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I am a Software Engineer living in the US with 3 years of experience. I am an expert in a particular technology T that is widely used in my company.

I also speak at conferences, and have taught a multi-day workshop on T that I developed, receiving stellar feedback from the attendees (around 150 so far). Other offices have requested me to come and give training there. A much-needed senior developer was hired and they mentioned they applied to the company after seeing one of my presentations.

My first manager saw the value of my work outside the team for the company, but I recently switched teams, and my second manager was not as supportive. They kept mentioning that "balance between work inside the team and outside" is important, and while I agree with that, I believe he strongly underestimated the value of my extra work.

Due to bad timing, I had training and conferences scheduled right when I joined the new team. This impacted my performance negatively, because I had to catch-up with the team's codebase and I had less time to do so. I still contributed to the team to best of my abilities, but my priority was the other T-related work I mentioned before.

My compensation evaluation occurred just 3 months after joining the new team. I was praised for being a "guru" T, as someone that people can easily reach for help, and for helping the company hire a much-needed senior and for my recruiting/interviewing involvement.

My new manager said our evaluation metrics take the work inside the team into account, and my performance wasn't as good as expected. They explained that due to the extra work I did on T I had less time to catch up and be productive in the team, stating that it is normal but a factual performance-impacting scenario.

My compensation was ultimately increased, but not as much as other peers that started at the same time as me (and with my same base salary). They are great engineers and work hard in their teams, but they have had nowhere near the company-wide impact I had.

I didn't want to be compensated more than others for my work on T, but I would have never expected to be punished for it. I strongly believe that my impact on the company has been very positive and more important than work done inside my team.

I now feel extremely unmotivated and feel like the value of my efforts has not been recognized. I feel like just finishing my tasks as soon as possible and going home, putting minimal effort into them.

I like the company's culture and most of the people here. I really don't want to switch companies. But I feel like I am forced to interview with other companies as my value is strongly being underestimated here.

Is there anything I can do to get my new manager to see the value in my work on T?

  • Welcome to SE. This sounds like a stressful situation and I completely understand how it can demotivate you (unfortunately, it's also not entirely uncommon). However, I'm not sure you can get an objective answer here - as we're not really suited to answering "What should I do". Once you've made a decision (such as appealing the performance review), we can give better advice on how to achieve that. (Effectively, if you can rewrite the question as a "How do I do...", it will be more on-topic here). – Bilkokuya Feb 21 at 11:27
  • I second Bilkokuya, we can't say what you should do. So what would you like to ideally achieve ? Be a "worthwile" employee in your new team, and you're ok working on T less as a result ? Do you want to continue working on T at the same rate you did before, but be recognized for that ? Do you want your past work on T to be recognized ? If we know what outcome you'd ideally like, you'll have much better and focused answers. – MlleMei Feb 21 at 11:39
  • Welcome new user. Bluntly it sounds like T is important to you but nobody else cares that much. I would urge you to start your own business or product. You're probably the sort of person just not suited to being told "what to do" .. what is important. (If you continue to work at a Job - simply focus on what they tell you.) – Fattie Feb 21 at 11:55
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  • Hello @TAUnfairComp and welcome to the Workplace. I edited your post for length. Please feel free to roll back if I have interfered with your intentions. – rath Feb 21 at 16:05
19

You are employed to do "your day job" ie the work within the team.

So, you will have to talk to your manager or, if necessary, his manager as well so that the work on T gets recognized. If that cannot happen then you have to focus on the day job and don't work on T until they realize that they need it and find a solution.

  • 1
    Agreed, this is the key part: "I still contributed to the team to best of my abilities, but my priority was the other T-related work I mentioned before.". It sounds like the new manager has no problem with the work on T so long as it doesn't impact the team, but clearly it has impacted the team in this instance, so OP either needs to find a way to make working on T their day job which they are appropriately compensated for, or else they need to prioritise their actual day job and only work on T when it won't take them away from that. – delinear Feb 21 at 14:27
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What should I do in this situation?

You have a new manager, with different expectations.

