A colleague (we'll call him Tim) and myself work to support/develop several products, including a mobile application. This guy has been here for 2 years and 8 months (I joined 1 month after him). During these years he's made a very poor impression on me:

  • He is not capable of advising customers. He almost volunteers any opinions or advice, and when pressed to answer the information he provides is typically not in the context of the problems, or is not a solution to the problem.

  • He is loathe to pick up any new technical skills, which as you guys may know is critical in the fast paced field of mobile application development.

  • He is very sluggish, he even types using one finger only (who does this in this day and age?) and doesn't want to learn/use shortcuts.

  • His code is basically terrible, with a lot of bugs and inconsistencies, to the point where I can't trust him to touch my own code.

  • The list goes on ....

Performance Reviews (As asked by Kent)

All of this time, it seems Tim always mimicked my own performance reviews since he always asked my advice on what to write (and although lately I haven't answered him, it seems he just writes down what I've said and done with customers). All my manager knows is that we always go meet with customers together, not that I'm the only one who participates in those meetings, and that this guy is completely useless.

Our old manager, who resigned 8 months ago, might have had some ideas as to how inept Tim is, but I have no idea what he may have told our new manager when he handed over his responsibilities. One telling point is that he always assigns new projects to me, not ever to him.

Current Situation

I am going to tender my resignation to my manager early next week.

Currently we are involved with 2 full SDLC projects which I've been building by myself. After I created the proposals I asked my Tim to create the mock-ups. His work was very, very bad, and made it clear that I can't depend on him for anything. I believe the outcome of these projects will have a very negative impact on all parties involved once I leave.

Is it ethical and professional if I tell my manager the truth about my colleague?

I don't want to burn any bridges with my manager, his aid, or his higher-ups (by leaving the projects to fail). I'm A-OK with ending my relationship with Tim.

I feel that the current situation is somewhat my responsibility, because I have never raised the alarm concerning this guy before. In a way I facilitated his behavior.

  • 1
    I have added a section in my post. In the past, my reason of leaving is actually because of him, but this year I aim a job abroad and get it (this will be my reason of leaving).
    – Lewis
    Oct 31, 2015 at 17:43
  • 6
    So your performance review is a self-assessment? That's really more like a status report. Does you company have any formal process for you to provide feedback to your manager about your co-worker?
    – Kent A.
    Oct 31, 2015 at 17:47
  • 24
    If you did not address when you were working then for sure when you are going out the door is not the time to address it.
    – paparazzo
    Oct 31, 2015 at 18:10
  • 7
    On the way out the door (resign) it is no longer your problem. Let it go. Move on.
    – paparazzo
    Oct 31, 2015 at 19:20
  • 5
    @EdHeal: This implys that you assume OP is lying to us. (close to a rude comment) Because if the OP as it is, is stating everything correctly, I wouldn't call it beeing "lucky" for his colleague. Bad talking or not, Descriptive seen, with an new co-worker who wont cover him he'll loose his job anyway. So why you say thats lucky for him?
    – Zaibis
    Dec 4, 2015 at 9:25

8 Answers 8


Since your reason for leaving is because an opportunity has become available and you want to take it, then mentioning your co-worker's problems, or more precisely, your perception of your co-worker's problems, would be unprofessional. Imagine how it would look from an outside perspective: "I have this great new opportunity and I am really excited to grow in that direction. By the way, my co-worker stinks." It just wouldn't fit.

If your primary reason for leaving is specifically because of your co-worker's deficiency, then it would be more relevant and appropriate to mention it.

This situation is about to come to an end with your departure. However, if you were to have decided to stay, I would have recommended offering to mentor your co-worker and coach him in the areas where he needs to improve. It's hard to coach internal motivation, but if he is already motivated, but just not sure how to proceed, or lacks skills, you could definitely help him develop the skills and the confidence in customer settings.


If there's an issue, your manager will figure it out. Parting shots just make you look petty. Leave it alone.

  • I totally agree with this answer. If leaving, and it isn't the appropriate time to tell the manager about the colleague, it shouldn't be told. It will be more likely notice the colleague deficiency after the departure, as it's more likely that projects will be handled worse.
    – Zorgatone
    Dec 7, 2015 at 7:51
  • This is the best answer. Straight to the point.
    – Tony Ennis
    Jun 16, 2017 at 22:40

Detrimental comments on colleagues should be avoided, they are not professional because it is not your task. None of what you have mentioned would give me a reason to do such a thing. It's managements responsibility to monitor staff members performance and know what they're capable of.

