I am a software engineer and I work on a team of 3. A colleague of mine is a very qualified software engineer.

However, he does not focus on the most important project (as defined by our manager). While I am actively working on the project our team should be working on, he often finds ways to do other work that he like more.

We had a big migration planned today, and two days ago while we needed to prepare it I asked him if he could do a small task (15 minutes max) and he just told me "No, I am working on something else".

I clearly saw on his screen that he was working on adding an extra feature asked by the user on a previous project of ours that we are not supposed to work on anymore without planning.

So he just refused to help me on our top priority, to do a zero priority task

I insisted, and he told me "Hmm, okay I will do it". The next morning when I arrived I saw that he did not even did it.

I was very upset at him, but I can't find a way to tell him that he need to focus more on the task at end or I will report his behaviour to the manager. I fear it would look like I am threatening him or patronizing him.

Is this a good idea to talk to this about it? Should I talk about this with my manager? Or should I just keep it to myself and don't say anything to anybody.

  • 14
    That's what managers are for. Escalate if he is impacting timelines, as he is putting the project at risk.
    – Jane S
    Jun 10, 2015 at 21:42

1 Answer 1


Short answer: You need to escalate to your manager as it is a project risk.

Honestly, this is what managers are for. It's not your job to tell this person what he should be working on. Also, how does your team manage tasks? Do they do a daily standup or use Agile? Your manager as a manager should be well aware of what each person on his or her team is doing every single day.

If your manager is not aware of this, then you need to escalate it. It is a risk to the project, and impacts other people if there are dependencies on the tasks that your team member should be doing rather than what he wants to do. It then can come down to a disciplinary action if he continues to refuse to do what he is supposed to be doing.

  • 2
    It should be noted that if you are using Agile, you are in a position to lay into this dev during standup. If he is not working on tasks in the sprint, then he needs called out. Jun 10, 2015 at 23:16
  • @BillLeeper True, but by the daily standup / sprint nature, the manager should have been aware of any issue before it became one.
    – Jane S
    Jun 10, 2015 at 23:18

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