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I've been working in this company as a .NET developer for 3 months.

When I came here the product was a total mess. Everyone worked on the same branch in TFS. The projects lacked structure. No coding standards. No CI or CD. Bad database management and so on.

The technical lead of this team is a very bad developer but he's been acting like he knows the solution to every problem (by providing the absolute most straightforward path that works 20 percent of the time). No one notices how absurd these solutions are because they either lack experience or they are worse than him.

I was really excited initially when I started here because there were so many things to improve.

The team wanted to migrate one of the APIs to .NET Core to save money by deploying on a Linux machine but the technical lead had labeled this as "impossible" since he had tried it before but couldn't get it to even build. They also wanted to implement continuous integration and deployment for which the same person worked a full month and couldn't even get to build the application properly.

So I took on the migration task and it worked flawlessly. Then I improved the project structure. Then I refactored a huge part of the code. Then I introduced git and set up the whole CI and CD pipeline + deploying automatically on an on-premises machine (which was again labeled "impossible" before that). I introduced code reviews and a solid branching strategy. I integrated a critical payment system that has been working without a single bug found by the QA or a runtime exception. Mentored juniors, and many other things.

I've been busting my ass for these 3 months.

Anyways, the previous week our boss came from Ireland and all of these things were presented as if the technical lead did them. Of course I didn't hear anything from that, but this morning I received an email by the boss explaining to every employee how big and innovative the changes we've made are and that

"we ran into roadblocks, but with the innovative mind and leadership of tech lead name we managed to achieve it*.

This got me so frustrated, since he is the person that did the least in these last 3 months. How should I react about it? What should I say? I feel like I've wasted my time and everything I did was stolen.

I wouldn't mind in any way if the email just said that the team did it, but mentioning this specific name got me extremely nervous.

And an important thing I should note. Only the technical and software development leads communicate with Ireland. The rest of the team is pretty much presented by whatever they say.

Edit: I just overheard that they called the tech lead "a genius" so it's pretty clear that he's been taking credit for the team's work for some time

Edit 2: This question is different than Handling Credit-takers since it is related to this specific situation.

Edit 3: The "tech-lead" is a developer by position and not a direct manager to anyone. (I'll edit the question to make it clearer later)

Edit 4: I'm thinking of going with Raf M.'s answer and so far I've put up this email

Hi boss name,

It's exciting to know that you share the same enthusiasm as we here do for improving the product in every possible way.

I just want to address your mentioning of credit-taking guy. While he's an amazing person and very knowledgeable about the business logic and the domain specific parts, making such statements really makes it sound like there is one person coming up with all the innovative solutions (which is absolutely not the case) and puts the rest of the team in a bad light. We have an astonishing manager here in the face of software development lead and we have 6 other great developers working hard every day and contributing their best.

From my understanding all you have as a point of contact here are software development lead and credit-taking guy. By communicating with the same people every day it's probably easy to forget that our company's recent great achievements (which far exceed the simple migration to .NET Core) were actually accomplished at the team level and not a single person contributed more or less than the rest.

This is why I would like to propose having short periodic meetings (every few days/weekly) with the whole team where everyone can give an update on whatever it is they work on currently. These meetings will pay off in the following way:

  • You'll get to know each team member better
  • You'll be able to get a better view of the software development process
  • You'll be constantly up to date with the status of the development
  • You'll be able to directly communicate the latest business requirements and >the person who would be responsible of implementing them would be able to >directly ask questions
  • Each team member is going to improve their ability of explaining things on >the business level rather than on the technical
  • The team's motivation to achieve greatness is going to increase as each member would know that his work is going to be presented to the business directly by him and would therefore carry personal responsibility for it

The cost of these meetings is miniscule over the amazing benefits they provide and how much they would improve the collaboration between Ireland and Bulgaria. We can easily run these in less than 20 minutes.

Best regards, John

Edit 5: I was called today by the said "tech-lead" (I researched and found out that he's on the same position as mine - senior software developer) and we had a serious fight on another unrelated to this post issue. It seems that this whole thing is not going to work. I have taken the day off and will reflect on whether the problem is in my behavior or this guy is simply going crazy.

