Situation: The technical leader left a few months ago, I automatically took over his responsibilities to make sure we have continuity, got a junior worker (REALLY junior, a grad). As of course I took over the responsibilities, the manager (who is new) doesn't see much point in having a technical lead - I did have a discussion about it and he said he doesn't want a leader. The problem is that I am the only person who knows Oracle on the level that I can do design and also I the junior's delivery lacks quality. We have a tester, who appreciates me, and an analyst, who for some time was giving me design as he used to be an architect but in the end decided that maybe it's worth listening to what I say.

My manager likes teaching me how to do design and development though and I feel like he is not happy that when he gave me a design task I actually did it and the team liked it. I thought he would be happy that someone came up with an idea that I think is really good. From what I see (him always challenging me or criticising my ideas) I am under the impression that he wanted me to fail so he could do it. Now, the junior person does not deliver quality and does not communicate at all what he's doing, normally I find out when I get the code for the review. He takes stories he can't deliver, says they are done, puts them to done, even if I question during the stand up I am not listened too.

The manager is also the product owner and the scrum master and pushes for delivery. He does not really know what is actually going on and form his point of view, he has his idea and I imagine he thinks I always contradict him when I say that it's in testing not Done. I finally came up with an idea for him to draft a plan for him so we can follow and then the analyst, myself and tester finally managed to contribute to it so now he has a plan to follow and is a bit closer to what is actually happening.

I normally deal with any issues as people come to me and also the junior has sloppy shoulders and when there are issues he normally tries to dump on me. I push back but am tired of it really. And in the end he doesn't do it and people come to me. The junior plays his game well and he probably can see that the manager wants an instant deliver as it happened a few times during last week that I found out that the job that is 'Done' is not actually live yet and not even set up on all testing environments, that set up that is 'Done' is not really set up etc. I raised it during stand ups and my manager simply ignored it.

I raised issues again with my manager, after junior took a story he can't deliver without help and didn't ask anyone and my manager's response was 'but we knew he was junior'. Yes, we did and I do not mind it however the problem is that he doesn't communicate, does not follow procedures and lies to the manager he finished when he didn't. He never thanks for my help either. He makes the same mistakes all over again, even if I explained how to do things and when we do build I waste lots of time for him to resolve issues (in general he doesn't test properly). I feel really resentful, it is a small team and my manager thinks I am a problem but can't see the fact that I am actually trying very hard for all this not to fall apart. Whatever junior does, I normally get to know in the code review, it goes back to development but the manager then pushes for delivery.

Well I think I need to let it fail rather that trying to solve all the problems, it's not really my responsibility however I find it really hard as I've worked hard on credibility and good working relationships with other teams and I start hearing complaints. And it's also 'team responsibility' and I am senior so I am normally tasked to deal with it.

It is a bit messy email and lot's of moaning but I really got upset today. I think it's really unfair and I do not feel appreciated at all.

I would like to add that the technical leader left as he didn't like being taught what and how to do and now I can see his point.

Anyway, any input how to deal with it?

Thanks Al

  • Find a new job might be the easiest solution in this case because if there are that many issues and your predecessor left because of it, what makes your situation different or better?
    – G.T.D.
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 17:13
  • For non-software developers: The combination of "manager is product manager and scrum master" automatically means he doesn't know what he is doing.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 17:57
  • And when some task is reviewed, the reviewer would comment whether the work needs changes, and of course whether the work is complete. If it 's not up to scratch and especially if it's not complete, it goes back from "in review" to "in progress". In some cases that's intentional because you want your work partially reviewed, before you spend more time possible on the wrong path, but in this case it seems to be just incomplete work.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 18:02
  • Well, if I comment on the review, only the junior would read it as the manager doesn't even look at the content of the story. He just wants to hear it's 'Done'. So the junior plays his game. I am absolutely not listened to in stand ups that there is some stuff not finished as he wants to move it to Done. So I'm a trouble maker ;)
    – Anna
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 22:14
  • Well, yeah you are right, product owner and scrum master have a bit contradictory goals, so I think he knows what he's doing, he just wants to control the team, he is not interested in Agile. Also, the retrospectives are run by him so sort of a dead end. Anyway, thanks for your responses, it is helpful to see that I am not crazy.
    – Anna
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 22:16

2 Answers 2


Let's analyze the situation:

  1. Previous Team Lead left
  2. Team Manager has conflicting goals and objectives
  3. Team Manager is creating distress and a toxic work environment
  4. Junior Member of the team is not performing well
  5. Junior Member of the team is lying, not communicating, and shuffling work around
  6. Other team members are not interacting much on the broad scope level (analyst seems to just go with the flow of you as you do know the language and development. The tester is just doing what he/she thinks is the best and not causing trouble).

