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I recently joined a project as the most junior member in the entire team.

As usual, our project manager split up the work to be done and assigned the tasks to different team members for follow up. Each of us is kept in the loop on each other progress.

So when I was reading up on some documentation regarding the project, I discovered some information that is pretty critical to the success of the project and this falls under his assigned task.

Should I let him know about this since this is critical to project success? If I do, how can I make it sound like I'm not arrogant (after all it will be a junior telling a senior what to do).

I am also definitely not trying to claim credit, so I don't want him to think that I am trying to.

marked as duplicate by gnat, Jan Doggen, Garrison Neely, IDrinkandIKnowThings, user9158 Jan 15 '15 at 4:29

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A good team should promote knowledge sharing. It should be no problem for you to approach your more senior coworker and say something like, "I came across this information in the documentation that seems relevant for what you're doing. Have you seen this?"

  • +1 - I would also suggest doing it in private or via email. – user8365 Jan 14 '15 at 14:03
  • @JeffO: why go private? If I'm working on a task and someone else has a bit of information they aren't sure I know about I'd hope they would approach me at the earliest possible time whether it was in a meeting or just walking past my office. I'd be grateful either way, even if I did already know it. – NotMe Jan 14 '15 at 15:52
  • @ChrisLively - The OP is trying not to appear arrogant or taking credit. Seems like a touchy situation with this person and goes beyond sharing information with the group. – user8365 Jan 22 '15 at 1:52
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You are making a few assumptions, which may not be valid. It is also plausible that your senior colleague (let's call him John) has already read the critical information and/or the information is not as critical as you think.

Being a Senior Developer, he probably knows better how to assess project requirements than you do. While being a senior doesn't imply that they can never make mistakes, I would be careful about making such an assumption.

Hence, I would suggest that rather than telling him that you found some critical information, you ask him if the information is critical.

John, I was reading through the document, and found this information which seems important, but I do not fully understand its implications. Could you please explain to me how it would affect our project?

If John had already read the important information, you won't look like a moron for telling him something obvious. If John hadn't read about it, he gets to save face.

Note on Edit My choice of the phrase "feign ignorance" led to some misinterpretation, so I rewrote the answer to better describe my intention.

Also, in an ideal world, it is great to make statements like, "if egos are getting in the way of work, there are bigger problems to worry about." In the real world, you will find people with huge egos in the workplace, who are nonetheless extremely skilled, important for the company, and offer a lot you can learn from. You could either refuse to deal with their egos, or you could learn to adapt to it and get your work done.

If asking a senior a question will help you better understand something, there is no harm in hiding your half-baked, possibly incorrect, "knowledge".

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    -1: Feigning ignorance is a sure fire way to lower your own reputation with respect to capability as well as dishonest (file this under the "lack of integrity" column with respect to reputation). If egos are an impediment to information sharing, then there are much bigger problems afoot. – Joel Etherton Jan 14 '15 at 13:25
  • @JoelEtherton You have to read it in context of the question. I have not said "always do this". If you barely understand something, then pretending that you don't know even that much and asking question would help you learn it better, especially from a senior colleague. If you think you already know it all, then you will not learn anything new. Perhaps my choice of words has misled you, and you have a point, I will try to reword it to describe more accurately what I mean. – Masked Man Jan 14 '15 at 14:03
  • I read it in context. I'm saying never do this -- feign ignorance. If you do not end up appearing incapable you will ultimately end up appearing dishonest. Nothing in your post hints at "barely knowing" something, but everything in your post says "Lie to him". – Joel Etherton Jan 14 '15 at 14:25
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    No need to feign ignorance or feel like a moron. Something like "You might well have found this already, but in case you haven't had time to read X yet, I noticed Y that looks useful" – Laconic Droid Jan 14 '15 at 14:37
  • +1 - to counter Joel. The vast majority of business and interpersonal relationships is tailoring your message to get the desired effect. I'm not sure that not understanding the text is the most appropriate here, but at least pleading ignorance of how it impacts the senior's work is a good way to bring it up sensitively. – Telastyn Jan 14 '15 at 14:55

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