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I'm a new senior developer. There's a manager and a junior dev. The junior dev and the manager have worked together at another company and have a strong relationship.

This week, the junior dev called for a meeting others which I thought would be a waste of time. I said I'd go to support them, but it wouldn't have been my first choice for the situation. The junior dev still thought the meeting necessary.

At meeting time, the junior dev pops up to say,

"I'm going to do this other thing. You all have got this."

I found this extremely unprofessional and probably manipulative. One of the other parties initiated the meeting, which went for hours and was mostly a waste of time.

This is the second incident w/ this dev that's happened in my month on the job. I believe I need to be very careful because the manager and this dev are friends. I'm very new here. How do I handle this? We're working remote, and so it's even more difficult to have "difficult" conversations. I don't think I should ever say anything negative about dev to mgr.

How do I maintain good boundaries yet not get fired?

EDIT: I just wanted to say, thank you for the solid, solid advice from everyone. This has been really helpful and is reducing my stress.

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6 Answers 6

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Some people think that the title "Senior Dev" and "Junior Dev" have something to do with the Senior Dev being in more control and having more guidance than the Junior Dev. At many organizations, that's not always the case.

Stop thinking of this Junior Dev as a person that falls under your scope of influence. He's a peer, and maybe even senior to you. Yes, it's messed up that the company doesn't have aligning power structures and job titles, but the manager didn't give the Junior Dev a Senior Dev role (yet) for a reason.

Also, managers that act like this tend to see you as the junior because you are new. Yes, you might provably have more skill, but that doesn't matter, you haven't been his employee for five years. If I were you, I'd build up a good reputation that extends beyond this team, and start shopping for a lateral transfer. You'll always be junior to this person, unless that Junior Dev makes a big enough mistake the Manager can't keep him employed.

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  • It is true that the junior developer does not report to the OP. Also, the OP is not the team lead. The OP is not the mentor of this junior. They are just coworkers or peers. So, the OP does not have the authority or power to simply reject or overrule the junior's opinion. Commented May 19 at 19:06
  • And it is probably because of this weird stuff the Junior is doing that is preventing promotion. You don't normally stay a Junior for years...
    – Nelson
    Commented May 20 at 7:48
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    @Nelson Agreed. The Junior is using his connections to be the designated "outside of the box thinker" which can complicate things for the senior developers. There's a power play here, and if I were the senior (as I've been in the past under similar circumstances) I'd just act as if the Junior can't be depended to be "on the team", as he'll likely see any opportunity for improvement as needing his special touch, and he'll not do so without stamping his "special touch" all over it. As a senior, the best plan is to succeed without him, in a nice, noconfrontational way.
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented May 20 at 14:43
  • @Nelson Some organizations have vastly different structures than others. One I was at effectively had a static job title. I exited eight years later at the title I joined at, and during my 8 year, there were 5 promotions that came with new titles. That was in a shop of about 200, where the company was more engineering oriented than cool tech startup oriented. That said, it was an excellent place to work, and at one time wrote the software for most of the US power grid control systems. But I agree, this junior is messing up his chances anyway.
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented May 28 at 13:26
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I sympathise with your situation and I often attend meetings that prove to be "a waste of my time" afterall. BUT: You are being paid for your time, not necessarily for using it efficiently. So ultimately your manager needs to decide, if attending those meetings is how he thinks your resources are optimally used.

If you think the meeting is a waste of your time, you have two options: You can actively contribute, you can also use it as an opportunity to learn about the company, since you're new and get to know more colleagues. Ask questions and shape the direction of the meeting if it is lacking one. If you're completly in the wrong place (it's a frontend meeting but you're a backend developer) you can also specifically ask where youre input is needed and if it isn't, just tell them to add you back to the meeting if something comes up.
Finally, since it's remote you can always just put the meeting on a second monitor and continue your work.

I assume that you have regular scrum meetings or something similar, just include attending meetings X and Y in your status report. That way, the people who are ultimately in charge of how your time should be spend, can say that you're attending too many meetings.

Since you mentioned this only happened twice in a month, I don't see the reason for any cause of action here. Yes it's annoying, but you're getting paid for it.

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  • Thank you. I really appreciate your advice on using the time in a positive way.
    – Johnny
    Commented May 19 at 9:32
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This week, the junior dev called for a meeting others which I thought would be a waste of time. I said I'd go to support them, but it wouldn't have been my first choice for the situation. The junior dev still thought the meeting necessary.

At meeting time, the junior dev pops up to say, "I'm going to do this other thing. You all have got this." I found this extremely unprofessional and probably manipulative.

It's certainly not very professional to organise a meeting then at the last minute find something better to do than attend it.

But the fact that the meeting ultimately went on for hours suggests there was indeed something to discuss.

Who was in charge of the meeting in the absence of its organiser, and what was the agenda for discussion?

In my experience, it's unusual for a "wasted" meeting which someone thought was completely unnecessary, to go on interminably.

We're working remote, and so it's even more difficult to have "difficult" conversations.

What kind of "difficult conversation" did you have in mind?

I get the impression that this is possibly more of a conflict of personality or status. I'd think very carefully about the root of the issue before taking any action.

It's strange that someone with 5 years or more of employed development experience would still be a "junior". If they are able to manage their own time, decide when meetings are necessary, and coordinate with other staff, then that person would typically be considered a "senior".

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  • > Who was in charge of the meeting in the absence of its organiser, and what was the agenda for discussion? Paid-by-the-hour contractors. :-P Refactoring and improving/not-improving code.
    – Johnny
    Commented May 19 at 22:38
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    @Johnny - Contractors who are paid to go to meetings or to code i presume?
    – Donald
    Commented May 20 at 18:42
  • @Donald yes, either of those.
    – Johnny
    Commented May 22 at 2:27
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When you are new at the job, you need to tow the line, observe and learn. If this person is tight with the Manager, then speaking out will either get you fired or show you up in a bad light.

If the Manager does not think this is outline, then it is not your job to tell them so. If you want to change things then you first have to work hard and build up respect.

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FRAME CHALLENGE:

Focus on specific facts, not generalities or personalities. Do your own job well. Don't waste time worrying about "fairness"; life isn't fair, but honest work does get rewarded. Their relationship, good or bad, is not your problem and nothing you can affect until there is demonstrable violation of company policies.

If you really think the manager unfairly favors friends, you could try to become another of the manager's friends, but directly attempting to make that happen is usually less effective than simply being a reliable, skilled, pleasant-to-work-with teammate.

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When someone organizes a meeting, they run the agenda. If the organizer can't participate, it is reasonable for you to ask who is running the meeting or ask for the meeting to be rescheduled.

If the organizer says, "you got this without me" then maybe "you've got this without me but you need a meeting" is a way to help you see that things need leadership in terms of communication, not just engineering skill. Perhaps it's a way to suggest that someone, maybe you, start requesting mertings to improve team communication?

Regardless, you bhai e identified a gap - if no one is running meetings, the meetings lack focus. Next time, ask that he hand the meeting to someone or offer to run it, so that someone actually in the meeting sets the agenda, keeps the group focused and is responsible for keeping it as productive as possible. Even if inefficient, it could still at least be productive.

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