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I am a senior software developer in a software company. Recently, a junior developer joined the team and without being given any official responsibility, I whole-heartedly gave him extensive "knowledge transfer" on the software application.

In a couple of months, he became well versed with the process and started working on the project with dedication.

Now, once I had to use some new technology in my project and asked him to give me an overview, as I had no time to learn from online courses/tutorials and he knows a lot about it. He clearly denied and said he was busy.

Now, the problem is that:-

  • He wants to do my portion of the task without my knowledge and then sends mail to the manager, that he did everything.

  • If someone sent me an email, then I should respond, but he is in Cc , and sometimes replies on my behalf, without my permission.

  • He tries to innovative new technologies in the product on his own and never discusses anything with me.

  • He tries to show indirectly that he is doing all the work on the team and I am just sitting idle whole day.

  • He has started to take over the things which I have been doing for years, like some fixed production release process , which I do, without my knowledge.

  • He tries to overpower me in the meetings and speaks on my behalf, even if I am about to speak about my tasks/issues. Sometimes, insults me and my knowledge and makes fun of me.

  • Maybe he wants to be in the good eyes of senior management, but it looks childish behavior to me.

Now, I'm a soft hearted person and don't have the courage to pinpoint him directly. He is few years younger to me and has quite less experience in software industry.

What can be done?

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There isn't an easy option

You have an ambitious co-worker below you who is clearly hungry for more. Your choices include:

  • Make room for him Let him continue on his present path and you do not change any of your behavior. This involves risk for you if the company doesn't need both of you or views you as a threat.
  • Squish him. He is young and new and he probably is screwing up in several places. Just point that out whenever he takes a task away. Alternatively, if the errors are severe enough, you can not point out one of the errors and let a major failure happen and then pin it on him. Young and ambitious people are often arrogant and in this case, you would just be letting it bite him.

  • Look for your own way up/out Unless he is masterfully faking, he has clearly grown in his role and is looking for the next one. Maybe he should have your role and you need to find one at a higher level or at a different company? I'm not a confrontational person either, so this is what I would be looking at doing if I didn't think I could compete with him.

To add my thoughts on the comments, someone like this is not going to stop, or if they do, will only stop when around you. Ambitious people don't suddenly quit because they are told not to be that way, especially if the person is not their boss.

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    I really dislike that you put squishing a person as the first choice, as this is probably the worst of them all, and by far, as nothing in OPs post seems to indicate that he is not a worthy employee, just a pretty aggressive one. – Tymoteusz Paul Jan 25 at 20:17
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    @TymoteuszPaul moved it to second and changed to bullets so it doesn't look like I am putting it as the top idea. I wasn't ranking them. – Matthew Gaiser Jan 25 at 20:44
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    @TymoteuszPaul "Make room for him" is far too nice. The candidate is not just ambitious, he clearly pushes OP into the corner - his overriding OP's talk and speaking for them is the verbal equivalent to push someone's face away with the hand. I do not think this is an option one would really recommend. OP may have a hard time to keep up with this new guy, but they should be more guarded now. I personally disagree that the young guy is a "worthy employee" if he treats superior kindhearted colleagues like that. How will he treat subordinates in the future? Up/Out is probably best. – Captain Emacs Jan 26 at 13:31
  • @CaptainEmacs I didn't say that that's the right choice either. Any junior that can come in and carry out work normally expected of a senior is worth taking time to at least try to make stuff work. This one is quite on the wild side, and needs "taming", but do it right and you may just get a great employee. I am waiting for followup from OP though before posting an answer, as OP didn't explains if took any steps so far. – Tymoteusz Paul Jan 26 at 14:15
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First, I love how the workplace warns you if there are more than two answers when you answer a question - how silly!

Second, this is such a uniquely software-engineering thing. In management consulting, it's considered great when someone junior starts aggressively doing extra work - because it means that the more senior people can actually sit back and focus on the things they like doing.

So let's answer this question like you're a senior management consultant, and are happy to have someone aggressive first.

  1. He wants to do my portion of the task without my knowledge and then sends mail to the manager, that he did everything.

    • This is both good and bad. The good is he's doing your tasks, so you have more time to do other more interesting things. The bad is he's taking credit for your tasks, when he should really be reporting to you, and you to the manager. Ask your manager if you can start being the point of contact for Junior, and all work you get is delegated to Junior as seen fit. Say that this is to help you get experience managing a person. Then if Junior reports to the manager, you can point out that he's not a team player, as you've explicitly setup a process and he is ignoring it.
  2. If someone sent me an email, then I should respond, but he is in Cc , and sometimes replies on my behalf, without my permission.

