We are a small company of about 100 people. I along with another senior member (same designation as me but older and more experienced) are jointly incharge of developing a product.

We have a team under us but our manager has made it clear that we can decide amongst ourselves who will do what and he does not intend to get into details as long as the product is delivered.

We are having reasonable success with it but my problem is this other person has not made any meaningful contribution to the project. He is always available in meetings but does not help with any useful contribution during or after. I am doing all the planning and execution.

He is not blocking my work or being counter-productive. He is in fact reasonably friendly as well. He does have other projects as well and he is probably doing well there. Just no contribution to my product.

Initially I was not worried about the credit but now I am not very happy with the idea of him sharing the credit for not doing anything. It is even more frustrating when he says "WE have built this".

So my question is how to handle the situation above? Not take any action or let someone know and if so how?

Edit: It is not duplicate of the question marked above because it is not that this person has jumped at the end to take credit. He was there all along in all meetings and discussions. Just did not contribute. Also that question itself is closed because it is not constructive

  • This is fairly subjective. Can you show proof of his lack of contribution to this project? If not, then it's a case of your word against his.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 4:06
  • Can you hit him with a hospital pass ie a ball he can’t catch in a meeting? Can you move on to another project? Do you still want to be involved? Can you take all the evidence ( orders, client contacts etc) to your boss to show your input?
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 4:13
  • 2
    Being charitable, he could just be spread thin between a lot of different projects and doesn't have much to contribute to yours yet other than the green light. Also "we" is the correct pronoun for a group project and not necessarily an attempt to take credit for your work. I say all this in the hope that he's not your resident silver-tongued psychopath with the ear of the boss, because if that's the case there's absolutely nothing you can do about him. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 4:16
  • @joeqwerty You are right. Eventually it will be my word against his. I do not think he will lie when directly asked what exactly is your contribution. No one has been that blunt so far and I am trying to avoid the need for that as well. But no proof otherwise.
    – PagMax
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 5:02
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of Handling Credit-takers
    – gnat
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 10:08

4 Answers 4


Talk to the boss in private and present him the situation, the way you see it. Tell him that you do not have hard evidence, but give relevant examples (similar to what you did here). IMPORTANT: keep your emotions under control, visit the boss only when you know you can do it.

If you feel up to it, suggest to your boss the following experiment: to let you manage alone the project - he will see that nothing bad will happen to the project - you will be able to go on without "sharing" the work.


Suggest the boss to change nothing, except that him (the boss) should pay more attention on who is doing actual work. He should have casual discussions with people, getting feedback on how the two of you are sharing responsibilities, how you help the team, the project...

Be as detailed as possible. Show him a few e-mails. Tell him about the phone calls. Anything that "looks" like a proof.

Last but not least: pray that your colleague and the boss are not relatives / friends (I have been through that, you surely do not want to repeat the experience).


Being devil's advocate here: Do you know the role of the other senior member in this project? What are the responsibilities assigned to him? What are the deliverable expected of him? Without knowing that background, it's really difficult to come to a conclusion.

To start off, I'd say, start keeping tabs, if you have not been already. Divide the work in a fashion that part of it has to be approved (or completed, or signed-off) by the other person. Write e-mails and politely insist on having e-mail communication, for future reference and ease of management.

You certainly cannot confront him all of a sudden, but try to change the practice in a way, where there is only one one of the two possible outcomes

  • Either he has to put some attention / effort to get the things actually done.
  • He has to surrender and give priority to your decisions / efforts which will clear things up for the higher management also. Maybe his role (or allocation) in this project is only meant as a supervisor (no offense to you, fairly common it IT projects, in my experience) or a technical specialist (a role needed for reviewing design decisions) - you'll also get clarity on this.

Also, along with the previous approach, you can also make use of a tracker tool - to track the (daily) activities, it's very useful in scenarios like this. You can also make use of an excel-sheet for this purpose - to start with.

However, in a corner case scenario - he is able to manage some middle ground (not doing any actual work but also not mentioning his role as a supervisor), that indicates there is some unfair play. Then, you need to talk to your manager about this, but good things is, by that time you'll have some proofs (e-mails) to back your statements up - not going to be judged by "words".

