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Background

I work in a business intelligence team consisting of 7 people, including our team lead. It has happened quite often that our team lead (let's call him Bob) directs a question to a coworker of mine (let's call him Ben), even though it's regarding a subject on which, as everyone should know, I have the most knowledge. Ben and I started at the company at the same time.

Example

Our team has our weekly team meeting. I am presenting a technical challenge I am facing, which has happened because of a decision we took earlier in the development phase. This decision was made by Bob and myself, and then implemented by me. Bob asks for some clarification to completely understand the challenge, but even though I was included in the decision making, did all the implementation and presented the challenge, he directs the question to Ben. Now, Ben is perfectly able to answer, but given its literally something I have implemented I find this behaviour odd.

Dilemma

Firstly, I did not think too much of it, but something along the line as the example above has happened multiple times now, and I find it really disrespectful. Also I have absolutely no idea why it happens, since I would consider my relationship with Bob to be decent.

Question

Is it even possible to address this with Bob, without coming across as some 'insulted teenager'? And if yes, how should I go about it?

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  • In your example, when you tell Bob and the team about the problem, do you also suggest a solution ? Is your solution identical to Ben's answer ? If yes, could it be that maybe, Bob does not understand your explanation well enough for some reason, and therefore, he has to ask Ben for Ben's solution ? Jun 15, 2022 at 5:53
  • Another possible explanation for Bob's behavior is that he may think that both you and Ben are experts on the topic, and therefore, although he already understands your solution, he still wants to confirm with Ben to make sure that both you and Ben agree on the best solution to the issue. Bob may be more confident in the solution when both you and Ben agree that this is the best way to solve the issue. Jun 15, 2022 at 6:16
  • You should choose names that are more different :) At least have different first letters!
    – AakashM
    Jun 15, 2022 at 7:38
  • If you are presenting the issue I am totally unsurprised that your Manager is asking for someone else's input, seems perfectly normal to me!
    – deep64blue
    Jun 15, 2022 at 21:40

3 Answers 3

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Bob might not even be conscious of doing this. Or he might have a legitimate reason:

  • maybe he uses this as teaching moments for Ben
  • maybe Ben is expressing himself more clearly than you when answering questions
  • ...

I don't see any issue with asking Bob for clarification but keep matters like "disrespect" out of it. Instead ask how you can improve.

"Hey Bob, I've noticed you prefer asking Ben instead of me when you need something clarified. Is there something I should improve with how I explain things to you?"

A good manager will then react positively and engage in a productive discussion regarding his reasons and behavior to you. A bad manager will have a graceful out.

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  • Bad managers tend not to have "graceful" outs. That is why they are bad managers...
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 15, 2022 at 6:53
  • 2
    @SolarMike That's why you have to make it easy for them by providing an out that they can just take.
    – user29390
    Jun 15, 2022 at 6:56
  • 2
    "maybe he uses this as teaching moments for Ben" +1 Jun 15, 2022 at 9:57
  • Useful, even just for your first bullet point. My first thought was "Bob probably knows that you know everything about this solution, but wants to see whether Ben also knows" and is asking him in order to find out whether the team is in danger of a shrinking bus factor.
    – Flats
    Jun 15, 2022 at 13:24
  • Good answer - One might add ..or maybe he wants a second opinion from someone not directly involved in the implementation.
    – iLuvLogix
    Jun 15, 2022 at 14:23
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If you are presenting a technical challenge, then asking another person for a second view is a common sense approach.

If you are presenting this as an issue that is already solved then you need to think about how you present it.

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"Good enough" is "still good".

Maybe your leas thinks that you are needed somewhere else and that your colleague knows enough to answer the quesiton.

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