Is my boss gaslighting me?

I work at a lean development shop doing large-scale $100M+ projects. Recently, a colleague left the company so our team re-distributed workloads. Each of us will now oversee an additional development project… except one of the more junior developers got an additional project, which gives them more responsibility than others on our team including myself.

I’m not upset, but I definitely want to know why it happened or I’d like to know if there’s some perception that this person is out performing me, or I need to build more trust or something…?

So, when the decision about workload was made, our boss met with us individually to inform us of the new responsibilities of each team member. In a 1-on-1 setting, I asked why this more junior person on the team now has more responsibility. He replied that they don’t. Which simply isn’t true. Next, without me asking, he literally counted the projects in front of me on a piece of paper…and it literally showed exactly what I was saying. It couldn’t be more clear that this junior person was getting more projects. When at first he still maintained the contrary, I didn’t know how to respond, as it was so obvious right there on paper in front of us, and yet he wasn’t agreeing. Then, after both of us had looked at the same simple piece of paper which made it black and white, he basically said “oh actually yeah I see how it may look that way since they’re getting xyz project, but they’ll basically just be reviewing invoices”. Which isn’t true, as that’s simply not how our office works. Further, this colleague now goes around the office discussing the project in the same way any of us would if it were our project…again, because it’s indeed his project now. Each project in our office has a clear point person, which in this case is clearly this other person on my team.
Just feels like I’m being lied to. I appreciate directness, and I would 100% rather just be told “yes, he is getting the additional responsibility for xyz reason”.

Any thoughts on what I might be missing, how I should handle it, just move on? Am I over-thinking it?

Part of my frustration is that i work hard and feel that I excel at leading my projects and if there’s a perception that someone else (who is my junior by a few years and has less development experience) has gained more trust or if there’s something the exec team thinks I’m not doing well enough, I’d like to know. (Perhaps I’m not constantly reminding everyone of all that I’m doing and accomplishing, like some people do).

Obviously I’m happy to be employed, grateful to be in the position I’m in, and will do whatever is asked to help the company. That said, I’m also competitive, have taken risks and worked hard to get where I’m at with my career, and want to get just as much opportunity as others on my team, and at the end of the day would like to just be told the truth.

Any thoughts / advice / perspective is greatly appreciated.

Most Helpful

If your bosses are anything like the company I just left, they probably spent 5 minutes on this allocation and did not think for a second about how it would come off. I mean that in the least emotional way possible - the perception that the distribution gives off probably literally never occurred to them. They probably saw 4 developers, saw they had 13 projects, and roughly assigned 3 jobs to 3 developers and 4 jobs to 1 developer. Maybe they briefly considered how difficult a project may be, and it seems like they did with the "invoices" comment, but I can almost promise you that they were not spending an hour strategically distributing assignments. 

At my previous job, there were three of us running developments at the company. How deals were allocated between the three of us made almost no sense whatsoever and was almost completely on a whim. Luckily we were good friends and there were no real hard feelings, but we each knew each others strengths, weaknesses, and personal interests in projects very well and...the two owners took almost none of that into account. It didn't matter. It was in no way done out of malice - it just did not occur to them to care. 

I highly, highly doubt your boss is directly lying to you. It does him no good to do so. It doesn't make him any extra money. He probably just half ass assigned the projects without thinking about it, and then when confronted with evidence of the discrepancy, both realized what the outcome was but also doesn't want to spend any additional time on fixing it so he brushed you off. 

You can attempt to build a relationship to make him care about your preferences. You can take it personally and eventually move on. You can just accept it and get over it. You can focus on whatever the next big deal is and whisper to your boss that you really want to be on that one. I did all of the above to mixed results. 

What I wouldn't do is attribute to malice what can be attributed to ignorance. More likely than not, the perception of the project distribution literally did not occur to your boss. That doesn't mean you shouldn't take it personally or whatever - I exist with an eternal chip on my shoulder - but I wouldn't take it as your boss is out to get you. Take it as a reminder than the only person with your best professional interests at heart is you. You are not only your own best advocate, you are your only advocate. 

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