I work in a startup company in France. Our team is composed of less than ten developers, two scrum masters, three managers and two QAs.

In France, people get their work contract definitely validated after a trial period of four months. This often means people tend to make particular efforts during those months and to release the pressure afterwards thus unveiling their true faces.

This guy arrived to develop with us about 8 months ago. He had the perfect behavior right away. Often new colleagues have something we can base our jokes on but he wasn't this kind of guy. He has directly had the most professional attitude possible. He is smart, speaks well, does not count his hours. He rapidly made his mark and identified who to twist around his finger. He is even concerned about his little defects and asks for people to help him correct them.

But over time especially since his contract was validated, our private conversations with other colleagues slightly shifted from "that guy wil go far" to "that guy is power hungry". In fact it seems everything he does will help his own carreer. By the way he seems to be openly confortable with that.

If only one person would ask a question during the meetings with the boss, it would be him.

If other people in the team do a great job and get their little moment of glory, he will find a way to at least be part of it, even if it consists in basically rephrasing the solution. He will never admit he doesn't know something.

We also noticed he does not take jokes about him really well, actually he seems not to appreciate too much self-derision or stuff that will make him look bad in any way.

He will pick easier bugs to be "the guy who fixed 15 bugs whereas other devs fixed only 5".

He adapts his speech according to his interlocutor. For exemple during meetings he will tell our bosses what they want to hear and later in a private conversation express an opposite opinion.

In the end, he is not particularly brillant at the job. But he has a remarkable capacity to make people think so, using proper communication and constantly seeking for rewarding opportunities.

In a nutshell, most of the time he is "employee of the month" but he tends to be too comfortable with demagoguery and opportunism for people to not feel any kind of unease.

I am looking for insights on how to react to the situations when the guy subtly acts for his own success instead of what would be best for all the members of the team. Is it better to confront him, to play his own game or to simply ignore ?

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    I'm not sure I understand, how is this a problem affecting you? Has the person caused any issue that you'd need to solve? As far as I'm aware, the question is asking how to deal with a person who wants to advance their career via brown nosing? Just let them be if it doesn't affect you. Don't make a mountain out of a molehill – Draken Oct 17 '16 at 8:14
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    I disagree. I have no problem with my own performance. Maybe I was not clear enough: this guy has no issue lying to our bosses and tends to minimize teammates' good work. This is clearly toxic behavior. – Sbu Oct 17 '16 at 8:29
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    We also noticed he does not take jokes about him really well - So don't make fun of him? – BSMP Oct 17 '16 at 10:40
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    @Sbew That's the risk you run when your question runs too long and is overly subjective. You could have (or still can) cut this down to the bare essentials without examples or other qualifying statements. Boil it down to a simple "How can I work [around / with] an overly ambitious colleague who wants to rise through the ranks at all costs?" or some variation on that. Long-winded questions are invariably criticised for their length and, usually, for their content, as you've seen here. – Lilienthal Oct 17 '16 at 17:54
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    Picking easy bugs. Good, he'll run out of them soon enough. Oh, you means you guys keep creating easy bugs? Well, stop making easy bugs? If it's so easy, catch them yourself? – Nelson Oct 18 '16 at 6:01

I've met him, he'll go far or he'll burn out. He is focused and not particularly scrupulous. All you need to worry about is how it affects you and your work. Don't try and sabotage him, it might backfire and he might be your boss soon.

Recognise him for what he is, use him when it can be useful, ignore it when it doesn't affect you, cover your back when it does.

The real circus begins when there's two or more of them.

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    Love your last sentence. That, and the guy is a model on how to work office politics. I'd say he's in fact a model to follow, but as you said, trouble begins when there's two of them, so..... – gazzz0x2z Oct 17 '16 at 13:39
  • +1. These guys will be your bosses, or they'll blow up, and you don't even need to do anything. – Nelson Oct 18 '16 at 6:01
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    Probably the most important thing to do with someone like this is make sure to take public credit for your work before he does. – HLGEM Oct 18 '16 at 22:15

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