My manager wants me to challenge a software architect who is senior to the both of us and who has a a history of reacting poorly to this, going so far as to push colleagues out of the team. How can I approach this situation?
I am a software developer in a team of 8 members which includes a senior software architect, who provides us instructions about designs. This is in a medium sized company in north America.
I am introverted in general and like to avoid conflicts. According to my manager, I perform adequately for my role and received bonus for my performance. He does however think there are times where I tend to follow the architect's decision despite having good ideas of my own. He wants me to challenge the architect more often in a respectful manner.
The architect is a lot more knowledgeable than me on theories of computer science. He is also hard working and timely in his responses. The issue is he is always condescending in his responses. Some examples:
- if I come with a question with two possible solutions to know his opinion, instead of sharing what he thinks is better, he would say "Did you read chapter 'x' on the book 'y' or this particular paper?". He would then preach for 5 minutes what a good software developer should know before actually giving his opinion.
- he objects to pull requests that he hasn't approved, finding trivial faults in 50 different places quoting some theories/concepts and blocking the request
- in our stand-ups, he interrupts when other people are talking and doesn't miss an opportunity to portray how smart he is
- he favours theoretical best practices over simple, functional designs despite this leading to frequent complaints from users
The architect is above our manager in the organisation and has a lot of power and is close with the higher-ups, so my manager avoids getting involved. I want to tread carefully after what happened to a couple of senior developers who previously tried to address this. The architect ganged up on them with another principal engineer ultimately forcing them to move to another team. They've actually invited me to join them but I like my current team, the technology and the work we do. I would like to establish a better balance in my interactions with the architect though, because I have undoubtedly learned a lot from him and study the topics he points me to in my own time.
How can I navigate this situation effectively?
Options that I could think are:
- Speak with the person (may make it better or worse for a narcissist)
- Speak with manager (might be labelled not a team-player)
- Speak with HR (probably requires more concrete misbehaviour)
- Move to another team (possible, but don't like the technologies so much)
- Move to another company
- Any other options is greatly appreciated