  • I just edited the post. It's pretty clear now that this is not the case and he's been presenting himself as the key player in this whole movement to the better of the product. – John Marcus May 2 '18 at 8:43
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    Possible duplicate of Handling Credit-takers – gnat May 2 '18 at 8:51
  • @JohnMarcus Do you have a project manager? Does the tech lead is your direct manager? Does the company use some sort of agile system (or any other project managing methodology)? Have you been recognised by your team internally? Your manager's job is to manage. It seems like he did it pretty well - the job is done, so he deserves the recognition. The fact that he based it on one person who was keen to do all the job is a whole different story. – Raf M. May 2 '18 at 10:50
  • Yes, we do have a software development lead. The "tech-lead" is just a developer. I have been recognized by my team internally many times and they are thankful for all the changes. But I don't really seek to be praised, rather to just not have the credit taken by someone personally. – John Marcus May 2 '18 at 11:20
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    The really important thing is that your co-workers know what you did and the level of contribution you made. A lead taking undeserved credit for the work of others is going to have a very harsh comeuppance eventually, and when it happens you don't want him to point any fingers towards you-- which someone like that is apt to do for retaliation. – teego1967 May 2 '18 at 23:20
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I feel like I've wasted my time and everything I did was stolen.

You did not waste your time. You've learnt a tone and meaningfully contributed to the product. It will not go by without the recognition, it just might not be the recognition you would expect.

How should I react about it? What should I say?

First of all, you should take a step back and calm down. In the heat of the moment, especially when we feel mistreated, it's easy to overreact and cause more harm in the professional environment. Don't think about how you should or could react to receive the due recognition, but what you can do in the future, so similar situation will not happen?

I would start with sending an email to the entire team (you might CC the Boss from Ireland, if you want, you might even construct this email as a Reply to All on the email the Boss sent at first place) in which you would thank everyone (the whole team, don't mention anyone in particular) for the hard work on the improving the existing process and practices. Then state your contribution: since you're the one who set up version control, continuous integration/delivery and such, ask everyone (the team) if they would be happy to organise a meeting in which you - as the 'product owner' - would explain exactly what the VS/CI/CD is, how to use it, why do the company benefit from it and propose some other improvements to the existing system (do you do pull requests? do you do pair programming? do you do daily stand-ups? do you use scrum or any other agile/not-agile methodology?). Talk about mentoring juniors, bring that to the table - name juniors and the improvement they have made. Tell about how it can improve the product, the project and the company as a whole. Focus on improvement and growth.

Make yourself an innovative thinker. Someone who brings a lot to the table, solves existing problems and happily work with others. That will get you the recognition you seek.

Don't be bitter. Bitterness stops us from doing great things. Don't let one person change who you are and how you interact with others, and especially - don't let that person destroy the joy you clearly have from programming and development.

Alright, but what about the future?

Monitor your work. Use the time tracker, maybe introduce ticketing system to the company (talk with your lead about it!). Write down every single bit you do (it will also help when you will be negotiating the raise, or pointing out your contribution in your one-on-one meeting in the future). Introduce pull requests and tell people what did they right (not only what they need to improve). Giving other people recognition, is the best way to get yourself some. ;)

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    This seems he should just ignore it, and in the future he should continually monitor his work so this won't happen again. That is just adding extra work over his normal job day. And honestly this should not be the case. Not pointing this out can give the "incompetent" more respect and power and allow him to climb higher in the company when he clearly should not. Who knows what more the "teach-leader" will tell the business people is "impossible" and make it harder and more difficult for developers to continue doing their work. – Bojje May 2 '18 at 13:27
  • @Bojje Point taken. What about the part with the email, when OP would state all of his achievements and propose some further improvements? – Raf M. May 2 '18 at 14:10
  • Yeah. Great idea. When bonus times comes the lead developer will get the bonus, he will not. This is, btw., fraud - criminal behavior. – TomTom May 2 '18 at 15:17
  • Yes, TomTom, bonus and promotion times will be when this whole thing matters most and it's really important that it's clear. Raf M. I'm thinking of going with your answer except without stating my personal achievements. I've attached an example email, if you care to review. Thank you so much for your answer! – John Marcus May 2 '18 at 19:34
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    @JohnMarcus I really don't think that your draft would be an appropriate email to send, as you came out somewhat bitter anyway. Would you mind moving this conversation to chat, so more people can help you out and we don't use comments for extended discussion? – Raf M. May 3 '18 at 12:05
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You have some options here:

  1. You could email your boss a thank you, explaining what you have done (and why!) and offer some more help.
  2. Or you could ask your boss and the tech-lead, if he would like to explain what exactly he has done. Then you could also ask your tech-lead some detailed questions about Git, CI+CD, ...

