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I'm going to try to keep this topic as generic as I can so the question isn't closed as too specific or whatever. Anyway, let's get to it.

I currently work on a somewhat small project with 15-20 developers. We recently hired a few new people because we had the hours and it synched up well with the schedule. It was refreshing to see hiring done this way and not just throwing hours & employees at a problem. Alas, I could argue the hiring process still isn't perfect but that's another story for another day.

Anyway, one of these developers is really under performing. The developer is green and has a lot of bad habits. Comes in later than I do and leaving earlier than I am. This in and of itself isn't an issue, but the lack of quality work makes it become a bit frustrating. When giving out tasking the question is no longer, what can realistically be given but now becomes - How much of the work will we have to redo?

So as the project goes on, I'm afraid this might cause issues with the schedule. The schedule could have been defined as a bit aggressive; however, given that this person is under performing it now in my mind goes from aggressive to potentially chaotic. Yes, one person shouldn't make or break a schedule and that in and of itself is an issue too but please let's ignore that for right now.

What's the best way to deal with this? I'm not the boss, I'm not the project lead but I've been around for a while now and am not sure how to proceed. Complaining to management comes across as childish and doing nothing seems wrong.

I'll ask the community for insight/advice/suggestions.

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closed as off topic by Jim G., Yannis Jun 20 '12 at 6:00

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You might end up as his mentor. –  user1249 Jul 6 '11 at 20:25

5 Answers 5

up vote 26 down vote accepted

Not the boss + Not the team lead = Not your problem

Express your concerns to management if you must, then concentrate on your own work.

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Understood that it's not my problem to an extent, until the deadline approaches and I'm suddenly working extra hours to pick up the slack of an underperforming developer. Either way, I appreciate your feedback –  PSU_Kardi Jul 6 '11 at 20:02
@PSU_Kardi: If you're "suddenly working extra hours" you're taking on too much responsibility. If the other person isn't performing, you need to make this a management problem or no one will change anything. –  S.Lott Jul 6 '11 at 20:07
@S.Lott , I understand that as well. Perhaps it's time I have a bit of a discussion with management. Due to the flexible hours we work here, I'm thinking this has been going unnoticed. –  PSU_Kardi Jul 6 '11 at 20:16
@PSU, who told you to work extra hours? –  user1249 Jul 6 '11 at 20:26
@PSU_Kardi: "I'm thinking this has been going unnoticed". Good observation. –  S.Lott Jul 6 '11 at 20:29

If you're "not the boss, not the project lead," then you can only do one thing: document. I don't mean keeping track of his schedule and time habits----that's the boss's job. However, if you keep track of just how much work you have to "do over" as a result of this programmer, this may help your bosses figure out just how valuable he is, and deal with the situation best they can.

Be sure that the bosses are aware of his "value" well before the deadline, of course.

If your bosses expect that the other team members pick up his slack because they can't supervise him properly, then perhaps it's time for you to get your resume out there.

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Despite the very good answers (you can hardly sum it up in a more concise and efficient way than Steven A. Lowe's answer did) and the question's age (I doubt this is still your issue today), I'd still want to add one thing:


Maybe not as one-to-one throwing in your experience and weight or by ambushing him with the rest of team, no, but it sounds like maybe trying to just hint that there are certain ways of doing a few things could be useful.

I entirely agree this is the management's job, so that's why I'd advice to keep it superficial. Maybe there's just a lack of team spirit that needs to be insuflated into the new guy for him to want to perform one step up. In fact, I think just taking the guy out for a drink, alcoholic or not, could probably be the small thing that does a difference - and you may not even need to talk about the issue at hand, just the more relaxed setting and ambiance might be what triggers a more involved collaboration.

Keep it low key and friendly, and see how it goes.

If that pans out and doesn't show results, obviously then we're back to management needing to step in.

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Agreed. Before "raising it up the flag pole" do the guy a favor and talk to him about it. Unless he is a total ass he should respond. Keep in mind, if he is junior, take him under your wing. Teach him what you know. Many times its simply a lack of experience that can be address with the guidance of a good mentor. –  raiglstorfer Jun 19 '12 at 23:44

Speak to whoever is leading the project. Someone must be managing that many developers working on the same project. Inform them of your concerns and let them deal with the under-performing new developer. This should not be your concern.

Also, if informing management "comes across as childish", it should not be. Business is business, and if something isn't being done, they should be made aware so that it can be dealt with.

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You're not ratting out an employee, that's childish and it's not "us versus them" with management, you're letting your manager know in factual terms that you have a problem that's causing you extra work and that you see that it might endanger deadlines in the future. Business is business as @Bernard says, keep to the facts and your boss will probably appreciate the heads-up. –  Patrick Hughes Jul 6 '11 at 20:23

"How much of the work will we have to redo?" this is the actual problem - you should not be redoing his work - you should join with him, review together their code, and point out the issues that are with his code - in your question i don't see any sign that you have attempted this

Also, its not just about code, but you need to review some process guidelines - ask him to read about the project standards. Try putting him to write some unit tests that you are surely missing, and then review those unit tests with him.

If even after a couple of code review meetings you don't see any progress on the quality of the code, then you might consider other alternatives, but in my experience, in more than half of the cases, this can be enough to get results

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