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My issue is on how to deal with obnoxious, conniving co-workers. I have never had an issue with the older team of developers back in the day; we then hired a phd graduate who worked in academics for a while and then came here. I will be the first to state that yes, he is smart and knowledgeable but not much more that others here.

He is a suck-up and likes to openly boast about his achievements. I can handle that, I really don't care. But now I have to work with him on a project, and he undermines me by rushing to finish something, first go and present to the team supervisor and does not discuss any changes with me at all.

But the worse of it, is that the supervisor will not update me either. I brought this up and suggested a weekly sprint meeting to coordinate, but it happened once.

What would be the best way to deal with? My approach was to just finish my work, then share with everyone and leave things be. I assume he is on good terms in the eyes of my boss so I wonder if it's worth it anyway?

  • With the best will in the world, the question reads like you're a bit...jealous of this new recruit, and worried he's working faster / doing better than you. Is that at all true? – berry120 May 17 at 22:23
  • I wonder if there is a single person on this site that does not work in software development – David May 17 at 23:45
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    Sounds like academia. Early bird gets the grant and you don't want to share the grant with someone else... – jcmack May 18 at 1:16
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    Do you have regular 1-to-1s with your (mutual) supervisor? If so, bring this up at your next 1-to-1; if not - set some time aside (even an informal "when's a good time to have a word?" depending on the ongoing relationship with your boss) and then discuss it. I'm not sure if my experience relates to yours so I didn't post it as an answer, but I was in this situation (in your position) once, and it was a combination of arrogance but lack of real-world experience/self awareness on the part of the new co-worker, a boss who was too easily convinced and I have to admit a bit of jealousy on my part. – seventyeightist May 18 at 17:49
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    Is it at all possible (and you can say no! :) ) that new person isn't deliberately "obnoxious", "conniving", "a suck-up" (they are quite harsh assessments from you!) but is unaware of the norms in a real-world workplace? I guess their only experience other than your place is in academia, which has a whole other set of norms! – seventyeightist May 18 at 17:51
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This new colleague sounds like he comes from the cutthroat dog-eat-dog world of the academy, and might be unused to a more collaborative workplace. Keep in mind that there are dozens of qualified applicants for every professor job. (The academy is churning out far too many new PhDs for the available teaching jobs.)

He's probably scrambling for recognition because he's afraid of losing out. And you and your supervisor are probably blindsided by that kind of behavior and don't know what to make of it. At the same time, it probably hurts to have his dream of an academic job go down the tubes, as indeed it will for almost every PhD.

Now, sure, he's smart and a hard worker. And he likes to brag. OK. Pain in the neck. Unpleasant. But OK.

You and he are assigned to work on a project together for a reason. You didn't say what the reason was. But you surely bring something to the project. Could it be knowledge of the customer? Of the way other parts of your company expect work to be delivered? It must be something.

As unpleasant as it may be, you and the supervisor need to teach this fellow to work as part of a team. If your supervisor won't do it, you can try.

Have a private conversation. Tell him something like this:

"When you hustle all night and make an end run around me, you undermine my trust in you. You surely can do a lot of work fast, but in this group it's important to work collaboratively. Each of us contributes useful knowledge. What's more, it's important for more than one of us to know about each project's details.

"Please, in future, remember that. Remember we're all in this together. What matters in this company is delighting our customers for the long term, not individual heroics. Please talk to me as you are working. I can help you and you can help me."

Don't expect him to change instantly. That kind of feedback takes time to sink in.

That kind of conversation tries to address his lone superhero behavior by explaining why another way is better. It doesn't sound like jealously because that's not the problem here.

  • Thank you. I appreciate the detailed response and advice. Definitely worth trying. – vbNewbie May 22 at 15:15

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