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A couple of years ago I was reporting to J as one of ten developers, then moved under S, who is the manager of J. The reason was that I am looking after a piece of software (F) which required a higher scrutiny in terms of accepted change requests, and S had better visibility on this piece of software as well as the teams the change requests came from than J.

This went well for some years, but the arrangement since turned sour: Instead of giving the acknowledgement for F's success, it was a mere stepping stone for S's career; he got promoted soon after the arrangement started, without due credit to contributions and without passing on the success. At first I thought it is a single instance, and I laughed it off as something that just happens in Big Org, but it turned into a pattern: S constantly denigrates and trivialises my work, even the overtime I put in to meet deadlines, which are magically not critical any longer (there were back then when they were actually on). Other things S does include outright preferential treatment based on ethnicity (as silly as it sounds, and it's done in a way where it can't be challenged, even signed off by HR), writing non-truths about me in my performance review, attacking my character in said document and on go after me after reporting technical problems with our processes and software (despite having a non-retaliation policy in place). I have written a rebuttal to my performance review, but I doubt anyone actually cares.

S is not receptive to criticism even when this is phrased constructively (i.e. "here's the problem, here's how it affects me, here's a solution") and extremely carefully. I don't think he is acting maliciously. I rather think he is just clueless. He never trained as a manager, but believes he does everything right. He portrays himself as someone who has an open ear to everyone, yet he blocks out all criticism.

Due to all that and the fact that the requirement of S buffering change requests for product F is not more valid, I want to change back to J's team. At the very minimum, I won't be directly subject of S's harassment (for the lack of another word).

How do I go about it? Frankly, I just want to go to him, and tell (not ask!) him that I want the reporting structure changed based on the fact that there is no need for what I thought was a temporal arrangement, and that S needs to go to his manager and make the changes, and tell HR to do the needful (big org, requires changes in the employee databases in multiple backends). In particularly, I do not wish to engage in lengthy discussions why I really want this to have changed, i.e. his inability to recognise, his lie^Wtelling the non-truths in official documents and his failure to have his team members' backs. Such a discussion, as with every discussion I had with him, is an uphill battle that I've chosen to not fight any longer, due to it being a no-win-scenario for me.

(I know I should run, not walk. That's in the pipeline, but due to personal arrangements, changing jobs is not on the table for some time in the future.)

Secondary question: Is there anything I can do to address the lies about me in my performance review? Legal action? (This is Australia.)

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I want to change back to J's team. How do I go about it?

You can go to J and ask if there's any appropriate vacancies, but beyond that you may be out of luck. Just because you've been on J's team in the past doesn't mean there's a free ticket back - that would be quite unusual.

Instead of giving the acknowledgement for F's success, it was a mere stepping stone for S's career; he got promoted soon after the arrangement started, without due credit to contributions and without passing on the success.

That's not unusual - the person at the top gets the credit, but those underneath did all the grunt work. Not just the case in big companies either - academia can be very similar. We can argue about the relative morality of that of course, but you're not describing anything particularly out of the ordinary there.

However:

S constantly denigrates and trivialises my work, even the overtime I put in to meet deadlines

...this is not the same as "not passing on success". That's actively sabotaging your work, and I certainly wouldn't be hanging around long under any manager that did that - I'd be actively looking for new work.

I also certainly wouldn't be working overtime. If he doesn't appreciate it, then use the energy to look for work elsewhere instead.

As for your performance review:

writing non-truths about me in my performance review [...] Is there anything I can do to address the lies about me in my performance review? Legal action?

There's a big difference between a disagreement and an outright fabrication, and it's important to identify which is at play here.

If I wrote "routinely seems to require help on trivial tasks" on your review, and you're asking for help once in a while with complex tasks - there's scope for genuine disagreement there. (I could think you're pestering me too much with simple stuff, you could think you're only bringing complex stuff to me occasionally.) That's the subject of a rebuttal, if you want it to go on record.

However, if I wrote "consistently fails to meet deadlines and often has issues with punctuality", but you've met every deadline I've given you, and you've never been late, that's outright false. That situation is where you make a formal complaint to HR, contesting your manager's impartiality and asking them to investigate. Be prepared to provide evidence if you go down this route, and be prepared for a fight.

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    A person who takes on their boss needs to be ready to leave the job. – Tiger Guy Feb 25 at 14:54
  • "Just because you've been on J's team in the past doesn't mean there's a free ticket back" My argument would be that 100% of my work falls within J's field anyway. "I also certainly wouldn't be working overtime." Yes, that's certainly off the table for the time going forward. As for the review, I think it's more than disagreement. Email trails and bug tickets prove him objectively wrong, and the attacks on my character are simply based on lies. There's no other way to phrase it. Along the line of: "Was unwilling to change" if the ticket system proves that I opened the change request tickets... – FedUpWithBullying Feb 25 at 21:13
  • @ScottDunnington That's exactly what I don't want to do. I just want to move away, as silent as possible. "Taking him on", as you phrase it (I'd like to think of it as constructive criticism), didn't go well in the past. – FedUpWithBullying Feb 25 at 21:15

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