    • This is the same as above. First you need to talk with your manager about managing Junior for your own career growth. Then you formalise with Junior how the system works. Then if he gets out of line he's not longer a team player.
  3. He tries to innovative new technologies in the product on his own and never discusses anything with me.

    • I think you can see the picture. He needs to be formally understanding that he should report to you. This is the easiest way to actually get him reporting to you - you're the safety net to let him learn more things.
  4. He tries to show indirectly that he is doing all the work on the team and I am just sitting idle whole day.

    • Same as before, he should only be reporting to you and not to anyone else.
  5. He has started to take over the things which I have been doing for years, like some fixed production release process , which I do, without my knowledge.

    • I think this is ok, it let's you do other things, no?
  6. He tries to overpower me in the meetings and speaks on my behalf, even if I am about to speak about my tasks/issues. Sometimes, insults me and my knowledge and makes fun of me.

    • This isn't fair, and you need to address this with your manager. And then formally manage Junior. And then choose which meetings he is invited to.
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Nevertheless of you being soft hearted you need to discuss this with him personally. He stated that you are sitting idle and if nothing else you need to discuss this issue with him. Ask him to explain why he says things like this and give him your point of you. Make it crystal clear, that if he has issues with you personally or your work he should come to you and nobody else but you before you had a conversation about whatever he comes up with.

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  1. You need to consider in this interaction how your team manager is involved. Your manager should be made aware of your concerns.
  2. But before discussing with your manager, consider who they are and how you think they would respond to the situation, as they may not share your point of view.
  3. DOCUMENT the specific interactions that are going on. Keep the emails that are bothering you, if you are being made fun of in meetings, write down what was said, note the date and time.
  4. Some more comments below.

Recently, a junior developer joined the team and without being given any official responsibility, I whole-heartedly gave him extensive "knowledge transfer" on the software application.

I personally would praise you for doing this. My instinct in the past would be the same -- but I no longer do that without being asked by a manager. In some places a manager would officially buddy a senior with junior person for TOI (transfer of information), and this might extend to mentoring.

He wants to do my portion of the task without my knowledge and then sends mail to the manager, that he did everything.

If someone sent me an email, then I should respond, but he is in Cc , and sometimes replies on my behalf, without my permission.

The person cc'ing you probably is hoping someone should answer and I wouldn't agree the person requires your permission (for example a how-to question) to answer the email. But if it involves a development decision, then the junior developer has possibly overstepped their bounds.

He tries to innovative new technologies in the product on his own and never discusses anything with me.

It's good they innovate but you have a legitimate concern about the lack of teamwork.

He tries to show indirectly that he is doing all the work on the team and I am just sitting idle whole day. He has started to take over the things which I have been doing for years, like some fixed production release process , which I do, without my knowledge. He tries to overpower me in the meetings and speaks on my behalf, even if I am about to speak about my tasks/issues. Sometimes, insults me and my knowledge and makes fun of me. Now, I'm a soft hearted person and don't have the courage to pinpoint him directly. What can be done?

You have to develop some courage and learn how to confront this more directly. Otherwise you will become a doormat, because this will happen again. You cannot allow yourself to be disrespected in meetings because it can degrade to actual workplace harrassment (specifically, bullying). My general strategy would be to rely on your manager but again first consider how your manager would handle this. Some managers are not good at this and would rather this sort of thing did not come up, they might just tell you to tolerate it, so you have no straightforward resolution without bringing in Human Resources. Read your employee handbook on workplace harrassment. You might need to be prepared to say directly to this person that you feel disrespected by their actions.

I can suggest this book; I read the original a long time ago and it was invaluable for me at the time to deal with issues I faced at work:

Working with Difficult People, Second Revised Edition: Handling the Ten Types of Problem People Without Losing Your Mind (Amy Cooper Hakim, Muriel Solomon)

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Senior doesn’t mean by age but by knowledge. It’s clear the junior paid developer is at least as useful as an asset to the company as you, but being paid less. Knowing new technologies better is already a proof. Apparently by skills and experience you are more junior.

You will just need to adjust the expectation your coworker is no longer a junior developer and should be at the senior level. No less than you. Maybe you can learn something from the person?

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    um no this is not helpful – bharal Jan 25 at 22:18
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    Diplomacy, tact and respect are also valid skills. Well embodied in the mantra: “be nice to those you meet on your way up, you might meet them again on your way down”... – Solar Mike Jan 25 at 23:07
  • Being senior and junior is not (just) about technological knowledge. By insulting people in a meeting the junior is clearly showing he isn't a Senior. He might be a better specialist than OP in some areas - or just do things quick and dirty, which is hard to judge from the outside. – Frank Hopkins Jan 27 at 15:49

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