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This question already has an answer here:

I am working as a software developer in a company for about one year.

I have a team lead who is always bragging about himself, never or seldom gives credit to other people or values their work or ideas, and constantly uses "I" and "me" instead of "we"

For example,

  • in team meetings he constantly says "I'm on this project", "this is my work" etc even though that last year we had almost equal contributions. Never in a team meeting used plural like "we will do this .. "
  • never in a meeting publicly credited me for my work
  • one time we were solving a problem together. I was expressing my ideas and he directly declined them as wrong, till half an hour later, when he brings the exactly same idea on the table. When I told him that this is exactly what I had suggested before, he said he didn't understand that at the time I said it.
  • one other time, I had a PR with a month's work. He squash-merged the PR in his own pc, so all the code became his property. (I don't know if this was intentional or not, but it shouldn't be an issue in the first place if we consider his level).
  • and last week, the incident that crossed the line, during an internal presentation to around 20-25 people in the office, he was asked who maintains project X, which during last year is maintained by both of us. His answer was that he is the sole maintainer. (Here, one maybe should had just spoken and say that it is not like that and that more people also contribute, but it made me so frustrated that if I had opened my mouth at that time, I would had just mumbled something and I would had walked out of the room, so in a way I don't really regret I remained silent at that point).

Long story short, I have already decided I'm leaving the company since I really don't find any reason to try to make him learn how to value others. He is a senior and if he cannot understand this simple thing by now, I don't think he will change now.

My question is, should I raise an issue to his boss/someone higher/HR while I am still in the company? If so, in what context and having what expectations? Since I have already decided I'm leaving the company, I really don't care whether his attitude will be improved in the next 5-6 months that I will be there. And I think that I can deal with his behavior just by ignoring it. The only reason, that I would like to raise this issue, is so that it will be understandable that this is the reason I am leaving, and not leave the company and everyone believes that I did nothing there for the time being.

Also, in the last incident, it just happened and I was present there too, so I know about it. But it made me think that maybe there are more occasions that similar answers have been given and I just never learned about them.

marked as duplicate by gnat, mcknz, IDrinkandIKnowThings, virolino, Kevin Apr 19 at 19:50

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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I have already decided I'm leaving the company since I really don't find any reason to try to make him learn how to value others. He is a senior and if he cannot understand this simple thing by now, I don't think he will change now.

My question is, should I raise an issue to his boss while I am still in the company?

No. Take the high road here.

Find your next job, get and accept an offer, give your notice and work the notice period, then put this job behind you.

Trying to raise this issue with his boss will just make you look petty, and won't do anything positive for you. It certainly won't endear you to your boss or anyone else in the company.

It's understandable that you are angry. But knowing that you will be gone soon should make it tolerable.

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    Thank you for your answer. Taking the high road and just be patient seems quite reasonable. – yellowFedora Apr 15 at 21:20
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    Of course you should have done your best to stab him in the back a lot earlier. It's just that now, it's too late. – gnasher729 Apr 15 at 21:51
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    @gnasher729 If you want revenge, dig two graves; you can't teach someone to not be a jerk specially at work. "Stabbing them" earlier would simply devolve into a rabbit hole of petty fights, which would be a further waste of everyone's time. Simply moving on is the correct option. – lucasgcb Apr 16 at 9:03
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    Pretty much every time i switched job, my boss asked me why. It's not nice to say that it's all Bob's fault, but pointing out that you are feeling like your efforts aren't being recognized and that you're not given credit for them seems ok to me. Also, if more people say the same thing, it just might trigger something in the boss' mind that something needs to be investigated. They might not care, but you're not going to lose anything by being honest. – ChatterOne Apr 16 at 9:46
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    I don’t see how keeping quiet about a problem which is affecting the workplace in a negative way is “taking the high road”. It seems like the exact opposite to me. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 16 at 14:16
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Though the common consensus is "no, might look bad on you" in other answers already given, I disagree. I think you should voice the reason why you're leaving. No need to shout it from the roof-tops, but your boss (senior developers' superior at least) has to know. Why?

I had a PR with a month's work. He squash-merged the PR in his own pc, so all the code became his property

This (apart from the "software-industry" tag) told me you're in the coding side of software.

Unhappiness among your developers (as a boss) is horrifying, especially if you don't know why. As such, when one leaves, it would be in the bosses (very great and) best interest to find out why to prevent someone else leaving for the same reason (which sometimes means that the senior needs to take a hike). This would be true for any type of department, but more so for coders, as they're in extremely short supply.

You didn't tag a location, so, unless your culture is to keep such information to yourself, your boss should know.

(Unless, of course, the boss is the same kind of person as that senior developer, then, alas, just take it on the chin.)

