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So I am less than a month into a great new job. The CTO assigned me some tasks and then handed me over to the Sen Dev who shot down those tasks as not being that important, which leaves me with not much to do except do my best to learn my way around the current products we are building and maintaining.

I don't know if this is a communication thing being so brand new, but I would like to get back to feeling productive and providing value where I can until I become familiar with our products codebase.

To be clear, its an actual task on the Trello board.

So, it's really concerning me that I get tasks assigned by one leader and then they get shot down by another.

How do I safeguard my future here and mitigate this dynamic?

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    Who is your direct boss? – DarkCygnus Jan 30 at 17:41
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    @DarkCygnus, I have been doing my 1-on-1 with the CTO. – Daniel Jan 30 at 17:43
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    and why did he "handed you to the sen dev"? – DarkCygnus Jan 30 at 17:44
  • Not very important tasks are EXACTLY the types of tasks that should be given to someone new to a job. It helps them be useful as they learn processes and where everything is, without slowing down team members. – thursdaysgeek Jan 30 at 17:45
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    @Daniel I wouldn't worry about the senior dev and what he says too much. He doesn't sound interested or concerned about your work and probably has more important stuff to worry about. I would just hope that the CTO would give you the morale boost you need or push other members to assist you if you are having problems. – Shadowzee Jan 31 at 0:50
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How should I proceed?

Under normal circumstances, you should ultimately do what your direct boss asks you to do. However, you indicate that your direct boss is the CTO, and he sent you over to the Sen Dev.

First I suggest you tell the Sen Dev that the CTO insisted on those other tasks. If after that, the Sen Dev insist on doing theirs I suggest you get on your way so you don't waste time, however...

I suggest you also document the task change, an email to the CTO and Sen Dev should do it, something like:

Hello Sen Dev. I have started working on tasks X and Y as discussed. I am copying CTO so he can be up to date to the changes and progress, and if there is anything else you two would like to mention regarding the project.

Communication is key in situations like this, not only to be efficient and productive, but to avoid possible fallout on you.

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The tasks "not being important" do not make them unassigned.

You do the work assigned by the CTO. You report to your direct supervisor that you are doing work assigned by the CTO, and keep them informed of your progress.

If the senior dev instructs you to NOT execute the assignments given to you by the CTO, then the US Navy has EXACTLY the action plan you need:

  1. Contradictory and Conflicting Orders If an enlisted person in the naval service receives an order, which annuls, suspends or modifies one received from another superior, he or she shall immediately represent the facts to the superior from whom the last order was received. If, after such representation, the superior from whom the last order was received should insist upon the execution of that order, it shall be obeyed. The person receiving and executing such order shall report the circumstances as soon as practicable to the superior from whom the original order was received.
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    Wesley, an old friend of mine was a Marine so I am familiar with 1024, but not sure if thats what I need to do. – Daniel Jan 30 at 17:45
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    @Daniel - The military has given CENTURIES of thought in how to handle these situations. You don't have to be sure. Those who came up with this were sure. You just have to trust that they worked through ALL the alternatives, and this is what they resolved at. – Wesley Long Jan 30 at 18:07
  • @WesleyLong That may be the correct rule for the military, but it doesn't mean it's the correct rule in all circumstances. The distinction between officer and enlisted is usually not replicated in technical fields. – David Thornley Jan 30 at 20:28
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    The two settings are close enough that following these directions will keep your proverbial bacon out of the fire. – Adonalsium Jan 30 at 20:43

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