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So I work in a small IT company where I am working on a small group project with two other coworkers. Based on what is expected from the manager, we frame our deliverables and divide the work amongst ourselves.

Now where the problem comes into the picture is that the other two coworkers like to overcomplicate some of the straightforward stuff to an extent just to make themselves look knowledgeable, going above and beyond etc.(n- number of other reasons that have got to do with ego). They also tend to ignore/refute my reasoning to a point where it looks condescending. I can surely step up and raise my voice but seeing as the result would be more along the lines of strained relations with the coworkers, I generally choose to be accommodating with them but it gets tough at times.

I understand it's good that folks like to go above and beyond, but I really like to stick with what I have been asked to do. I also get that some individuals seek validation of what they know, but in the process, they tend to hurt others around them (unintentionally). I am all for going the extra mile, but it serves me nothing if it starts to affect other aspects of life, especially if you are working in IT.

So essentially, what I am asking is :

  1. If you were a manager looking at the work contributions, would you judge me negatively?

  2. Should I play catch up with the other two coworkers to make myself appear as an equal contributor? (All of that, even if it starts to affect other aspects of my life)

  3. From an employee's perspective, what do you think is a healthy mindset in this situation?

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  • The question is very broad and will only get you very broad answers. Could you maybe explain your actual problems? Do they objectively get more work done than you? Do they look like they get more work done than you? Did your manager have any criticism? Do they get something you don't, like raises or praise?
    – nvoigt
    Oct 14 '21 at 12:14
  • Whose actually in-charge of the team? If the team members are having disputes in what tasks to do, it's clear that someone needs to be in charge to solve these disputes and assign responsibilities.
    – sfxedit
    Oct 14 '21 at 16:50
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    Do you really think they are doing it to make you look bad, or are they just trying to get ahead? Oct 14 '21 at 21:36
  • @GregoryCurrie There are many other ways to get ahead in your career other than bootlicking your manager. So yeah, I'm pretty sure they are doing it to make me look bad.
    – mishsx
    Oct 14 '21 at 23:13
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    "Bootlicking" is often the easiest way for career progression. But sure, it's a grand conspiracy to make you look bad. Oct 15 '21 at 0:27
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If you don't advocate for yourself no one will

seeing as the result would be more along the lines of strained relations with the coworkers, I generally choose to be accommodating with them but it gets tough at times.

It isn't clear to me why you want to be accomodating to people who are trying to make you look bad. Stand up for yourself.

I can surely step up and raise my voice

You don't need to raise your voice to refute someone. Do it calmly and in a straightforward manner.

Only your manager can answer how they view you as part of all this. But you should understand that politics and performance are both important in most companies. "Fluff and Stuff." You need some fluff or people don't notice your stuff. Unfortunately, navigating office politics is part of the job. Bad workplaces can be dominated by this and will produce employees who are masters of politics, not results.

That said, expect that people who work more may be rewarded for that extra work, whether or not it adds value. You can't fix this, you can only control yourself. You need to decide (and probably have a discussion with your boss) if that's how you want to compete. Again unfortunately, the workplace is often a competition with winners and losers in compensation and advancement. Only you know if that's the case where you work. But a discussion with your manager about all this is probably a good place to start. It is possible they see through your co-workers' heavy-handed attempts to gain favor.

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    I never considered that. huh... I really like your straightforward approach. Perhaps I'll inculcate that in my workplace. I really like your answer.
    – mishsx
    Oct 14 '21 at 14:45
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If you were a manager looking at the work contributions, would you judge me negatively?

Assuming you're doing everything you're actually asked to do (and to a suitable standard) no. If the "extra mile" the co-workers are doing is really adding value I might view them more positively than you but it wouldn't make me think negatively of you. It's not a zero-sum game.

Should I play catch up with the other two coworkers to make myself appear as an equal contributor? (All of that, even if it starts to affect other aspects of my life)

Not if it's going to lower your quality of life over-all.

From an employee's perspective, what do you think is a healthy mindset in this situation?

Frankly I'd stop assuming that everything my coworkers did was about me. Because the chances are it really isn't. Do what you're asked to a high standard, and go home at the end of the day and enjoy your life without worrying about work. We all get to decide how much "extra" we're personally happy to give - and if that's "zero" for you then more power to you. If it's more than zero - so long as you know why you're doing it and are actually getting what you want from it then that's great too.

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  • Perhaps you're right, maybe I am getting caught up with the competitiveness. I shouldn't worry if I deliver what's asked of me in a timely with consistency in quality.
    – mishsx
    Oct 14 '21 at 13:00
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    This is a good answer which I agree with, but I would add that although the OP might not be judged negatively, that doesn't mean they are not seen as "the least useful" objectively, which may become a factor if for example the team needs downsizing. Of course, this is just the nature of the workplace, there is a big difference between being good at your job and appearing to be good at your job. If you feel your job is secure enough that you can be seen to be doing "the bare minimum" then that is your call.
    – musefan
    Oct 14 '21 at 13:06
  • @musefan, I get the bottom line, and that is to play catch up. It's good to be competitive, but I am disappointed that the society we live in today chooses to have declining consideration for work-life balance.
    – mishsx
    Oct 14 '21 at 13:14
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    @musefan While I agree that it can be a risk if redundancies are on horizon for whatever reason this is why I would always stress ensuring you do what you're tasked with to as high a standard as you can. It's not a foolproof defense by any means but nothing is.
    – motosubatsu
    Oct 14 '21 at 13:21
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    @musefan Well put! I stopped working every hour under the sun a few years back, these days I work my contracted hours, I give my best during those hours but then I go home and live my life.
    – motosubatsu
    Oct 14 '21 at 13:26
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Also – sit down with your manager and simply ask him or her instead of "assuming" that you know what they think about the subject, or about you.

It's very enlightening to sit in that manager's-chair and to realize that some of your employees are basically "psyching themselves out" and making themselves quite miserable because they "assumed" they knew what you were thinking or what you wanted, but never asked. As a manager, you need to watch out for this and try to catch it early. Many employees will consciously or unconsciously take everything you say "very personally," and "in the worst possible light." And they won't say anything to you about it.

You know the saw: "'assume' makes an 'ass' of 'u' and 'me.'" But it's actually true!

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