Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

This was my experience at a previous company. As it was a small startup company, some of the normal software development procedures were not followed strictly. One of my colleagues was a senior programmer with the company for 2 years. His skills were quite lacking. He would allocate his tasks to me and then take credit for the work himself. He did this regularly, while I would also have to finish my own tasks.

I felt that I couldn't express this situation to senior management as that colleague had their trust.

Later, I tried to delay his tasks assigned to me so that reflect poorly on him (as he couldn't finish tasks) Also, client complaints piled up unresolved issues. Now the company knows about him.

Actually, now I'm heading to a new company as a Lead. Now I'm completely free with these situation.

Have any of you experienced situations like this? What would/did you do?

share|improve this question

closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, Bart van Ingen Schenau, GlenH7, Robert Harvey, Doc Brown Dec 27 '13 at 17:09

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I do not understand your rationale for why you cannot tell senior management about this. – user1249 Apr 2 '11 at 11:58
That colleague has seems to have some friendships with one of management members - saying no one will accept if any complaint is accused of him(indirectly when one of colleague tried to complaint about him) – Naveen Kumar Apr 2 '11 at 12:00
Can't you commit the changes to source control yourself? – TZHX Apr 2 '11 at 12:06
This sounds the like the story from the original Tron movie.. – Desolate Planet Apr 2 '11 at 12:25
Managers are often credit vampires, that's how they became managers. It's a fact of life, just like unicorns and werewolves. – Tim Post Apr 2 '11 at 17:02
up vote 8 down vote accepted

You already did what I think many would have advised, which is to leave the company and find new management.

Had you stayed, source control would be one way to build evidence. The other would have been to not finish his tasks, which it sounds like did happen. At some point management (well, competent management anyway) would naturally want to take a peek at what was going on. You'd have an audience then, and if you'd documented what you did on your tasks and could produce the emails or other information showing the additional tasks the lead gave you, it would have been pretty obvious your workload was not just your own.

Finally, my understanding is that what you've described happens in many places. Professors take credit for grad student work, coaches get credit for an athlete's work, and company heads reward themselves handsomely for work done by legions of others. Students take credit for the work of purchased research or cheat sheets. Your situation seemed more personal and understandably frustrating, but it sounds like you already did the best thing you could and moved on.

share|improve this answer
Thank s - i feel whatever nothing gonna change - so i left the company & Now everything moving Fine! – Naveen Kumar Apr 2 '11 at 13:08
+1 One note though: lead != senior. Part of a lead's job is to delegate some tasks to the team. That said, stealing credit for the actual work is not. – George Marian Apr 2 '11 at 21:14

I would say there's nothing you can do, once it has happened, unless you have evidence. And it sounds like you've come out of the situation ok.

I would suggest that this kind of thing is pretty uncommon but certainly not unheard of in the industry, so I would take a lesson from this and protect yourself in future.

The best line of defence is source control. If you're in a company who doesn't use source control then just install Subversion and commit the code to it, then suggest everyone should use it. There is never a good argument not to.

share|improve this answer
you are correct, now there are using SVN! – Naveen Kumar Apr 2 '11 at 12:31
Tell them to use git, then :-) – Joey Adams Apr 2 '11 at 20:54

I would say no to the next task and if he wants to discuss it with his friend the supervisor then the supervisor can tell me to do the senior developer's work. So in a way, you will get credit for it.

I do want to point out that I think this is different with managers. I worked with a team that would complain if a manager took credit for something they did. I just didn't get the rationale that the manager should list everyone who works on every little ad hoc project. The manager handled the team well. Looked out for our interests (Pushed upper management to get me hired in time to take advantage of 401K plan.). Set up a training schedule. Constantly told us to get out of the office if we were working too many hours. My thinking is to do what you can to get your manager promoted. Good ones will reward you. It makes the team look better in the eyes of the rest of the company. Most people get promoted because the person above them was promoted and not because they were fired for incompetence (And if that's the case you can be guilty by association and deemed unfit as well.).

share|improve this answer
You are right - as a startup company they have some kind of intensions to have senior members in office for product movement/progress in the sense - which created a situation where not to take any measures on specific person whoever like this! – Naveen Kumar Apr 2 '11 at 13:23
A good manager in a good company will give credit publicly where its due and take the blame and pass it down privately. Any credit to their staff will reflect well on them anyway. Unfortunately, too many companies discourage that kind of thinking in any number of ways. – pdr Apr 2 '11 at 13:48
@pdr - as long as everyone doesn't expect some type of itemized acknowledgement. Never giving credit is a bad thing. Companies that try too hard to find blame zap too much energy for anyone to give compliments. – JeffO Apr 2 '11 at 19:10

No, I never experienced that situation. Even early on where I didn't use source control, no one ever tried to get credit for my work.

If I had, I would talk to the person or senior management.

Can you sign your code?

If you can't take credit for your work, what do you think your options are?

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.