A couple of years ago I joined a startup as first technical contributor.

I have had privilege to see this venture growing from small "thing" to what it is now. During this time, my responsibilities grew as I took more of a leadership role.

Recently, due to the growth the owner hired a manager (against my advice due to the cost and fact that his duties would be limited).

They quickly became friends and the new manager. started building his own empire within the company.

He started having private conversations with people from the team I used to lead and started making comments based on those private conversations, despite having no real knowledge of what was going on.

I spoke with this person and also with the owner - from my perspective situations like this looked to be designed to take away my authority and hard won position of team leader.

My concerns were dismissed by the owner and the manager. I eventually stopped bringing these issues up, as it seemed the owner was growing annoyed.

I enjoy working on the product but I do not enjoy office politics and weird situations created by the manager. My morale is low, and I feel this is by design.

I don't know what else I can tell to the owner with whom I thought I have good relationship. The company is still very small so there is no HR, but even if there was HR would that be something that falls under HR situation?


  • have you considered your won start-up?
    – Mawg
    Nov 22, 2018 at 8:11

1 Answer 1


You are in a startup where you were the first technical contributor. You grew in the role and took on more of a leadership role. And now, the owner brought in a manager. And you feel slighted. You thought you would always be the lead, and now you feel you are being passed over by this new hire.

Everything you wrote is completely normal. This has happened in virtually every startup where I have ever worked. Sometimes, you can grow fast enough in your role to stay ahead and be the overall leader. Sometimes you cannot and the company brings in new leaders.

Your best bet is to talk with the owner. Express how you are feeling and seek clarity in your role going forward. Learn where you really stand.

At that point you could try to challenge the newcomer for the leadership position. This is risky, since the owner brought this new manager in for some reason.

Or, you could decide that this is still a company and a role worth keeping - even if you aren't the top dog any longer.

Finally, you can decide that the company/role no longer fits your personal needs. In that case, you find your next job then quit this one.

These things happen. Try not to take it personally.

I enjoy working on the product but I do not enjoy office politics and weird situations created by the manager.

For good or for bad, this happens when startups grow. The larger the company the more office politics tend to go on. If you want to continue in leadership roles, you'll have to get used to it.

if there was HR would that be something that falls under HR situation?

No. Your situation would not be of interest to HR.

  • Thank you for great answer. I am not interested in being a top dog (at least I think I am not interested) however my perception is that the tools that let me lead the team are being taken away from me. I have no formal education in management however I used to read and learn as I was transitioning. I'm a bit lost in what I can do to, as you put it, "continue in leadership roles" (either here or anywhere else). Can you advice on what more can I do to grow?
    – evgeny
    Nov 20, 2018 at 23:04
  • Thank you once again. I thought about MBA, it seems now is the time to revisit the topic. I like your blog too, QA is something of my interest.
    – evgeny
    Nov 20, 2018 at 23:44
  • just spotted your other comment - I meant the actual role within the company that, as you rightly noticed, needs to be redefined so it is clear what responsibilities are but also what authority is attached to it.
    – evgeny
    Nov 20, 2018 at 23:48

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