How do you deal with a manager like this?

My manager is close with 2 colleagues who constantly suck up to them and who they're pretty much friends with.

I don't particularly like to do stuff like that and don't really like the manager either (in my opinion they're incompetent) but now, often when I write code, the manager will have those colleagues "check" it. Not peer review, as I never get feedback. Just occasionally I'll find out they "checked" my code to see if I work/do my job right.

This is despite me being more senior than the both of them, having contributed far more actual code to the project than both combined and one of them can not even write proper code!!!

I'm honestly tired of sitting here and working on boring long tasks, and then being treated (behind my back) as if I am not working.

It's building up this paranoia in my head that this problem is also making other colleages/my boss think that I am slacking.

I used to be so close with everyone at the company, but now I feel completely alone and alienated...

  • 4
    Either find a way to make yourself more welcome (or make their shenanigans cease), or leave.
  • 2

    Yup, that's it.
  • 1
    .. or start adding discrete comments here and there in the code for them to find...
  • 4
    Push for proper working practices. Sounds like you're not using a proper code review process, and you really should be - *everyone* should have the chance to review *everyone's* code before it's merged, and raise questions and comments there.
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    @AlmondSauce That doesn’t fly around my workplace, “no time”.

    Must add new features that clients are paying for, anything else is a waste of time.
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    @dontknowshit yep. We tried to implement this but then get new requirements mid sprint
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    @Root I've had so many problems with those 2 employees mentioned (even involving HR) I have enough rants to last me a lifetime on here...

    I feel like since they're so "social" (not that I'm not), they are ruining my relationships within the company. And I can not seem to be able to do anything about it except go talk to colleagues about what's been really going on with them, which is basically inciting drama and I really hate workplace drama.

    Oh by the way? Those 2 are in a relationship. Boyfriend recommended his girlfriend get hired and they did
  • 3
    @dontknowshit That's utter BS. Time spent reviewing code is nothing compared to the additional time, cost, hassle and reputation hit spent fixing bugs.

    If no-one accepts that reviewing code is a good thing at your workplace, you'll always have issues - unless you can cause effective change, I'd be moving on.
  • 3
    Turn their strategy upside down anf start asking both of them for code review, or formally assigning them form it (not sure if you're using jira or redmine or whatever)

    "Hey, could you check this code for me? It's always better when more people review code right?"

    Just act like a senior trying to teach them something while you're at it... Literally take control over the BS secret review process and make it into their official workload. They might even learn something for real...
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    @AlmondSauce ye I planned to move on but covid hit so the timing couldn’t have been worse, once things settle down I will move.
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    @Hazarth I love this.

    However sometimes when I actually need someone to review my implementation of something, I message one of them and they completely ignore it. Or say "OK" and then never get back to me and ignore further questions. If confronted during a meeting it's always "I'm busy with x project" - a project where I have no hand in and can't see what they're up to...

    I considered asking my boss to let me work on that project too, just so I can do their work better. But that would cause too much drama...
  • 3

    Ah, I see... Well if you can see they checked your code you could bring it up as "hey, I saw in a notification that you reviewed the code I wrote, no comments? You can talk to me if you think something can be improved!"

    Would something like that maybe work? The point is to mess with their heads a bit but in a way that makes them like you. That sentiment will stick with them and they will feel awful if they are told to spy on you. And in turn, it might make the manager seem like an asshole to them too...

    It's a bit of a 4D chess situation you have going on there, but you just can't give in, be on top of things and take iniciative ;)
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    @Hazarth I use gitlab, I don't get notifications when someone looks at my code... I think maybe they just open the changes and look at that?

    I like the idea a lot, and code review is absolutely necessary.

    I doubt I can make them like me, unfortunately. There have been a lot of issues between me and those 2 devs in the past months. Even involving HR.
    It all started when the girlfriend joined the company and pushed some mistakes directly to matter. I messaged her and told her she should make merge requests and send them to me/her bf to review because it could have negative consequences next time (from customers). She got really defensive and said that if her code is going to be peer reviewed, then she should be peer reviewing mine as well. This I agree with but what irked me at the time was that this was her defensive reaction after making mistakes (as a junior dev almost fresh out of university), rather than suggesting it out of genuine concern.
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    @dontknowshit Depends on location of course, but covid doesn't have to be a reason. I willingly chose to move on a during covid a few months ago, and was very glad I did.
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    @Hazarth like "it's not fair I'm treated like a junior dev" despite actually being a junior, making mistakes in the master branch, and on top being new to the company and still in the process of onboarding.

    Things went south really fast after that 🥴

    Honestly I'm not sure if there is anything I can do. I've tried many times to approach them nicely and try to make friends and it seemed like it worked but the shit behind my back continues so I assume they're just putting on a fake smile (at least the gf. The bf doesn't even bother)

    I really feel like this negatively impacts my relationship with the upper management of the company (it's a start up BTW) and since it's pretty much 3 vs 1, I'm not on the winning side

    I used to love working here so much....
  • 1

    Ah yeah, I see, so she was really insecure and you just happened to be the one to ask her to take responsibility for her work and she snapped.

    That's shitty, yeah... Well I wont pretend like It's not a difficult situation. Probably the most reasonable thing to do is to just be the best dev you can and wait it out. It would be optimal if you had some workplace party or a teambuilding excercise where you could talk it out and move pass it, but due to corona that's prolly not very likely?

