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I have this co-worker, and since the day I met him, he has been great. He taught me many things and we've had a very friendly relationship. Now my goal here is not to ruin it, but since he is no longer my team lead and I am now on a different team, he tends to use my name to push his changes forward.

Scenario

In our company we have a procedure to push code to production. The programmer submits an official form to the QA team where they sign it, the Team Lead signs it and then a Manager signs it. This is all great when I am the programmer and I am doing the work. As of late, since I am no longer on his team, the work has fallen on to him and he has done it, but to push his changes through, he keeps using my name as the programmer. I understand why he does it as it makes things a lot faster for him as he then doesn't need to get the director's approval, only the manager's.

In any case it bothers me as I get emails and messages when something goes wrong and I have no idea something was even submitted. Then I'm forced to lie and say speak to this other guy, he worked on that part of the problem. I want to tell him to stop but I honestly don't know how to do it without making a big deal out of it or offending him.

I'm not a very social person and I often say what I mean in wrong tones and I don't want to do that this time.

Further Details

  1. The level of offense in this company could be high if there was a problem, however while there are no problems, honestly nobody cares. They would care if let's say our company lost a million bucks over a code change that starts with my name. Then I would be in some serious trouble proving I had nothing to do with it.
  2. Its not a question of whether my name is tagged with the form, the way my name gets used is as if I personally requested that change and he approved it.
  3. I am not trying to get advice in advancing my career, more like not losing a friend so I believe this question belongs here.
  4. He sits next to me, literally less than a meter away.
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    If you were to respond to those emails you get when something goes wrong with "I was not the one who wrote that code", how much trouble would your coworker get into? – Crazy Cucumber Oct 3 '17 at 14:27
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    While you're free to ask this on any site that it fits, I think you would get more qualified answers at The Workplace, since this sounds like it could have serious career consequences for both of you, and the user base there will be able to advise you about that. (If you do want to move it there, please don't repost - flag and ask a mod to migrate it.) – Em C Oct 3 '17 at 14:34
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    @EmC : good point. Last paragraph from OP seems to qualify this for IPS, as TW.SE will often offer "professional ways of dealing", regardless of feelings, and that seems to be an issue here. – OldPadawan Oct 3 '17 at 14:46
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    If you're getting in trouble for stuff he's doing wrong, I think it probably is. It doesn't have to be an exact explanation but why are the people seeing these reports not aware of the fact you're not even working on this any more? – Catija Oct 3 '17 at 21:41
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    I'd suggest that perhaps a change in policy is in order. It seems that one has to get signed off two levels above them to get code checked in. The fact the team lead has to go all the way to a director to get his own code checked in is pretty ridiculous. If it just requires the manager and one other person, perhaps you could review the code for him since you are at least familiar with the codebase. That way it removes you as the author, keeps multiple eyes looking at the code, and no one is lying / being forced to lie. I kept it a comment as it's more of a workplace answer than interpersonal – user4788 Oct 5 '17 at 0:33
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The main question to be answered here is this:

How illegal/wrong is it to use your name to push my code through for approval?

Different companies have different policies and rules when it comes to things like this. This is, in my opinion, something you could get fired over. The company I worked for (in India) almost fired two people for not changing the comment on top of the code. We used to add comments on top of the code with edit history and explanation to the edits made. If you change some code and not mention it in the top, you could get into a lot of trouble. If you change something and mention someone else's name, you could actually get fired for it.

So, how serious is it to your company and how does that affect your approach?

Here are a few ways you can respond:

  1. When you get an email when something goes wrong, you could reply to that email, adding your coworker to the CC section, and say something like this:

    I apologize, but I do not recollect making any changes to this code. [Co-worker's name], do you know who made this change?

This way, you're playing it safe. You're letting the co-worker decide whether he wants to say he did it or not. If he chooses not to, that is fine. The supervisors know that you didn't mess anything up, but someone else is and not owning up to it. It is up to them to investigate. As far as you know, you are not in the knowledge of someone using your name.

  1. You could forward all the emails you get when something goes wrong to your co-worker with something like this in the body:

    Dude, you're trying to get me fired! LOL. There are some problems with your code, could you respond to this email and let them know you're working on it?

This immediately won't reap any benefits. But what it will definitely achieve is, your co-worker realizes that you think this is going to get you into trouble. After a few times of you sending an email like that, he will stop. Because, you are letting him know that you DEFINITELY know when he uses your name.

The reason for that "LOL" is to make it seem on the lighter side. And the reason for forwarding this email to your co-worker and letting him deal with it is, the person who originally sent you the email notices that you have not been responding to any of those emails when you claim responsibility for it. When your co-worker keeps replying to those emails, they will start to notice that he takes responsibility for "Your" mistake in the code; hence, putting the co-worker at risk of getting caught for "proxying" your name.

  1. Be completely straightforward. The next time you meet this co-worker (do not try to set a meeting up just to talk about this, that will look like you're escalating it more than it needs to), just casually bring up a conversation about how you've been getting emails for some flaws in his code. Just let him know that there are problems with his latest deployment and that he might want to contact the concerned party to get it fixed. And end this discussion with something like this:

    Also, I am not in the same department as you. So you may want to stop using my name because if they find out that you've been using my name, you might get fired. It was different when we were on the same team but now there is no logical explanation behind why I would have written the code for a project I am not even in. So, it is definitely going to come up and if it does, trust me! I don't like you that much to get fired for you! Hahaha..

