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I work as a software developer in a small team. We produce both software and integrated hardware configurations. In addition, we provide extended support for our software (this is a significant part of our business model).

The undesirable tasking I took on for the past several months relates to traveling to work with clients, handling customer support, integrating hardware systems, and dealing with a few specific cursed projects. We had a bit of churn in our team, so I did my best to step up and help out with stuff nobody (myself included) wanted to do.

Several months later, I'm not being assigned development tasks anymore. I'm concerned that I am no longer considered a developer by my peers - I've been the butt of several jokes along those lines. Code changes I've committed or recommended seem to be met with unduly harsh criticism. My coworkers have made memes with my face.

I don't believe my coworkers are bad people, but I feel as if my willingness to help has been taken advantage of. I'd like to get back to a more even distribution of responsibilities. I've brought the topic up with my boss, but I'm trying to be very cautious and not implicate anyone. How can I return to a normal development workload?

  • What happens if you just stop doing those things? – DarkCygnus Aug 28 '17 at 23:01
  • If I stopped doing the things I am currently tasked with, they simply wouldn't get done. While I'd like to do that from a personal standpoint, I don't feel like that's an acceptable professional behavior. Result is the same if I try and assign tasks to coworkers - simply not done. – two bugs Aug 28 '17 at 23:03
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    How did you approach your boss on this? – DarkCygnus Aug 28 '17 at 23:10
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    btw, who "assigns you" tasks? Have you asked that person why he/she has not given you development tasks? – DarkCygnus Aug 29 '17 at 0:09
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    "My coworkers have made memes with my face." - are you saying they posted a photo of your face somewhere in order to mock you? – Brandin Aug 29 '17 at 11:08
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Everyone should be treated with respect.

All members of a team contribute and pool their efforts towards a common goal. Although I say that no task is beneath someone when it needs to get done, there is a way to re-frame your situation.

Your time is valuable as a developer. Your time as (what is effectively) as an on-site adviser and support is valuable.

Which is more? That will depend on the company and how it pays each role. Now, if the company has told you through its leadership, (i.e. your boss), to be an on-site adviser and support. Do the best damned job you can and shine.

But something that I find disturbing is that instead of being thanked for your efforts, your coworkers are demeaning and belittling your efforts. If you haven't brought this to your boss or HR, you should. No one deserves to be bullied at work.

We had a bit of churn in our team, so I did my best to step up and help out with stuff nobody (myself included) wanted to do.

I'm concerned that I am no longer considered a developer by my peers - I've been the butt of several jokes along those lines

My coworkers have made memes with my face.

If this is the culture of your place of employment, and a possible indicator of the high turnover rate, it is time for you to follow in those who left's footsteps and signal to upper management that the team is a toxic workplace. You deserve to work at a company that treats you with dignity and respect and values your work.

  • I have edited your answer to fix a minor punctuation issue and a mid-sentence blockquote (which was probably accidental). If I have made a mistake, please rollback. Apologies for inconvenience. – Masked Man Aug 29 '17 at 3:03
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    @MaskedMan You are good to go. Although the original intent was as-is, your edit certainly made it easier to read and flow better. Thanks! – Frank FYC Aug 29 '17 at 3:07
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Most definitely have your coworkers taken advantage of your willingness. Be careful with this in the future, as they might make it a habit to abuse of your good intentions with other non-development tasks.

You say you would prefer not to involve your boss if possible, but you also state that your coworkers are unwilling to commit to this tasks (one 0% chance and other 50% chance) so this makes it really difficult to try convince them.

I recommend that you speak with your coworkers in a more serious way: gather with both of them, and tell them your concerns. Try explaining the importance of these tasks in the projects, and that they should be handled by all members of the team, so everyone has a chance to focus on the tasks that they are actually supposed to do. Be sure to think of alternatives to propose, like taking turns or dividing those tasks equally.

If none of this works then it seems there will be no other option but to bring your boss into the problem, so she can sort it out (most probably she will end up dividing tasks equally among you three, but this is only speculation). Even though you may not like this, sometimes telling your boss is the only way to go, so don't feel bad about involving her; you are being polite enough by doing these tasks and also tried your best to persuade your coworkers. You also did good on not recurring to your boss as first resort, as it is better to solve things personally with the ones involved.

Another option to consider is that these non-development tasks may be better handled by someone specifically hired to do so (someone in charge of customer support, integration, etc.), as putting developers to do tasks outside their focus may not be wise, as they will most probably end up overworked. This is something you could mention to your boss, so she can decide if it is worth hiring someone to take on those tasks and enable you and your team to carry on with your dev tasks optimally.

Now, regarding the memes I would not worry or bother much about them as long as they don't escalate or affect your work. It is not rare for coworkers to do these kind of jokes, but you should be aware and know where to draw the line between ok and unacceptable, so your company culture is not damaged by your coworkers getting used to this toxic behavior (similar to the Broken window theory as pointed out by @JuanCarlosOropeza). Again, communication is key here, so if that happens make sure you speak clearly to your coworkers before recurring to other solutions like involving your boss.

Good luck, and I hope these advices help you in your situation.

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    I disagree with the memes, that kind of bulling create a hostile environment and open opportunities to big law suits – Juan Carlos Oropeza Aug 29 '17 at 16:04
  • You may be right, if the situation escalates into more memes or jokes it could turn into something unacceptable, as I suggested in the answer. Then the OP should worry about it. I would not be wise to make a big problem of it before it escalates, so not to be quick to judge the intentions of the coworkers. – DarkCygnus Aug 29 '17 at 16:11
  • However, considering the fact that the coworkers seem to be abusing of the willingness of OP along with memes directly intended to the OP, it seems that their intentions most probably are no good...anyways, the OP should speak with them before taking more drastic actions, so there is some hope the coworkers understand and change their behavior. – DarkCygnus Aug 29 '17 at 16:14
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    I think is the same principle of the broken window theory. If you let those kind of thing happen, then become part of the company culture and are consider "acceptable" behavior – Juan Carlos Oropeza Aug 29 '17 at 16:14
  • Yes, the OP should know when to draw the line so the coworkers do not get used to this idea and damaging the company culture. I will edit the answer to better reflect what you are pointing out, thank you for your feedback :) – DarkCygnus Aug 29 '17 at 16:16
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Your boss is not doing her job. She needs to step in and resolve this. She needs to make sure that non development tasks are assigned and performed by the person assigned to. She needs to remove task assignment from a peer and do it herself. She needs to write up a performance problem for the person who totally refuses to do assigned tasks that are not development and if he doesn't change, then fire him. That is simply unacceptable performance.

She also needs to talk to the team about unacceptable workplace bullying and handle any complaints in that area through HR including firing the individuals who persist in such behavior even after being warned.

Tell her more strongly that you need her help to resolve this. No hinting. Speak up about the issue and how the process is part of the problem (in no workplace should peers assign tasks, that is appalling!)

If she chooses to not do her job, then your best recourse is to find another one where you are treated with respect and where your development skills are used.

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