    I think they just need to talk to you like a person and not like a senior, and that might open some doors to further communication, but it seems the workplace situation might be a bit too tense for a direct approach outside of a friendly gathering...
  • 0
    @Hazarth we had a talk like this a few months ago. After HR took this stuff seriously they talked to us individually and told us to stop the drama or there will be repercussions.
    I approached them afterwards and started the conversation. We opened up a lot about what we felt and agreed that neither of us intended anything bad. Even apologized to each other.. I genuinely thought everything was good again but I think that was just me being naive.

    I started looking at other jobs recently and even got offers but rejected them. The gf motivated me and kept asking about my progress so I kept her up to date (thought we're cool). She knows I want to leave and that I'm unhappy. She then told me not to take new tasks if I'm leaving and I believe she took that to my manager and boss because they suddenly stopped giving me new complex tasks and instead I'm doing maintenance work and writing tests.

    Btw, I'm not actually a senior in this company so we're basically equal
  • 0
    @Hazarth I'm honestly surprised you're trying to give me advice on how to resolve this, rather than tell me "time to find a new job" like everybody else :)
  • 3

    Did your boss approach you yet with a pay raise? That tends to happen when someone wants to leave, at least in startups as people are valuable there still.

    If he knows you're looking for another place he might do that
  • 1

    Lol, yeah :D you just sounded like you could use a second opinion and It always makes me sad to see teams on edge like that. Thought Id at least try to help, but relationships are never easy, are they? -_-
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    @Hazarth I brought up that I want to leave after all the bs a while ago and he asked me if I was offered a job and what I was offered.
    I told him i was offered 70k pounds and he then said that during my performance review we agreed that I would get 65k in May 2021.

    We didn't.

    I asked for 56k back then in June and he said he will see what he can do and then gave me 50k instead and said "we have a company policy not to give more than 5%". And that depending on if I meet new milestones I might get another 5% "or more" in January. Which would put me at 52500.

    This is by the way right after 3-4 months of me working 12-16 hours a day including weekends to meet deadlines and being the only one in the backend team that cared enough to do push myself that hard.

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    @Hazarth I told him that I have a roadplan with career goals for myself and that I want to reach a certain salary in 5 yrs (roughly 12-14% increase every year) which he ignored and HR instead told me "10% raises are unheard of". I didn't bother arguing too much since its such an uncomfortable situation.

    So I tell him I want to leave, he asks about my offer and I tell him (it's 70k pounds - 77k eur +10% bonus and stock options - vs 50k eur that I currently make)
    And he tells me I have a planned surprise raise in May to 65k which I apparently knew about. This number was my roadplan to my 5yr target but it was never agreed by him or acknowledged whatsoever.

    He then said that we can do 61k in January and doesn't acknowledge me wanting to leave.
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    @Hazarth thanks man, I appreciate your perspective. Part of me believes there's a good solution in this problem, but 90% of me believes that solution is leaving the company :(
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    @signedadam With the mounting drama and the fact that management is involved in said drama, I didn’t think there was any saving it; that’s why I said what I did. Now that you’ve outlined some of your boss’s behaviors, it’s apparent that he doesn’t care either, and doesn’t actually want to keep you.

    There is no saving it — unless by some miracle those two leave, but your relationship with your boss would still be damaged, possibly irreparably.

    If you want your raises, seek them elsewhere. A 15%+ raise is pretty normal when switching companies.

    I would bring this up to HR before you leave, and cite the drama and favoritism between the three of them as why you are leaving. It might not do any good, but there’s always a chance it will. And if the dev team starts hurting after you leave, it might forment some discord between them because they are directly responsible for your leaving and therefore the increased workload and reduced productivity and quality. ... Or they might just blame you further because how dare you leave and make their lives harder? The gf (and therefore bf) will probably react this way, and your boss the former. There is going to be drama no matter what you do. At least this way it won’t affect you anymore.
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    I'm inclined to agree with root.

    The behavior described is more of a fundamental management flaw.

    While I believe that work is about relationships, ultimately it is true the the boss man has all the power to change or not to or behave how they wish, often they do not change.

    Unprofessional-ism, favoritism, being deceptive (to varying degrees), not listening, these are things that I almost never see change in folks who exhibit them and they're subtle enough that no amount of factual observation will change their mind about them.

    I was a manager once, it took me about 2 months to realize I was being a dick and that was just dumb / I changed how I worked entirely. I kinda suspect there's a like a 6 month window where a manager changes their ways, otherwise they're kinda set for life....
  • 2
    @Root thanks Root. You are absolutely right.

    I know for a fact that my 2 colleagues can not handle my workload. I am by no means an expert dev, but I'm pretty good at what I do, and my boss gives me the complex tasks because he knows I won't find an excuse on why it's not possible in 2 weeks.

    I'm actually worried about leaving and leaving them stuck with everything. Even if I don't like THOSE colleagues, the effect will cascade and affect others as well.

    Mainly I feel bad for my boss. I learned a lot thanks to him and I know that if he is acting against me, it's because he's been manipulated. I don't wish him ill at all
  • 0
    @N00bPancakes what if the manager is just one of the people being manipulated, though? What if they have favorites because they have a bad impression of someone because of gaslighting or something? How do you solve such a problem?
  • 3

    That's still the manager's failure.

    If their judgement is so weak that any buddy can twist it that won change even without their buddies around, they're always at risk for that and apparently too weak to manage it in the first place.
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    Don't sweat what happens after / if you leave. That is the companies responsibility, not yours. If they need people they should hire them, if they don't that's their choice / responsibility.

    I've see folks worry about that stuff time and again, it only hurts the individual.... company will succeed or not regardless if you are there.
  • 2
    @N00bPancakes thanks Pancakes. I'll keep that in mind :)
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