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I am an entry level developer, I and a senior colleague are working on a project. We are part of a much larger team (30 people) that are working on other projects.

I have been asked by my manager to give the whole team a session on the project I am working on to gain some visibility.

I've spent time and effort to make a presentation on my own and now my colleague wants also to pitch into the session. Now I am not sure what is the right way to deal with this situation.

On one hand I feel I should NOT let him in, as I have done all the work getting the presentation ready. But, I do not want to spoil the relationship with a senior colleague who is otherwise helpful. Another perspective is to let him join as one should be a team-player. But here I feel, he too should have helped with the presentation rather than just present my work.

I just don't know how to deal with this. I am worried that if I allow him to help present then I will not get the visibility I need to grow in my team and career. How does one manoeuvre through such situations?

  • 1
    related (probably, not a dupe): How to act in a meeting when everyone is a manager except me? You and that senior colleague doing shared preso would be communication "us to them" (as opposed to "me to them"). It's sort of a special art, and there are substantial differences from "me to them" communication - so, no, you're not "making a trivial situation complex", it's not trivial – gnat May 16 '13 at 13:50
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    @bharal it's not necessarily bad "if the colleague is senior" - if handled right, this can be turned to one's benefit instead of making it look like "take over". As I wrote above, it's sort of an art... – gnat May 16 '13 at 13:56
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    You described this person as helpful. What is the interaction of this person to your work? You cannot be "completely alone" saying others "don't contribute at all" and then describe the same person as helpful. Additionally, was the work itself only done by you? – enderland May 16 '13 at 16:49
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Your boss assigned the project to you. If the other person wants to be part of the presentation (and there could be many reasons why), the person who should make the call is your boss not you. If he asks to be part of it, refer him to your boss. If the boss agrees, then go along and above all do not act mad or disgruntled. If the boss does not want him to do it, then it is no longer your problem.

You might also suggest a different topic for him to present on (you said he had been helpful so you might be able to think of something he can share) when you talk to the boss about the issue. That way he can get some spotlight on a differnt occasion, you look supportive of his ideas, you are giving him some credit with the boss, and the boss is happy that you two aren't arguing about your presentation!

Remember that if the boss lets him help with the presentation, it is not a reflection on you and that helping a senior look good (as long as you still get credit as well) is generally not a career limiting move. Where the problem comes in is when someone who didn't work on the project takes over the presentation and makes it sound as if he did it and never mentions who did.

If the boss says no, you might practice your pitch to the senior guy and ask him for advice on how you can improve it. That will still make him feel like he is contributing and you may get some good advice. You however are under no obligation to everything he suggests. If he does suggest something that is a real improvement, be sure to give him credit at the end of your presentation for the idea. People who give other people credit when credit is due tend to gain more respect in the workplace (unless you work in a really toxic place full of cheaters and sharks).

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One way to tackle this is to tell your coworker that you are looking to enhance your presentation skills as a professional development goal (this very well could be true for you).

If he insists, you don't gain much by denying him from participating in the presentation, but if he is normally considerate, he may very well accept this and let you do this presentation solo.

In either case, if he has contributed, I would try and mention what he did during and/or after the presentation.

This is a good way to approach the problem because it gives your coworker an opportunity to bow out non-confrontationally, and it doesn't really hurt you either way.

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    Why is this the right way to handle it. From the FAQ You should always include in your answer information about why you think your answer is correct. - Using the phrase One way to tackle this to start this answer makes me think that you might even think this is not the correct answer. If so then why post it at all? – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 16 '13 at 13:00
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    @Chad I posted a small explanation of why this is a good approach. – Codeman May 17 '13 at 17:40
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Am I making a trivial situation complex? Is my dilemma justified? How does one manoeuvre through such situations?

Yes, I do think you are making too much of a big deal out of this situation.

Simply tell your colleague that you appreciate his offer, but that you prefer to do this particular presentation alone. And tell him that you are sure your manager will let him do his own presentation at a later date.

It's your presentation. Your manager asked you to do this, not the both of you. Just saying "no" in a respectful way should be sufficient.

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    I don't think this is right - the colleague is, for one, senior to him. – bharal May 16 '13 at 13:51
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    (ugh the SO @Joe stuff isn't working...) i don't know - entry level developer? I'm unconvinced in any country/culture where a super-junior can turn to a senior and, well, simply say "no". That takes the kind of growth that the average entry leveller won't have. – bharal May 16 '13 at 14:52

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