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I've been working as a web developer in a very small company for the last 4 years, this is my first job. I was hired as the second dev, the first one being one of my bosses. My tasks at the beginning were mostly developing and a background of customer support (taking phone calls, explaining how things work, changing the customer's workflow, etc.)

2 years ago, during my annual review, I talked to my managers about the customer support, a task that takes more and more time and that I don't like doing. For me, this is not something that should be done by a developer. They hired 2 new developers to help me focus on projects.

The situation didn't change, the company is growing, and we get more and more customer requests on our ticketing system. Last year's review happened like the first one, I talked about doing to much customer support and not being able to focus on programming, they started looking for a customer care agent but couldn't find anyone.

I have my next review next week and I want to approach my managers, because the situation is getting worse and worse. I can only focus on my developer's stuffs once or twice a week, the rest of the time is for customer support. I feel like I'm the only one who does that much customer support, the other team members are able to work on their projects every day. A few months ago I checked in our ticketing system's database and made some statistics on Excel: right now I'm doing 70% of the customer's tickets, while my 2 colleagues have 15% each.

3 months ago, I talked about this head-to-head with the managers during a meeting, they agreed that the situation wasn't normal, and they told me they would split the tickets 33%/33%/33% between the 3 members of the team (they assign the tickets), but since then nothing changed, I can prove it with my Excel.

I feel like I've been lied to, because I already talked about this 3 times, and nothing changed; 2 people were hired to help me and they do more programming stuff than me; I feel more like a customer care agent than a web developer. I have also learned that my 2 colleagues are more paid than I am, while having less experience. I don't see myself growing my technical skills, I'm doing a job I don't like and I'm thinking about leaving, but I would prefer to stay...

Besides that, I'm the most experienced person in the team, my colleagues often come to me to ask me questions about the code, and the IT manager always told me I'd be the project manager when the IT team is big enough. Despite having only a small amount time to work on my projects, I always finish them on time.

I'd like to talk about this during my next review:

  • Would it be rude to tell them that I feel betrayed ?
  • Would it be rude to show them my Excel with statistics ?
  • Can I talk to them about the salary being the same while I do more ?
  • What else can I do to make the situation change ? I want to let my managers know it's my last warning before leaving, without being rude ...

Let me know if something isn't clear.

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    You should consider asking yourself why you want to stay with a company that forces you to do work outside of your job description 90% of your time, completely ignores inquiries and complaints related to that, pays newer less experienced developers more than you, and gives you work that doesn't allow you to develop your technical skills. What exactly is making you loyal to this company? It doesn't sound like you're getting anything out of it except a paycheck, and a smaller one than you feel you deserve at that. – TheBatman Feb 19 at 21:15
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    You've been there for 4 years? As a developer? You've already been there too long. If you're not growing at the pace/direction you want in your current role, and it's something you can't change for yourself, you need to move on. Avoid complacency. Avoid comfort. – Joel Etherton Feb 19 at 22:46
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Normally, you should approach management about this topic after a performance review, so you would be impacted much. BUT, you also want a salary increase. That makes things more difficult.

So you are left with pretty much one option. Discuss the topic during the evaluation review - more specifically, during setting the targets for the next year. Of course, any evidence with numbers is a lot better than feelings. You can use even the following calculation:

  • if one person can do 70%, then two persons should be able to do 140%;
  • if the other colleagues can actually jump from 15% to 33%, then it should be possible that they together jump to 100%, leaving you do fo the programming.

customer support, a task that takes more and more time and that I don't like doing

That is bad wording. It is a job, "I do not like" is not the best way. instead, reinforce that you want to improve as a developer. Maybe you want to grow into new technologies, applicable to your job. Tell that to your boss. Be pro-active, and tell what you want.

The guide of the discussion should be what you want to do, not what you want to avoid. It puts you into a more favorable light.


In parallel, start studying the job market. You might get a lot luckier at another company. If you already have a better offer at the time of the review, it will give you significant leverage over the negotiation.

