It takes more than great code to be a great engineer. Soft Skills Engineering is a weekly advice podcast for software developers about the non-technical stuff that goes into being a great software developer.

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Episode 418: Should I "rest and vest" and how do I avoid 3-hour agile meetings?

July 22, 2024 29:58 5.59 MB ( 37.56 MB less) Downloads: 0

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: I work as a Senior Software Engineer for a subsidiary owned by a mega corp. I am approaching 6 years at the company. In the last few years the company has had significant layoffs and I have been moved to a team by force with a new leadership chain and engineers I haven’t really worked with. Even though I was disgruntled when this happened, I gave this new team a chance. I have been successful in driving change within my engineering boundaries but I just don’t agree with many decisions made my leadership. I have concluded this team and company are no longer for me and I want to move on. Repeated layoffs, high bar for promotions, high stress( due to less people), no raises/bonuses have lead to fairly low morale across the org. Unfortunately, or fortunately the public stock price has gone up and many people are just resting and vesting. Even though I really want to leave it would be financially irresponsible. Are situations like this common in a software engineers careers? I am having trouble “resting”. Any advice on how to deal with the urge to perform yet you know it’s a bad decision? My lunch break is sacred, how can I set boundaries as a new lead engineer joining a new company? I’ve discovered the agile process they use is far too exhaustive when compared with the size of the company. They have 3 hour meetings covering the whole lunch window (11:30-14:30) for backlog and sprint review on two consecutive days?! To me this is totally mad, however people seem to have just accepted it. How do I tell them I am not accepting this without rejecting their culture?

Episode 417: Should I tell my boss I'm checked out and how do I deal with a PM who has no idea what he's doing?

July 15, 2024 30:52 5.76 MB ( 38.68 MB less) Downloads: 0

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Hey guys, love the show! (Insert joke here so you’ll read my question) Should I tell my boss I’m discouraged and have checked out? I’m the frontend lead for a project where I’ve recently gotten the vibe that the project isn’t really that important to the organization. The project is already over schedule and they have recently moved a few engineers off to other teams. Should I talk to my manager and try to work with him to get over these feelings, or should I just begin the job search? I’m 2 years into my first job, so it feels like it might be time to move on anyways. What do you all think? Thank Hi! I’m part of a team of 5 devs with an inexperienced Product Manager who is in way over his head. He was a support agent who, during the acquisition of our startup, somehow convinced the parent corporation to make him PM despite the fact that he had no experience within Product whatsoever. The corporation didn’t give him training, he has no experience in Product, and it shows. Our features are single sentences copied from client emails, and our top priority is whatever the conversation is about. He is argumentative when we try to talk about it, despite the fact that all of us are careful to avoid blaming him. We’ve tried talking to him one on one, in small groups, as the whole team. No luck. The Engineering Manager is at his wits end on how to handle this situation because: EM has no jurisdiction over PM The org’s “matrix” structure means EM’s manager has no working relationship with PM’s manager After many chats we’ve had with PM’s manager, his solution was for dev to pick up the slack instead - at one point our whole dev team was made to sit in *daily* 2hr long “refinement” sessions, spec-ing out empty features and writing user stories to try to sort out our backlog and roadmap - for 6 weeks straight PM’s skip level manager won’t give us his time. How do we deal with this situation when our lowest-common-manager is the CEO of this ~2000 person company, and PM himself is completely closed off to any constructive conversation from anyone who isn’t above him in the org chart? Love the show! Thanks for reading :)

Episode 416: My boss wants me to build dark patterns and getting promoted without writing code

July 08, 2024 24:25 35.15 MB Downloads: 0

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: “I’ve been assigned a ticket to “add more friction to the downgrade process” in order to decrease the amount of downgrades our app has. The proposed change has 4 modals pop up before the user can cancel their paid plan. I would like to push back on this change. Any tips on how to bring up the fact that this is potentially unethical / a dark pattern?” I work for a mega corp software company as a senior engineer. My boss and I have been working on a promo for me to principal for the last year (I was passed on for the last cycle and so we are trying again in a cycle next year - aka still 8 months away). I previously was in the top 5 PR contributors in our org of 450 engineers, but we were reorged and I haven’t written a single line of code in 3 months. I enjoy doing architecture work and helping unblock teams with technical design solutions, but I’m not sure if not writing code is helping or hurting me. Is it just part of career growth that engineers at a certain level stop writing code and it’s a good sign for my seniority? Or is a big fat zero code contributions a red flag and I need to look for a role where I’m still shipping things myself?