Cheers!

  • Don't you think that the second option would present OP as a envious person, who is trying to prove everyone that they indeed don't know what they do, instead of focusing on the team work aspect and his own achievements? – Raf M. May 2 '18 at 9:24
  • Yes of course, but I also think this depends on the type of questions you ask and the type of person the tech-lead is. You should only consider option 2, when the Tech-Lead claimed (to the boss) that he made these changes all alone (and you absolutely know he has no experiences). But yes, option 2 can be risky. – Ben May 2 '18 at 9:37
  • The problem is that the boss doesn't really know who I am since we're in two different countries and we don't communicate. I don't want to be seen as envious or a guy who wants to take all the credit. A thank you note would seem strange considering the email is sent to the whole company. – John Marcus May 2 '18 at 10:11
  • Think about it. You are frustrated because someone else (very incompetent) got all the credit (for your work). You think you wasted your time. So, when you want to change it, you have to make this clear. What could go wrong, you are already frustrated? Maybe you have to modify option 1 a little. You can ask your boss or tech-lead (after they noticed the improvements) to switch departments/responsibilities, because that work (refactoring/Git/Deployment) is more satisfying to you and better for the company in general. – Ben May 2 '18 at 10:34
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I realize you want the credit for the work you did, but you also have to realize that if you made major mistakes, your team lead would be held responsible. You don't get it both ways. Trying to take credit from your boss and/or excessively criticize him is really frowned upon in many companies.

If the team lead was smart, he would acknowledge the work you have done to you, the team and his boss. It's common courtesy and a way to motivate people. If the company is looking to reduce staff, I would want to make sure my boss knows who the major contributors are on my team so they're not let go. This would benefit you since you're the most recent hire; you could be the next fired due to no fault of your own.

Try to keep your sanity in these matters. Having a bad boss is never easy. Just hope your boss gets promoted and they put you in his job as the best candidate. Because if your boss is considered a failure and gets fired, they'll probably bring in a replacement from the outside because you'll all be viewed as failures.

  • This is not the case. I've made mistakes already and have taken full responsibility for them. I'm not trying to take credit personally, but for the whole team. The "boss" did pretty much nothing and now I'm thinking that he's really just abusing that he's one of the two people who communicate with Ireland and taking credit for everything. – John Marcus May 2 '18 at 19:36
  • @JohnMarcus - You may have taken responsibility for them, but the boss is one of two people who communicates with Ireland. Do you think he told them about your mistake or was he required to take some responsibility for it? You may never know. – user8365 May 3 '18 at 15:21
  • Your point of view is interesting and it made me ask a few questions about that today. It turned out that this "tech-lead" guy is on the same position as mine and the mistakes that he supposedly took responsibility for were just passed on to "that developer we have over here in Bulgaria". – John Marcus May 3 '18 at 16:00
  • It's no doubt you're in a tough spot and there are many variables involved which just makes the whole think that much more complicated. I feel my answer is limited in this case. – user8365 May 3 '18 at 16:29
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Get the hell out of there and look for another job. Explain the boss - possibly in an open letter - why you leave. Simple like that.

Life is too short to live with incompetent people taking all the credits, and developers are heavily sought after.

If the company decides to make problems, take them to court. You can expect your references to be true - which includes how YOU implemented modern development practices.

  • The OP is getting a lot of quality experience even though he has a bad boss. This will help him land a better job, but I wouldn't be in a hurry. There are plenty of other bad bosses out there. – user8365 May 2 '18 at 19:26
  • These were my initial thoughts, but I'd try to avoid quitting after so little time. The experience + the opportunity to mentor juniors is not to be left so easily. – John Marcus May 2 '18 at 19:37
  • That may be true, but I generally avoid working with people that have no morale at all and are not over criminal behavior (because all this WILL influence who gets a raise/promotion/bonus). I have repeatedly called out this behavior in teams - and not in the "I call HR" style but in my signature "letter to legal and CEO threatening to forward this for prosecution". – TomTom May 2 '18 at 19:49
  • I have sent the email that I added in the post and will update with the results. Depending on the boss' reply and the tech lead's reaction this may be my next step. Thank you! – John Marcus May 3 '18 at 6:20
  • "Quit your job" is not considered an acceptable answer on Workplace Stack Exchange. As in many cases it actually is a good advice, it doesn't solve the problem presented to the community by OP. Job quitting is a way of avoiding the problem. – Raf M. May 3 '18 at 8:44

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