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We are a team of five members, each working on his own tasks. These tasks are not necessarily individual, by which I mean that if someone needs help the others can help him without any problem.

Recently, a coworker got a task in which he needed to do a little modification in a task that belongs to me. However, he's leveraging that opportunity to do my whole task.

He's not qualified to do my tasks. He's a system administrator; I'm a security engineer.

I understand that my tasks are "cooler" than his tasks, but I told him that this task is mine and he just ignores me and keeps doing it.

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    What exactly is the problem? If a coworker would do my job while I'm paid for it, I'd be more than happy :) – nvoigt Apr 1 '14 at 8:50
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    Could you expand on the hierarchy/management of the team please? – Mike Apr 1 '14 at 9:18
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    @nvoigt I strongly disagree. What happens next performance review? What happens if the coworker goes to the boss and says something about doing all the OP's work? It could be innocent, but it bears asking why they were not assigned the task in the first place. – kleineg Apr 1 '14 at 15:26
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    @yzT What sort of workload does the person have? Could it be that they have not been assigned enough? – kleineg Apr 1 '14 at 15:27
  • @kleineg he has his own unresolved issues. – user8137 Apr 1 '14 at 17:54
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You are a team, there are tasks to do. I suspect you split up the tasks so everyone has something to work on and it gets done in time.

Recently, a coworker got a task in which he needed to do a little modification in a task that belongs to me. However, he's leveraging that opportunity to do my whole task.

This perfectly makes sense in this example: Your coworker has already done some work regarding "your" task, why souldn't he carry on and finish it, rather that explaining you what still needs to be done? Misunderstandings included.

However, you need to agree that you and your team communicate if someone takes over a task. You clearly want to avoid the situation that two team members work on the same task independently in parallel, and once done, one can throw away his/her work.

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As part of a team and a company, you don't "own" a task. If another teammate finishes their tasks early, there's no reason why they can't take on additional work. If it was a task you were looking forward to working on, perhaps do it first next time.

I will agree that it is a bit odd that the person is taking tasks from you after you asked them not to. But it's also odd that you asked them not to take a task from you. Hoarding tasks just sounds weird to me, as a developer working on a project with a group of teammates.

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    The point is that he's not qualified to do these tasks. He's a system administrator, I'm a security engineer. – user8137 Apr 1 '14 at 17:57
  • I work with a PhD Immunologist who became a programmer and he is quite good. Based on his degree, you'd say he's not qualified, but based on his work, he is. Most Systems Admins I know need to know a good bit about system security to do their job. Titles shouldn't matter. If he's taking your tasks and doing them incorrectly, that's another matter entirely. – Garrison Neely Apr 1 '14 at 18:14
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    Not all companies are the same and in some there is task ownership and individuals and not teams are held responsible for the success or failure. – user8365 Apr 1 '14 at 19:00
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I suggest you try to talk to this person explain the hazards of the situation. You are a security engineer, you are trained in security. The sys-admin is (probally) not. This can potentially create dangerous situations.

The hard part is making this person understand that security is often a lot more complex than others asume, there are a million things a 'normal' person doesn't even consider.

Since you're both logical people, provide a logical explanation. To my experience this'll work better than "but this is mine, don't do that!". Explain that potential danger, you might want to think of some example situations the sys-admin didn't think of to show the difference in skillset (without belittling the person).

  • You don't need to make them understand that security is a lot more complex, or just different, from what he knows. You just need to make them understand that they need to stop. – gnasher729 May 8 at 22:30
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Why don't you have this discussion with the person who did your task? It needed modification so his task would work, what did you expect him to do or what is the company/group's policy?

At some point, the person in charge should be reviewing everyone's task accomplishments. I'm guessing this person fell behind because he worked on your complete task. If he did the work, assign his name to it. Your boss may wonder why you didn't do it, tell him.

If your boss has to get involved, you'll find your answer. Hopefully the two of you can settle it before it comes to that.

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Talk to your own manager about it - for example you could light-heartedly ask him for more work to do, since someone else is already doing all of yours.

After all, that is (one of the many things) that your manager is there to deal with. He may tell you to deal with it yourself, may say it is no big deal, or he may flip his lid...

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Potentially, this could be escalated to a manager. Depending on the scope of the work involved, sometimes "separation of duties" is required as part of audit controls.

Also, having dealt with jealous coworkers in the past, sometimes manipulation can be disguised as "help", where he/she is trying to take over your duties to advance themselves.

I would definitely agree with the concern, that if someone is not qualified/authorized to perform a task, they can actually cause damage to the system or overall project (think handling office politics). Your coworker needs to respect you as the project owner. If your manager has designated an appropriate backup, then that is the go-to person for your work when you are overloaded.

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