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For the past 1 year and a half I have been having daily stand-ups with my development teams. For the most part I have had no problems, and find that these are an excellent way with identifying impediments.

Over the past 3 months, upon the arrival of a new developer, the stand-ups are a lot more painful for the following reasons:

  • Old developer has become more opinionated the longer he has been here. He wants to have a say in everything despite at times being wrong but believes he is right.

  • Turns out that the new developer is exactly the same as the old developer. Old developer started to become a lot more opinionated after the new guy joined. Maybe that has encouraged him?

So as it stands here is the team dynamics, in an average daily stand up:

  • If I suggest new ideas on how to improve the way work is delivered, I am intensely challenged.

Examples:

This morning I had a long discussion with the new developer about why his working hours cannot be changed from being company policy, where if he wants it to be changed, he needs to notify management first.

His argument: 'why does it matter what time I start and finish if I come in and put the hours in?'. He has also been making decisions about his schedule with his friends without consulting us.

  • I suggested that they should become more cross-functional as developers. I proposed this so that they can cover one another when they are sick.

Both challenged me intensely about this. They disagreed and thought it would not be a good use of resources to play people out of position. I also heard remarks such as 'why don't you learn to code if you want us to become cross functional' (I can code), as well as complaints of not using 'resources properly'.

In the end, it turned out that I was correct since one of developers was forced to cover the other one when he was sick and a project was on the line. Since that day they have not argued with me about this, again annoyed since I had to put up with a lot of shit.

So here is the issue:

  • I want my team to start treating me with more respect. I feel as though with the constant questioning they do not respect my judgement. I have mentioned this to the team this morning, but in case they do not take it on board, how should I handle it?

I am the manager of these employees.

I am not at all rigid in my approach and I give them a say but it's about drawing the line. For example my developer was breaking company policy working his own hours, as someone responsible for delivery I need to have a say in this for strategically managing my resources.

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    How many other people in the team? And why are you handling employee issues during a public meeting? – PeteCon May 5 '17 at 18:34
  • If the issue is relevant to both of them, I do so that nobody feels singled out. For more personal matters, 1-1 meeting. The dev team has 2 people. – bobo2000 May 5 '17 at 19:20
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    Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Erik May 8 '17 at 5:45
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For one, these don't sound like the kinds of discussions that should be part of a daily standup. Neither of these guys should be finding out what you want done and how you want them to do their work in a standup. The standup is a place where you'd announce that to the rest of the team. You should start 1 on 1 with these guys.

Honestly, it sounds like you're being a boss and not a leader. So what if they challenge your suggestions, do you want them to follow you blindly or do you want solutions to problems? I suggest that instead of telling them what to do and how to do it, you present them with problems and ask for solutions. If you have a suggestion, go for it, but don't dictate that they simply do as you say. You'll get better work and gain respect.

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    I am not at all rigid in my approach and I give them a say but it's about drawing the line. For example my developer was breaking company policy working his own hours, as someone responsible for delivery I need to have a say in this for strategically managing my resources. – bobo2000 May 5 '17 at 17:55
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    Regardless of your rosy view of PIP's, as soon as anyone hears PIP, unless they just fell of the haywagon, they know it's management preparing to CYA when the employee gets fired. And once the stain of a PIP is on their record, it's there, hanging over their head forever. I've see a years old PIP used to terminate a good employee simply because his new manager didn't like him. Or PIP's filled with impossible tasks and ridiculous deadlines that couldn't achieved with a whole team of engineers. – DLS3141 May 5 '17 at 18:14
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    @DLS3141 PIPs are not rosy, but the don't necessarily mean the end of times. I have put several employees on PIPs myself over the course of my career, and both happen to bounce back stronger than ever. That doesn't mean that all will. One was even promoted after I left. Experiences differ, don't assume your experience is the only or right one. – Mister Positive May 5 '17 at 18:20
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    @MisterPositive Maybe yours are the six-sigma events of PIP's, but my advice to ANYONE place on a PIP is to leave before the inevitable firing. – DLS3141 May 5 '17 at 18:24
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    @bobo2000 explain what the problem is if they don't obey the official work hours. Also use stand ups only for A's & O's and defer any discussions later. If there can't be constructive discussions in meetings with the two devs, use 1-on-1's instead – JarkkoL May 6 '17 at 19:29
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Uh-oh. Joe Strazzere pointed out a potential crack in the whole foundation of your position there. I'm going to follow his reasoning and proof.

You're a project manager but not the actual line supervisor of these people you're writing about.

Responsibility over people without authority has very specific challenges.

It's documented here, and here, and here.

You're trying to deal with the symptoms, but overlooking the underlying cause. You're not the first to be in this kind of fire-fight, but you have to work from the bigger-picture approach upstream of all the little issues. Take a breather and focus there because that's going to give you the most mileage.

  • I am middle management, so in effect their line manager. I don't have the power to fire them, but it won't be hard for me to get them fired, I will just have to escalate the issue to senior management the CEO. My team are generally fine, they just get argumentative when they disagree with something. – bobo2000 May 6 '17 at 21:38

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