon what other businesses in the area pay vs. demand vs. supply.


If you add a comment about: "are you paid generously or barely enough" then I'll update my answer.

In anticipation of what is to come: If you're underpaid you need to be clear to Jules of exactly what you do. If you are paid handsomely then I'd not worry about it so much as long as annual reviews bring in a COL allowance plus a bit and performance bonuses are not too small.

If you are ignored and forgotten that affects your future, you'll certainly be on the chopping block if there's less work.

If you don't know how much Bob toils in obscurity you shouldn't assume he doesn't have his own 'important' work to do. Maybe it's Jules entire lack of understanding of "all things technical" that causes him to get Bob to babysit and keep him in the loop (without tipping his hand to you); the retort that "but Bob would know" is not one of the finer points in Jules' mind - a lot of people behave that way.

Getting credit is great, being under the spotlight if there's a problem either with your work or with the supply of work is no good - don't let Bob's silence to save his job affect how useful you are perceived to be.

Being paid a lot and not getting full credit can be OK, especially if it's enough to compensate being "the first to go".

Returning to school for another year is still an option, it's possible that the company would support (and pay either partially or upon your return). You can use that to assess secretly Jules' opinion of you without saying "credit me or I'll polish up my resume".

  • 1
    Hey Rob. OP has added some clarifications to his post about his education. It seems he has finished already. Could you possibly update your answer? – Cyonis Mar 2 '18 at 8:04
  • OP states clearly "before finishing my master's degree". – paparazzo Mar 2 '18 at 8:04
  • 1
    @Belle I read it as finished all along. He could not know he joined shortly before finishing his masters if he had not finished his master. – paparazzo Mar 2 '18 at 8:29
  • 2
    @Belle - Thanks for mentioning that the answer was updated. – Rob Mar 2 '18 at 11:34
2

You have hardy got your feet under the table. Bob is effectively your manager.

I am afraid that you are going to put up with it. Also you cannot be sure what Jules thinks.

  • 1
    He's been there two years. Which doesn't mean that Bob is not his supervisor or whatever, but it seems he's been sitting at the table with feet well under it for some time. – Andrew Leach Mar 1 '18 at 23:55
2

Bob is effectively your manager, and thus your direct superior. Since you get along well with Bob, take this up with him. If he wants to resolve this, he can easily do so.

If you do what you suggest, you're attacking and undermining Bob:

I would like to say the following to Jules: "How can you not notice that I do all the work, that Bob no longer knows what is needed to do in this area, and I should be the one making decisions here".

But if Bob says this, things are completely different:

"How can you not notice that Anonworriedworker does all the work, that I no longer know what is needed to do in this area, and Anonworriedworker should be the one making decisions here".

Of course Bob, being experienced, will chose better words than that, but to the same effect. If he doesn't want to do this, then at least you know that he indeed does knowingly and willingly take your credit.

1

This is where you are just going to have to swallow some pride, there isn't much you can do in this situation and you come out looking good. Management in companies often work like just this. I'm a technical lead at my company, and I report to the stakeholders the status of projects I haven't done any active work on, just "managed". It's not that I'm taking credit, my stakeholders just trust me to give an accurate report, and so long "Stuff's getting done", everyone is ok with the status quo.

Many colleagues (unfortunately not all) give credit where credit is due. Maybe Bob is this type. A good manager takes all responsibility on themselves when something goes wrong, and gives all credit to his subordinates when there is a success to be had.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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