My company recently completed a big re-org and I've been placed on new a team project at work. This is a cross organisational team of about 15 people. We've divided into smaller, more manageable working groups of 3-4 people. I asked to be assigned to a specific working group because I have industry experience on this topic at a different company.

My work group consists of myself, a senior developer who shares the same manager as me, and Bob. Bob is from a different team and has lots of academic experience on this topic. Bob has been in the company 1 year, 6 months for me and 3 years for senior developer.

What is frustrating is that Bob has tried to take charge of our working group as if he is an undesignated team lead. For example, he makes unilateral decisions about the direction of the work even after I voice concerns. He also tries to assign tasks to both myself and senior developer. He also makes corrections on my work. There is already some friction between us and at one point he point blank offered for me to join a different working group. I believe senior developer is also irritated by Bob, but he does not let much show. It may be because senior developer can hide his emotions well or because senior developer spends only part of his time on this project and doesn't have as much vested as I do.

Since I am so new to the company, my top goal here is to make the project successful, but it is also important for me to make a valuable contribution on the project that is recognized by the project managers. I see two approaches to take:

  1. Go along with most of Bob's decisions and only speak out when it makes a big difference to the success of the project. Document my contributions and use this to show my contribution.
  2. Directly speak with Bob and mention my concerns. Tell him that I immensely respect his skill level and academic knowledge but remind him that the direction we take needs to be a team decision.

I'm leaning toward option 1 because it is a safer approach. But it also would require a lot of patience and I risk Bob trying to cut my work out of the final deliverable. Option 2 seems a bit too confrontational given my status in the company. I would prefer a reputation as someone who is easy to get along with. But according to how I am supposed to answer interview questions, option 2 would be the 'correct' approach.

Is there a third option? What to do?


6 Answers 6


I also think option 2 would be best. Level setting with Bob now will decrease the chances of animosity and tension from building.

I would frame the issue as being a disconnect between your vision of the team's decision making process and his vision of the team's decision making process. This shifts any blame off of him and puts it on the situation at hand. He may not even realize some of the decisions he's making if they seem like the only logical option.

Finally, just tell him you are not feeling included. He cannot deny what you feel, and a rational person should realize that 33% of the team being dissatisfied is a problem the whole team needs to address.

Best of luck to you : )


Yes I agree with 2. Talk to Bob about your concerns and try to talk it out and come to a fair conclusion. If he does not agree, try to have a meeting with Bob and your direct supervisor/manager and voice your concerns. I have seen cases where the person did not talk it out and went directly to HR and the whole situation became awkward. I do not recommend it. I hope everything works out!


It's hard to say for sure, but part of the problem might simply be finding a cooperation strategy that works for both you and Bob. I wouldn't go to him with an ultimatum; when you talk to Bob about this, you don't have more power than him, so your purpose should be to negotiate for a situation both of you can live with.

I would start with, "This project is important to me, and I want to make sure we are working together effectively. It seems like we're heading for disaster, and I don't want us to fail. (list specific problems with your communication, not with the project.) How can we work together better, and ensure a successful project?"

If you can't negotiate a bearable arrangement with Bob, and one that leaves you feeling comfortable about the success of the project, then you could re-negotiate, or reach out to your mutual supervisor for support.

If you're overruled by Bob and your manager, then you should document every time you voiced a concern which was not addressed by the team, along with the date. That way, if the project fails because you were ignored, you will not be blamed.

  • I don't think OP and Bob have the same supervisor. It's OP & senior developer who have that. Jul 24, 2020 at 4:57

I would talk to your manager and ask directly who your supervisor is, and what your chain of command is. In fact, I would recommend this in the early phases of any job that you begin. It is critical to know your chain of command.

Next, let your manager know about Bob's behaviors and get your manager's feedback. Unfortunately, I have worked in offices with very manipulative staff, who would immediately tell new hires that they were in charge of certain areas, that they were not authorized to be in charge of. Then it was a piece of work to get the team back to an understanding of correct roles/responsibilities. Basically, if Bob is behaving out of line, the manager needs to know so that s/he can call Bob on it.

If Bob is obnoxious enough, feel free to ignore him.


It's nothing personal - if the idea and direction bob is pulling the project towards is sound, go along with it. If it's not voice it and give reasons as to why it isn't sound then let the project manager decide.

On him correcting your work, if it's warranted and can be verified as an improvement by senior devs you need to swallow your pride. If it's bs waffle to pull wool over management's eyes to show how good he is and put you down without any objective need for correction - point it out. Cause if you don't it'll become a habit. I've worked with many tech scammers who thrive because manager is non technical. They spend half their day writing long winded jargon filled bs emails to convince management everyone's doing it wrong and how they're saving the company.

I don't know what the dynamics are but I suspect you're just annoyed with his attitude and bossiness. Also don't carry that persona of wanting to be the guy that's "easy to get along with" - nice guys finish last.


Always voice concern in writing and cc your boss, things could turn sour. The boss will know you are handling it and the employee will now have to think about their role if things go bad.

Anyway, a man that plans, plans for failure.

It's about people management.

Employee: Let them have a long rope but let them know with a paper trail (performance management), then it's on them not you.

Boss: Always involve your boss when it comes to doing jobs you aren't comfortable with. The way you do this is by asking advice. Boss feels empowered etc and gives their view but get them to say it like they are giving you instruction or how they would sort it. Then the email asking if it's OK to proceed as requested. Better to go to them and say you can't do something or having difficuty than pretending you can. It will build trust and boss has now implicated themself in the decision making (with a paper trail). Use it to gain experience and try to get boss to approve seminar or course on dealing with such issues. The training budget is a useful resource for paid excursions. You also get to learn how to rule with a jackboot on their junk should you be required to do so in future.

After talking to boss, cover your ass with an email that ends in a question requiring both to respond with a yes/no kind of response:

email to bob. cc boss


Despite my cautious reasoning, you still wish to do it your way. I am prepared to overrule my proposed decision if you can please reassure me that you can competently perform the task and there will be no increased risk or negative effect on the time and cost of the project. Do you still insist you've got this?

Cheers, lolmanthelesser

Boss, If you have no objections, are we all agreed to go ahead?

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