I'm in a small dev team as a solution developer. In this team we have a solution architect and a manager, the rest of us are solution developers.

In the other room there's the boss/product owner (we produce solutions that we try to sell, so the P.O. is a member of the company). P.O. interact first of all with solution architect, then with manager. And here comes the problem...

One of my direct colleagues (a solution developer like) has a really strange relationship with my manager (and viceversa):

  • They are desktop neighbour but they prefer to secretly use Skype rather than public speaking (every single day);
  • They sometimes comes together in the morning and go out together in the evening;
  • They do a sort of constant pair programming, in which my colleague tries to help my manager (for hours) on very basic issues. She could call the solution architect and have the problem resolved in a fast way;

Can this situation harm me and/or my career perspectives?

I have often observed the situation and I have the feeling that she always tries to push/advertise him above the others. For instance if the product owner is around she always offers her congratulations to everything he said (even the most stupid things) while she tries to reduce the others. I have discovered yesterday that solution architect has the same feelings, but this situation doesn't touch him, since he is in another role.

What should I do? I have the need to say that I don't trust anymore. I know this is a bad idea but actually this is probably the one thing that could relieve me. What would you do in my place?

PS section

  • I don't know if they have an affair. Anyway I don't think so, is more a need of protection that they gain each other;
  • I have a wonderfull social-relationship with her, my problem is job-focused
  • I started to be paranoid after other non-DEV people noticed their attitude. I'm not crazy. Again, solutions architect thinks like me. Two paranoids at once?
  • I'm not a slacker and i'm not acting in any non-professional way. Solution architect (for instance) appreciate me and my job;
  • They don't use chat to be less disturbing. Infact when they aren't chatting they are noisy and sometimes other colleagues need to say "please, I'm working". I don't think the boss will be happy...
  • What I called pair-programming isn't the real pair-programming. They seat on the same computer for hours trying to resolve problem that me, or the solution architect could resolve in few minutes but they don't ask for pride. This is not good, and boss won't be happy

closed as off-topic by gnat, The Wandering Dev Manager, scaaahu, Masked Man, IDrinkandIKnowThings Jul 17 '15 at 15:53

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Real questions have answers. Rather than explaining why your situation is terrible, or why your boss/coworker makes you unhappy, explain what you want to do to make it better. For more information, click here." – gnat, The Wandering Dev Manager, scaaahu, Masked Man, IDrinkandIKnowThings
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    What is the "responsible" role? – Aaron Hall Jul 16 '15 at 14:05
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    The nomenclature in this question makes it hard to understand what is happening and what you are asking. – Jason Jul 16 '15 at 14:08
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    Sounds to me like you're overreacting. Badly. – keshlam Jul 16 '15 at 14:11
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    What possible good could come from you telling your manager that you don't trust her? Stay in you sphere of influence and not your sphere of concern. – paparazzo Jul 16 '15 at 16:00
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    Chat is less disturbing to others in an open office. It keeps a record of the discussion. It's a good compromise between interrupting someone in person and sending mail they may not get to until tomorrow. Some people find it entertaining. MANY reasons, most of them benign at worst. You're not just assuming the worst, you're actively looking for it, and that says more about you than them. – keshlam Jul 16 '15 at 19:05

Let's start with the impartiality issue. No one anywhere in any office is impartial. It never happens. Everyone judges all the time based on their own personal biases.

So stop even worrying about impartiality, you can take it as a given that every single boss you will ever have will be partial to someone. The trick is to make yourself one of the people that person is partial to (but not necessarily the way your co-worker is doing it if there is an actual affair.).

By stirring up the pot about how suspicious the behavior is looking, you are making sure that you will not be looked upon well by senior management; not just this person but anyone above her. So stop it this minute. What you are doing is going to cause more of an issue for you and destroy your own credibility than just about any other action you could be taking in this situation.

