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I am not able to work on tasks that help gain more visibility in the team. I have been working on a large but less important task recently, so my team members are able to do the tasks with higher visibility.

This is making me frustrated as even though our entire team is equally working, my team member is gaining a lot more positive visibility and I am not.

What are the implications of this? Will this negatively affect my career? How can I still get visibility, even when working on less important/visible tasks?

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At a high-level, you should do the following:

  1. Schedule a 1-on-1 meeting with your boss and discuss your predicament. Ask him/her to help facilitate your career development.

  2. If you feel that your boss and/or workplace aren't facilitating your career development, "sharpen the saw" during your free time away from work, reach out to a recruiter or two, and prepare to find employment elsewhere. Seriously - Life is too short, and opportunities are plentiful, especially in software development.

  • Less plentiful than a decade ago, but the rate of hiring does seem to have gone up as companies decide they're willing to risk investing in growth once again. – keshlam Dec 4 '14 at 2:31
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    If one of my staff came to me saying "woe is me, I wasted two sprints on something that won't make me famous, please facilitate my career development" I don't think they would like the way that conversation continued. This answer makes a mountain out of a molehill- telling someone to look for a new job because for an entire month they worked on something slightly less fascinating than another team member is really an overreaction. – Kate Gregory Dec 4 '14 at 19:34
  • @KateGregory: How long would you tolerate a job which asked you to develop COBOL code in the year 2014? – Jim G. Dec 4 '14 at 20:10
  • @KateGregory: If one of my staff came to me saying "woe is me, I wasted two sprints on something that won't make me famous, please facilitate my career development" I don't think they would like the way that conversation continued.: And yet it wouldn't matter. As boss, who are you to say what a subordinate should find interesting or engaging? – Jim G. Dec 4 '14 at 20:12
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    I don't object to them finding it uninteresting, more to them demanding I ensure they are spoonfed a steady diet of work that is not only interesting but career advancing and the like. Not all projects consist of nothing but such work. Why should anyone be able to demand they get all of it? While I actually do facilitate the career development of my staff, that doesn't mean that anyone can come and demand anything under the umbrella of career development. The work still has to get done by someone. If not the OP, then who? – Kate Gregory Dec 4 '14 at 20:16
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There are a lot of misconceptions in your question. Some of them are:

Visibility comes from success on visible tasks

Perhaps if the people you work with are all idiots, but otherwise not. Someone decided this long and important task needed to be done. Someone will notice when you have done it and done it well. Make sure you report in a visible and enthusiastic manner. Not "nothing really, just slogging away on the mammoth thing, you know", but "I'm over halfway done on the important thing, and can see finishing it this sprint. I'm looking forward to seeing [benefit this will bring.]"

Your peers are your competition when it comes to visibility

Your peers and immediate supervisors, as well as the people your work actually helps, are the source of your visibility. These are the people who talk about you, who remember what you did and how you did it, and who care about the projects you're part of. Do they see you as a generous and helpful person, who is smart and hard working, and wants the best for the people who use your product? Or as a selfish grasper always concerned about the impact of every single sprint on your "brand" and the "arc of your career"?

One or two sprints - a month or so - can make or break you

Visibility is a slow-and-steady game. You keep showing up, you keep doing great work, you keep caring and helping and contributing. You keep saying the right things in meetings and taking on the tasks that some people don't want. You keep asking how you can make things even better. People begin to understand that you're a big-picture, can-do, smart person, not a "what's in it for me" smart person.

Feeling helpless and angry is an appropriate response to a plan not going as you wanted

Stop thinking "how can I get a more visible task?" and start thinking "how can I make my value more visible?" Stop feeling helpless and starting helping. Stop feeling angry and ask yourself what you're going to do about it. I know, easier said than done, but stewing and sulking will not help in the long run. Understanding (and sharing) the value of this mammoth task will. So will asking if it can be someone else's turn the next time one of these comes around - but not for visibility reasons. Ask because you've done your turn and you'd like a quicker task with more client connection for the next sprint.

  • There are cases where your peer is a really an a**. How do you deal with people who only think for themselves like they'll take all the help they can take and end up gaining the most visibility as if they did it without your help? You can't ignore that there are really people like that in which "Your peers are your competition when it comes to visibility" is not a misconception but a reality. – supertonsky May 12 '15 at 5:42
  • If you work with a selfish grasper, becoming a selfish grasper yourself is not a useful strategy. Rise above them or work somewhere else. It may seem that slacking off and stealing the accolades of others is a good plan, but in the long run there are few companies where it is. – Kate Gregory May 12 '15 at 10:14
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Don't feel angry over this. In the course of your career, 3 sprints is nothing. Rather than wasting energy on anger that you have a less important (or at least less visible, it might still be important but not exciting or visibnle to all) task, realize that everyone gets those sometimes. If this one is lasting longer than you hoped, then do a good job with it and make sure your boss knows that the first sprint after you are done, you would like a chance to work on something better (or if you pick your own tasks then ask to get first choice as a thank you for doing this relatively thankless but necessary task.

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The basic root cause for this issue is lack prioritization. Remember the fact we have limited time and we can not do all tasks.

When you have 3 tasks you have to do prioritize tasks based on their importance and benefits you will get by completing those tasks. When I say benefits, I mean visibility and importance. The task which has high importance and gave high visibility should be top on the list. You should take tasks based on your prioritization. In your case it is missing.

To answer your questions

Will this hamper my brand / image in the team and other teams?

Some extent Yes. It will hamper

Does this kind of thing happen often in the workplace?

Yes. It is common thing will happen

How to deal with this?

First complete your task in hand deliver it on time. Once done with it talk with your colleague about task and get the clear status of the tasks that has been take over by your colleague. Since the task is originally assigned to you, you might have first hand knowledge on that. Offer helping hand and make suggestions where you can make improvements. Share the load with him and complete the tasks earlier.

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