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Sometime ago I was put in some sort of teamlead role in our programmers part of team. And so I got two new programmers under my responsobility. Both of them have little previous job experience, but one of them are better prepared in terms of knowledge and experience from home projects. He is somewhere between middle and junior category, while the other one is clearly junior.

So, the problem is that more experienced programmer constantly interrupt junior work. Sometimes he even take his keyboard and just write code and this is not a pair programming, because junior quickly loose what happens and why.

I do not want this to happen, because I want to junior develop by himself, of course with our help, but more in terms how he could solve this, where he can find examples of solving similar code tasks and so on. Not to agressively interrupt him in process of thinking, even if he thinks slowly than more experienced college.

Also I do not like this, because more experience programmer quickly loose focus on his tasks in project, his zone of responsobility in project. I want that he put more energy in his part of project. So I tryed to find more interesting tasks for him, so he wont loose interest in his work . We discussed what tasks he could take to get more interested in work and so I gave him more complex and bigger tasks, in which he showed more interest.

But still, that did not help and he continues to constatly interrupt junior work. Last time he even took junior task on the weekeend and made his own solution. I do not know how to react to these, because I can not gave all of the project meat to the one person and he is already have big part of the project in his zone of responsobility. I want him to more focus on his part of the project, because there is still plenty of problems to be solved, and I have a feeling that he just dont want to miss every interesting task in the project.

It also hurts project quality, because he wants to quickly end "boring" task and get new one.

TL; DR

What steps should I take to make new employee more focused on his tasks in project than tasks of other people? Escpecially when current task is boring, but still it's need to be done.

My goal is to help the new programmer focus on their own work.

Last time when I tried to talk about this problem, he took my words too personal and of course I was trying to be polite as could.

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    Are you micromanaging your team dynamics a little too much? Maybe if you leave it the team will find its own equilibrium. Or alternatively one of the programmers will simply "not fit in". Either way let the team sort itself out, this isnt school where you can just separate people.
    – solarflare
    Jun 17, 2018 at 23:56
  • Seems like the more experience developer might see the less experience one as dragging him down. If they are both new and essentially onboarding, why is the more experienced one mentoring the less experienced one on the same project? Can they work in different projects?
    – jcmack
    Jun 18, 2018 at 0:14
  • @jcmack probably they have only one project within the team for now?
    – Andrew Lam
    Jun 18, 2018 at 5:18
  • Have you considered helping mentor the junior developer as well?
    – Kevin Xu
    Jun 18, 2018 at 8:48
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    Keep in mind that "doing something instead of explaining it" is often a sign of wanting to get back to your own work sooner rather than later. In this way, the expert's and your priorities may be aligned here.
    – Flater
    Jun 18, 2018 at 11:37

2 Answers 2

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It seems like you need some training in how to effectively coach others.

Perhaps you have a mentor or a boss who could help you. Talk with them, explain your problem, and see if they can "coach the coach".

Otherwise, you may want to chat with HR. Often they are in charge of training programs.

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This is a necro... But for future people in the same boat it sounds like OP neglected to give either of the new software engineers mentors.

Giving them names:

  • X is your more experienced/talented junior engineer)
  • Y is the junior engineer who is getting helped

Because OP failed to give either of these new engineers mentors X has became the defacto mentor of Y. A case of the blind leading the blind. X is himself still learning how to be a software engineer he doesn't know how to mentor/guide a a junior engineer into becoming an effective engineer... So when Y asks for help on a problem X ends up solving the problem himself because it is faster and easier for X and allows him to get back to work sooner... X ends up doing Y's work because X knows that X will do it better than Y... less buggy etc.. Saving X work in the future.

It is not X's fault that his coworker constantly approaches him for help... It is OP's fault that OP never gave OP's new employees mentors. And chastising X for doing OP's job badly instead of X's own job because OP didn't do OP's job is unfair to X. X took OP's words personally because X was not in a position to say "Y is really struggling and needs mentoring". Because it is not X's position to say that to OP.

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    In a team of three, how many candidates for mentor can there be? If he doesn't like X mentoring, then the only alternative mentor is the OP himself!
    – Steve
    May 3, 2023 at 19:42

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