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I am working in small software company. All my recent reviews with my direct manager (team leader) were good, no major complaints and I've received good bonuses. But I have a strong feeling that head of department (CTO) is not particularly fond of me. I'm never got assign to key projects, not taking part in interview process, my opinion is often ignored, etc. Is that something I should worry about? Should I discuss it with my direct manager or CTO on 1-on-1 to clear up any doubts and get more direct feedback?


Edit: Thanks everyone for the feedback. It's really gave me another perspective on the situation. I think I will try to carefully discuss things I'm not happy about with my manager

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    If you want to be more involved, there is not much harm in asking. However, these tasks may be outside of your scope of the work you were hired to do. What is your role in the company? – Shadowzee Aug 28 at 5:47
  • Software engineer. I'd say not enough involvement in important project is not an issue by itself, but just one more signal to me. – John Doe Aug 28 at 6:04
  • Maybe I can better rephrase my question - if I have a feeling that somebody from management doesn't have faith in me - should I try to discuss it with my manager or it's better to keep my imposter syndrome to myself? – John Doe Aug 28 at 6:06
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    How experienced are you in your field? How experienced are you compared to your colleagues? – Edwin Lambregts Aug 28 at 6:59
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Your interface is with your boss, not with your CTO.

As such, I would expect your boss, and not your CTO to be assigning people to projects etc.

It is possible that things work differently there, since it is a small company (although you do not say that).

In either case, the obvious move is to have a chat with your boss, with whom you seem to get along & have no problems.

You could raise this now. But, personally, I would wait until your next performance review, unless that is a long way off.

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Try to reverse the roles, and think.

Say you are the CTO, and you have an employee whose team leader has been giving positive reviews about him, and has also been getting consistently good bonuses for his performance.

Would you think low of this employee? I wouldn't, because if I did, I would have let the team lead know, who in turn would have passed feedback.

Further, as the CTO, you have multiple people to look after. And so, you definitely would get a lot of opinions on every topic. Just because you agreed with some of them but disagreed with others, does it mean you are dissatisfied with the others? I wouldn't think so.

I'm never got assign to key projects, not taking part in interview process, my opinion is often ignored, etc.

That all comes with time. If you want to get assigned key projects, did you tell your team lead so? Is it because you lack some experience? Its possible they are still evaluating whether you can lead a large project by yourself or not, or they want interview experience to be consistent (small company after all). Your opinion also, is not always ignored, but only often ignored - so learn from the time it is valued.

Should I discuss it with my direct manager or CTO on 1-on-1 to clear up any doubts and get more direct feedback?

I would suggest to keep things related to work (i.e., what areas of growth they see for you), and not let your emotions come into the discussion (i.e., how you feel about things). Do not rush into a relation. If you still have doubts, then first discuss with your team lead, and then act.

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You've made some observations:

  • You don't get certain assignments which you think are important
  • You aren't involved in the interview process
  • You feel your opinion is often ignored

From these observations, you're drawing a conclusion about whether or not the CTO likes you. While the observations are very real to you, the conclusion you've drawn may exist only in your head. So, if this is bothering you enough to make you want to do something, it makes the most sense to address the real things, not the imaginary things.

Work assignment, involvement in interviews, and weight given to various opinions are all sometimes challenging things for any manager. Before assuming that you're getting the raw end of the deal, it may make sense to bring these points up in a more generic, less directed manner.

So, you definitely don't want to say,

Hey boss, does the CTO hate me?

but you may also not want to say,

Why aren't I involved in interviews?

Instead, you could ask,

Hey boss, can you explain to me how the company chooses who to involve in interviews?

By doing this, you avoid any hint of an accusatory or defensive perception - and you may get a very direct answer to your question. Maybe the company chooses interviewers based on seniority, or some other characteristic that doesn't apply to you. Once your boss has responded, you can let him know if you're interested, or ask how you can become more involved, as appropriate.

Keep in mind though, that jumping to conclusions can be dangerous. Don't assume someone doesn't like you when there may be perfectly legitimate reasons for the behaviors you're seeing.

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A good way to approach this situation is to get to know your CTO and for the CTO to get to know you. If it's common in your organization for leaders to interact on a 1-1 basis with employees beyond their direct reports, you can do an introductory 1-1 meeting with the CTO.

I would approach that session as an opportunity to learn about the CTO's vision, share your background, ideas and seek feedback. That should give you a sense for whether you are aligned with the CTO's thought process.

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