I joined a startup as a Software Engineer to raise a bit of cash for my own business however, I have stayed longer than expected as there is potential for me to make a name for myself and create something I am proud of.

The startup is building a mobile app that has huge potential. Due to bosses connections with some very large companies, we already have over 200k users on our waiting list to receive the app on launch.

The development team consists of myself on back-end and a front-end dev (no official hierarchy). I've put everything I have into this and extremely proud of what I've produced.

The problem is the front-end. The front-end dev is just rushing out the layout, with no attention to detail at all. The quality is terrible, and he just doesn't see it.

He is hard working, and a really nice guy, but he just isn't experienced enough. I've tried to get the boss to hire another (more experienced) developer to "help", but we don't have funding b/c he's put the money back into other non tech projects. - I want to avoid directly saying he isn't good enough.

If the front-end launches like it is, we are going to lose users.

Additionally I've been working into the early hours and weekends to try and support him. Fixing the things he doesn't know how to do, and should be able to do in his sleep. I can't keep doing this much longer, it's too stressful and not my job.

I've been told before online, this isn't my problem! However, remember the first part. I want to make a name for myself and create something I'm proud of. I want this mobile app to succeed, and I will get judged based on how the front-end / design turns out, not the hard work I've done on the back-end.

So really, I'm asking for any ideas on how, or if there is anything I could do to handle / rectify this situation, without throwing my colleague under the bus?

  • 1
    It has good answers, that you may well not like...
    – Solar Mike
    Aug 30, 2020 at 13:28
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    That question was about my role and title, and possibly hiring another dev to help me out.... This question, is about me wanting to produce something I'm proud of, and my existing colleagues (lack of) experience is getting in the way of that.
    – flexi
    Aug 30, 2020 at 13:34
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    Have you done reviews of the product with your boss? If the issues are as bad as you say, your boss should be concerned, after all it's not just his reputation but his money that's at stake.
    – DaveG
    Aug 30, 2020 at 14:12
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    Note that the problem isn't whether or not has enough experience. The problem you are facing is the quality of the delivered work, and that this is causing you extra work. This may be caused by your coworker not being experienced enough, but you would have the same problems if your coworker delivered the same results, even with years of experience.
    – Abigail
    Aug 31, 2020 at 17:42
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    Unfortunately, the front end is what the user sees, and believes to be the app. You can have a few edge case problems on the back end and still release the product, but, if the front end is wobbly, or looks amateurish, potential users will look once, yawn, and uninstall. I am well aware that I am no artist, and my front ends look bad (although the logic is just fine), and recently switched to Flutter/Dart, which solved that problem for me. You don't tell us what is wrong with the front end - something as simple as bad colo(u)r mix? Radio buttons where a checkbox would work? Bad layout? Bad UX?
    – Mawg
    Sep 5, 2020 at 7:26

3 Answers 3


You don't need to directly throw your colleague under the bus, but you do need to have a serious conversation with your boss. The important thing is to focus on the issues, not the people involved: point out the issues with the front-end - if they're as bad as you say they are, then they'll realise something needs to be done.

Do mention that you've been working overtime to help, but also be prepared to draw a line in the sand and not commit any more of your time.

It's then over to your boss to work out what he wants to do with his company; sounds like he's going to have to invest some more money in it, but it's his money and he can to a very large extent do what he likes with his money. Some things just aren't in your control.

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    I did voice my concerns to the boss before starting the project, as we had the same issue on the previous project. Hopefully he will realise something needs to change when he sees the beta next week... I think you're right. I need to draw a line with the time I'm committing and accept I can only do so much.
    – flexi
    Aug 30, 2020 at 13:38
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    @flexi If possible on future projects try to schedule demos on a more frequent basis, as the work is done. Not necessarily anything as formal as sprints but just as a way to get course corrections early. By the time a project gets close to a beta release it's pretty tough to really make major changes.
    – DaveG
    Aug 30, 2020 at 19:08

Don't overlook the possibility that your front-end dev is working to a reasonable standard with regard to his pay and experience, and that you're getting carried away with stress and overwork.

It may be that you could do a better job of the front end in your sleep, but probably not at the same time as the back end, without your health suffering.

If you didn't want to be judged on the back end alone, and wanted to become an industry superstar based on front-end work, then you shouldn't have adopted the role of back-end developer.

And if you don't want to be judged (by "the industry", it seems) on other people's work, then you shouldn't have adopted a project that is beyond your sole capability and requires multiple people to develop. Or you shouldn't have decided to work on a project where you are not the owner or the boss, and don't decide who gets hired and fired.

Unless you are genuinely at a loose end and prepared to show others how it is done - and you acknowledge yourself, this is not the position you are in - then it is best not to be overly critical of others' work. Your boss may recognise the situation as being less than ideal, but also recognise that nothing effective can be done about it (with constraints of time and budget), so that the company must proceed and do its best with what it has.

And you are not really in the position of having to form an opinion about your colleague's work. It probably does not impact on your daily work, in the sense that your colleague is not frustrating your work method or your own productivity. And it's your boss's job to risk the company's money, and to achieve an overall balance of concerns, not yours.

I don't say this to imply that you are being impertinent, but to emphasise that being a manager of people is a real job, which requires not only skills but also time (for interaction with people, for mastering the organisation and all its problems, for judgment and digestion, etc.). In the same way as you are taking on your colleague's job when you can ill-afford the time and effort, you are actually doing the same thing to your boss as well.

If you publicly escalate your complaint about your colleague, what you see as throwing your colleague "under the bus", may simply be throwing your own reputation under the bus, as you cause alienation with your colleague and confirm once and for all to your boss that you cannot work in a team or confine yourself to playing your part in it (which is a full and prominent part, and is enough on its own to occupy all the sustainable time and energy of a full-time employment).

The best answer is to learn to pace yourself and learn to take pride in the contribution you make to something that is larger than you could produce for yourself.


I agree that you should raise the issue with your boss – prepared to state your case, and to listen carefully.

I daresay that (s)he will have perspectives on the situation that (s)he is willing to share with you – and that you can learn from – but will do so only if you first make it clear that this is what you are now seeking.

Try this approach: "Only talk about yourself." In other words: "I am facing, and this is what (not "who") is blocking me, and I think that, and it seems to Me that." Consider whether or not to actually mention any co-worker by name – I frankly do not recommend it. Then, having stated your position, shut-up and listen. Be mature and receptive, and ready to learn something that you didn't know before. (If your manager wishes to instead schedule a follow-up meeting with you, that's perfectly fine.)

Trust me: you really don't know what it's like to be a manager, especially in a hot-skillet situation like this, until you've been one ... you simply don't have the perspective ... and believe me, "it's an acquired taste!"

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