Let me just state that I know I am in a toxic work environment. I'm in a small town with my wife who is studying at the university. There is only so much software engineering work. Most of my co-workers are similarly trapped, either through spouses or visas.I also haven't done a tech interview in 6 years, so I doubt I could pass one today. The last out of towner she hired lasted a week, quit without notice, and sent the boss a nasty email referencing farm animals.
I'm the senior dev at a manufacturing facility. I work for someone we refer to as "Witch" within the team. For the sake of professionalism on here, we shall call her Wanda. Wanda is a terrible boss. She yells profanity at people, accuses them of slacking constantly, has been known to throw things at them, calls our children "vermin", etc.
This has taken its toll on our team. One member ended up in a mental hospital ward for self harm. Many of us have grown to resent our spouses and try to avoid them. I admittedly considered divorce so I could leave without breaking my wife's dreams. I've lashed out at my kids.
About 6 months ago we got a new dev, a relatively recent grad who moved back to be with his parents because of a family illness. He wasn't willing to tolerate Wanda's yelling at him, but didn't want to engage her directly as "that's not how you handle people with hard power", so he just started lying.
Wanda could be screaming about X not being done, and he would just confidently say that while it was discussed, instead Y was prioritized (when it wasn't at all true). He then points to our issue tracking software which is what we use to handle stories/tasks.
We use an ancient tracking software which just uses flat files to store data. Normally, an issue shows when it was last modified and who did the modification. He just goes onto the server and edits that flat file, so it seems like Wanda was the one who did it. She believes him.
One of his tactics to distract from an obvious failure he cannot erase is to pull another trivial item off the backlog, complete it, and then hype it up as a major technical achievement.
I'm stunned at his gall, but life has dramatically improved. Workloads are reasonable, she has stopped yelling and throwing things (it was bad to be a potted plant for a period when one dev was in hospital and work had to slow down) at random developers, and she no longer has confidence in what she wants, so she lets Max tell her what should be done. She doesn't interrogate or question him angrily (or if she does, he just talks over her until she stops), she always think that the sprint was a success (as Max just edits the sprint until everything on the list has been completed).
And I get to love my wife again. I am just afraid that this might backfire in the year and 4 months my wife has left. What are my risks here?
This is in the USA.
To clarify, I am technically this developer's boss. But Wanda doesn't give me much authority other than team management.