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I am a software engineer, and have been working in this role since September. There is a 6 month probation period, so I am assuming the probation review will take place in mid-March.

So far, I have not had any feedback sessions, and not much direct feedback, positive or negative. I have made a couple of "rookie" mistakes. They are also aware that I am not a software engineer by training, but an electronics engineer and physicist. They hired me because of my keen interest in this area. They did not even give me a coding test, they just took my word for it when I mentioned in the interview "I have these particular skills, and I like to learn C# and Python in my spare time". Should I be worried? My team manager asked some of the others to "help him with .NET" a few times during meetings.

Should I ask for feedback? Would it look desperate, given that the probation review is 1-1.5 months away, and I should have asked earlier?

I have been assigned four (I think) design reports to help complete, along with two other guys on the team. We thought they were going to be due in June or so, but today it was confirmed that one is for early March, the other for late March. The remaining two, I am not sure. Is any of this a bad sign?

There is also a strange situation with my coworker who sits directly next two me. Exactly two weeks ago, he suddenly started giving the silent treatment, exchange few words with me, and having a passive aggressive tone in his voice. He is now completely ignoring me, it's like I don't exist. He leaves me out of conversations with other team members (both work and non-work related). Today, he and somebody else were joking around, and another guy involved me in this conversation. I then cracked a joke, and everybody laughed, except the guy who is ignoring me. Despite this, I still feel like he is alienating me from the rest of the team, and this has the potential to interfere with work being completed in the future. It is also very disrespectful, and I won't have it.

I don't know what is wrong with this guy. He and I were always on good terms, and we would often talk throughout the day, and eat lunch together. It all changed suddenly after we came back from one weekend. It's like he decided during that weekend that he hates me, and will do everything he can to avoid me. Could he be trying to sabotage me, by provoking me to talk to management or HR about this, and be fired for doing so? He has previously half-jokingly mentioned that he would like to do programming (what I am doing) instead of "paperwork" (design reports) and playfully said "you bastard", and "I was hired to write code". Over the past week or so, he has been developing a server application for some simulations relating to the design he is completing. The manager said there is no need for this, but he carries on anyway.

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    Do you think there is a relation between first part and second part of your question? Like is your feedback (or lack of it) and probation has anything to do with your colleague's behaviour towards you? These could be two separate questions otherwise. – PagMax Feb 7 at 12:36
  • @PagMax yes, as I am still on probation I need to be careful about this situation. I feel like I can't complain as it will be seen as bad-mouthing others. This is why the silent treatment and other passive aggressive behaviours are a powerful and effective form of bullying, unfortunately. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. Also, the last paragraph explains my concerns about whether he is trying to sabotage my probation, but perhaps I am paranoid. – Al2110 Feb 7 at 12:40
  • I really doubt he is trying to trick you into talking to HR or trap you in anyway. However it might be hard to go to HR as he has no obligation to laugh at your jokes & passive aggressive is hard to prove. Could you talk to him about it? Maybe next time you can ask nicely if anything's wrong – dustytrash Feb 7 at 14:36
  • @dustytrash I don't appreciate passive aggressive behaviour, it is immature and disrespectful. If he has some concerns, he should have brought it up, instead of giving me the silent treatment. – Al2110 Feb 7 at 23:10
  • @Al2110 I agree, but what's important is solving the issue. Asking him directly might help – dustytrash Feb 7 at 23:38
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Regarding your performance: Do you have reason to believe you will receive a bad performance review after 6 months? If not, then no news is good news, it means your manager has nothing interesting to say to you and you can expect to pass your performance review. If you do believe you have a problem that needs addressing, then you should ask your manager for feedback anytime. You can even say something like "Hey, I noticed we haven't been having any meetings about my performance during my probation period, I just wanted to check in and ask if there was anything you wanted to tell me". Your manager won't come back with "Why didn't you ask me this 2 months ago if you really wanted feedback" or anything like that, that's ridiculous. Your manager should be happy that you care to receive feedback and should give you whatever they have. And if they come back and say "no, nothing important", then just take that at face value, it means you're doing a good job and carry on.

