I have joined a new software company and facing problems on multiple fields. Wanted suggestions on how to handle these and continue without getting discouraged.

  1. My team lead (who recently got promoted as a manager), say Mr. TL, seem to be very eager to prove me useless. He breaths on my shoulder all the time, keeps on loading me with all his ideas, he shows anger if I don't take his ideas, as a result I find myself working all the time on his ideas. Then in meeting he publicly insults me in front of juniors and seniors that I don't have any knowledge and I work totally on his ideas. When I talk to him on this issue, he says I am very slow, so he has to help me. Why does he need me in this company if he has to help me.

  2. After hearing this, I tried to speed up. I was given some work, which I completed before their expected time. I didn't have to take help from the lead as (luckily) it was a holiday season, and he was not in office. When he speaks to me privately, he praises me saying 'good work', but when I ask him in the meeting about his feedback, he says 'it is ok'. So, in last two weeks I was doing well, but this week he came back to office and again I am stuck in a problem that I am unable to resolve. and his attitude is like 'I knew'. It looks to me he keeps on waiting for me to fail and prove to everyone I am useless.

  3. This Mr. TL and a junior female software engineer, say Miss SE, seems to have collaborated to make my life a hell here. I heard Mr. TL saying to Miss SE, about a new joinee (joined as a data scientist), 'make friendship with him, pull him down to your level'. I can't help but concluding that these two people are doing the same thing with me purposefully. They try all means to isolate me, looks like they want me to suffer all alone. They don't like it if I speak with anyone else in office. They play tricks to drive away people from me. If they catch me speaking with anyone, they call people and do things to drive away people's attention to them and forget that they were speaking with me. Once Mr. TL caught me (or rather caught Miss SE) speaking with me in lunch, he kept teasing Miss SE for rest of the day.

  4. Though I am older than these two people, I am new to this field and company and of course they have better knowledge and network here. As a result of regular this kind of bullying I started hating my favorite subjects that I really liked in my college before joining here. Sometimes I feel like giving up but try to keep myself motivated to go on. I tried raising my concerns to seniors but they said I need to improve on my speed and knowledge, that's just his personality, nothing else. I don't think I will get any help from seniors as they need him in the business more than me.

  5. Mr TL also seem to be very manipulative, and always busy babbling about how great he is. I, somehow, get irritated when I see people blowing their own trumpet. I have seen him saying wrong things many times, but I don't even feel like pointing those out. I just keep quiet. It might be possible that the fact 'i don't join his fanfare' enrages him.

So as of now, only way I can see, to keep my spirit not-low and not getting depressed, is to totally ignore Miss SE, Mr. TL and his fans (who are the other people reporting to him), just put a headphone and talk to him only when there is a need for the work; or go sit in some other place and come back for discussion when required.

Don't know if I am doing it right or there is a better way to handle the situation. Please suggest.

Problem is, with this regular bullying, I end up spending more time feeling bad and thinking about how to avoid this bullying, than the technical problem I have to solve at work. As a result my performance becomes low whenever they are not out for a holiday.

  • I already asked authority once, raising this issue, and asking me to move to some other team, so I don't have to report to him, but they denied saying I have to improve, and he didn't do anything wrong, that's just his personality. Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 14:54
  • 8
    So that's probably an indication of a workplace that tolerates toxicity, and has done so for a while, and will do so for a while. Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 15:11
  • 1
    Being completely honest - is the feedback you have got from both your team lead and management that you need to improve correct? Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 15:43
  • 6
    Your post does not contain a question. What is it you want to achieve?
    – Helena
    Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 20:59
  • 5
    Which country? In the western world, the expected behaviour would be to find a better and better paying job, and when you signed a legally binding contract, you give notice. Optionally you can do this at the time when it hurts the bully most.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 21:58

6 Answers 6


First things first:


No matter what you end up doing, you need to make this your number one priority.

  • Document everything. Log dates, times, and incidents in a notebook and keep it on you at all times.
  • Get everything in writing from him you can, if he tries to keep it akk to conversations, after you speak with him, send an email saying, "as per our conversation", then outline the points of the conversation so it stays on record.
  • Get commitments from him, and hold him to specifics. Ask for deadlines, have him define his expectations. Again, if he tries to dodge or be vague, ask him for clarification in an email.
  • Gather evidence of any bad behavior, and record it in your notebook.

Check your employee handbook for rules on workplace harassment.

Then, you can continue from a position of strength. When you have enough proof of a pattern of behavior, you may want to approach HR and tell them that he has created a hostile work environment, and ask them to intervene.

Warning, if you go to HR, be ready to bail

You should already have your resume out there, and be getting a few calls. If you haven't done this already, get it out and be ready.

Also, contact an employment attorney. Discuss any and all legal means of tracking everything that is going on, and be ready to strike. You may also have a case for Ageism.

