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I started a new job a little less than six months ago as a Software Engineer and it has been nothing but an uphill battle. I have the most experience in our team, and from what I have experienced and the thoughts of the colleagues that I have decent relationships with, it sounds like the scrum master is threatened by me and my experience and therefore is treating me poorly.

I have tried going to management about it and they’ve only protected the scrum master. Their solution is to move me to another team -- but the issue is, I’ve been mistreated to the point that other employees are noticing it and making comments about it. I am the only female on a team of males, and without me lifting a finger, I have males sticking up for me. That says something.

My problem is, a lot of the misconduct has been verbal (in meetings) and over Github comments. Prior to this, I worked for one of the most prestigious organizations globally as a lead developer. Never have I been subject to such extreme code reviews, and it is all by the scrum master.

ISSUE 1: My last MR had 135 comments, the bulk of which were left by the scrum master. I understand the newer you are at an organization the more comments you have -- but 135. Isn’t this a tad excessive?

Not only that, but there’s a pattern to how the comments are left. He will leave 10 or so, resolve them all, and then the code will run in the pipeline and be ready to merge. He will then leave 10 or more additional comments, resolve them, and repeat the same process. Because of this, I have been trying to close my most recent story for two weeks. I can’t because once it says ready to merge, this guy is leaving even more comments.

I cannot tell you how depressing this is for me, to be so close to finishing a story, just to have to do even more work, despite all other colleagues marking my work as ready to be merged.

Now, I am fielding complaints about how long my stories take me, but they only take me so long because of these comments and also tech issues that this company is facing right now as a whole due to staff shortages/budget.

I had a nagging feeling that all of these comments were nitpicking and my suspicion was confirmed on Friday. Originally, I had asked in a Git comment if we needed to support multiple data sets being added to a feature. I was advised via Git comment by the scrum master to add that functionality. THEN, on Friday RIGHT AS THE MR IS ABOUT TO BE MERGED, he removes a thumb from my MR and then comments asking why we are supporting multiple data sets being added to the feature. I then remind him and show the screenshot via Git comment that he directed me to do it, and then I get a comment ‘Correct… but your implementation is all wrong….’ and sends me this big long comment.

I know this scrum master, and I know his style of commenting. If my implementation was wrong, that would have been his first comment. This is proof of nitpicking.

I am afraid to bring it to the attention of management because this guy has been protected, thus far. My boss also seems to react to Github as ‘What happens on Github is the way it is, it’s not interpersonal.’ But the problem is, my colleagues and I feel there have been many instances with this one individual where it IS interpersonal, especially with me. No one else on my team has their MR’s marked up as much as I do.

QUESTION 1: Can anyone give me any advice with regards to how I should present this to my boss? The problem is, when we chatted before about the different ways my stories are blocked -- I actually didn’t think to mention this, until now… when a colleague who had the same experience with being bullied by this team, came to me to try and help me with my situation. I just don’t want to look like an idiot because I didn’t bring it up previously.

In addition, when I get blocked on a story, I am never allowed to start a new story in the mean time. Other colleagues are allowed to do so, but I am not. I am expected to keep working through it, even if it is an issue out of my control, like an issue we had with certain deployment configurations for over two weeks until a fix was merged in by another team. I feel like I’m being sabotaged. How can you complain about how long things take me, when you are the one who keeps creating ways of dragging it out?

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    Still too many questions at once. Drop the "in addition". And seriously consider editing this down; focus on what you want to accomplish rather the history.
    – keshlam
    Aug 7, 2023 at 12:35
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    I am not the only one who has had this same experince. Another colleague had the same experince.
    – J S
    Aug 7, 2023 at 13:52
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    If you have a scrum master, it's assumed you're using scrum. Isn't your team doing retros? That's literally where this question needs to be. Aug 7, 2023 at 15:12
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    Is this your 2nd or 3rd question on the same topic ? Aug 8, 2023 at 5:19
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    (In case anyone else was momentarily confused, I'm guessing MR stands for ‘Merge Request’.)
    – gidds
    Aug 8, 2023 at 11:57

3 Answers 3

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So assuming you are at least a pretty good dev, your concise question seems to support this, you are being harassed. This is also assuming that comments of the same type are being resolved throughout your code.

