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I have a problem understanding workplace politics. I usually google these questions. However, this is one scenario that I couldn't find an explanation for.

Disclaimer: I'm not exaggerating when I say that I'm inexperienced when it comes to practical professionalism. I've worked jobs in the past, ranging from customer service to office jobs. Most of my knowledge and application, however, comes from reading books about professionalism and how to work in teams. It seemed to work up to a point.

Background: I joined a team as a junior software developer for just over a year now. I've done my best to lead with my best foot - spending time to study their codebase and architecture, learning the tech stack, being cordial to teammates, being positive, persisting on problems even when they are challenging. I've improved in many ways on the technical side. There are also aspects that I still need to improve on and I have them in my personal development plan.

On the other hand, my interactions with my teammates have been strange and unstable. I often feel like I'm being personally tested for my character (is this normal?). One week, I'm treated as part of the team; the next week people ignore my questions altogether (even when I approach them one-on-one). I figured they were swamped, so I've largely been teaching myself from documentation, google, advice from devs who work outside of the company, helping new joiners with on-boarding because the docs can be scattered and inaccessible (also I can learn while I teach), etc. I've tried to keep a consistent demeanor as well when interacting with them. Aside from code review, however, I haven't received any feedback for professional improvement even after asking for it. I can tell that I don't fit the culture here and that many of my coworkers don't really see me as valuable, so I'm working to leave.

Recently, the testy behavior took on a different level. A recruiter contacted me and I responded that I'm looking to apply for jobs in a few months from now. Now, several people on my team are passive aggressively hinting at not hiring people who are like me again (this was verbal and in front of the team). Also, I suspect I'm under investigation for some reason because one of my earlier features was picked up by a different teammate, but the questions they're asking regarding the work done are borderline interrogative. For example, instead of asking questions about the feature itself like "why choose to implement that part this way?" I was being asked questions about who asked whom first for help when I collaborated with another person. I haven't received a memo from HR.

On a separate occasion, I logged into my work machine to find logged messages of some one attempting to bypass my credentials (I've reported this to IT securities). I've already asked my manager's manager whether the company does things like monitoring (including after hours) and he categorically denied any monitoring, key-logging, etc. Since then, I've seen and recorded several signs pointing to the opposite. Not only that, but I suspect that they monitor their employees 24/7 (I recorded attempted hacking that looks like it came from IP but I wasn't home and my machine was shutdown, doxxing, monitoring internet activity of my household). I'm thinking the team is preparing a case to dismiss me before I quit.

Conclusion + questions: I'm not really sure what to make of all of this. Why would they be upset that I'm leaving if I'm not considered valuable and they're constantly hiring talent? Shouldn't they be happy/relieved instead? Also, what kind of reaction is that to someone who is quitting? Is this common among corporate team cultures? Am I missing some unspoken rules about how work interactions are supposed to go?

Thank you in advance.

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  • "A recruiter contacted me and I responded that I'm looking to apply for jobs in a few months from now." So you told your work that you were looking for another employer without having a job lined up yet? Do I have this correct?!? Also, Junior developers don't become valuable right away. You invest time in them hoping that they become valuable later on. Jan 21 at 4:11
  • Hi @StephanBranczyk sorry I should've clarified. No, this is a recruiter who appeared not affiliated with the company. I haven't told my company yet, but they found out. So I suspected this recruiter wasn't actually a recruiter after all since I haven't shared my plans to leave with any one else. Jan 21 at 4:18
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    you seem to have made up your mind about quitting. thus there are likely subtle changes in your behaviour. experienced managers are able to pick them up. YOu sure the recruiter was fake and it's not just they picked up in another way?
    – Benjamin
    Jan 21 at 7:25
  • That some people don't like me may have nothing to do with me, but with someone who I remind them of. This happens, should be expected, and cannot be controlled or fixed. When it happens, the best thing to do is to move on as quickly as possible and with as much professionalism as possible. I do well to not add to the problem. I recommend starting the new job search right away.
    – David R
    Jan 21 at 15:41
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    Wow, so you think that your company staged a fake recruiter call only to see if you were interested in quitting your job? That's absolutely wild... and also maybe illegal. Do you have any actual proof or are these just your conjecture?
    – mrodo
    Jan 21 at 17:21

2 Answers 2

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Not really an answer, as none of us can tell what's really going through the heads of your coworkers, but:

People are fallible.

There are a number of reasons. There may be:

  • Resentment that you're able to move to greener pastures
  • A perception that you're fleeing problems you've created
  • Annoyance they they'll have to replace you
  • Annoyance that their "fall guy" is quitting

I think the way you've spoken about things hints that you're reasonably intelligent, and have a pretty reasonable understanding about things, but ultimately I think it's worthwhile to remember that all this doesn't matter. You get to leave this mess behind, and in many ways, your decision to move on is validated by their behaviour.

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  • Thank you for your response. I will see if there's anything I can help fix over the remaining months I have with them if bullet point 2 is what is going on. I was worried that this will be escalating behavior, honestly. Thanks again. Jan 21 at 4:22
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    Some people are just unreasonable and behave in an irrational way. Some managers / bosses see it as a personal insult if you dare leaving their beloved company. Where I would say you do what is best for you - within reason, not to the point of being ruthless, but still you should be your own highest priority. Anyone is replacable. If they don't want you to leave, they should make the workplace nicer, make the job more interesting, or pay more money. Telling you that it is bad to leave is not helping you or them.
    – gnasher729
    Jan 21 at 10:07
  • Another possible reason for resentment is that when someone leaves, it automatically causes other people to start thinking of leaving. Since the OP has helped new-hires with onboard in a hostile environment, there are DEFINITELY some folks who look up to them. The OP's departure could end up precipitating some of the newer employees to eventually leave. Even established employee's that resent the culture but have thus far kept the heads down, could start reconsidering. In general "cool people leaving" is a red-flag for many to start updating the resume. Management knows this.
    – teego1967
    Jan 22 at 16:09
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You're overthinking this too much.

If you're ("one is") a junior with no experience, the general expectation is usually quite low. Just make sure it takes up less of their time managing/helping you than it would would take to do [assigned task].

And I have to say, your whole post is quite strange. Maybe you unconsciously act that way IRL with your co-workers?

To address your specific question,

"Why would management get angry that an employee who is not valuable is leaving?"

I would say it probably comes down to pride ("But g-dammit, we're the best!! Why would OP leave us"), or more likely money; they've paid your salary and recruiter fees, and its all wasted, as now they'll have to train another junior.

Get your head down and do a great job. If that means learning more and reading more, do that. But under all circumstances, an unwritten part of your job description is to make your boss look good. If they fire you, they fire you. That's only a problem if you have no savings and no notice.

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