It appears that they were expecting you to devote more time and effort to your new role and less time to your outside training and conferences. "They kept mentioning that balance between work inside the team and outside is important" seems to have been a hint and you didn't understand the importance of it. You didn't meet their expectations, and your performance was reviewed accordingly.

You need to readjust your work. Learn and understand the current expectations and work to fulfill them. It seems like that also means letting go of at least some of your "guru" work with T.

I didn't want to be compensated more than others for my work on T, but I would have never expected to be punished for it.

Well you weren't punished.

Apparently you chose to work on T, rather than to get yourself up to speed on the team's actual work. Your performance on the team's work thus suffered and you were graded on that.

It appears that you set your priorities incorrectly (" my priority was the other T-related work").

I strongly believe that my impact on the company has been very positive and more important than work done inside my team.

Apparently, your new manager disagrees. Remember that your manager's performance may be judged based more on your team and less on outside activities.

I now feel extremely unmotivated and feel like the value of my efforts has not been recognized. I feel like just finishing my tasks as soon as possible and going home, putting minimal effort into them.

I like the company's culture and most of the people here. I really don't want to switch companies. But I feel like I am forced to interview with other companies as my value is strongly being underestimated here.

That's certainly your choice.

If you do decide to leave, make sure to find a new company that will let you perform your "T guru" activities to the extent you feel you need. And remember, that unless this is integral to your role, these sorts of extracurricular activities are often temporary, and dependent on the needs and whims of your then-current boss.

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    It’s not even necessary that the manager disagrees about the overall impact of the OPs work, as you indicated the manager and the teams compensation are probably tied to the work done within the team, which means they want the team to do well and don’t really care about any outside benefit. – jmoreno Feb 21 at 12:26
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They kept mentioning that "balance between work inside the team and outside" is important, and while I agree with that, I believe the strongly underestimated the value of my extra work.

You are literally saying:

  1. My manager told me to do X.

  2. I did Y.

You also repeatedly say:

  1. My manager told me to do X.

  2. I believe Y is more important to the company. I have an opinion on what I should and shouldn't do.

The best course of action here:

Really, you should start your own company or product.

I'd guess you're that personality type, and, it will work out well for you.

Good luck!

(Note that at a "job" you: do what you're told. In return, they give you Money.)

Thought. You mention taking a new job. Be aware that you will surely have the same issue. You'll be told to do Z, and you will have opinions/ideas on what you should shouldn't be doing.

Again, I urge you to consider starting your own product and not having a Job.

4

It sounds like your work on T is not as valuable to the company as you think it is, or as they made you think it is. Basically, you have 2 options:

1) Stop working so much on T, because your career path is not going in that direction. You stated:

I still contributed to the team to best of my abilities, but my priority was the other T-related work I mentioned before.

This isn't the proper mentality of an employee at a company. Your first priority (after your personal health and your family) should be the company, not some side project, no matter how invested you are in said side project. T should be a priority for you lower than your responsibilities to your team.

2) Start looking for a new job (or start a company yourself) which maximizes your expertise with T. In a best-case scenario, what may happen is that you find another job, hand in your resignation, and then your management tree, upon finding out their T expert is leaving and this will leave them in a hole with respect to their comfort level with using T, will realize how much of an asset you are and try to do something to retain you. It's at this point you can start making demands, if you choose, or leave them in your dust, as it were.

2

It's surprising that your evaluation didn't take your work in the previous team into account. I suppose a raise in your new team comes out a different budget from a raise in your old team.

You know now what your new manager values, so the question is whether you're going to go along with that or make a change. It sounds like T is very important to you, and you're going to have to curtail your interest in it if you stay in this team.

On the off chance that your new manager has any flexibility or at least willingness to listen, here are a few options:

  • Sit down with your new manager and talk about T and what it means to you, and especially how your work in it benefits the team and the company.
  • Ask your old manager, if he's willing, to sit down with you and your new manager to help you explain why you did all that work with T and what benefits it has.

