I am second in command on a team project, after my boss. There is a junior member of the team who my boss didn't initially want to include, but I vouched for her, and we brought her in.

I feel now that she is usurping my position. She always sticks close to the boss and tries to be on top of everyone, and is always at his beck and call even outside the office. When the boss gives a general assignment for anyone to complete, she will try to be the first to finish and report to him. If someone tries to bring up an idea, she always likes to overshadow them.

Then the boss started giving her some of my responsibilities, so I spoke to the boss privately and asked if I wasn't measuring up. He said I am doing well, that he was trying to give her enough visibility for a client to approve a contract with her, since she didn't have any at the time. Eventually, he started giving her updates from the client company before I even know what's happening. I had a second discussion with him as I noticed this; he said he was giving her more things to do because I was busy. I was left with just a monotonous work while he shared part of my responsibilities to her and some other junior colleagues.

When she came to tell me our boss had asked her to make sure I finished my work, I had another discussion with him to politely ask why he sent my subordinate to monitor me. He said there was nothing wrong with the new arrangement. Things have continued this way.

I am torn about what to do. Leaving this project is not an option because it pays really well and its not easy to get a good job. Maybe discussing with my boss did me more harm than good. How can I convince our boss to restore my previous status and responsibilities on this project?

  • 2
    Do you have a specific question here? Open-ended questions on what to do are off-topic here. – ptfreak Sep 18 '15 at 16:57
  • 1
    I'm having difficulty in understanding what your question is. It sounds like you have some concerns about someone you bought on the team who is now, potentially, promoted over you on the same project? – Dan Sep 18 '15 at 17:03
  • 1
    I am sorry I do not see any question here. Not only that, I don't see any problem here either. She is doing her job well, as your description seems to imply. "If it isn't broken, don't fix it." It would be hard to convince the boss to change something which is working fairly well. – Masked Man Sep 18 '15 at 17:03
  • 1
    @MaskedMan Yes it would be next to impossible to tell a boss, "Don't listen to her, let's just keep doing like we did before." But I think her "issue" here is that she felt she brought her on the team and now she's overstepping her "boundary" by going over the boss. Probably the best lesson here is not to get "used" by someone you might not know, especially in a corporate environment where everyone is trying to go above each other. Her friend got "in" and she's using it to her advantage. That's good for her and bad for you. Lesson learned, and move on. – Dan Sep 18 '15 at 17:06
  • 3
    "My" position. You don't get to decide you are second in command or even what second in command does. You need to adapt to what it is the boss wants and in this case it appears your boss likes a suck up, beck, and call. And maybe the boss actually likes the work product of the person. All you can do is adapt. Making the rules is not going to work. – paparazzo Sep 18 '15 at 18:49

I think you did yourself a disservice in two ways, firstly by talking to the boss about it more than once which may have made you look antagonistic to a coworker.

Secondly by assuming she is a 'suck up' rather than a proactive, ambitious and hard working colleague which is probably how your boss is viewing her.

I suggest you take a hard look at your motivations and perhaps even go so far as to support someone who may well be a rising star in the company and could eventually be in a position to do you a very good turn, as you have done her.

Complaining about a colleagues good 'perceived' performance is not a good look and can easily backfire. It looks too much like jealousy, even if it isn't.

In saying that, it's also perfectly ok to mention that she is overstepping the bounds in a professional way by infringing on your responsibilities, but it's best to talk to her about that before you escalate it.


Fantasize about the other person doing well, even without your input. Visualize it. I know this is hard. But the more you do this kind of visualization, the easier it will be for you in the long run.

Your goal should be to always surround yourself with such individuals. That is how you will do well in your career. And that is how your team will get more interesting projects, or how you'll get poached to work on other interesting projects.

You're actually lucky. That person could have turned out to be incompetent and needing directions for every little thing. Consider yourself lucky this isn't the case.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.