That way, if HR helps you and supports you, you can just sit on the evidence, just in case, or if they don't help you, then you can use the evidence and your lawyer to pressure them to at the very least give you a glowing letter of recommendation.

Whatever you do take positive action because it will help your sanity and bring back your confidence.


  • In startup companies there are no handbooks. I don't find documenting instances have any result here. Once this person shouted at me, I raised the issue to management. When he insulted me in meeting next time, I again had a discussion with the management, but I could discuss only what happened recently. When I referred to the earlier instance, the manager was saying he didn't shout at me! People do keep denying what they earlier, and it's an (agile) culture here, everything discussed in person, but no mails. Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 3:48
  • @MadamCurie, yep, I was working at a job for three months. I went to the CTO, but my supervisor was someone the CTO will always protect. I mean the guy is the main engineer for 9 years, so the CTO is going all the way to being super wealthy with this guy and he is not about to put that in peril because one nobody like me was being bullied by him. So I created a paper trail of sorts from Slack messages and I even recorded our one on ones where is talking to me with such disdain and cynicism. Upon my resignation, the HR person was shocked that I was leaving and asked me why? I gave her evidence.
    – Daniel
    Commented Nov 26, 2022 at 2:59

You need to get out of there fast. It's taking a toll on your mental health. It seems like you can't win no matter what you do.

  • This seems the only right thing to do. I have started looking outside. Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 3:27

I reacted to number 4. The fact that management is so lenient with bullying is a very bad sign. That means that in practice they have not made a commitment to treat everyone equally, team lead or not. I suspect "it's just his personality" is just an excuse that management is incompetent at dealing with the situation and treating people professionally. You deserve professional treatment and zero tolerance for bullying from the managers. Unfortunately, some people don't take bullying seriously enough.

Also, being unappreciated in the workplace will do just that, make you question and hate your interests, since your passions are "in employment" of the bully's organisation. It is possible to recover from, but I can't recommend spending any more time than absolutely necessary there. These people are not worth it, would probably be my reaction.

  • Thank you for the suggestion. I wish I get a new job soon. Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 4:00
  • @saner, this was a wonderful answer as someone who has recently experienced workplace bullying myself.
    – Daniel
    Commented Nov 26, 2022 at 3:01

It sounds like your team lead answered your question for you:

Why does he need me in this company if he has to help me.

Whenever your superior says that to you in the workplace, that's the first, last, and only strike you need against them. It's time to find another job. There are only 2 answers to this question, and they are both "get out of there as fast as possible":

  1. They don't need you and you're incompetent (or too incompetent for this workplace). Some workplaces have high standards for who can work there, and you need to have a particular capacity in order to work there. Examples include most FAANG-tier companies. You don't just "get to" work at Google; you need to be really smart to even get an interview, nevermind pass the interview and get the job, and then continue to perform up to standards. In this case, you're legitimately not qualified for the job. Find a job you're qualified for.

  2. They're being a blowhard; they need you but don't want to admit it for personality reasons. Perhaps this is due to capacity (they need people working, and you're a person working, and it's cheaper to keep you than to hire your replacement and fire you), perhaps it's because you have some sort of specific domain knowledge that nobody else has, perhaps it's something else. But in any case, they need you, but they're saying this sort of thing to make you feel bad. In this case, it's up to you to call their bluff. You should leave, and when they beg you not to leave, or when they call you up after you left to try to get you to help them solve X problem that they have no domain knowledge of, you tell them to jump off a bridge and hang up the phone. There are all sorts of questions on this message board of the form "my boss treated me badly, I quit, and then they called me to help them resolve X issue, what do I do?", and the answer is universally "if your boss treated you badly, don't help them, it's not your problem".

In any case, the answer is, if your boss said he doesn't need you (or asks why he needs you), the answer is always, without exception, "you don't, I quit" (after finding a new job, of course; never quit your existing job without finding a new job first, that's rule #1).

  • this answer of yours was so helpful. I have been subjected to workplace bullying for 90 days now at a new job and apparently the CTO knows that he has a workplace bully and seems to be okay with it.
    – Daniel
    Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 1:42
  • 1
    I wish I could say this "you don't, I quit" right away. But I shifted to a new city for joining this job and spent money for initial settlement for house etc. I will be so happy to do this once I find a new job. Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 3:31
  • @MadamCurie Never quit your job until you find a new one. But as soon as you do find a new one, say sayonara and end it.
    – Ertai87
    Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 5:12

It seems like your options are:

  • Stay and try to make it work: probably the least ideal since it sounds like these dynamics have been this way for a bit, but given what you know about your teammates and the TL, consider that your baseline of how you compare other options
  • Stay and try to make the necessary changes: this will maybe feel like you're swimming upstream and hard to pull off but if you can, can result in positive changes to your day-to-day without needing to find a new job. This can look like trying to escalate the situation, confront your TL on ways that this is making you uncomfortable, or to try to switch teams internally if that's possible.
  • Look for alternative options: it's probably a good idea even if you're trying to stay to at least start browsing on what other options there are available in the market. There are many other environments and you won't know unless you start talking to some other teams and potential managers!
  • Thanks. These are good suggestions. Regarding point#2, I confronted him when he blamed me next time (for his own mistake) in front of everyone in the meeting. After this instance I showed the management the documentation of what work I did and what wrong requirements he gave me. Now he is coming to make friendship with me. But looking at his past trail, I know it is temporary. He is coming only to discover my week points so he can use it to make me look bad again in public. Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 3:57
  • But when I mention about this bullying, the manager says 'I don't want to come between you and Mr. TL.' Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 4:01

Bullying in the workplace is a serious issue. I am also painfully aware that you have observed the situation directly, and I have not. The other answers are highly defensive ones focusing on paper trails and preparing to exit. This is often the "common sense" on sites like these, dominated by US attitudes towards lawyers, labour laws, and notice periods.

Since we are also on a public Q&A site, heading into a much worse global tech labour market where exit isn't such an easy option, here are some other options and questions for navigating the situation. The first step for this is imagining the situation from your boss's perspective. The second is to identify your own red lines. The third is to clearly communicate where his behaviour is a problem.

So, firstly, from your boss's perspective, I imagine he has a new joiner who he wants to get up to speed. He has high technical standards. He is willing to put time in with the team member to help them, but they are quite resistant to help, and don't seem to understand what he wants.

When hitting this resistance and frustration, he is getting frustrated, and lashing out in an unprofessional way.

Next, what are your own standards and expectations? They are somewhat mixed together in the question. It's not unusual, or necessarily negative, for programming leads and managers to have strong ideas about the technical details of the system. You might want to reflect on what you consider interference in your work, and what the team's expectations are. Does this refer to code style guidance? Detailed code review? Direction on how to implement changes? Technology choice (eg, new libraries)? Being told to unit test?

If it's this sort of thing, it's worth asking: Are you used to close technical collaboration or management in other roles? Because these are very standard things for software team leads to be involved in. If you like to work very independently, you might need a different organisation and non-technical management. You mention data science above; a lot of data scientists are not strong on collaboration.

On the other hand, is it administrative micromanagement? Checking in four times a day on progress? Wanting to manage your calendar? These all sound horrible in a software team lead, but they aren't bullying per se.

Is it political or relationship based? Is it trying to control who you talk to at the company, or share information with? Some of the stuff you mention about interactions with teammates suggests this. If it's trying to control contact with colleagues, this seems like a warning sign for someone with an abusive personality. If it's with senior staff who don't appreciate emails from randos elsewhere in the firm, it's a way of watching out for you.

So, all of those might help you find the norms at this company and think about the way you need to work to be successful. Together with this, it might be worth thinking about if there's anything you misunderstood due to communication barriers, as the English in the question suggests it is your second language. But all of this said, being yelled at is pretty universally understandable and rarely appropriate. Again you are the person on the ground, and I am not.

Another way to understand norms is to talk to other colleagues. So do that, and see if there are things about the situation you are missing. Other people may not realise your discomfort with your boss's behaviour.

Lastly, you need to think about how to communicate this back to your boss, and to other people later. Concrete examples are actually a great help here. Think about particular comments, and write down what happened in your own log, ideally soon after it happened. Try to distinguish between work styles you disagree with and clearly unprofessional behaviour as clearly as you can. The next time you have a private conversation (1 to 1), you can mention one or two specific instances where you felt you were being talked down to, or your boss was unprofessional. This also acts as a record you can share with HR / higher management etc if you need to go that route, be it sooner or later.

  • He yelled at me again in a meeting and this time I yelled back as he was wrong. He even told me sorry (in private). After seeing this public fight, one colleague from another team approached me, informing that Mr. TL had joined a few months back and managed to have the heads of this company in his favor and sidelined everyone else. Now management listens to only him and no one else. He had made this company a one-man-army. Regarding controlling me, I have noticed he keeps on monitoring my facial expression even when i look at people passing by, while sitting at desk. I find this disturbing. Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 4:38
  • @MadamCurie, this is typical behavior of sociopathic people who engage in this kind of behavior as a survival tactic and no one is spared. I have had to resign companies because of people like this and I did not resign right away, I resigned after I noticed that the CTOs were not going to stop this behavior, in one company the CTO himself was a weak leader and was strong armed into giving up power to this new guy who then tried to position me as the slow poke engineer. I helped this guy with his work and he flipped it like he was training me...wow. Be aware these types do exist.
    – Daniel
    Commented Nov 26, 2022 at 3:07

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