Regarding the design reports, 2 months is a long time for a design report. Not sure why you thought you'd be given 5 months; an entire project can be done in 5 months, not just a design document. Was there a reason you thought you had until June to complete them, and then the deadline was changed on you? If not, then this is mostly your fault for not confirming the deadline properly. If you believe you can't get the reports done in 2 months, then you should explain to the interested parties why and what the problems are ASAP.

Regarding your coworker: It's possible it's jealousy, and the way you describe it it sounds like jealousy. He probably was hired as a developer, but wasn't able to perform, and resents you for surpassing him in his job, while he is stuck doing "grunt work". If your company has review meetings on Fridays (many companies do), then perhaps he had his review meeting where his boss (your boss presumably) told him he wasn't up to snuff, and he sees you surpassing him and he's jealous and angry at you for "taking his job". One way you can deal with it is ask him what happened to his programming, like, did he receive some bad feedback or something? If you understand the situation and you feel like you are comfortable with this, you can go to your manager and advocate for him, like "hey, Bob has been telling me he's uncomfortable with the work he's being given, can you help Bob out a bit?". If you have a project you are having trouble with and could use an extra hand, you could request him to join your team and help you out. It would likely make him feel better and more appreciated. It sounds like you might have a report with a tight deadline that could use an extra hand anyway ;-)

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  • Like I said, I have made a couple of "rookie" mistakes. Just recently, for example, I was writing a tool for designers in the company to use, and I implemented my own logger. Due to the method I used to do this, it slowed the program down, and it took a minute or so on average to complete, and without the logger it took 10 seconds. I was unaware that the particular method in .NET was so slow, and my manager showed me how to use the performance profiler in Visual Studio. Things like this get me paranoid. – Al2110 Feb 7 at 23:48
  • I don't think he wasn't able to perform as a coder. I don't think he has done any coding at all since joining (he's been there over a year, close to 1.5 years, I think). He also has decades of experience under his belt. – Al2110 Feb 7 at 23:49
  • Making "rookie" mistakes, as someone without a programming background, is acceptable. You don't know, so you make mistakes, and you learn. That said, if you have "decades of experience" and you make even advanced mistakes, that can be a major setback in your career progression. So it's possible that even though you make "rookie" mistakes and he doesn't, you might have a better reputation than him as a coder. – Ertai87 Feb 10 at 16:55
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You should ask for feedback about the quality of your work, and about how you can improve. This will always be true in your career, no just during your probation. Asking for feedback doesn't make you look desperate, it makes you look professional.

And, when a new probationer joins your department, you now know it's a good idea to give constructive feedback.

As for scheduled completion dates for your reports (and any other work you do), you should also ask.

If you have many tasks facing you, you can always write down your understanding of your priorities and ask your supervisor or a co-worker to quickly review it.

About your surly colleague. You can ignore him, or you can ask if you've done something to offend him. Don't overthink this issue.

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There are two things to mention:

  1. About your knowledge. Please don't make the mistake of not asking for help out of pride, as this is the most common reason for being fired or let go as a junior developer. Indeed, your colleagues know that you lack knowledge and you are a junior, so it's fine if you don't know the basic technologies for now. What you have to do is showing an ability to learn, and ask for questions so that you can actually improve. Also show an effort before asking questions (e.g. I have this problem, I tried this and this and this would be my next step, do you have any pointers?), so that (1) you give the positive impression of being curious, hard-working and willing to learn, and (2) you can actually improve, because that' the right strategy in order to grow.
  2. About your passive-aggressive colleague. Try to understand if it's personal or work-related. If it's personal I can't help, and you have to understand yourself how to fix it. If it's work related it can be a sign that he gave up on you, and he doesn't think that you can fill up the gap and grow enough. The thing to do here is asking for explicit feedback. It can be negative, but in case you have it at least you know how to improve. You can make a list of action points that can help you surviving the food chain of the company.
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