An example of this might be you named a method isActive that returns a boolean. He makes a comment of "we prefer getActive for booleans". That one comment might lead to multiple changes of methods that return booleans from "isX" to "getX".

The thing favorable to you, in this situation, there is a record of the behavior that takes place. I would go to HR and ask for an investigation. Your approach should be: "am I being too sensitive or is this harassment? It is frustrating and some of my teammates think the behavior of this scrum master is a bit excessive". A neutral approach here works best.

One of two things will happen. Management make come up with a solution to end your frustration. That might be moving to another team, having a different person review your merge requests, or something else. However, I would put that at about 25% likely. Many of us software types fall somewhere on the autism scale and that can show up as mildly anti-social behavior. The reason why you are being targeted is not important but having 25+ years in the software business I have seen this frequently.

One example is that I had a boss that had difficulty figuring out the time system. He would rage on the person at the top of the list until he figured it out. Whoever on the team was first alphabetically would catch his wrath. It wasn't that employee's mistake, he just had difficulty figuring it out. Many employees complained about this and other draconian behavior but he was still a manager long after I moved on.

About 75% of the time management will tell you to deal with it as with my example. If that is the case, it is time to move on. That sucks but it is the way it is.

It is difficult but taking your emotion out of this situation helps. You are being targeted for a reason beyond your control. This person will most likely end up winning, that is you may not work there in a few weeks. However, that can be good for you too. Can you spring board this into a raise and a better work situation? Hopefully.

So the manager I mentioned above raged on me one day and threatened to not sign my time card any longer. This would mean me working for no pay. I just walked out. The next job I landed was one where the employer treats people exceptionally well and disrespect is not allowed. I will work here until I retire.

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    It sucks to be driven out of a job by one person being an overt jerk (and a bunch of other people tolerating them being a jerk) but sometimes it’s best for everyone to just move on. When I left my version of that job, my new job was closer to family, much less stressful, and a big upgrade in general quality of life. I got an office with a door instead of being stuck in a godawful open floor plan with call center type work areas. I think it’s my retirement job too.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 7, 2023 at 17:18
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You might also want to have a discussion with this individual (and possibly your manager) about "hey, if the code is basically functional, let's get it checked in and open new work items for the remaining details."

If it's truly nitpicks, this is the right approach. If it's actually more serious than you realize, this may get them to explain why they're holding things up.

This also gets it into the space where, if it isn't important, it gets de-prioritized and essentially discarded until someone has spare time and interest. And/or it lets the picky individual submit their own proposed fixes, giving you (and the rest of the team) the chance to review whether those changes are actually improvements or not.

Also: Please note that COMMENTS on a proposed change are not necessarily things that must be altered before the change is approved. If someone else also has accept/merge/commit authority, you can ask them how much of this really needs to be done now versus being postponed, and if they agree it's all nitpicks they can approve it whether the scrum master would or not. This (along with the "bus factor") is part of why there should always be more than one person who can take that action.

Also also: Note that "scrum master" does not, by itself, confer any authority. The role of scrum master is specifically to help run the scrum process. It does not automatically make them a team lead, or technical lead, or "assistant manager". Heck, my departments often rotated the scrum master role so even the juniormost members of the team took a turn, to develop their skills and give them some insight into how to use scrum effectively.

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    "Scrum Master" The functions described by OP do not sound like Scrum Master. Scrum in name only. It sounds as a Tech Proj Manager.
    – paulj
    Oct 4, 2023 at 13:54
  • @paulj: Someone who is trying to take the latter role, certainly, whether they've been assigned it or not. And is apparently doing it poorly. Which, if true, is something Management has to deal with, or it won't change.
    – keshlam
    Oct 4, 2023 at 16:24
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    The Scrum Master as a role isn't even part of the development team, let alone in charge of anything technical. I know Scrum is abused in many places, but this is taking it pretty far.
    – Erik
    Oct 5, 2023 at 20:50
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If you have 135 comments that you need to address, and these comments are justified, you should be fired.

If you have 135 comments that you need to address, and these comments are unjustified, then your scrum master should be fired.

I’m sure you know better than we do which one it is.

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  • If you are in a scrum team and this is one of your comments, you don't belong there. Scrum is about work being teamwork. Oct 12, 2023 at 10:38

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