You only make it look like you have personal issues by doing this which cannot reflect well on you both as a professional and in an ethical context. Worst case scenario is you actually make your manager look bad because at the end of the day it's his/her responsibility to be on top of things and you're basically telling them they haven't been doing their job properly.

The only time I would bring this up is if after resigning my manager asked me point blank for advice on how my colleague would cope without me. And even then I would not go into detail as you have done here, instead I would say it's unlikely that he could take over fully without assistance without any bad mouthing of his abilities or work ethic.


Is it ethical and professional if I tell my manager the truth about my colleague?

You should not volunteer this information. As others have pointed out, if this isn't obvious to your manager already, then stating it now does not help you or them. Of course your boss(es) should have interviewed/evaluated you and Tim on a regular basis (and maybe they did, but informally and without your awareness) if for no other reason than to be prepared for something like this. So if they didn't ask you before now, then now is not the time to volunteer it.

I feel that the current situation is somewhat my responsibility, because I have never raised the alarm concerning this guy before. In a way I facilitated his behavior.

This is a good point, and worth mentioning in your exit interview if asked. It was not your job to evaluate Tim and you never felt like anyone asked or cared about your opinion. Maybe they didn't care. However unlike daily routines, during your exit you may be interviewed and specifically asked about concerns you have. If so, it is both appropriate and ethical to mention this.

However, you should be sure to emphasize your situation: you took on a lot of responsibility and you wanted to perform well. You were not asked to mentor him, lead him, evaluate him or allow him to fail. In this context it is appropriate to state that you think he cannot handle the job on his own and you are concerned that your contribution to the successful completion of the work given to your team was undervalued. If this was a contributing factor to your resignation, that would be helpful for them to know.

As a co-worker, it is usually inappropriate to provide co-worker evaluations to a boss unsolicited, and also inappropriate to try "manage" teammates. It can create other workplace problems that you avoided. During an exit interview, companies are looking for opportunities to improve. If you want to provide valuable feedback to your current manager, this would be the way to do it. Otherwise, drop it.



Your bosses aren't as clueless as you think. If this guy is typing with one finger, they know about it. Just because your bosses don't tell you "Pedro is an idiot." doesn't mean they don't know that. Most bosses know far more than you would imagine. Remember, they have the eagle's eye view.

Even if there was some dirty secret you were sure your bosses didn't know, it would still probably be a bad idea to reveal it. You don't want people to think of you as being a rat.


I do not recommend offering this information in an exit interview. An unsolicited negative evaluation of employees will not benefit you in most cases.

A new manager should be evaluating everyone and getting feedback. In an exit interview, the manager could ask you for advice on the level needed for your replacement. Suggest they hire someone at least as skilled and experienced as you. Be objective and honest if asked if your coworker is capable of managing a junior developer.

The manager should be looking for ways of knowing what clients think of their employees. It's a shame more teams are not given the responsibility of evaluating each other to help improve the team as a whole and not compare one employee to another because that invites backstabbing. Ultimately, it is up to the manager to build a quality team. It's not your fault if he doesn't ask for your help. Like you suggest, don't burn the bridge. Personally, even if you told your manager, he won't be able to utilize it and find the appropriate replacement.


Personally I would recommend getting someone else on board for the projects because "it would be too much for Tim" to handle them alone, and mention bus factor, Tim could get sick or unavailable (this includes incompetent). From there it is your manager's risk and responsibility.

Don't talk bad about Tim, he might get fired soon and join your new company as your manager. You always meet twice in life. :-)

  • 2
    this doesn't seem to offer anything substantial over points made and explained in prior 6 answers. See How to Answer
    – gnat
    Dec 4, 2015 at 17:22

If you are not the boss of the colleague, you should not bring it up from your side.

If your manager would be smart, they would ask you (I always did when I was a team lead and somebody was leaving) if you feel that your current work is being taken care of. If they don't ask you, it is their problem - they know that you are leaving and they should know how unaware they are of how the team is really working.

  • If they are not even aware of how unaware of the real state of the team they are (I just replace persons, and they don't do complicated stuff...), it's your managers problem - you cant fix that.
  • If they aware that they don't have a clue, but don't care (hey, they will sort it out somehow, they always did without me...), it's your managers problem - you cant fix that.
  • If they are aware about the situation and don't care (e.g. since X will be leaving this years number are great budget-wise, and I don't care about the future, since I will hop to the next position/job), it's your managers problem.

In no situation will you be able to fix that unless they ask you.

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