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In Brief: I'm doing the same work all day and being passed over for more intersting work. I'd like to remedy this.

I'm a member of a small Devops team. Team tasks can be roughly divided into two major areas – development, and infrastructure and system administration.

Recently we have started to work using SCRUM methodology and another developer was appointed as SCRUM master. The SCRUM master takes on most development tasks which our senior developer doesn't have time to handle. She also gives development tasks to our female intern.

This leaves me only with mundane administration scripting tasks.

Doing those development tasks means studying new products and technologies and I would like to do this work. I worry that the longer this situation remains, the less likely I'll be able to take any of these tasks on, due to the time required to learn the technology.

Nearly no knowledge is shared.

I'm really getting fed up with this situation, more so that it can seriously affect my promotion chances. What should I do here? Directly confront her? Try to undermine her by some behind the scenes “politicking”, take it to our superiors or simply try to move to another team?

closed as off-topic by Philip Kendall, dwizum, gnat, carrdelling, Masked Man Apr 24 '18 at 0:54

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    "we have started to work using SCRUM methodology" No, you haven't. There is so much about what you're describing which isn't scrum, but perhaps most importantly: the scrum master does not assign tasks; the team is self-organizing and works this out themselves. – Philip Kendall Apr 23 '18 at 18:45
  • I agree. It's rudimentary SCRUM, I guess with current team structure SCRUM can't even properly work, but it's not my call. But yes, in many cases she simply assigns tasks and on many tasks it's "I'll do this". – LouisXXV Apr 23 '18 at 18:48
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    Without wanting to labour the point too much: this isn't "rudimentary SCRUM", it's almost the complete opposite of scrum. Doesn't help you fix your issue though so I'll leave it there. – Philip Kendall Apr 23 '18 at 18:50
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    Well, yes. It's like following SCRUM rituals without SCRUM, but this I can't change. – LouisXXV Apr 23 '18 at 18:52
  • It is not an acronym. There is one definition of the Scrum framework. – Alan Larimer Apr 26 '18 at 0:47
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The solution is to ask her, politely, directly, in private, for more interesting tasks. For all we know, the intern did exactly that. When I'm assigning tasks, then I'll often pick the person who is most interested in a given task, because it's safe to assume they'll be dedicated to it. Also note that "wanting to learn" is a good thing, and you should always tell your managers that you want to learn more.

You could ask by saying

"Hi JANE, I've been doing the same work here for a while. I would like to have some different development tasks, because I'm very keen on learning more about whatever you want to work on. Could I please be assigned some tasks involving that?

Tangental Thoughts For the OP

Your question as it is is a little confusing - you mention 6 developers, but only two of them are important - the intern, and yourself. Then a few sentences in you bring in the SCRUM master. I only mention this because if this question is indicative of your usual communication style, you will come across as confusing to talk to.

You mention

a case of fellow “female empowerment” or ... she doesn't perceive her as a threat...

I'm not sure what you're like, but when you start accusing people of discrimination - of any sort - without evidence, it makes you come off as potentially obnoxious. Again, if this question is indicative of your style at work then please, reconsider how you present yourself.

You mention

Of course nearly no knowledge is shared.

What have you tried? Possibly you have not tried anything - a good question to ask your manager would be how to encourage knowledge sharing. Give some thought-out options. Weekly meetings? Lunch-time sharing? Code reviews (for learning purposes)? You aren't just a coder, you're a human being - you're allowed to ask for a different management style or system to help you work better. That's what any manager wants from their staff!

Then you ask:

What should I do here? Directly confront her? Try to undermine her by some behind the scenes “politicking”, take it to our superiors or simply try to move to another team?

  1. Yes, but it's not a "confrontation". You're just asking for more interesting work. You're entirely entitled to do this, but you have to do it politely.
  2. Do not try to undermine her. Mostly because you're a junior engineer with possibly low social capital (who were you going to "politick" with?), so it's going to backfire. More generally, in this case there's no reason to undermine her. Please table this idea.
  3. You can and should raise it to your superiors, and I'm assuming she is your superior. If you actually have a different line-manager, do raise to them - again, politely, without "politicking" or accusation of discrimination, that you'd like more interesting work because you want to learn.
  4. You can move to a different team, but I'm not sure if that's the best solution. The core problem is that you seem to be unaware of how to interact in a team - that's ok, everyone learns this stuff over time. Moving to a new team will just mean you have the same things to learn, with different people.
  • Just to clarify a few things that you probably misunderstood from my question. First, there are no 6 developers, there are just four: me, SCRUM master, senior engineer and an intern. Other people are not developers. She's not my superior, we are peers and she was given SCRUM master position due to sort of "being at the right place at the right time". Describing the whole story would make my post too long. I've already raised my concern to my manager but he said I'm doing an important job, although I certainly don't feel this way. He tried to change things, but didn't put real effort in it. – LouisXXV Apr 23 '18 at 19:20
  • @LouisXXV how did he try to change things? I imagine its as simple as saying "give LouisXXV more interesting work", which doesn't sound very taxing to do. You need to outline your concerns to your manager, and also the scrum master. Think of a way you can do some small aspect of the new technology. – bharal Apr 23 '18 at 19:26
  • He tried to get her more involved with system administration tasks, she openly expressed her displeasure over it and the whole initiative died out. Problem is, she has to study most of sysadmin stuff while I already know it, so, it's easy to give me this type of assignments, while we both can write code and carry out development tasks. – LouisXXV Apr 23 '18 at 19:29
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As a commenter pointed out, you're not doing Scrum*. Describing a person's role as Scrum Master, if you aren't doing Scrum, tells us exactly nothing about the role of that person, or the structure of the team in general.

Given the scarce information, I'll be brief:

You have concerns regarding career development. You need to address these concerns and your career objectives with your line manager. That's the person you'll be having your annual performance review with - it could be the person you call Scrum Master or someone entirely different. Just drop them a line by email, or have a quick chat with them, where you tell them that you'd like them to set up a meeting to discuss your career goals.


*You aren't doing Scrum, because you describe the Scrum Master's role as assigning tasks to individual team members. One of the specific roles of a Scrum Master in Scrum is to prevent a process where a person assigns specific tasks to team members.

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As was mentioned before, Scrum expressly forbids the behavior you are describing. From the Scrum Guide:

They are self-organizing. No one (not even the Scrum Master) tells the Development Team how to turn Product Backlog into Increments of potentially releasable functionality;

That said, quoting the Scrum Guide is unlikely to get you results. Asking to take on some of those more interesting tasks or even pair on them may be a good starting point. She might be trying to do the right thing - trying to optimize efficiency - without realizing the other impacts she's having on your growth and job satisfaction. Retrospectives are an awesome space for this discussion.

It's worth remembering that most technical people are thrust into leadership positions with no training in leadership. It's pretty common that people do these things completely ignorant of the side effects it has.

Of course, you have to take care of yourself, so if you feel like you're at a dead end with them, that's what the escalation chain is for.

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