You don't have to trust or like your boss either to work well for them. That too is a logical fallacy that you need to nip in the bud. You work well for any person you are assigned to work for. Period. Because you are being paid to work well. Anything less is fraud.

Now there are times when a personal relationship gets in the way at work. (Believe me I know this one because I was once the manager of a person who was having an affair with my boss. And I once had a totally unqualfied person become the project manager when she started dating the CEO; she had been his secretary before becoming the project manager.)

You however have no proof of such a relationship. And most of the time it is not in your best benefit to be the person who complains about it even if you have proof.

I have seen a lot of people have affairs at work through the years. The complainer about the relationship almost always loses credibility and respect, sometimes more than the people engaging in the behavior. (Of course in a boss-subordinate intimate relationship, the subordinate often loses his or her job eventually, so it is just plain stupid to get into these kinds of relationships.) It's not fair, but then fair is a concept you also need to ditch; the world is not and never will be fair.

Generally these things go two ways, the couple comes out into the open and gets married in which case, the subordinate is generally removed from the team to prevent favoritism. Or the relationship ends badly and the subordinate gets fired.

In either case, the best move on your part is to stay out of it. Instead, keep doing your job and do it well, eventually that will be noticed. If the favoritism gets really bad, then you always have the option to find a different job, and if you have kept it professional on your part and done your work to the best of your ability, you will find that next job easier to find than if you slack off because you don't trust your boss. Accomplishments help you get better jobs, slacking off doesn't. Remember it is never in your own best interests to fail to do what you are being paid to do because something has upset you.

  • 1
    Great answer. I always do my job. Sometimes I ask her to push the team when I think we are giving less that we can. I only go crazy when she advertise him with my boss cause I think: what will she does when I'm not around? – BAD_SEED Jul 16 '15 at 18:47
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    Going crazy is something you can fix: get your attention back on your own work, not theirs. – keshlam Jul 16 '15 at 19:07
  • What an awesome answer. Plus one – JonH Jul 16 '15 at 22:31
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    This answer, in addition to being a straight-up awesome answer to this question, also goes to the core of many many posts on this site that result from bizarre preconceptions about how employers should treat employees (as opposed to how the real world works. Can we somehow get it pinned to the New Question form and force people fresh into the big bad world of paid work to read it before posting? ;) – Marv Mills Jul 17 '15 at 12:27

My suggestion here would be to type out a well thought out letter, print it out, and then promptly put it in the office shredder. Hopefully that will help unburden whatever you're feeling.

Assuming there really is some sort of issue here; nothing good can come of you coming out and saying that you don't trust her. If there really is some sort of favoritism going on; it will start to be noticed by your other peers as well. (and right now there is no indication of that; just that these two are real buddy-buddy at the moment) Right now you're operating on pure paranoia/speculation.

In any environment I've seen; there are always people who work well together and ones who don't. Until you see actual evidence of this favoritism you're suspecting (promotions/benefits/perks); you're really just trying to fit what you're seeing with whatever notions you have in your head.

  • I'm not the only paranoid. Solution architect think the same things. I will try to talk with another solution developer too (we are just 3 solutions developer) and try to have his opinion too. – BAD_SEED Jul 16 '15 at 15:20
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    To me, it really feels like you're stirring the pot here. What's the end goal? You're in a team of 3; it's going to be very obvious that you're turning into a busybody and could be trying to poison the team against these two. – Jim B Jul 16 '15 at 15:24
  • There's the problem. I don't/can't see a goal (a part from change manager), I can't and I don't want to change their relationship,but I don't feel safe if she try to exalt him against the other... – BAD_SEED Jul 16 '15 at 15:30
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    Again, pure speculation. Things can get real messy real quick. The most "scandalous" thing I can think of is that they may be having a little fling going on. As long as it stays professional (and not prohibited by your employer); who cares? It's just as easy for me to say that you may have a thing for her and are jealous. See how easy it is to make an unfounded leap? – Jim B Jul 16 '15 at 15:33
  • @Jimb: Was thinking that possibility existed... Rumors are almost always a Bad Thing in the workplace. Playing that game will hurt you far more than it can possibly help you. Knock it off. If you're worried about your review, focus on doing things that the boss can boast about on YOUR behalf. – keshlam Jul 16 '15 at 19:10

