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I am part of a team: 2 senior developers (8+ Years, including myself and my colleague X), 4 junior developers.

X is not my reporting manager, and my reporting manager doesn't involve herself in our team's workings and processes.

For some reason, this X guy thinks of himself as the leader/manager of the team (which he isn't).

  1. He asks me to write an email to him with 'Status Updates' on a daily basis, highlighting what I did that particular day.

  2. He'll talk to the stakeholders personally, gather requirements (without involving me) and then assigns the task to me.

  3. He has a daily setup call also, wherein he takes updates from everyone (although he isn't managing the team).

  4. He'll just blindly forward emails (asking him to do some stuff) to me, and when confronted with the fact that this was meant for him, he'd say: "I was in a meeting"

  5. He'll frequently say: "Is that clear ?", "Keep up the good work.." to me in front of all the team members.

  6. Other team members don't react to my queries/questions unless I include this X in the conversation.

What should I do?

I thought of talking to my reporting manager, but I think that'd come up as childish and she might think that I am not a team player, as I've heard others say that X has been the face of the team for quite sometime.

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    It sounds like your team doesn't actually have any formal leadership (since your actual manager doesn't do anything that that would entail), and X stepped up to fill the role. The only thing he's missing is the title. Would you rather he keep doing what he's doing and get the position officially, or are you saying you'd rather the team be unmanaged? Commented Feb 8 at 18:46
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    I find it a bit odd that OP has posted two simultaneous questions (one at current workplace, one in interview for new job), both of which prominently feature the other person asking "Is that clear?" repeatedly. Is that a common occurrence for OP? Commented Feb 8 at 19:11
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    What is your desired outcome? It would seem problematic if business users could reach out to either senior developer with requirements because then there is no one that has an overall view of the team's workload. They could reach out to both of you and you could both attend requirements gathering sessions. That doubles the amount of time your team is in those sessions which could be a drag on productivity. You can work out some arrangement between the two of you that covers how you plan on splitting responsibilities (maybe you do requirements for one half of the stakeholders, etc) Commented Feb 8 at 19:13
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    @DanielR.Collins - I probably ask "Is that clear" a few times a day because I want to make sure that I answered someone's question/ explained an issue adequately. I'm not sure why the OP views that as a problem. Commented Feb 8 at 19:15
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    @User9523 According to your profile, you're a mathematics student, but in your question you're a developer. Are you working part time perhaps, or is your attention divided between studies and work? I'm also wondering about you self-describing as "A Beginner." in your profile, while in your question, you're an 8+ years senior. Could you clarify this?
    – marcelm
    Commented Feb 9 at 17:28

4 Answers 4

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(6) Other Team members don't react to my queries/questions unless I include this X in the conversation.

This means he is in fact leading/managing the team even though he may not have been formally assigned that role. Because you are the other senior developer on the team, you need to decide if you want to co-lead, or just be another team member while he does all the crappy work like managing status and gathering requirements from the stakeholders.

It sounds to me like X has stepped up and accepted additional responsibility while you're sort of sitting around waiting for someone to be designated as the person who does those things. If you would like more of a leadership role, then talk to X and see how you can split responsibilities. If you'd rather not deal with that stuff, think about how nice it is that someone else is handling it when you start to feel a little cranky that X is bossing you around.

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    That othe colleague is bossing the team. Not leading it. If there are orders instead of collaboration, that's not simply leading. I would be annoyed if such thing happened. And would seek a resolution so I know what is the structure and where is my place. Commented Feb 10 at 10:30
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    @akostadinov I don’t think we can know whether X is leading or “bossing” with only half of the story from someone who admitted in another post that they are unhappy enough at their job that they’re looking for a new one. I used “leading” because that was the language in the question. I’ll add managing in there too to make that clearer.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Feb 11 at 10:41
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    @akostadinov OP has also not revealed whether X also volunteers to do work that is not assigned to them. And regardless of your personal feelings, there is the team's effectiveness to consider. If there is no one proactively delegating, those items don't get done and the team looks bad. Commented Feb 12 at 1:44
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my reporting manager doesn't involve herself in our team's workings and processes.

Other Team members don't react to my queries/questions unless I include this X in the conversation.

as I've heard others say that X has been the face of the team for quite sometime.

Sounds like your reporting manager has delegated day to day operations of the team to X. That may have been with the reporting manager's explicit delegation (unbeknownst to you), or maybe it's just the de-facto situation: She doesn't pay attention to things, and X is filling the vacuum.

This situation is bothering you, but consider: Is it because you really want to take on more responsibility and you feel held back, or is it just that your ego is bruised? If you really want more responsibility, you need to clarify the reason X is running things, so as not to step on anyone's toes, if you do decide to become more aggressive in taking some responsibility, since X has been the face of the team for quite sometime

If it's just a matter of bruised ego, then @ColleenV 's recommendation think about how nice it is that someone else is handling it... is a good one - let it go.

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When someone you don't work for assigns you work you say No.

When they ask you again, you talk to your boss, who one assumes has authority to task you with things.

When someone inserts themself into your work process, you talk to your boss.

This is literally the reason people have bosses, to resolve conflicts in what people work on and make sure people work on the right things.

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  • Don't quite see how anyone is inserting themself into the work process, since my reporting manager doesn't involve herself in our team's workings and processes and the titular manager obviously has no problem with X's behavior.
    – Vector
    Commented Feb 8 at 21:47
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    @Vector, they need to be made aware of it, lots of managers are hands off until there's an issue. The word for someone who accepts work from a colleague is "sucker."
    – Tiger Guy
    Commented Feb 8 at 23:23
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    I principle I agree with you everything you said, but in this case X has been the face of the team for quite sometime - so I'm not sure where the OP is coming from. Did they just walk in and decide X is an oversmart/bossy colleague ? Situation is not at all clear, as I commented on the original question.
    – Vector
    Commented Feb 9 at 0:16
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    While this is a good answer, the most likely outcome is boss reinforcing the status quo + being annoyed at OP.
    – fectin
    Commented Feb 9 at 14:42
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    @marcelm because the problem as posed is how to deal with this situation, and the only real answer is "ask your supervisor". I see strong hints that Asker is confused or wrong, and dealing with this situation will entail highlighting that if so, which is why I see status quo + annoyance as the likely outcome.
    – fectin
    Commented Feb 9 at 18:20
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The thing I don't see in the question is, "What's in writing?"

Is X's status (whatever it is) formally set out somewhere?

It may be that he is actually the team lead on paper, but for some reason you didn't get the memo. If that is the case, then the people who got the memo are probably wondering what's wrong with this one guy who's chafing at X's leadership.

So have a chat with your reporting manager and make sure you have the straight story.

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    This is the answer. Ask first to clarify understanding and then only if your boss appears to be on your side do you do anything tantamount to complaining about it. That way if the boss quietly promoted X or if the boss didn’t but is happy with X being in charge, you can simply reply “ok good to get clarity. I’m happy to support X in their leadership of the team”. Or if this is a lie then just smile and thank your boss for the clarification and start looking for another job. But don’t just start in with pointing out a problem—your boss may very well be totally happy with how things are.
    – bob
    Commented Feb 10 at 18:46
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    A subordinate should always insist that the chain of command, no matter how it is arranged, should not be left as a floating assumption, but rather documented as a decision made by those with the authority to make it. That way when I have done something that X tasked me with doing, and it turns out to be the wrong thing, management cannot turn around and say, "You don't work for X, you work for me."
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Feb 14 at 21:10

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