Keep it casual and joke about it. Don't make it seem like a big deal. But instead of you having to worry about this, make him worry about. It is his problem after all. As long as you've let him know that it is not OK, the company cannot do anything to you for him continuing to use it (depending upon the location of this company).

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    Keep work emails professional, that is without "LOL" and "hahaha". – Polygnome Oct 3 '17 at 21:37
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    1. The lol was in the email, the hahaha wasn't. That was in a real life conversation. 2. The op clearly states he has a very friendly relationship with this coworker. 3. The email was only to this coworker and not to anyone else. 4. There is nothin wrong with a little casual lingo in a work email if the receiver is a "friend". @Polygnome – Crazy Cucumber Oct 3 '17 at 21:49
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    @CrazyCucumber Should it turn out that the "friend" isn't that much of a friend, the email (and probably a response to it) could soon become an important piece of evidence. So it should make clear that OP is not wanting the co-worker to get into trouble (because the behavior might not be on purpose) but still stop that fraud-y behavior. - TL;DR: no place for "LOL" in that mail. – Fildor Oct 4 '17 at 6:58
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The most important thing here is to try and not accuse the coworker of a misdeed (even though what they are doing is a little fraud-y). If possible imply that the use of your name was an honest mistake (when Boss asks) i.e.:

Oh, I'm not on that project anymore, he must've forgotten to remove my name from the list of reviewers


Similarly you could use this approach with the coworker more directly:

Oh hi, looks like my name accidentally ended up in your review, could you please remove it, the boss was asking me about changes and I had no idea what he was talking about

This way you're asking for your name to be removed in a non-accusatory non-confrontational manner, while still letting the coworker know that people are noticing and that you are not going to cover for them

P.S.
Do not lie on your coworker's behalf, the review processes are established to prevent bugs that could cost company money or cause security breaches if applicable, so deliberately subverting that process can be seen as a very bad thing by the company. And you can't even begin to pretend that lying was somehow accidental or an honest mistake, so don't.

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    Nice! I think this is the right way to go, especially by making the co-worker aware of that OP is getting into trouble over his behavior. He might not even have noticed that. – Fildor Oct 4 '17 at 6:53
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This is a problem. And your colleague made it your problem. That is not oké. You need to speak to him about this soon. During a lunch break would be great, then you have some time to talk it over. You do need to let him know that he has to stop this.

If you are having trouble how to communicate this, get your significant other, friend or family to role play this out. As in, let some one else play your co-worker so you can try out different approaches and talk about what works best.

May I suggest something like this:

Bob: co-worker, you need to stop using my credentials for code review.

Co: Why Bob? It makes my job a lot easier!

Bob: You are getting me into trouble, dragging me into projects I don't work on and I need to cover that up for you. Your faster workflow is giving me trouble and costing me time. You need to stop this, today.

With that, he either stops using your credentials, or not. If he does, good for you both, you both saved the friendship and work atmosphere.

If he does not change, you will have to think about what next.

  • If you both don't change, you take the gamble if it will get you into trouble. It might work out, it might not.

  • Or you talk to your manager / HR about this issue. That might get you co-worker into trouble, trouble he made himself.

2

Replying to the email and saying you didn't actually work on it would be, in a way, calling him out for using your name without your permission. While it's a good way to protect your career, your friend's reaction can vary depending on the tone he perceives while reading the email. He may feel like you stabbed him in the back. Since you posted the edit saying this was mostly about preserving friendship, and not your job, I'll let you decide whether you want to mention to your boss that you weren't involved or keep lying to your boss.

Now, how to let your colleague know that this is bothering you? Maybe you don't have to. If you want him to stop without making it an argument between you two, you can use the fact that there's emails directed to you that shouldn't be. Make it about the company's interests rather than your own, that way the issue doesn't come between you two.

"I really think it would help limit confusion if you stopped using my name for the release"

"It looks like using my name is actually slowing things down, I got another email that should have been directed to you"

It turns the discussion from "I don't like what you're doing" to "it doesn't look like it's working."

  • I like the second response. Having to forward those emails just so he can fix it is counterproductive. – doctordonna Jan 28 '18 at 1:54
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Do try to talk to him at the water cooler (or the equivalent, I dunno, office kitchen?) first. Say, "Listen, %name%, I'm getting these emails about the code I didn't write. I really can't spend the time unearthing what this has been about; I've got too much on my plate as it is. Besides, it could get both of us in trouble. I have covered up for you this one time, but I can't do it, and I won't. I seriously want to keep this job, and what you're doing might be seriously against the rules."

If this happens again after this conversation, then I'd say he is less of a friend to you than you thought, and it might not be worth to keep the friendship. I'm not saying you should escalate this into a conflict, but simply understand that not all friendships are meant to be, and not all of them are worth it. If he does it again, he is knowingly and consciously getting you into trouble and leeching off your time.

So, first this personal talk. Then, if it happens a second time, do that forwarding things that has already been suggested, with "I don't recall making these edits; %name%, do you know what this is about?" It's fair. You've had the talk. He consciously keeps at it.

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