Episode 415: I got a low raise and merging teams

July 01, 2024 29:16 42.14 MB Downloads: 0

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Hi guys! I’m a technical Data Analyst in a well established Fortune 500 company, in my job I usually work with databases to build queries and prepare reports for our users. In the past 2 years my team and I had a tremendous impact in the business with several successful key projects, and we received very positive feedback from the management during our yearly review. We are talking about an impressive performance that it’s very unlikely to be repeated again in the future, a mix of luck, great decisions and technical efforts as a team. I was expecting a substantial raise but my manager, who have been promoted recently and it’s the first time she’s doing this, told me that the salary caps are defined by our Headquarter’s HQ by looking at the average salaries for our roles. My salary is already high based on these statistics. There is only room for a 0.5% increase, which I approved, because it’s better than nothing, but left me with a bittersweet aftertaste. My manager felt sorry and promised that for the next year she’ll fight for more. I love my work and I consider myself already lucky to have this sort of issues. However, this method doesn’t reward outstanding performances and encourages to just “earn that paycheck”, knowing that whatever I’ll do, I’ll earn more or less the same unless I get a huge promotion to manager (which I’m not ready to do). I see this in our company culture. How can I bring this topic to the upper management and support my manager to change the system? I am a manager of a small team of four people. I am about to absorb another team of three. While we all work on the same “application,” we own very different “micro-apps” within that site. Our tech stacks are similar (node, react). The two teams have different product owners under a different reporting structure. I would love to merge the two teams. I think a seven person team would be more effective and resilient than two 3-4 person teams. Already with my four person team, we feel it when someone needs a couple days off. How could I plan for and execute a plan to merge these two teams? What considerations for the engineers and our product partners should I have?

Episode 414: Hot-headed PM and leaving without downgrading

June 24, 2024 31:47 45.77 MB Downloads: 0

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Cool-headed engineer asks, How do you deal with hot-headed project managers? I have a project manager in my team who really likes to criticize me, a project lead. Most recently, I was criticized for asking a dumb question to the users which they already answered a few months ago. They told me that I should check with them for all the questions going forward. (think: “Why did you ask that question?! Don’t you know that they already answered that?! Look at this message here: . Their intent is clear. Please check with me for all questions going forward.") It’s not the first time they scolded me either. They tried to pressure me to push the timeline even though I explained why it wouldn’t be possible. They made a false equivalence by comparing it to a similar sounding project that’s completed very fast but, unbeknownst to them, is very different to mine. (think: “Why was that project completed in three month but you need six?! Those engineers are working on the same code too. Please accept that you are not a strong engineer.”) I am demoralized after each time they scolded me. It’s my fault to an extent, but I think the criticism is too extreme compared to the mistake. I feel like they just want to let off some heat after their strong discussions and furious meetings with other people. I’m also a frail person and break easily; I want to learn how to handle hot-headed people and extreme criticism better so I can better speak for my team and not acquiesce to all their demands. Hello! I’m really fortunate in my current company. I have a great team, great workload that’s challenging but doesn’t destroy my work-life balance, and plenty of pay, benefits, and recognition. I feel this comes from having a really small group of proactive devs, and software is the primary source of revenue at this company so engineers are highly valued and appreciated. It really is the perfect place to be in. But I’m also really early in my career and I don’t expect or want to stay here forever. I’m coming up on my fifth year, and I’d prefer not to stay for more than 6-7 years because I want to continue diversifying my career. I know I’m leaving for the sake of leaving, but the reasons are sound in my head. All the past companies I’ve worked for have been decent but have been soured by being around 9-5 “That’s not my job” cruising devs, or upper management who say “Customer wants it tomorrow so just write the codes”. I don’t want to risk going back to that. What are some ways I can scope out a company during the interview process to figure out what their real culture is like?