  • To be fair, he does give priority to my decisions and never interfere. He is not counter-productive. Just not needed yet he is there as 'co-developer'. To your another point, this is NOT an IT project and I am very clear of what our roles are. He is not there to "supervise" and even if he was, he is not doing any supervision.
    – PagMax
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 5:46
  • @PagMax Giving priority to your decisions may also indicate that he is not willing to invest any time in doing work. The easiest way out is to agree to any proposed solution. :) Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 5:58
  • @PagMax In case you're sure of the roles and the expected work - then you're already one step ahead. Start using a tracker tool where you and your team can log work- that should give you a starting point Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 5:59
  • Yes you are right he is not willing to invest any time in doing work. And I honestly do not care as well. My problem is just he sharing credit with me. (And I know how selfish I sound when I say that!)
    – PagMax
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 6:23
  • @PagMax You are no wrong. It's due. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 6:27

As others have discussed, this is particularly difficult because, based on the info you’ve described so far, it’s very subjective your-word-versus-his. Before you start down this path, keep in mind that people tend to overestimate their contributions and underestimate others’. Not usually out of spite or malice, but just because I see all the work I do every day but I don’t see everything you do. I generally don’t get to see every microsecond of your day, and I therefore don’t give you credit for things I didn’t actually see you do. He may well think he’s doing a good job, especially if he has work that you’re accounting for.

So, you may well be 100% correct in your assessment, but remember that when you raise it, others may not have visibility into what you do and may well be underestimating your contribution. It’s ironic, but raising this issue could boomerang back as additional scrutiny on your contributions.

Also, you should expect that your friends will nod an agree, dismissing him as “useless.” Meanwhile, his friends will probably become defensive and possibly hostile toward you.

So, if you’re going down this path you absolutely must change this from a subjective to an objective discussion. The best way to do that is with some form of work tracking.

There are subtle ways you can do this without obviously pointing a finger at your coworker. How are you tracking work now? If you’re in an Agile shop, you’re already tracking tasks and work per sprint. If you’re not robustly tracking work, you can introduce work tracking in a non-confrontational way: “there’s so much going on that I’m losing track, and post-it notes are getting lost. Let’s start tracking work items using (name your favorite system)”

Once you’re tracking work, you have an objective record. Simply reviewing tasks, maybe during a daily standup meeting typical of Agile development or not n a weekly team meeting, your coworker may quietly see the disparity and start taking on more things. Or you may see work that he’s doing that you didn’t know about. Or, you may build an concrete list showing the disparity.

You should not raise this as an issue before having that concrete list. But once you have it, you can have a productive discussion with your manager, “We need another person on the team... here’s all the work we have to do divided between me and (other guy) and we need someone to take on these unassigned items.” Your boss ought to notice, without hints, if your list is 3x longer than the coworker’s or if all of your items are vastly more complex.

This probably means more work for you in the short term as you’ll likely have to set up and manage the tracking/reporting. But you’re the one that wants to raise the issue and this is the data you need in order to do so.


Your problem isn't your colleague, your problem is your manager and the relation you have with him. How come he doesn't know that you are doing most of the work? Doesn't he keep tabs on you? Don't you talk to each other? Where's the oversight? Isn't there some sort of well-planned out and well-communicated schedule and corresponding delegation of responsibilities that everyone - you, your colleague, your team, and your manager - are all aware of? You say that your manager doesn't care about the details? What kind of manager is that? It's fine to give you more responsibility, but at least there should be some running updates, meetings, feedback loops, no?

Your colleague taking some of the credit is the least of your worries, because you seem to be working under a manager who has no interested in giving out any credit to begin with. Forget your colleague, and worry about this. In fact, your senior colleague probably realizes this and behaves accordingly: why should he care when the manager himself couldn't be bothered?

  • 1
    Is this an answer? Just a set of questions - better a comment.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 4:16
  • It is not that manager could not be bothered. He just thought we would team up well and manage this without his involvement. We are a small company and working on several things and everyone takes ownership of some product till the end. I do not bother my manager unless I need to. If I raise this, he will surely take it seriously. I just do not know if I should or not.
    – PagMax
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 5:03
  • Actually, the manager trusts both of the people and empowered them. He knows that he does not need to worry. It is a different story that one of them failed the expectations. Also, maybe the manager is running some experiment, to which of the two is more loyal to the company. You did not provide any answer. -1
    – virolino
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 5:33
  • 1
    This is currently not really an answer. You should edit it to include an actual answer to OPs problem, not just your analysis of their problem.
    – Magisch
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 7:35
  • @PagMax your manager is going to do the performance review. Without knowing the details, how could he give you a fair review? This answer gives you the idea you should let the manager know all those details from the beginning. Just go to your manager, tell him what happened and let him handle this matter. The manager is paid big bucks, it's his job to handle it.
    – Nobody
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 8:03

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