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Some context: At the beginning of this year, my colleague and I was sent from the media company we worked as interns for a year, to be based at the media company's main software development house; a private-sector establishment with no HR department. The senior business analyst, CTO and senior developer whom we would work under all knew that we had completed the internship programme, which lasted for that year, and signed permanent contracts.

Therefore, we were told that we were junior developers, something which I am okay with at least, since that is what I feel my current level is at. Our parent company has our job titles listed simply as 'Developer' and we are the only two developers on record to have come from the company itself. We handle the development and maintenance of all their websites, along with the rest of the team at the development house. We were doing this since last year when we would communicate with the senior BA and senior developer remotely.

However, now when we have moved to their premises at our parent company line manager's request, he suddenly does not want to communicate with us. We have been bombarded with requests from clients within the media company which do not go through the BA, with no intervention from him to tell the clients that this is an unethical practice. He has also been silent in communicating to us about performance reviews and whenever he has to show up at our premises for meetings with the main boss of the development house, he tries his best to avoid us and has failed to meet the simplest of requests from us.

The main boss of the development house still views us as interns, and mid-year, he hired an intermediate developer to provide further assistance for the senior developer, as they gained more clients. However, the higher-ups soon noticed that he wasn't fulfilling his potential, and decided to terminate his contract. After his termination, the senior BA called us in for a private word and told us that he was to be let go by the end of the year, and that we were actually more skilled, and worked longer hours than him.

I personally have been given requests by the CTO to work on important projects, one of which was demonstrated at a convention. When the main boss announced that he was to leave the country to set up a new branch in the United Kingdom, he organised a get-together for everybody, including us. He also had expensive gifts for everybody, except for us, for my colleague received no gift and I received one of considerably less value, which made me quite upset. The intermediate developer who got the sack however, received an expensive one, and the message which the boss gave me was that he hopes I join the team someday.

The way things stand, I don't know about my colleague, but I enjoy working with the development house team, as I have a considerably tighter bond with the team there than with those at the media company, and problems get solved much quicker than to send an email to our line manager. We're always reminded however, that we're not fully integrated into the team, the above case is an example of that, despite the fact that we're incorporated into the sprints and expected to pull the same weight as the actual developers.

I just cannot stand being an outsider who is floating between two companies and thought of as an intern because of it, despite being virtually assimilated into the development house's company culture. The senior BA and CTO are currently on leave, so I cannot talk to them about it. The only person who I have left to talk to is the senior developer. How do I communicate the fact that I'm not satisfied with how I'm being treated by either company's superiors?

  • I’d suggest editing this question down to just the final sentence. I would also suggest a one on one with your line manager, and addressing the issue with him. – jmoreno Dec 16 '18 at 18:16
  • Our line manager is due to go on leave next week until the new year. – user90580 Dec 16 '18 at 20:36
  • Then talk to him tomorrow or next year, this isn’t an urgent matter. – jmoreno Dec 16 '18 at 21:06
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You and your colleague are in limbo. You're floating between internship and employment, and nobody with the authority to do anything about it wants to deal with it. This totally stinks. But you know that.

What can you do about it? Treat it as a business problem to solve. Engage in a formal negotiation. That has several steps.

  1. Decide what you want, and figure out how to state it crisply. "Please bring me on your permanent staff, and give me the title of developer reporting to xxx and working on yyy. Please do this by date zzz." is an example.

  2. Think about what you will settle for. Contractor with hourly pay? Junior developer? Reporting to some other person?

  3. Figure out your BATNA -- best alternative to a negotiated agreement. In your situation this may be a solid offer of employment from some other company.

  4. Figure out a crisp statement of the benefits to your counterparty (the company) of accepting your suggestion "The company will make more money when I have the authority to talk to customers directly."

  5. Ask for an appointment with a person in authority. Make it private. If you and your colleague do this together, you may freak them out.

  6. Politely state your goal (1) and your case (4). DO NOT STATE YOUR SETTLE POSITION (2) OR YOUR BATNA (3) at this point. Make them work a little bit to find out your settle position. You should try to find out their settle position. Your BATNA will sound like a threat: that's rarely helpful in a negotiation, so keep it in your pocket.

  7. Say "I'd really like to have this situation settled by zzz date if possible. How can we work together to make it happen? What can I do personally to move things forward?"

  8. Listen. Talk it through. If you're offered something surprising as an alternative, ask for some time to think it over. {A minute or two? Overnight? Whatever you need.) If you're offered something you can accept, say "yes".

  9. DO NOT SAY "I have to get the approval of my spouse" or some such thing: negotiations work best when the negotiators have the authority to get the deal done. Claim the authority to get your part of this deal done.

  10. If the person says "It's not my authority" ask for a referral to someone with the authority, and start again with step 5.

If nobody can respond to your request, it's BATNA time. Just resign, with a graceful amount of notice, and do something else.

You are seeking a "win-win-win" situation: you win, your employer wins and your customers win. It's not winner-take-all -- you don't have to get everything you demand.

This kind of negotiation is an honest and straightforward way to deal with this kind of problem. They teach this stuff in business schools, so your employer should recognize what you are doing.

Good luck and strength.

  • Resigning is not an option unfortunately. Dealing with customers is a non-factor. Additionally, the advice you gave me - should I only pursue this in the new year? As I stated, the senior developer is the only one who is left in office. The expensive gift - a pair of wireless headphones - was ordered in surplus and there were two unopened pairs left in the boss's office after he cleared everything else out. Should I maybe prod the senior dev and point out how we're feeling about the gifts to maybe get a feeling of where we stand? – user90580 Dec 16 '18 at 20:41
  • I wouldn't prod about this as that just leads to uncertainty, just be clear about te whole thing. You can bring it up during the meeting though as something you'd appreciate, a righting of wrongs. – Borgh Dec 17 '18 at 8:41
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right now, when I am writing this answer, I am depressed as hell. This is because I have not been productive in my own respective view. I know one thing for sure that even though, I may not get an expensive gift, I am always happy for my work, because, it's the best thing I do.

As for your answer, I suggest you one thing, don't float it around to anyone. Just do your work, if you feel you cannot do it, share the responsibility with other people. I just want you to know if you standing there you can create new opportunities, just be vigilant and when the time is right, hit them in the face by showing your value to them.

BTW, this is just an opinion if you feel you're not comfortable with it, no problem just ignore it.

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