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I am part of a software development team in a big corporation. The team consists of the manager, several developers and one senior developer. The senior developer position recently became vacant and eveyone wants it, of course.

So I am applying for this position, and so does everyone else in the team. However, I believe that my chances to get that position are quite high. In fact, I have reason to believe that some of those people who make the decision about who gets the position have already decided to favor me.

Currently there is a very good relationship within the team, but the direct competition situation we are now getting placed in is already showing some signs of strain on it. I am worried that when I get the position, the other teammembers will become jealous of me and our relationship could become much worse.

Should I get the position, what can I do to prevent jealousy from the other team members from destroying my relationship with them?

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    How would you prevent jealousy within yourself when you don't get this position? How will you handle the disappointment? – Joel Etherton Mar 19 '15 at 13:50
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The short answer is that you have to be as dispassionate about the process as possible.

You're assuming they will be jealous. With mature adults, that's not really going to happen. What they will feel is disappointment, and you may even lose one or two in the following months as they see that there is no reasonable expectation of short-term advancement. It will fade, though, as they realize that they haven't lost anything, but rather didn't realize a gain they might have had.

However, you are correct to concern yourself with jealousy. Just remember, jealousy is an emotion, and any emotions you feed into the situation, even positive, only feed theirs. IF you are promoted, accept it quietly and graciously with a "Thank you" and a handshake when the manager announces it, and don't dwell on it.

In your first few days, be sure to be obvious about your respect of your team's abilities and contributions, both as a group and as individuals. Don't fawn over them, but a few "Good idea." and "Nice work." responses can go a long way.

There is one more thing in your favor, as well: Senior Developer is kind of a weird position: You have additional responsibility, but not really any additional authority. (Depending on your organization.) Most of the time it works against you, but in this case, it can work for you. You don't have to deal with the employee relations issues as a manager would. If you notice any problems with others' reactions to your promotion, it is not your issue to deal with it. Your manager still has that responsibility.

In fact, having a frank talk with your manager about where he wants you to "stop" managing and refer issues to him is very appropriate in the first couple of days after the promotion. If you're in a large organization, there may even be formal training/documentation. (In a previous company, all the HR policies for supervisors and managers were issued in a big purple binder. We called it, "The Barney Book.") Ask if something like that is available, and read it if it is.

Remember: Emotion feeds on emotion. Don't feed theirs, and any jealousy that crops up should calm down quickly.

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There are two possible, mutually exclusive outcomes:

  1. The aggressiveness dies down as management announces the winner, and everyone reconciles with the outcome and goes back to the grind.

  2. The rancor persists.

All you can do is make it clear to everyone that you'll work with the winner, whoever they are, way before the management hands the decision. Keep up the team-oriented working style so that if the winner is you, the team members can see for themselves that the management decision to declare you the winner makes sense, even if they may not like the decision. If the team members believe that you are the least qualified to be the senior developer, the rancor may persist for some time.In which case, you'll have to look for ways to grow into the job and grow into the job. Fast.

I am not sure that getting the staff to like the management decision to declare you the winner should be the goal. Getting them to live with the decision is probably easier to achieve and the more realistic goal.

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Jealousy is going to happen and that is not the problem to manage. If they did not think they deserved the position they would not have applied.

Are they going to respect you as lead developer and work effectively is what you need to manage. If you are not respected in your current role then you will not be respected as lead. As lead facilitate and communicate over making design decisions yourself.

Don't act like you expect to get the position. That will not help harmony.

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