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I'm a project manager on a complex project. Some time ago the project was to grow in scope significantly and it was decided that the new features were to be worked on by a "team in the team" - 2 devs who worked mostly independently from the rest of the project team, let's call them Tom and Sven. Tom and Sven were to work very closely with Mark - Mark is a senior person who knows the requirements very well but who was quite external to the project before. They worked very closely for several months. Tom and Sven were however to stick to coding standards and similar of the rest of the team. They were also to demo. We wanted to create communication since there are dependencies.

This didn't work so well. There wasn't enough communication. And they didn't progress enough.

So the decision was taken to integrate Tom and Sven with the rest of the team. Mark was now to be only an advisor.

Now Tom and Sven have their own way concerning everything and it takes me hours of convincing them to stick to rules that make the cooperation in the team possible. Frequently when I ask them to do something, they call Mark and complain about being treated unfairly. Then Mark calls me and asks me to explain e.g. our coding standards and why Tom has to stick to them. Or why Sven can't do something if the rest of the team can (that's not true). I feel trapped. I have to justify my every decision to Mark. This way of working costs me a lot of time and stress. What should I do to reduce these negative consequences?

Of course Tom and Sven received training on how we do things and we support them in the learning process and answer their questions.

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  • 9
    Is Mark your manager? If not, why do you feel the need to justify anything to him?
    – sf02
    Dec 16, 2021 at 21:10
  • @sf02, he's not my manager but he's considerably more senior than me in the company.
    – santa42779
    Dec 16, 2021 at 21:11
  • I think there's a bit of context missing. Have Tom/Sven always been behaving in this way, and it was just insulated by Mark? If they were supporting this project for months why were they not always following project guidelines? If Mark was already external to the project why is he suddenly now only an "advisor" (was he not advising before?)
    – ZachTurn
    Dec 16, 2021 at 21:50
  • Who made the decisions about readjusting the team? Dec 17, 2021 at 19:33
  • I am not sure this is answerable: details are omitted, positions/teams are not clear or explained in terms of authority and autonomy, we do not know who is "running the show", and the OP is trying to reach across teams (again details are sketchy) and dictate to another team versus going to their own manager (i.e. leading me to believe the OP does not have managerial authority or authority on the team). The question should edited/rewritten to be answerable otherwise there is nothing to say beyond "Go to your boss".
    – David
    Dec 17, 2021 at 23:03

3 Answers 3

17

Work this through your manager.

Somewhere there is a manager who can set expectations to both you and Mark.

2

There's a good answer already, but if that's not an option, this is what I think.

What should I do to reduce these negative consequences?

Exactly what you are doing.

From my understanding of your position it will get better or blow up in their faces eventually or Marks. Until then the professional thing to do is just make your points dispassionately and don't let it impact on your morale.

-2

Problem could be you and your team

First of all, looks like real Project Owner/Manager is Mark. Mark is most senior among you, plus knows requirements well. And you are, despite all the titles, just his deputy running daily tasks and making sure that his broad directions are fulfilled.

Second, Tom and Stan are, by the looks of it, most senior developers in the team. At least Mark wants them to be so. Therefore, they should have a (major) say about your coding practices, standards etc ... Maybe you already have a team leader or an architect among others of your developers, but Mark does not see them like that.

What you need to do is to clarify the matters. Have frank discussion with Mark, and then with rest of the team. Demand strict hierarchy, and straight answer who is on top. This includes not only project ownership and management, but also rank among developers. It is very likely you will need to change coding practices arranged before Tom and Sven joined the team . It is also quite likely some of your colleagues (or maybe even you) would want to leave the team . But such is life.

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