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I have been working with my colleague for the past two years. Here is my problem: I do not talk much.

When it comes to discussions, I make my point but most of the time it doesn't seem to be working for me. Not because my point is wrong. But because, to others, the point seems to be coming from my colleague. My colleague is very clever in taking up the point and he starts to talk about it as if it is his own invention :).

I have been tolerating this. I have many instances where I have understood that he is technically less competent compared to me. We are working as a technical group.

His technical ability is hidden because of his managerial ability. But it is hindering my progress and calmness.

The reason I am posting it now is that he is about to accept a new role of assistant manager and I will continue to be monitored by him.

Question:

  1. I want to start to do the talking part too. how to not make this look like competition?
  2. How to start talking slowly within the team?
  • It's hard to see what your question is. You haven't even asked one. We can comment on your situation, but to get answers you need to ask a question. – nvoigt Dec 23 '16 at 9:22
  • @nvoigt - I extracted the question from the title. – Vietnhi Phuvan Dec 23 '16 at 9:32
  • @VietnhiPhuvan I like your answer. But I still don't know what the OP actually wants. It seems they got along ok. So what is he after? The promotion? Something else? "Handling" is very broad. Nobody died from the previous handling, so you could see it as "sufficiently handled". That's probably not how the OP sees it, so personally, I would need a clearly stated goal to write an answer. – nvoigt Dec 23 '16 at 9:41
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    VTC as a rant, not a question. As for "it is hindering my progress and calmness.": no it's not. Your own inability to contribute to a discussion is what's holding you back. – Lilienthal Dec 23 '16 at 12:05
  • @Lilienthal I truly anticipate and appreciate answer from you – Raj Dec 23 '16 at 13:04
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It seems that your colleague's ability to think on their feet and communicate is superior to your own - and these traits are worthy of a manager, don't you think?

Your technical ability is superior to his - so you claim, but he is probably no slouch in that department because he sure is good enough to make your idea his and I take it, he does that to the rest of the team, too. Good managers realize and understand that not all good ideas come from them alone and they are pretty good at picking other people's brains. In this case, he seems to have done a pretty good job with yours. He doesn't have to be technically superior to you, all he has to be is good enough (*). Which is what a management position would require.

What have you done to show that you are management material? (**) He is verbal, and you are not. If I have to pick one to represent the team to the rest of the world, tell me why should I pick you and not him? Are you verbal enough to represent the team, or will you be rolled over if you run at meetings into someone like your colleague?

Management is not rocket science, it's a discipline. He is no genius but so far, he seems to have shown more management potential than you have. Which is why he is being promoted. What have you shown? Because the world can only see what you show. Repeat after me: invisible talent is unrecognized talent. And NOBODY gets promoted on the basis of unrecognized talent.

You need to be more like him than you realize or perhaps than you'd like. Nobody can hear your voice let alone know what you think if you don't speak. Leaders who don't speak are not leading. Ditto with managers.

(*) Your technical ability means little to management if it turns out that your colleague is a far more effective communicator of your own ideas than you are and if your colleague had a history of taking other people's ideas and working with others to improve on them and make them work. It pretty much seals the deal if your colleague shows a grasp of the bigger picture e.g. the impact on the team, the management unit, the company and you never tried to understand your activities in the context of the bigger picture. Frankly, in outfits where the only path upwards is through promotion into management, the only thing that having great technical ability can do for you is that you get to keep your day job.

(**) At one time in the mid1990s, I worked as a consultant for AT&T. What gave AT&T its distinctive culture is that it combined some of the best technical talent on the face of the Earth with some of the worst management on the face of the Earth. That's because AT&T was in the habit of promoting its strongest technical people to management. Without prep, without training and without support, many of these promoted floundered on the job and their incompetence made life miserable for everyone including themselves. And AT&T was making a fool's bargain because it was exchanging a great tech person for a lousy manager. So your assertion that you are more technically competent than your colleague makes no impression on me. I am technical as hell but you'd better believe that being technical is not my only attribute. I have worked in a slew of corporate and startup environments over the decades, and I have never been in a professional situation where all I needed was superior technical ability.

  • +1. Do you even want to be a manager? Consider he may be doing you a service by taking your good idea and selling the rest of the group on it. Maybe he should be giving you more credit when he does, but isn't he helping you get to the end goal which is the team uptaking your good technical ideas? – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Dec 23 '16 at 4:45
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    +1 I agree. Totally. It's the feeling I am concerned, I hope you understand. Practically, you are perfect. How to work on that is my expectation – Raj Dec 23 '16 at 5:20
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    @Umar - It all boils down to "Show me, show me what you've got !" If you don't show anything, people will rightly or wrongly conclude that you have nothing to show and that you have nothing since you are not showing anything. It pays to advertise. Conversely, it does not pay to fail to advertise. – Vietnhi Phuvan Dec 23 '16 at 6:23
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Your actual technical skill is irrelevant to being made a manager. That job requires a completely different set of skills. Foremost among those is the ability to handle politics and communication ability comes in a close second. Your coworker appears to have those skills when you do not and that is why he was given the promotion.

What you do now is learn from him. If you want to move up to management, then you need to learn how to do managerial type skills yourself. You need to learn to speak up in meetings and to prevent people from openly stealing your ideas. You need to learn to promote yourself within the organization so that people making choices about promotions see you.

If you don't want to be a manager, then you need to accept that he will be your manager and if his technical skills are less than yours, that is fine because he is not going to be the technical person, you are.

Either way, starting off angry and upset at someone being made your manager is counterproductive and downright dangerous for your career. The onus is on you to learn to get along with your boss. So do so. In the course of a whole career, there will be many times when someone you aren't wild about becomes your boss or gets the promotion you wanted. That is part of life and it is time to accept that and learn to work with people you don't like or don't respect.

From your description this guy sounds like he will do well as a manager, that is in your favor if you work for him. He will want to help promote your good work because that makes him look good. So instead of being angry, turn him into an ally. That will help your career more than unproductive moaning about how someone I didn't like got promoted.

I will also point out that the best boss I ever had was someone that I was upset about when he got promoted. You have to change your perspective. Things may well work out better than you expect, but they won't as long as you have an attitude problem.

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