Given these circumstances, you have a dysfunctional team and work environment. There are 2 ways to fix this issue:

  1. Acquire New Employment Sometimes, especially in business, it is better to just cut your losses and move on. This is the easiest and least painful solution to both you, your career, and your family/life. You are never obligated to stay with a company forever and deal with an extremely disruptive and toxic work environment and team.
  2. Rebuild The Team If something is not working, then fix it. You are going to play office politics now, but be warned this a dangerous game and it is wise to have a backup plan or job offer. Your main gripe seems to be with the Junior member being inexperienced and playing office politics with the Team Manager. I would suggest that you get rid of the Junior first as you are the senior level developer and team lead. Document your evidence of the issues and show how you and the team have counseled him and given him training and experience on the projects/language. Discuss it with HR in private and then discuss it with your team manager in private, and then bring both together and make the motion to dismiss the employee and hire another candidate. This will fix a large part of the issue.

    If the manager is not improving after a new candidate is found then you should strongly consider moving on, changing teams/departments, or raising complaints to your boss's boss or senior level management. Note to upper management the serious issues facing the team and company and suggest that the manager is causing the issues. Suggest that it might be better to move on from him or have another manager run the team (BE WARNED: This CAN cost you your job. Managers usually stick with managers.)

Either way, I wish you the best of luck in your predicament and best wishes in your career.

  • Thank you for your input, really spot on. I decided to have a chat with the junior and see what happens. He gets very defensive so it may be that he also feels intimidated by the manager. I agree the manager creates a toxic environment and his approach that all team members are equal in Agile is not implemented well as you can't treat equally a junior and a senior team member and also have the same expectations. And yes, the tester and the analyst are just going with the flow. Don't think want to go to HR however started looking for a new job. Probably the best advice.
    – Anna
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 22:11
  • Thank you! Yes, it is hard to say but the writing is on the wall. If the junior member feels intimidated with the manager then he/she might feel the same with you as you are a senior member and in a lead role (managerial level or not). Just keep that in mind when talking with him/her. At any rate, I wish you the best and a speedy exit to a new and better opportunity.
    – G.T.D.
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 1:46
  • Be gentle with Junior ... s/he's Junior! Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 15:32

There are multiple things going on here:

  • the manager likely feels powerful and wants you to do what he wants, rather than what works
  • the manger is possibly overwhelmed and overworked, and stressed out, and possibly taking it out on you.
  • sometimes we need to do what management says, not what they want.
  • sometimes we need to do what management wants, not what they say.
  • it seems like there are multiple tasks/projects, and some/most/all are lacking a concise definition of "done"? How do you know it is ready to move from testing to done?

Is the team paid by how many things are done? How many are done right? Or just getting stuff 'out the door'?

This may clue you in to the goals of the department.

I suggest having a 1 on 1 meeting with the manager and ask what you can do to be the best employee he/she has.

Success in the workplace is not about being right, nor being the best, normally success is based on the manager liking you. Getting them to like/mentor you is another question, but maybe take them out to lunch - your treat...

  • Thanks for this - a couple of good points. And a summary about the manager liking you is actually spot on. I do not think we like each other ,in this case it is reciprocated both ways, but he does like the junior. And regarding the definition of tasks 'Done' - there's none. Everyone has their own, no standards. I am under the impression that he's new and wants to show his team delivers hence the push for delivery. And thanks for an idea of 1:1 - I actually came to conclusion that I don't know what he expects from me. Especially that the structure is not clear.
    – Anna
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 23:46
  • Ok, so you gave 2 points which contradict each other "do what management says, not what they want." & "do what management wants, not what they say." - So putting the wise cryptic style aside, how does that help an already confused OP solve his issue? There are some nice points in this answer (ie manager is stressed, megalomaniac, multiple projects with ambiguous states of progress) but there are horrendous pieces of advice in here as well (take the boss out to lunch, be a suck up so he/she [the boss] likes you [The OP] in order for you to be a success. Playing office politics is never good.
    – G.T.D.
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 17:20
  • Playing office politics sucks. I hate it. I also realize that is what makes the world go round. (That and money.)
    – MikeP
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 20:54
  • And I don't think I will take him for lunch and will play politics. We simply don't get on and in my opinion he doesn't like any leaders except him in the team. His feedback about me was that I stand up and have my opinions and that in his opinion I should just back off and agree. This was the reason he gave me why I can't be a teach leader. And I won't as I don't want to put my name on bad design. REALLY bad design. He offered mentoring me but I think our values differ so I am not really interested. Thank you guys for your view, all is helpful even the cynical point of view about OP.
    – Anna
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 22:25

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