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I'm a senior engineer with quite a few years of experience already. I recently moved to a new group and was made to report to someone I considered a peer before, but who now moved into his first software management role.

I thought a new manager should start with junior engineers first, but accepted the fact. Unfortunately, my manager wants to keep working as an engineer as well and has made himself the tech lead on this project.

The reality is that I'm better than him and we are now in reversed roles. I'm basically mentoring him while both of us pretend to have a normal working relationship. I have to weigh every technical feedback to him while thinking of my career and double check that things are done correctly, and it's very stressful to be alone at this without backing. We've had a few tense arguments already, although they dissipated.

The situation is untenable, I don't have other projects to transfer to within the company so it's either putting up with this or leaving. At the same time, I think I've been wronged by being "gifted" to this budding manager despite being more experienced because I'm not as known, but I don't know how to explain my predicament to upper management without a blow up.

closed as off-topic by scaaahu, Kent A., gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings, Dawny33 Oct 21 '15 at 9:38

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

  • "Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here." – scaaahu, Kent A., Dawny33
  • "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, IDrinkandIKnowThings
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  • hello, consider editing the question to make it better fit site topics laid out in help center. In particular, this guidance may help to learn what is expected of questions here. Good luck! – gnat Oct 20 '15 at 5:59
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    How do you know the manager is not expanding his skill set? As a new manager, he should be studying management, not programming, and depending on his technical reports to tell him anything he needs to know in their areas. – Patricia Shanahan Oct 20 '15 at 14:10
  • Why would you put a junior manager with junior staff? That's just compounding. – Paul Jul 7 '17 at 12:56
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A manager doesn't have to necessarily be a good technical resource. A manager utilises the resources available to them in the best way. They manage.

If he's using you as a senior technical resource, then he's fulfilling that function. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your manager schedule tasks?
  • Does your manager manage risk?
  • Does your manager maintain relationships with other teams and stakeholders?
  • Does your manager make sure that everyone in the team is busy and that interdependent tasks are appropriately aligned?
  • Does your manager also do technical stuff?

You can see that a manager only has technical aspects as a very small subset of their greater role. If you are better technically than your manager, then the hierarchy is exactly correct. You are hired to be technical, he is hired to manage. Part of your role is to support that with your superior technical skill, which includes mentoring your manager on aspects in which you are stronger.

WhenI first became a manager, I had to accept that I had to let go of being as proficient technically and to learn to delegate, mostly because there just isn't the time available to do everything. I think you will find your manager will do the same as he becomes more confident in his role.

  • "Unfortunately, my manager wants to keep working as an engineer as well." - I think this is the problem at the heart of the OP's question. – gbjbaanb Oct 20 '15 at 14:29
  • Yes, the problem is that the manager also made himself the tech lead on this project as well. I'm forced to fight at every turn against cutting corners, using outdated tools and libraries and general disregard for best practices. Why do I think the manager hasn't opened a book? Because the "seen it all, nothing left to learn just get it done" is painfully obvious but at the same time I have to be careful not to hurt my career. – user43068 Oct 20 '15 at 17:54
  • @user43068 If he's trying to do the work of an engineer, then he's not managing. Is actually performing the tasks I raised above? How well? – Jane S Oct 20 '15 at 21:29
  • "seen it all, nothing to learn" is a popular mentality of older software engineers. Is he older? I am an older engineer who used to know everything when that was actually humanly possible. I was GURU. Drowning in new tech every day is overwhelming. I got over myself when I remembered that the fast pace and excitement over change was why I loved it. Now I feed the kid in me. Could you possibly exude a sphere of excitement and playfulness towards him genuinely to get him trying new things? Go back to his past. Ask him why he chose tech, elicit stories and let the way present itself. – guru_florida Jan 16 '18 at 14:14

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