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In a comment, you clarified your question as,

when should I talk about this then

Ideally, you should never literally complain - although, that's a bit of a semantic argument. Instead of thinking of this as a complaint, frame it as an opportunity. That seems like a bit of silly management speak, but there's value in approaching problems as opportunities because it can help you frame the situation based on the potential upsides.

You've identified that this work is a problem, but it seems like it's a problem to you mostly because you just don't like doing the support tasks. You need to also think of this from your boss's perspective: Why is it good (or bad) for you to do one type of work, versus another?

  • Would splitting up the support work more evenly help you keep your projects on schedule? (If you're able to keep things on schedule even while doing the support work, that will weaken this argument)
  • Would having one person dedicated full time to support work allow that person to do higher quality work? Developers sometimes don't have the right mindset for actual end user support, your clients may get a better experience from someone who is actually interested in support as a career choice.
  • Do you suffer from lack of progress because of having to constantly switch context? Some people can juggle different work items seamlessly, other people lose efficiency when they have to switch back and forth.

For any of these points, it's best if you can frame it as hey boss, if we try X, we can solve this problem in a way that's better for everyone. versus just complaining.

All that said, you still have the question of timing. A performance review is when you want to show off your accomplishments. It might not be best to spend a significant portion of that review complaining about your job. However, a review can be a good time to reflect on bigger picture items, including things like career path and strategy for your position. If you have an opportunity during the review to provide feedback, you might want to mention something like,

Hey boss, I've been thinking about the conversations we've had about support tasks. I think I have some ideas on how we can make that process better for everyone. And, I'm also trying to plan out my own personal areas for growth in terms of what I'd like to focus on, and I'd like to make some suggestions about the support work to fit in with my personal goals. Do you think we could set up some regular one on ones to discuss these topics?

This way, instead of having a single conversation (and then feeling like there's no follow through), you can instead make it clear that you'd like to have regular conversations about this topic. That takes the issue of "timing" off the table, since you will hopefully end up with a focused recurring opportunity to actually work on the problem with your boss, instead of just lobbing complaints and then feeling like nothing changes.

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    The idea of having regular conversations on the topics at hand is a great approach. This takes it out of the once a year evaluation, and makes it harder to put the issues on the back burner. – Jennifer S Feb 19 at 13:59
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    Yes, that;s the goal. As a manager, I try to encourage that, since I know it works best for everyone. In reviews with my staff, I ask them: "is there anything you're struggling with that we can meet regularly on?" Annual reviews shouldn't contain surprises, and they shouldn't be the only time you talk about anything like this. – dwizum Feb 19 at 14:14
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It very much depends how big a deal it is to you and what you want from the annual review.

If you just want a raise then you normally keep the review positive.

If you're upset enough to contemplate leaving then you have nothing to lose by pointing out what it would take for you to stay. Because a review can work both ways. Job satisfaction is a big deal to some people, and being paid appropriately is as well. On top of that unresolved issues or falsehoods are not great either.

There is no need to be rude, it's professional enough to point out faults, how the others take it is up to the individual, but since this has been gone through before, they're well aware that there have been issues that have not been addressed to your satisfaction.

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Rather than saying something along the lines of "these are all the things I hate" frame it as "these are all the reasons you need me". The idea of an annual review is to show the company all the ways you are doing well and for them to talk to you about ways you can improve.

Never aim to compare yourself to others, or bad mouth your colleagues.

Don't tell them that it's unfair the others are being paid as much as you - tell them why you should get a raise/ promotion. I'm sure they are well aware of all the work you do but you need to make sure you have good reasons how you personally deserve these things and the reasons shouldn't be anything to do with the other people on your team.

You can mention that you would like to take on more projects and that you would like to split up the ticketing more evenly but be careful about the phrasing. You probably get all the tickets because the managers trust you to complete them correctly and quickly. Offer to help train the other colleagues on answering the tickets to improve the team as a whole.

