I started working at this company 5 months ago. I interviewed, and was hired, to develop applications in C and C++. When started, however, I was asked to put together a Web Application for management, which I accomplished successfully.

This application is very helpful many different departments in the company, and many managers are continuously asking me to add new features, or improvements to it.

But now my actual boss is telling me that - after 5 months of doing web development - I should drop those responsibilities and focus on what I was originally hired to do: C and C++ development.

I'm torn, because there's still a lot of work that could be done on the web application, and furthermore, I have come to greatly enjoy web development. I don't know if being a C/C++ dev is more lucrative than being a web developer, but the later seems like a better choice to me.

How do I tell my boss that I want to continue doing web development?

  • 1
    You ask nicely. It's not what you were hired to do and you can't expect him to change your role. That said, you may be able to convince him that he needs a web developer.
    – Prinsig
    Dec 4, 2015 at 9:43
  • I still think that it's a little unprofessional you know... i can open a new question, "should i ask the boss what's better for the company?" and i would say a big no, especially in the position i am now! :)))
    – MarkWuji
    Dec 4, 2015 at 10:31
  • I did a pretty major re-edit of your question, which excluded some of your comments on things such as, for example, full stack developers. I would suggest that you take a pretty good look at what a full stack developer actually is. Very few positions these days allow a developer to exist within his own little technology bubble with no interaction with several of scripting/databases/html&css/server side code. Knowing how it all fits together, and being able to develop the architecture for an application from start to finish is not "lacking a specialization", it's being a good programmer.
    – AndreiROM
    Dec 4, 2015 at 15:19
  • Request a transfer... if turned down do what they ask and look for a new job in a field you want at the same time. Dec 4, 2015 at 17:04
  • 1
    Try using sideways pressure. If these other managers want you to make changes to the web application, refer them to your manager and let them apply the pressure. Don't tell them that your manager is blocking development or complain about it, just say that your schedule on other projects is very tight and your manager will have to decide when the improvements can be scheduled. Dec 4, 2015 at 18:38

2 Answers 2


It is very likely that your boss has a headcount for C development and you were it. Early on he may have not had much for you to do and lent you to another project or group. Now that he sees your success there are two things floating around in their head -

  1. This person did a great job on web apps, so I would sure like to see what they do with our stuff.

  2. If I don't get him doing C dev soon I will never see that headcount again.

Your boss may be stuck. I was in a similar situation years ago. I would simply plan out how many hours you will need to keep up with your current web applications (support/enhancements/whatever) and how much time you can devote to C dev. I would also tell your boss you don't mind doing web dev and that you feel that this area may be where you would like to head.

I would hedge from simply stating that you don't want to do C dev. This may make your boss defensive. Saying that you feel it is your next progression is more than enough.

What will happen at your work? Well this depends on how much work per week they actually need you doing web dev, whether or not they have capable people to do it other than you, whether they can logically map you to another group, and how big of a fit your boss throws (and who has more power - your boss or the person wanting the web apps).

You are at an enviable position at this company because two groups with two skill sets want you. I would not diss the C dev while you are in this back and forth stage. It is better that you do either and work your way into the web position - then you will retain good relationships across all groups.

  • It's also possible that upper management was interested in the web application and not knew he was a dedicated C/C++ dev. What I found is once you go past your manager, you'll get emails and comments from everyone that touches it. Chances are the OP's manager saw that and had to set him back on course and shut everyone down before it got out of hand.
    – Dan
    Dec 4, 2015 at 19:56

Go a few minutes in your management shoes. Not only your direct manager : the overall management.

What they want is operations that are working. Developing, a website or whatever in C, is giving the operations more tools for going faster and better.

Resources are limited. You are a limited resource, as there is only one of you. The role of the management is to allocate the limited resources to the best interests of the operations. If the management as a whole decides that what you have to do in C/C++ is more important for the firm than the nice little tool you've done up to there, there's not much place for your personal wishes.

If everyone above you thinks that the C/C++ code is more important, you're screwed(though I don't see it as a punition, but I'm not in your shoes). OTOH, if some important people want you to stay ine the web tools, be sure they are your allies, and ask them to do some politics in your own interest.

Yeah, politics. A word we developers don't like. But it's important, and I hope for you you'll discover its importance with a positive outcome for you(hint : my discover of its importance was catastrophic at many levels, and my career suffered). If you play it well(hey, I'd love to help you, it seems so important, but I need my boss to assign me some time - can you touch him a word?), you can build yourself a strong network that will help you with short-term objectives(keep some web), but also on other topics that might appear later.

If you don't play politics, the management isn't gonna play in your favor.

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