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One of the developers of my team is causing a bit of "stress" inside the team. We are organized in an Agile team (we use Scrum), and we meet regularly, both for the various "ceremonies" (estimating stories, for example) and for design meetings.

The team is self-organizing: design of stories is not "imposed" (I guide and steer them, and do the high level architectural design, but I let them choose the best approach at a code level), so there is often discussion and whiteboard schemes and the lot.

This dev, despite being junior (actually, the least experienced in the team), always has an opinion. And this is good, I like it: it brings ideas and potential issues in the design. But the fact is that even when he proposes something that is clearly bad (clearly = everyone else sees that it is bad, from experience), he still keeps advocating his position, believing he is right.

I (and others) have really to convince him, proving, presenting evidence. All good, as he learns and we enforce (and test) our assumptions, but this happens constantly, on every detail.

The problem is that what could have been a 1 hour discussion becomes longer and longer, and everyone else becomes tired and stop interacting.

I do not want to exclude him from the design process (I already tried to limit the sessions in which he is involved; he complained but it was an improvement for all the others), and when I can tell the team is really tired I just impose my decision (something on the lines "No, we are going to do it this way, trust me, we move on").

Do you think this is acceptable, stopping him and imposing my decision? How can I improve the situation without "losing" him, cutting him off (or acting in a way that will lead him to cut himself off the team)?


I have found a couple of related question. Related, but different:

Dealing with someone who thinks he's "divinely right"

In that case, the person who believes is always right is the team architect. My case is very different (and is not covered by the answers) as the developer is both junior to me and I am his team leader.

Another, closer question: How to deal with team member who is picking argument always instead of understanding the point?

But again not really related. He does not look for a fight, nor he is offending (at least, I do not feel offended).

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    I would like to offer the "junior's" perspective, since I have been in a similar situation. Too often, I have faced resistance from the "oldies" who have been with the company for 20+ years, refuse to listen to any new ideas, and bully the juniors because "this is how we have always done things here". I have known instances where the "juniors" had to put a hell lot of effort to adopt bugtracking systems, because the "oldies" preferred to use spreadsheet! Majority is not always right in IT. Technology gets obsolete everyday, and the "juniors" might be more updated than the "oldies". – Masked Man Mar 5 '15 at 16:19
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    Thanks for your comment, it is nice (since this is a general Q) to have all perspective. Let me assure you that this is not the case; it's not really junior vs. oldies (even if inexperience plays a role), but wasting other people time and effort. As I said, I like a fresh, new point of view. I do not like to argue and re-discuss every little issue. It's like reinventing the wheel... – Lorenzo Dematté Mar 5 '15 at 16:26
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    (Also, some of the "oldies" are actually younger than he is, so...) – Lorenzo Dematté Mar 5 '15 at 16:26
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    Yeah, of course, my comments above may or may not be applicable to your specific case, but they would probably be useful to someone else who visits the site. Also, I meant "oldies" not in terms of age, but in terms of experience with the current company. I should probably post it as an answer, but I am too old to bother. :) – Masked Man Mar 5 '15 at 17:05
  • Is this issue specifically during meetings? I.e. after the meeting then there's no problem with the junior. Or afterwards does he come back and say "oh, I think we should do it this way instead" or something else like that. Could the problem be lack of direction/leadership during meetings – Brandin Mar 6 '15 at 21:58
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What are the more senior developers doing when this happens???

If it's basically a lack of respect for other's people opinion this will only get worse as he gains experience.

I would suggest assigning him a mentor + when you recognize that the discussion is getting out of hand:

  • ask the opinion of 1,2 more senior developers
  • make a decision
  • clearly state the decision
  • shut down immediately any comments from the junior

Yes, there are situations where it is appropriate to impose a decision.

The mentor or yourself can explain the concept of disagree and commit and that in life things don't always work as one wants / expects.

If he has half a brain he will understand what is happening and will start understanding when it's appropriate to push his opinion vs always nitpicking.

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    Thank you for your answer. This is what we (I, and another senior dev) are already doing, but it's very "difficult": he takes it as a confrontation, and the process itself somehow undermines the harmony inside the team. But yeah, I do not see many alternatives.. Just wanted to check if others have dealt with such a situation successfully – Lorenzo Dematté Mar 5 '15 at 15:24
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    spend time with him explaining what his behavior is and what his behavior needs to be. give concrete examples. also give him the benefit of the doubt. make it clear in repeated occasions that what he is doing is not acceptable and if he does not correct his behavior more drastic measures will be needed. if you don't tackle this head on the level of frustration will just increase over time. – Mircea Mar 5 '15 at 15:31
  • Adding to what @Mircea said, I recommend you get the support of your manager to reinforce what you're saying to the junior. – neontapir Jan 31 '18 at 22:53
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Its already too late to answer but for the people who might be in a similar situation I have the best solution for such people who are always nitpicking.

Advice: Assign them to the test team. A nitpicker can potentially be an excellent tester, their need to question everything pays dividend as a tester.

It will help him learn and grow both professionally and on a personal level.

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