Are you asking if you telling your manager you don't trust him/her is a good idea? Telling anybody you don't trust them is going to make them feel sour about you, and it sounds like your manager plays politics more than work so it would be an extremely bad idea to tell your manager you don't trust them - especially if he/her builds or tears people down to other people.

You ever heard the term "play the game"? That's essentially what's happening here. In my career, people better at social skills and less so at working bond with the managers over doing more work and this gets them ahead. They essentially create a personal bond which gives the manager, lead, whatever a good association with that person and through them talking highly of said person they 'climb the ladder'. This also makes it really hard to fire said person since they now have a 'personal connection' with that person which also helps them get ahead, extra privelegs, better projects, etc.. This is the 'old' way of doing things and things are changing but a lot of companies still run through this system.

The corporate world is more about personal relationships inside the company then it is about the work you do, that's just the way it is - it's been like that for a long time. This is the reason I prefer to work for independent companies where everyone works as a team and no egos or personal bonds make more of a difference than the work you put in.

To answer your question fully vent outside of the workplace about political issues, there isn't any good that can come from bringing negative things into the workplace, especially about your manager and even more so TO your manager about your manager. You can also put more effort into working with your manager on 'pair programming' projects, etc... it's not a bad thing that people are working together I do feel you on it become a favoritism thing and if your company runs that way there really isn't anything you can do. There are better places out there that don't work like this but you'll also have to work harder and not have as much 'lax' if you chose a place like that - there is always give and take so you just need to figure out what it is you like to do more or are better at (playing the game, or working) and find the proper place that let's you do that. If situations like this are hard to handle then it's possible you're in the wrong place.


You must really love to butt into things that are none of your business. How they live their lives and how they choose to do their work has nothing to do with you. And nobody needs to cater to your paranoia to make you feel better about yourself.

If you came to me with this type of complaint, I'd fire you in about two seconds. I don't need this kind of petty-mindedness around the office. And your co-workers don't deserve to be subjected to it.

Telling your manager that you don't trust her anymore will most likely lead you straight to the unemployment line. Telling the truth to a prospective employer as to why you got fired will almost guarantee your non-employability. Frankly, your own narrative does not make you look very good as an individual. At least, in my eyes. And you are not giving her any reason to like you. Unlike you, if your manager doesn't like you, she can do something about it. Fast.

  • They don't use chat to don't disturb because they are noisy rest of the time. And sometimes I have to take ''please quiet'' and I'm not the one. So is my business too. – BAD_SEED Jul 17 '15 at 4:39
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    See above. And no, there is nothing you've said that makes spying on them your business. I know that isn't what you want to hear. – keshlam Jul 17 '15 at 6:10
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    Your justification is really lame. I use chat whenever I am discussing a complex issue with the team - The boss will throw up a link to a potential solution, I will comment on it and throw up another link to some schematics. You are spying, you don't even know - in fact, you are ignorant of why people use chat . And no, it's not just when they want to communicate without talking. Frankly, you're confirming my assessment that I'd fire you immediately. I just wouldn't want to have you around me and the rest of the team. So far as I would be concerned, you can take your divisiveness elsewhere. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 17 '15 at 6:40

Your available options are to see if you can transfer to another department, find another job entirely, or learn how to drop this. Frankly, I don't think you're going to survive long on the next job either unless you do learn how to focus on your own work rather than someone else's. From your description there is nothing illegal or damaging to the company or even clearly questionable going on -- unless you count the damage you and others are doing by spreading rumors and wasting time and energy on them.

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