You can tell them you would like to concentrate on becoming a project manger and ask what steps you need to take in order to make that happen.

The key thing is to let them know you're keen to improve and that you add value to the company, share your aspirations and goals. Don't just complain about the way things are, tell them what you want to improve and how you can see it happening.

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You don't complain during a review.

It's not the time for it. You are being evaluated and hoping to get a raise. It's the one day out of the year you need to be the most positive and team-playery.

Any of this you can state as a positive, now that's money. "I think I have been excelling at my job, in fact, here, this documentation shows I've been solving 70% of our customers' problem reports myself!" If they ask what you'd like, other than a big fat raise, you could make a play like "Well, given my tenure here I'd like to have more of an opportunity to lead and mentor the other developers to give them the benefit of my experience. I could coach them on solving the customer tickets instead of actually doing the work myself, so the entire team can learn to be highly effective."

You are positive. You are a team player. You are looking to contribute at a higher level. That's how you move ahead.

"The guy who takes out all the trash every day complained about how much trash there was and then quit" is not something any manager will lose sleep over. There's always another trash man.

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Don't bother complaining at review time

It doesn't matter if they lied to you (they probably didn't; they're probably not very experienced at managing and don't realize this is a problem for you). It doesn't matter why your management hasn't put in the effort to solve your problem, what matters is that there hasn't been a solution. You've been talking about it for two years during reviews and one off meetings, and there's been no change. There's no reason to believe talking about it at the review is going to change anything either.

Now is the time for action

Assuming that this situation really is atypical, that you are getting a disproportionate of support work that is interfering in your ability to handle other development tasks, you need to stop making it easy for your management to keep dumping this sort of work on you in these volumes. It's a distraction from other previously identified business priorities. You need to make that abundantly clear every day, not as a complaint at review time. So, start pushing back on support requests. Don't accept every ticket from your managers. Be prepared to say things like:

I'm sorry boss, but I am working on 10 support issues already and can't take this one. Maybe Bill can?

I don't have time to do the implementation of Feature XYZ and handle this support request. Which task has higher priority?

You should do this on every ticket that is over whatever your share is until the distribution of the support load is 33%/33%/33% the way that your management previously said was their goal, or until they realize that plan was crazy and the status quo is not working.

Don't make it about what you want, but about what they want

Note here, I don't suggest you talk about your feelings or former promises made to you. Regardless of whether those feelings are legitimate, it's not going to be constructive to talk about that.

Instead, talk about what you want in terms of what they previously conveyed to you were their priorities for the business. They said they want a customer care agents, and that they want to even out the support load. So, when you do the kind of pushback I'm suggesting, you're not whining about yourself, you're trying to help achieve what they said they wanted to do.

Decide for yourself how much longer you want to put up with this, and plan to leave when that time is up

It is possible that doing this will still not work. In which case, the organization is going to be genuinely incapable of solving the problem (e.g. no money) or unwilling to see it as a problem (e.g. you're still doing the tickets and show up to work every day). In that case it's time to quit.

Update your resume right now. If you decide it is time to quit, you want to be prepared to do that. Don't threaten to quit; nobody takes threats seriously unless they believe that the person threatening is going to plausibly carry the threat out. Even then, the rational response to a threat is to replace you with someone less difficult, not to cave in to your demands.

Next, set some sort of specific criteria for quitting. This is so you don't hang around waiting for things to improve. This is also so you don't quit rashly in case things actually do start improving slowly. Something like "if I'm still doing 60% of support requests 3 months from now, I'm done".

Then, implement the pushback strategy. If things don't improve after that when your quitting criteria are reached, quit.

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  • Saying this to a boss is a great way of being fired or at least getting a bad review. Being unhappy with a task isn’t a great reason it to do it. – Donald Feb 20 at 2:02
  • @Donald I didn't say he should say he's unhappy to do a task to his boss. I said he should explain that the thing he's being asked to do makes being what he was previously asked to do un-achievable. – Joe Feb 20 at 15:12

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