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    It might be a bit of a Dutch thing though to mention something like this. To me it's near incomprehensible to not at least quietly mention something like this. Just for the sake of my colleagues I would at least mention it as a minor point so that if another colleague brings it up in the future your testimony will back it up. – David Mulder Apr 16 at 8:19
  • If this sort of issue isn't already apparent to top brass then chances are they don't really care and will retort with "well, is the work getting done?". If developers are indeed in demand like stated, then OP has even less reasons to stress himself further and open himself to crap flinging. – lucasgcb Apr 16 at 9:12
  • @DavidMulder Agreed (ook Nederlands ;) ) – rkeet Apr 16 at 9:31
  • @lucasgcb when it comes to anything "tech" or "nerd-like" you'd be surprised as to how much people cannot give a shit. It really is incredible. Same goes for the people dealing with "the nerds". Not always it's due to a not understanding tech, sometimes it's plain language and character barriers. We "nerds" tend to have our eccentricities. But it's also why: Unless, of course, the boss is the same kind of person as that senior developer, then, alas, just take it on the chin. ;-) – rkeet Apr 16 at 9:36
  • I wouldn't say that the culture is to keep it private. I think its more like as you describe it, that one should talk about it. My main concern though, is/was if the others (higher and/or same level as me) should know about the situation. From this answer I understand that in such cultures, this kind of feedback is valuable. But, if I was to speak about it, wouldn't it make my remaining days there worse? How can you handle such situation especially if not-very-deep in your mind you know you will not be there forever? – yellowFedora Apr 16 at 23:16
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Aside from correcting him in front of others to claim credit for it, there really is not a lot that you can do.

You said you're leaving the company? In time it will become evident to others when "his" productivity goes down. Personally, I would not go out of my way to make waves, but quietly move on.

  • Thank you for your answer. I'll go with this approach, as all other answers suggested too – yellowFedora Apr 15 at 21:25
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tl;dr: It's heavily culture dependent, but not mentioning it is a selfish decision. That does not make it the wrong decision, but be aware that it's definitely the selfish decision. Bringing it up as a "this is what I felt and for this reason I felt like we didn't function well as a team"-type of statement seems fairly safe and worth the minimal risk (although risk dependents once again on culture).

Note: This answer is written under the assumption that you did at least once express to your team lead in some way that this part of his behavior is demotivating you.

Culture

The absolute most important thing to realize here is that culture matters here a lot. In the Netherlands (as long as you aren't a foreigner) one would be nearly "expected" to mention something like this, but in countries with a great authoritative distance (it's a term one academic article used to identify the amount of criticism one is expected to give if one thinks their boss(es) are doing something wrong) it becomes less and less acceptable.

So what if it's at least acceptable?

Ignoring the option that it's literally unacceptable to voice an opinion - which as stated is culture dependent - the question becomes whether it's worth mentioning something like this. The way I would look at this is through the identification of all the stakeholders in your decision. The specific stakeholders you care about will depend a lot on culture once again though. American culture will for example be all about you exclusively, east European will care a lot about friends and thus colleagues, etc. etc.

You: Unless you are considering staying there is zero benefit to you mentioning anything. This seems to be what most of the answers are focusing on. If however you are considering staying at all it might be worth mentioning it. I have seen at least one case where an employee mentioned that the reason they wanted to leave was one of their bosses and it turned out others had brought up the same issue so the boss was fired instead and the employee stayed in the company for a long while afterwards.

The danger - as brought up in the other answers - is of course that the boss' boss will dismiss your complaint out of hand and that this might reflect negatively on his opinion of your character. Whether this matters at all is primarily a question of whether your culture typically requires recommendation letters (or similar) from previous employers and whether your culture actually writes those recommendation letters in an honest way (certain parts of the US for example will not risk writing a negative letter out of fear that it might cause legal trouble). The former combination (frank recommendation letters) seems to be pretty rare as far as I know.

Colleagues: The opposite perspective on the "shared complaints"-point is that if you don't at least hint at this issue there will be no past feedback in the future to back up an employee who might complain about the same thing. In other words by bringing it up you may end up helping either current or future colleagues who will have to work with this team lead.

There seems to be no downside to bringing this up for your colleagues.

The boss/company: Despite the fact that the boss might dismiss any feedback out of hand, in my experience it's the bosses that do accept feedback that survive the longest and are the most efficient at their job. Obviously feedback is better than no feedback and for the boss/company there is zero downside to receiving feedback.

Conclusion

If your culture would accept such feedback it's frankly an egoistic decision to not bring it up. Being selfish is however not always the wrong decision (e.g. if I would have to depend on a recommendation letter from the company in the future), but don't deceive yourself that it's the selfish decision. Whether your colleagues are worth the - very possibly non-existent - sacrifice will depend on your relationship with them. Personally I would recommend bringing it up as a minor point in the exit interview at least, without blowing it up. So something like

I also often felt that <team lead> was taking some credit for my work - rather than describing stuff as a team effort - which demotivated me occasionally. I just didn't feel like we functioned well as a team.