If options like these don't work out, there's always the last resort:

  • Return to your old team, if it's an option.
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    This answer make the assumption that working on T is a priority for the OP, which we don't know. Being recognized for past contributions was a focus, but maybe OP would be happy to do other work. – MlleMei Feb 21 at 11:41
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    @MlleMei Well, that's what it sounded like to me from how the question was worded. – user1602 Feb 21 at 11:45
  • @JoeStrazzere I agree, it was, but it doesn't mean OP wants to keep this as a priority. The question is very vague, but nowhere does OP say they wish to continue to work on T, but they wish their past contribution for T were recognized instead of penalizing them. Seeing how different the answers are, it shows that the question wasn't clear at all. – MlleMei Feb 21 at 12:55
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    I am surprised the other answers focus on "give up on T and do what your manager tells you". Especially when OP says this actually brings business to the company. The manager even said "our metrics focus on inside work", did the old team use different metrics? The OP should sit down with the manager and talk about expectations, like this answer suggests. – Caroline Feb 22 at 9:20
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+200

Let's reframe your question with a more extreme situation for the purpose of illustrating why your new manager is behaving this way:

I'm a pastry chef. I've been working at a restaurant as a pastry chef on the breakfast shift for a few years. During this time, I became an expert at making donuts. I made award-winning donuts. I gave talks at donut conventions and trained other pastry chefs on how my donuts were made.

However, the owner of the restaurant recently moved me to the dinner team. Donuts aren't on the dinner menu. The dinner pastry team focuses on cakes and pies. I really want to keep doing my donut work, and people want me to keep speaking about donuts. So, I went to the donut conference and gave training on donut making even though my job is making cakes.

My boss is expressing that he's unhappy. I don't see why, my donuts are popular and well known. He should be happy that I'm well known for being a donut expert!

Do you see the problem? You boss wants you to make cakes. It's not up to you to decide that really good donuts are more important than cakes. It doesn't really matter if you're well known for making donuts.

Your literal question was,

Is there anything I can do to get my new manager to see the value in my work on T?

The fact is, it doesn't matter, if T isn't your job.

If keeping your job and getting the biggest raise possible is the most important thing for you, then you need to focus on whatever it is your current team is supposed to be focused on, and either do T in your own time, or forget about it.

If having the freedom to pursue expertise in a specific field is the most important to you, then you need to either find an employer who values T, or perhaps you need to go into an academic research position where you can focus on expertise outside of relevance to a specific employer's goals.

1

So your first manager thought you would fit better with the new team, but it seems that it's not the case. The question would be why?

I suppose you had a chat with your new manager prior to the change to discuss your activities, and how you could achieve your goals. If you had issues with the schedule for T, you should have mentioned it then so that this situation could have been solved earlier.

Still, not taking into account your performance in the previous team is something that happens unfortunately often, and once again, it should have been discussed prior to your change so that you would be aware of how your performance would be measured.

Now if you want to pursue T, either your manager accepts it, or update your resume and find a job that would recognise it.

1

The entirety of your problem lies with this statement.

Due to bad timing, I had training and conferences scheduled right when I joined the new team. This impacted my performance negatively, because I had to catch-up with the team's codebase and I had less time to do so. I still contributed to the team to best of my abilities, but my priority was the other T-related work I mentioned before.

Especially this...

I still contributed to the team to best of my abilities, but my priority was the other T-related work I mentioned before

If your priority was not the work of the team, you did not contribute to the best of your abilities. The manager likely takes this as a snub, and rightfully so.

Let's take this bit and analyze it.

I didn't want to be compensated more than others for my work on T, but I would have never expected to be punished for it.

I'm sure it would be reasonable for your manager to think:

"I knew that TAUnfairComp would be working on T, but I didn't think he'd neglect his work for our team in favor of doing work on T"

I now feel extremely unmotivated and feel like the value of my efforts has not been recognized. I feel like just finishing my tasks as soon as possible and going home, putting minimal effort into them.

So, you disregarded the work of the group in favor of what you wanted to do, and are responding to being called out for demonstrating a lack of dedication by demonstrating a lack of dedication? Not a good plan.

Dust yourself off, get back on track, apologize to your new manager for your mistakes, and tell him that you're going to redouble your efforts.

REMEMBER

He's not the boss because he's right, he's right because he's the boss.

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