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Friend of mine was assigned a task to explore commercial possibilities in a completely new market for the company. There was no real in-house expertise in this market and he was the only guy who had critical mass of knowledge to move forward with it at that moment. He agreed with the management that should business cases justification be found, the market activities will be separated into a project office.

He proposed me to join him, since I’m kinda expert in this market. In fact it was me who influenced him to gain expertise in that field in the first place, so I guess he felt obliged in some way. I agreed to this proposal, so he passed my CV to HR and I was able to convince her I’m the guy company needs to move forward in this new market.

My task was to "provide expertise", whatever that means, and it was my mistake to agree to such a vague terms.

I noticed that he is considered (although, unofficially) as a chief in this new uncreated project office because he just works there longer than I do and it was he who was assigned to the task in the first place.

However, for a friend of mine, this project is just a side activity with high risk/reward ratio, and he has serious safe haven in other mission critical projects in the company. Should our activities fail, he always has back-up, should we succeed, office will be created and he will be assigned as a director of projects. However, he is not committed to this project at all, and devotes to it maybe 1/4 of his time, since it’s basically a gamble.

And I’m stuck there, full-time committed, "providing expertise" in a high risk project. And even if it succeeds, basically all laurels go to my friend anyway. I’m too soft to step up and start confronting my friend: he’s my friend in the end, and he basically offered me to join him. However, I started to see that he does not shun to consolidate his supremacy as a project director should any chance occur.

It’s becoming really psychologically uncomfortable for me, and our relations are beginning to crack.
Is quitting my only option, or is there something else I can do?

  • Just stop doing all the work, and watch it fall and see what he does about it – Twyxz Jan 22 at 15:02
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    You seem really focused on your friend: his decisions, his backup plan, his potential for success or failure. What about you? What motivates you? How risk-adverse are you? What can you do to have your own backup plan? What can you do to make this new venture successful? It's hard to give advice on what you should do when the question spends so much time talking about your friend. If this person wasn't a friend, and was just a random co-worker, how would you re-phrase the question? – dwizum Jan 22 at 15:13
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    @dwizum - indeed, it seems more like the OP is a bit jealous of what his friend has to gain from the success of the project than anything else. – AndreiROM Jan 22 at 15:17
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    Then I guess @AndreiROM is right. You seem upset at being hired to help your friend succeed. And now you want to quit because you won't get the glory if he does succeed? You say "any action which creates favourable conditions for me hurts his interests" but that would only really be true if, by "favorable conditions" you mean that it's you in the limelight instead of him. You seem to be ruling out the possibility of being happy with the venture succeeding and both of you doing well as a result. Not really sure why. – dwizum Jan 22 at 15:56
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    Why do you consider yourself a "sacrifice?" Once again, your language makes it seem like it's an "either/or" thing, where only one of you can possibly come out a winner. This is a business, not a cage match. There can be more than one successful person in a team or company. – dwizum Jan 22 at 16:23
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First thing: if you are working with or for him, then he's no longer your friend, he's a colleague or boss. People keep making this mistake and it is crucial that you recognise the distinction. It's business and at the end of the day we are all in competition with each other for recognition and reward. It can be friendly, but you must not take it personally.

He's not going to pay your mortgage or look after you when you are ill, and you're not going to do it for him either.

To your immediate concern, have you talked to your colleague about your reservations? Ask him what your and his priorities should be.

If it is a serious problem for you, ask to be transferred to a different project. Do not quit until you have a new job offer in hand and contracts signed.

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So, who is responsible if this project fails? Not who get blamed but who, ultimately has his name on the line.

it sounds like your friend is.

Do you think that if this project fails your friend will just cut ties, laugh at you and tell you to shove the hurt where the sun doesn't shine? Then he is not your friend at all.

In either case he is not just your friend he is also your manager and you need to talk to him like he is your manager. You say you are too soft for this but then the question becomes "I am afraid to talk to my manager" which is a whole different ballgame.

Maybe someone else, up higher in the company is responsible. Find out who greenlit the project in the first place and talk to them about this case. If it is a senior person they should be able to give you some kind of exit scenario that will allow you to get out of the project if it turns out it is not feasible.

workloads in projects are rarely even and it is not unusual that the distribution between glory and work is skewed even further, this is just the way some thing are. As long as you think your friend will treat you fairly and you have an exit scenario on hand just keep your nose to the grindstone and make sure that the right people, people who can recognize your contribution, know how hard you work. Your friend might get the champagne and handshake of the CEO but hopefully you will walk away with the appreciative nods from some experienced people, which I think is just as important.

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It seems to me that the problem here is the fact that your friend seems to be taking the credit for your work. And this is true in a sense, however you're ignoring the many risks he has taken to bring you on board, as well as the fact that you wouldn't have this job if it weren't for him.

This job represents an opportunity. An opportunity that you would not have without your friend's help. He is in charge of this initiative, and will also take the blame if it fails (even if it wouldn't get him fired).

As your manager it's only natural that he will reap the rewards of his department's success. If he's fair and honest then he will admit that you played a big role, and acknowledge his team's hard work, but in the end it will still be him receiving the accolades, which is more or less what happens in any organization.

Rather than be upset about it, consider that if this initiative succeeds then you will likely be offered further employment with that company, and you may even be able to request a raise, or a senior position if more employees are brought on. Or perhaps this will simply serve as great experience for your resume.

The better you perform the more you stand to gain as well.

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