Context : I'm in a team where I'm not the highest grade. But on the technology we use I'm by far the most experienced (I know it because everyone on the team told me that my knowledge on the subject is huge). What usually happens is my manager gives interesting work to other people on the team and leave me work that nobody wants to do (maintenance of very old legacy code). What's bothering me is usually they screw up their tasks and are literally stuck with no ideas of what to do and asks me to come help them. While I try to resist helping them (because I have work to do myself) at one point they win and I find myself rewriting most of their code (did I say they screwed up ?). After that, manager and colleagues asks me to send them the code and take credits for my work. You could say that is normal but colleagues have promotions and pay raises bigger than me !

My questions: - Am I being being too emotional ? - I feel "trapped". What should I do next time this situation occurs ? - Is it acceptable to refuse to help and say : "you should have asked my help from the start now it's too late and I can't help you". - How to leverage this situation to get the pay raise I deserve ?

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    Have you had a conversation with your manager about why you're not getting the interesting work, what would have to change for that situation to change, what plans your manager may have to move you on to the interesting work, etc.? There is a huge difference between "We want the new guy on the team to support the legacy app for a few months to gain some business knowledge, then we'll transition you" and "Sorry, you've got to be a <<insert job title you don't have>> to do new development and you need 10 more years of experience for that to happen." Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 21:40

5 Answers 5


Actually, this is a really easy thing to fix:

"Joe, I can't figure this out. Can you fix it?"

"Sure, Steve, but I have to ask you to go through my manager, Bill, with that request. Happy to help out, but he's gotta say OK, first."

Now your manager knows EXACTLY what you're doing, for whom, and you haven't said no to anybody.

Eventually, your manager will see that you really need to be doing that primarily, and will give you the interesting work.


Am I being being too emotional?

Not at all. You're being taken advantage of.

I feel "trapped".

Why? Assuming you work somewhere that is even remotely at will - then you hold all of the leverage. You can leave whenever you like and let them fall under their own inability.

How to leverage this situation to get the pay raise I deserve?

First, by not letting people take credit for your work. Since you're making software, this is easy: stop giving people code. Check your changes into source control (which I hope you use). Wallah! Now the work is properly attributed to you and you can stand up and claim as much (though doing so in private first may be better politically).

And when your review comes around, you can point to all the good things you've done over the year/quarter/whatever, with the implication of "what would it cost you to find someone else who could reliably do that?"


I don't have an axe to grind on you but if I were your manager, I'd still assign you the task of fixing the very old legacy code simply because I don't think that the young ones are in any kind of shape to do any good work on that code. And I'd be more than a little worried about them screwing up the code maintenance.

The difference your manager and myself would be that I'd make sure that you are the highest paid member of the team, and I'd make sure that you know why I am assigning you to the task of maintaining the very old code.

I don't know how legit your dissatisfaction is because I am not privy to your manager's view of the big picture but you have every right to voice to your manager your perception that both your work and your value to the team are under appreciated and undervalued and your consequent frustration. And I suggest that you voice your frustration way before it boils over.

In general, voice your concerns before they become frustrations, and voice your frustrations before you explode. If you don't say anything until you explode, the responsibility for the unpleasant situation is at least partially yours. Your manager may make a cogent argument that your frustration is unjustified but it's all to the good: your lines of communication are open and both of you are communicating.


Point out that you're very busy with the old legacy code and while you're certainly competent with the technology, you're not up to speed with their project.

If your manager pushes it, say that you'd be happy to help out....but in order to free up your time you'll need someone to take "xyz mundane stuff" off you. And that as this has happened a few times, does he agree it would make sense for you to be in a more central role in similar projects in future, to avoid you having to get up to speed and perhaps catch some of the issues earlier?

It's perhaps dropping a not-too-subtle hint that you'd like to be more involved in future, but is diplomatic enough that it leaves it as your boss's decision and doesn't make it into an issue or introduce any awkwardness. In essence, it's a suggestion rather than a demand or complaint.


Since your manager knows you're the one fixing/writing the code (He's taking credit for it.), you need to exchange tasks with someone else. I don't know if he'll ever give you the preferable jobs from the beginning, but you shouldn't have to do twice as much work.

Next time you're asked to help, ask who is going to take over your other project. That seems fair to me.

Keep all this extra work and the fact you can do things no one else can in mind during your next evaluation. You may want to ask for an increase in salary, bonus, etc. You need to make some demands. Your boss is taking credit for your work, so he should know how important you are even if he want acknowledge it.

If this really bothers you, ask your boss why you're not given this type of work in the first place. He needs to understand how important this is to you.

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