  • I totally support this, unless it will affect OP's future in a direct way (like not getting a recommendation letter if needed) it's quite selfish not to do it. I think the best point is to set a precedent if any situations arise in the future for current or future employees. – Fernando Mata Apr 16 at 13:25
  • Are you sure this is the same in all industries in the Netherlands? Didn't KLM crash a plane because the junior pilot felt it was culturally unacceptable to mention to the senior pilot he was headed down the wrong runway? – The Photon Apr 16 at 21:36
  • An important question here is who would write OP's reference? Unless it's a very small company, it's likely to be HR, and they're just going to confirm his employment dates. – Robin Bennett Apr 17 at 8:53
  • @RobinBennett It's culture dependent what goes into references. And based on that it will depend on who writes it. I think for example in Germany you have a legal right to a confirmation of employment dates (which HR will write), but I once had a north african (not sure which country anymore) candidate who attached to his CV 2 recommendation letters from previous bosses. And personally never had to write nor did I provide myself a recommendation letter, so it really does depend a lot on culture and industry. – David Mulder Apr 17 at 9:04
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    @David Mulder: Maybe the Tenerife disaster. The KLM engineer asked the captain whether the PanAm had cleared the runway. The captain just said they're clear and no one dared to asked the copilot or the ATC for clarification. – Alexander Apr 17 at 10:41
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My question is, should I raise an issue to his boss while I am still in the company?

No- that's not your job and could actually backfire on you/make you look bad depending on how the boss interprets the information prior to you leaving.

I would quietly leave and move on to better opportunities. There are always coworkers who we do not like to work with, since you are already taking action by leaving the company, there is nothing else left to do.

  • Thank you for your answer. Indeed there is always the possibility that it will backfire on me. Seems much wiser just to be patient as all answers suggested – yellowFedora Apr 15 at 21:23
  • Whose job is it to raise this issue, and how do they know there is an issue to raise? – hkBst Apr 18 at 9:18
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Hopefully, you'll find another job you like better, nonetheless it may take a while before you do so, and you might be unlucky to discover that every job available out there has a much lower pay-range than you do. Case in point: Always think what you can or should do if you were stuck at your current job.

The first thing you can and should do is talking directly to him. Make his and your responsibilities clear between both of you. In the worst case do make clear to him you are worried that you might lose your job for having your reputation smeared.

If he's an arrogant person you cannot talk to in any way, seek HR. Tell them the situation, explain this is a problem for everyone and not just for you. Ask HR to do some leadership training or whatever. Also ask them to make some campaign so that HR will motivate other people to bring similar complaints. Just keep in mind that HR wants to solve the company's problem not your problem.

If you do talk to his boss... Try to have a good proposal. Maybe suggested a few things you could explicitly have on your shoulders, such that the guy you are complaining about may no longer be a problem for you. If you negotiate well, you could be on a faster track to a promotion. Know that this is risky, and talk with a lot of caution. Avoid doing this if you are not willing to leave the company.

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    The guy is not in that position by mistreating others. He is experienced and capable of getting things done and has offered great value in the company in the past. So, there is not a chance of me being compared to him. The thing is that it looks like that his behavior comes out of not caring at all for the others, instead of trying consciously to steal other's work – yellowFedora Apr 15 at 22:22
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    From what you say, he might be a great developer, while "management is not suited for his profile" (tailor the boilerplate phrase at will). In which case is perfectly fair you might want to disassociate yourself from him, but not from the company. I do not suggest you ask or expect him to be fired, just to have him hear the proper feedback and possibly to have you detached from him. All this may be hard to grant, but if the message is sent correctly, it' fair to request. – Mefitico Apr 15 at 22:37
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The whole point of a quiet exit interview is to not burn bridges by being petty, but the bridges are already on fire if no one knows how much you really work.

By keeping quiet the following issues arise:

  • Your boss, coworkers, etc won't be able to recommend you because they'll think you did less than you actually did; such a reputation is definitely important.
  • Your boss won't be aware of the situation and will be unable to deal with the growing discontent if any other quiet coworkers go through the same issues.
  • Tied to the previous one, any coworkers that happen to raise such an issue won't have any precedence to help their case.

A calm objective conversation about the issues you faced; the stolen PR, your discomfort from having the team lead explicitly take all the credit in a public meeting, etc, won't result in bad blood.

But if you're afraid of speaking up, of being unable to stay collected during the conversation or if the culture is pretty extreme about negatively talking about other people you might have no choice but to face the negatives.

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As other people mentioned, the first step should be speaking with the lead in question and trying to work things out from there. Things might improve. If they don't and you still wish to quit, then Speaking from (the) experience (of this one person):

Doing so will probably make you look bad. If you weren't a stand-out employee, then it will mostly be an issue of "he said-she said" and you'll lose to your senior. I lost, even with documented events and other evidence.

But it will put the senior on the radar too. And at some point after you're gone, that senior will have to improve, or it will be the end for them too. At that point, you'll be gone, so you won't know the outcome and you certainly won't hear someone say "Oh! OP was right!" It will mostly just be an empty moral stand at the cost of your reputation.

If that's the desired outcome, then go for it.

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