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I was rehired in a senior dev role to lead a small team for a company I use to work for. I worked for them for 6 years as a senior dev, a few years ago.

However, the new project manager doesn't see me as such. She behaves and only listens to the Dev 2, who always puts his two cents in and takes up most of the air time in meetings, that has been there for 2 years or my dev manager.

She treats me as if I don’t understand what she says when I ask a question on her meeting topics or tells others if someone else needs to work on what I’m working on, implying I’m not doing my job. I have been cleaning up issues done by others on my team.

On top of this, the project has no plan of attack or solid timeline, she tries to meet every whim of the business even when we don’t have the resources to do so.

My concerns are dismissed bring up that devs don't have time to code or meet the goals we have set out. The response is “it is what it is”

I have reached out to my manager and the director above them to iterate that I was brought on as lead and I am not treated as such.

This is affecting my performance and I am starting to just not care for the job.

I don’t know what to do outside of quitting. I would like to make this work.

What do I do?

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    What did your manager and the director say ?
    – Hilmar
    Jan 5, 2022 at 13:24
  • They both see me as tech lead and say they will speak to the PM. Yet nothing has really changed. Meetings are started without me (I’m on time or minute late). Pointing out how we dont know X because my manager is on PTO when I can speak about it. Asking Dev 2 directly a question that I could also answer.
    – Marie
    Jan 5, 2022 at 13:34
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    Hey Marie, just for clarification, can you explain the hierarchy of the team? I assume Dev 1 > Dev 2 > Senior Dev (you) > PM > Dev Manager? Jan 5, 2022 at 13:43
  • @nightsurfer a senior dev and PM would be equal footing. I report to the dev manager. PM manages the project and with SCRUM, this individual is scrum master and product owner. We are a teammates. They are not my manager.
    – Marie
    Jan 5, 2022 at 13:46
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    Just observing something: "with SCRUM, this individual is scrum master and product owner" this is not good. Not good at all. It's a known "don't do this" thing. Then on top you have two people (PM and Senior DEV) who are supposed to be on the same level. It seems your company is wildly ineffective on structuring leadership, even in the face of clear guidelines to the contrary.
    – nvoigt
    Jan 5, 2022 at 15:56

3 Answers 3

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You have to talk to people to get them to act differently

If I were you manager and you came to me with this I would ask you what the PM told you when you discussed the issue with them.

You work with this person daily, you can't manage the relationship via your boss. You have to talk to them. You assert your desires like an adult. Phrases like "I'm not okay with you going past me for issues that I am responsible for." "If I'm not at the meeting it's not okay to make decisinos about my deliverables." It is quite possible the PM has no idea that you have a problem here.

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  • I have approached the PM and explained how I was hired as team lead first before going to my manager. Nothing came of it which is why I went to my manager. I went to my director as he was in meetings to provide feedback if there was something I was putting out there that was confusing or a reason why the PM was dismissing my questions and suggestions.
    – Marie
    Jan 5, 2022 at 21:58
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I have reached out to my manager and the director above them to iterate that I was brought on as lead and I am not treated as such.

If you want to be treated as a lead, you need to behave as one. You need to assert your position in a manner that is non-threatening. It sounds very much like the people around you are reverting to "old habits" in the lack of any kind of actual new guidance.

Step 1: Have a discussion with the project manager. Express the fact that you are the team lead and you have responsibilities of x, y, and z. Approach it from a stand point of how you can use those responsibilities to help the project manager achieve their goals. Once you establish that as the basis of support, you can then transition to identify how certain behaviors are preventing you from doing that. Share suggested new behaviors or actions. Explain how you will change various things to make sure they're supported fully.

Step 2: Have the same discussion with your team, except this one is going to be a different tone. Don't press the idea of "I'm the team lead, and I'm the boss". Approach it from the standpoint that your success is a predicate of their success. You're there to make sure they have everything they need (tools, information, requirements) to do their jobs effectively.

The only thing that is going to solve this for you is for you to get into the middle of the problem and start providing solutions. Continue to use a polite demeanor and acknowledge contributions (even if they're unwelcome and unhelpful). You need to be part of the solution where right now you're part of the problem. You're not deliberately part of the problem, that's just how it is.

Make sure that every action you take is for the betterment of the project and the team. Everything will take care of itself after people start seeing you behaving as the lead.

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  • Also, if the OP is at the same level as the PM, it's worth talking to them directly, asking how they can help be part of the solution, working out differences. Jan 5, 2022 at 17:22
  • I'm half-biased, but if this is a company that the OP already worked at and they were explicitly hired for this role, then I'm really concerned about the company's ability to organize and prescribe leadership of projects. There are definitely things that the OP needs to take action on and assert themselves in the middle of this - I allude to as much in my answer - but I get the sense that there's really not enough top cover for this sort of thing, which is where the frustration is coming from.
    – Makoto
    Jan 5, 2022 at 17:23
  • I have approached the PM first before talking to my manager. It didn't go anywhere as she just said that I could call my own meetings to talk to the Devs / QA. Nothing has changed from her perspective as she continues to dismiss my questions and concerns about the project. Directing her questions to my manager and Dev 2. I've attempted to be more assertive. She still has to go to my manager or hear from the Dev 2 to actual be ok with solutions.
    – Marie
    Jan 5, 2022 at 22:03
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    Then your next step is to instruct your manager and Dev2 that they need to reply with "I'll speak with @Marie and have her get back to you." This is especially important from your manager. This is the kind of direct support that is necessary from your manager if you're truly the lead of the team. And I use the word "instruct" very critically here. It is not optional. If they don't demonstrate this support actively, then the PM has no reason to accept it. Jan 5, 2022 at 22:35
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It sounds like you've exhausted your rational options. You surfaced to your manager and director that you're not being regarded as the dev lead. They talked with the PM but the PM has not changed their behavior. Your number 2 dev doesn't seem to be improving their behavior; they're going along with this and show no signs of letting up or changing their behaviors either.

You're pretty much one foot out the door so this advice isn't going to really apply to you directly, but if someone finds themselves in this position, holding regularly scheduled team meetings to discuss the scope of work and your role - as an opportunity to gel with the team and to get everyone aligned in the right direction - will go a long way to alleviate any concerns of you feeling like you're not able to do your job. In essence, you voice your position and assert yourself as the lead developer, and start moving towards a consensus-driven approach with the team as opposed to letting one person always talk. (To be fair, if there are other devs on the team that aren't talking up, this too is a problem that can be largely dealt with in a more intimate team talk setting.)

In either context, I'd recommend leaving, and cite this as the exact problem.

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