I work for a enginering company where a few senior engineers got into a large fight that caused a lot of concern. The more senior engineer "stone walled" the not as senior engineer apparently, and the junior engineer now runs an "automation team", whose job is to find inefficencies in the company, and improve or automate them.

The junior engineer gets to pick any part of the company to improve, but he is holding a grudge against my division's most senior engineer, and keeps automating tasks for just my division. It has a lot of engineers nervous that we'll become redundant, and some of our best engineers have either transferred to other units, or quit. Our team leaders have talked to this engineer, and he insists he's not being a bully, but he's just "fixing whatever problems come to mind first". We all agree on my team that he's trying to single out our division (most of the Windows developers in the company) first in order to get our most senior engineer fired (due to not enough people under his management).

How can we approach human resources to stop this bullying behavior, or get him to automate stuff that isn't our work exclusively? My boss keeps telling the team not to worry about layoffs, but we don't believe him, and since the project is saving the company money, we don't know how to properly ask for help.

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    Chan still hasn't been fired or reprimanded? Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 1:54
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    Hello Mr.Chan, how about accepting change and going with it instead of trying to keep the status quo? Because, the only thing that doesn't change...is change. Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 9:26
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    You should change the "junior" to "less senior" or something alike b/c according to the other question the guy was actually up for promotion to a similar seniority level. And calling him junior paints a completely different picture.
    – fgysin
    Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 13:13
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    I think the elephant in the room is that Chan's team may have been extremely inefficient to begin with. You have 200 engineers sitting around wasting company time and this guy figured it out. This new guy is either someone that'll become the next Google, or Chan's team should've been sacked. New guy is just picking the low hanging fruit, because Chan's team made it easy to "target them" by being so inefficient.
    – Nelson
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 2:37
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    Regardless, you do not want to lose this new guy. He's not above the law, but honestly, this level of automation is really rare unless a lot of it was deliberately mucked up and made super inefficient due to incompetence, or assumed job security. 20,000% efficiency improvement is extremely rare.
    – Nelson
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 2:39

3 Answers 3


Based on the details in the linked question, your division lead, "Chan", acted against his employer's interests in order to ensure his team continues to be paid for work that (based on the information available) is easily automated (how can a team of 200 developers be replaced with a script? Is the company that inefficient?). Also, your division lead sounds like he's resting on his laurels and is averse to retraining for either himself or his division. He sounds like a terrible leader that has effectively branded his entire division as inefficient, untrainable, and outmoded.

Personally, I would recommend updating your CV/resume every night and prepare for the worst. Remember: "HR IS NOT YOUR FRIEND". Complaining about someone saving the company money (millions of dollars potentially) to HR in this way might likely won't help you out, especially if this much money is involved.

Is your company offering re-training programs for your division? It sounds like Chan may have precluded this, based on his comments in the linked question.

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    It still blows my mind how one person was able to replace 200 engineers. You guys have either a super mythical 200x developer or that team was seriously mired in extreme inefficiencies. Companies have celebrated single digit percent improvements. You guys are doing 20,000%. This blows my mind.
    – Nelson
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 2:34
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    @Nelson It could very well be both. Based on the linked question by OP, it sounds like a case of extreme competence and drive meets extreme incompetence and borderline unethical pushes to stick with legacy technology for personal gain.
    – Cloud
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 13:34
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    Actually that's a good possibility. Give a 10x programmer an "easy" problem like automation and he'll instantly go at it like crazy, because the cost benefit is really easy to calculate. I've done about 50-100% improvements on some processes created by non-technical people. They're good managers, but they just didn't know about the current technologies. Engineers have less of an excuse.
    – Nelson
    Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 3:07

You can't stop Automation. When automation occurs in general, its aimed at increasing productivity by removing easy and repetitive tasks and allowing an employee to focus on more important work. If its the case that these automation procedures are being targeted at making people redundant, I would go back and look at any team which are under performing or struggling due to a high work load and have the automation team focus there, because there will be noticeable profits when increasing productivity, instead of trying to make people redundant.

For example, if sales is having a hard time processing orders, automate that. It creates more work over all. If engineering is having a hard time completing all the work. Automate parts of that to increase the number of completed projects.

As your team is currently being automated then your going to have it tough. Automation usually requires there be a very well defined procedure in place, because Robots have a hard time accounting for the unknown or exceptions (there are so many exceptions). If your team is actually doing tasks that are very easily automated, I would personally look into retraining, as all industries will be looking to automate their work force (like if your job is literally following a manuscript, you should be slightly concerned that your aren't developing many skills or could be made redundant fairly easily).

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    This answer was great until the 4th/final paragraph, where you encourage OP to act in bad faith towards his/her employer for personal gain: this is exactly what OP's division lead already did (from the information available). If people want to be deliberately difficult towards their employer, it typically only works for especially senior/important staff. OP might very well be welcoming termination without severance pay (or a chance of a good review/reference) by engaging in this.
    – Cloud
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 2:13
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    "I don't advise this... but I'll suggest it anyway..." - You had a perfectly good answer until your perfectly unacceptable final paragraph.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 2:35
  • @Cloud Acknowledging something exists is completely different from encouraging someone to do said thing.
    – undefined
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 9:05
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    If you don't advise it then don't say it or write it. By saying or writing it you are tacitly approving it.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:55
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    @Cloud Actually, in the case of "senior/important staff", it is harder to get caught, but once they're caught, they basically go to jail and won't be working in their field for a long time. If you have a system admin that deliberately put in back doors to sabotage the company system, that guy is going to get sued and go to jail.
    – Nelson
    Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 2:51

How can we approach human resources to stop this bullying behavior, or get him to automate stuff that isn't our work exclusively?

You don't. This employee is not exhibiting any bullying behavior, he is simply doing his job and doing it well enough to have some others worried apparently.

If you approach HR with this "problem" you will only hurt your career within this company. You are essentially telling the company that your team's inefficient and costly method of work is better for the company than what the automation engineer is doing. HR will almost always side with the company on these matters.

I would recommend that you polish up your resume and start looking for a new place to work because your team's resistance to progress does not bode well for your future at this company.

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    Most importantly, from the previous question on this topic, the lead of the automation team has already automated most or all of the work in this department, to a potential savings of millions of dollars per year. It's not bullying, it's the highest-value work this person has already identified and largely completed. That the solution preceded the promotion doesn't matter, nor does any personal friction between these two people. There is a strong business case for what the automation team is doing. I don't really see any opposing case being made in the OP, at all.
    – Upper_Case
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 19:53

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