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I am a senior developer, working in a big tech company.

My team is a new team, got created recently.

We don't have a manager, because the manager left the company.

The manager of the department, asked me to take care of the team technically.

There is one dev who is making problems to me. Since the beginning, I have lots of concerns about the quality of his work, I am spending lots of time correcting his work and trying to guide him in technical solutions. I think he didn't take that very friendly, maybe he is not used to have those kind of feedbacks, maybe because I was a bit strict.

I tried to use different technique such as giving him hints rather than direct answers.

Now the situation has evolved, he is coming with technical solutions without aligning with the team. I have lots of concerns about those solutions. Some of them are really bad.

What can I do? The easiest way is to talk to the high manager but I am not sure that would solve the issue, maybe he will be even more defensive.

Any ideas?

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  • Do you have the authority to let him go?
    – Fattie
    Apr 27 at 20:35
  • @Fattie no. I do not Apr 27 at 20:37
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    Do you have code (or design) reviews where others can make sure he is aligned with the team? Apr 27 at 21:04
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    @PeteW Yes. One time there was a solution that is completely wrong. I had to ask him to do it again. We spent more than 2 hours in chat talking and at the end, he asked other developers to join the discussion and only when the others have told him that the solution is wrong, he agreed to change it. Apr 27 at 21:46
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    Ok, that's a mild form of progress, if you are feeling optimistic. You're going to need to be more firm on this. If he responds to peer pressure, more of that could be an option. Real goal is to enforce structure, first establish that you won't accept what he's doing now. Maybe ask other devs if they will back you up on this, so that you don't have to threaten him (e.g. assigning him less desirable work or escalating to interim boss).
    – Pete W
    Apr 27 at 22:05
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What can I do?

You are not this person's boss.

And, while you have been "asked to take care of the team technically", you apparently don't understand what this means in relation to this (or any other) developer's work.

Thus, you must ask your boss how they want you to deal with the situation.

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  • I do not have a boss. Do you mean I should ask the manager of the department? (that is someone high in the chain) Apr 27 at 21:25
  • isn't it too silly to go to someone high in the chain and tell them about a problem with a colleague? Will that make them perceive me in a bad way? Apr 27 at 21:29
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    I think the wording of this answer is a bit abrasive, but I agree in spirit. Talking to a higher manager isn't necessarily asking that manager to deal with the problem. There are two things that are important: Make sure that someone higher up has visibility of the problem, and if possible, seek advice from people within the organisation on how to deal with this. Apr 28 at 9:33
  • If anything you can ask what "taking care" means and where your authority ends.
    – TomTom
    Apr 28 at 10:16
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To me the problem seems to be that you have been "asked to take care of the team technically" but not have been given actual authority. A team of just peers can work with the right group of people. However if one or more persons of the team are stubborn, contrarian and/or needlessly argumentative it's better/a must to have an actual manager. Since the higher-ups already seem to trust your expertise why not ask them to give you the actual authority of a manager so you can enforce decisions when necessary.

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    Maybe the authority of the "tech lead" or "head developer" is a better solution. Management position implies much more "management" than he is probably doing.
    – mishan
    Apr 28 at 13:42
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Implementing a pull request/peer review system would be the first thing I’ll be looking at.

If a solution doesn’t pass code review, it won’t get merged into your code base. It’s also a good way of getting fresh perspective on a solution and feedback as necessary.

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The manager of the department, asked me to take care of the team technically.

Your team needs standards, and a process. As team leader, you need to establish these. But also, there needs to be consensus among the team members that the standards should be met and the process should be followed. It's good to work these things out in official, team-wide meetings, with everyone able to give feedback visible to everyone else.

With the above in place, you can now handle this problem:

Now the situation has evolved, he is coming with technical solutions without aligning with the team. I have lots of concerns about those solutions.

If you want it to be a standard of the team that new technical solutions align with the team, then put a process in place that ensures this standard is met. In practice, this could be some form of design review.

And, as other technical problems come up, you will find they very frequently are solved by the exact same general advice: put a process in place that ensures a standard is met.

And because this is systematic, the developer in the question needn't feel that he personally is being criticized or singled out. Standards are something the entire team should uphold; it would be no different for any other developer on the team.

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I tried to use different technique such as giving him hints rather than direct answers.

There is situations where indirect techniques are great to help people. This is not one of those situations:
You have a new joiner who needs to learn the ways of your team and he is currently struggling. You have to be direct and clear.

Give your colleague the DOs and DONTs of your team. Ideally you can point them to a department wide guideline or something, but if not it is up to you do verbalize them, since you are in charge.
Give them the context they need to understand why you think their implementation isn't working and then let them explain if they agree and if not listen. If you listen and weigh carefully it show that you respect their technical expertise as well. Be open to change your mind, but in the end you are still in charge and your word goes. If nothing else goes escalate. See if your team can help you first, then talk to your department head.

From your comment on Joe's answer

isn't it too silly to go the someone high in the chain and tell them about a problem with a colleague? Will that make them perceive me in a bad way?

I don't think so. A new hire being having an attitude problem seems like something your manager would care about. Since he is somewhat high in the hierarchy make sure you are mindful of his time. Make sure you have clearly communicated to the new hire and the new hire is not listening. You should have evidence for both, before you escalate.

Then it is up to your manager to decide whether and how they want to deal with it.

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