I am in a very complicated situation: I was hired 2.5 years ago at this company for a job I was not trained for but I was sure I could do it. I was very upfront about it at the interview and I was still hired with the understanding that I will need a senior to coach me. However, the manager who hired me left the company before I even started.

4 months after I started, a new manager is hired. A year after I started the coach is finally hired as an external consultant working. This coach is supposed to work as a senior and coach myself and my colleague with the same job description.

Now this project is a software project. We use Scrum and we work Agile. (this manager is all for trending stuff, every month he has a new favorite word). The problem is our backlog is filling up faster than we can develop. In my opinion, it is not appreciated how much time things really take. The workload is certainly too much for one senior and 2 trainees (we are slower and need room for mistakes).

The senior is a fair man but quite strict. He expects the best. I am not doing too bad. I have learnt a lot and I really enjoy the work itself. However, my colleague, the other trainee, has had a burnout earlier this year. He is often so stressed he cannot focus. He has admitted to me many times that he does not like this work and it is too hard for him. But my colleague is afraid to tell this to the manager, because he might lose his job.

So I am in a team of 3 where the senior is demanding, always expecting better, one trainee that fails to deliver any work for months and myself, trying my very best, but handicapped by the mismanagement of the team. I have been filling in for my colleague during his burnout, but he never caught up again. He asks me for help all the time and I can spend hours explaining things only to have him ask it again the next day.

So long story short: My manager is under pressure to deliver the project. It is clear that we are not delivering fast enough. We have been very open about our issues. Yesterday he exploded during a standup meeting, accusing my colleague and I of letting the team down. Of not contributing and not caring about it.

In a way I am happy it happened because my colleague has finally admitted this job is not his thing. However I feel completely wronged by the outbursts. My relationships in the workplace and outside work has taken damage because of working after working hours to catch up. My health has declined because of stress.

I feel that I have to do something, stand up for myself. I feel that is due to the management’s apathy to the situation that it has dragged on this long. However the public outburst has soured the relationships at work even further and if I make a statement, it will certainly be labeled as “being difficult” and “defensiveness”.

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    So you are "doing agile" with 3 people? And still they expect "the best"? ... seems that those expectations they have do not match reality. What approaches have you taken so far? You say you feel you have something to do, but in what line of action? Do you need help in addressing this issue with your manager to find a solution? Please clarify, and if you can shorten your post and make it more focused on the goal and less on the difficulties (a better title is surely needed). Welcome to The Workplace BTW :) feel free to ping me if you need anything. – DarkCygnus Sep 12 at 21:29
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    @DarkCygnus No, they are "doing agile" with two people and one that is burned out. – gnasher729 Sep 12 at 21:37
  • You're in a tough spot, but we need some help in locating what we can help you with. – jcmack Sep 12 at 21:38
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    What country is this in? – Dark Matter Sep 13 at 19:25

To clarify, I don't know what the actual question is. It looks like there are several, so I have several answers.

  1. Is your manager participating in planning meetings for the sprints where you, your colleague and the senior dev estimate the size of the projects? (Not number of hours they will take, but about how much effort they might take.) This is critical for your team to understand what your burndown rate is and how you can deliver your work effectively in an agile environment. Without setting expectations, you can't expect your manager to know when to expect work, and he won't know that he's asking for too much.

  2. Have you been clear with your colleague that his stress and inability to 'catch up' is impacting your ability to cover for him? One or both of you is going to end up fired if he can't own up to what his actual skill level is. Your productivity level is suffering if you're coaching him regularly. Additionally, you need to refuse to coach him unless he is writing down or otherwise making notes on what you're helping him with. Do not explain the same thing over and over, it's obviously not helping.

  3. Lastly, you're right to stand up for yourself, especially if you're using a ticketing system that documents the work you've done and contributions you've made. I would suggest asking for a 1 on 1 meeting to present the work you've done and request feedback on how they would like you to improve your output. No defensiveness, no difficulty - you're asking for professional development feedback. You might find that this isn't the right environment for you, and that they don't have anything that you can improve on (other than duplicating yourself for less pay).

I'm sorry you're having to go through this, but you're on the right track to an improved work life by asking for feedback!

First of all, relax. Scrum is the best way to handle your situation. Every two weeks, you all pick two weeks of work from the backlog that you feel are most important right now, and then you have two weeks to do it. Or do a bit more if things went well, or a bit less if they went less well. You can't always estimate perfectly.

Don't do any extra work for your colleague if that means you don't deliver yourself what you should during a sprint. It's nice of you, but it doesn't help him or help you. Especially not you.

"Relax" means: You work forty hours a week, not more. Anything more is long term counter productive. Long term, you achieve most completed work by doing 40 hours a week, no more, no less. And it means: The growing backlog isn't your problem. Approaching deadlines are not your problem. They are your managers problem. You just do your job. Forty hours a week.

Now about your managers outburst: That's not acceptable. He knows it's not acceptable, but just to make sure, you need to call in a one-to-one conversation with him. And the only thing this should be about is his unacceptable outburst. You are doing a good job. And he hasn't even noticed that your colleague is close to a breakdown. (That is actually where you are slightly at fault: You shouldn't have covered for your colleague).

Erik: Scrum is there to create a product. Doesn’t mean you stop looking out for number one. You pick a task and you do it. If your colleague picks a task, they do it or they don’t. You don’t do it. Unless they give it up and it becomes your task. It’s scrum, not communism.

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    All tasks in scrum are the responsibility of the team. There are no tasks that belong to a single member. The rest of this answer is great, but that part really hurts the core idea of Scrum. – Erik Sep 13 at 10:41

Find a new job.

Yesterday he exploded during a standup meeting, accusing my colleague and I of letting the team down. Of not contributing and not caring about it.

What has he been telling upper management? What plans does he have in his back pocket that you are not aware of? He cares about himself. Do you trust these people, your colleagues and superiors, not to point fingers at you to keep their jobs.

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