Episode 413: Is my interview candidate cheating and my product owner is getting WRECKED by the client

June 17, 2024 32:00 46.07 MB Downloads: 0

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: This is my first time conducting technical interviews (most of which have been virtual), and I had one interview where I had a strong feeling that the candidate was cheating. They breezed through the short problems I gave them, and they were able to explain their reasoning. But during the live coding problem, they sat in silence for five minutes, and when I asked them what they were thinking, they didn’t respond. Then they started cranking out perfect code without explaining anything. How do you address cheating in interviews? What if it turns out to be just nerves? I don’t want to assume anything, but I also wouldn’t feel comfortable confronting them about it either. I work as a team lead for a small group of 4 other devs. Our Product Owner is currently handling the requirements for new features to onboard a new large client. This involves them attending client meetings and generally isolating the development team from client shenanigans which is normally great, but it’s becoming INCREASINGLY obvious that someone on the client team has his number and he’s getting HORRIBLY out-negotiated. This has resulted in a bunch of missing requirements, changing requirements, last minute feature adds, and general confusion. I’m trying to push back, but the leadership team is coming back with “Well we promised…” and my entire team is stressing out. Note that this is AFTER we were already pressured to overcommit on capacity to get these “absolutely necessary” features developed for the client to go live. I like my PO, he’s a good guy and normally does good work, what can I do to help him stop from getting his butt kicked in these meetings? (Note: the POs are neither above nor below us in the org tree, our closest shared higher-up is the VP and I obviously don’t want to escalate it that far)

Episode 412: Work-life-team balance and getting code-sniped

June 10, 2024 33:16 47.89 MB Downloads: 0

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Dear Skillet HQ, How would you negotiate a difference in work-life balance between teams? I love my job and my immediate team. We’re a tech group within a larger non-tech business, and it’s a fun problem domain. Our immediate team has some hard-won work-life balance, in part because it would be hard to hire anyone for the role if that balance wasn’t part of the equation. However, I worry about how to communicate differences when anyone we work with - all the people we’re building software for! - have an unbalanced schedule, because, 👋that’s show-biz 👋 I even understand why other people have their role set up that way and respect it, but I don’t want to give up my balance either. How can I best handle the relationship when that difference is there? Love the podcast and the skillet-slack! Thanks for the advice, empathy and good humor. Tex Archana Listener Frustrated asks, My work keeps getting stolen in the name of code quality! I’m a new backend developer for a team at a large company. I’ve been with this team for almost 3 months now, and the company for over a year. We’re developing an application to replace a legacy system, and the current feature has fairly well described user requirements. The front end developers keep finding new implementation issues that require more backend development, so new tasks get added during the sprint. The longest tenure developer (LTD) on the team keeps finding better ways to implement these backend changes, but these ‘better’ ways sometimes don’t meet the newly discovered frontend needs, leading to longer development times. Additionally, the longest tenure developer often takes over the implementation work from me, which is frustrating! The longest tenure developer also sometimes becomes too busy to deliver everything in a timely manner!! Additionally, the state of software development maturity is very low, so I’m trying to advocate for more technical process improvements like CICD and using version control more than once per sprint! I am frustrated and finding it hard to keep up motivation when everything is such a mess, and the other devs defer to the longest tenure dev who pushes back on many of these things. My code quality is fine, but I haven’t yet learned enough about our application to be able to identify these larger, cleaner approaches. Every code review so far has had no issues with my code quality, but inspires the longest tenure dev to implement a simpler solution, and they often will take my tickets and repurpose them for the new work! I’m worried that if anyone looks at productivity metrics they’ll not look good for me, and it’s hard to say what I’ve accomplished so far. Is my frustration valid? Should I quit my job?

Episode 411: We have a secret org chart and I'm a big fish in a little pond

June 03, 2024 35:28 51.06 MB Downloads: 0

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Hi :-) I work as a Senior Data Scientist, and about half a year ago I joined a start up that was founded by a large corporation. And while this job comes with the perks of a bigger company - like good salary, paid overtime, … , - it also comes with its organizational overhead and politics: We are only about 30 people but already a quarter of us acts as managers. I write “act” because the official org chart is flat (with the CEO at the top and the rest of us directly underneath). The unofficial org chart is hidden and depending on who you speak with, you get their view point on how roles and responsibilities should look like. As a result, I’m left with putting together the pieces to build a picture that somewhat resembles the truth. So far, I’ve concluded that we have multiple (!) management layers, that there’s a power war taking place in the middle management layer, and that you can make up your own titles that mean NOTHING, because no one has any official, disciplinary authority over any one, but that are still to be respected! What a great opportunity for job crafting :-D To make things worse, I prefer and come from organizations that have a truly flat hierarchy. For example, I’m used to step outside of my role should the situation require it (like doing some managerial tasks, supporting sales, …) and that I can speak my mind, irrespective of what the title of the person is who I’m talking to. While this was beneficial in my previous positions, this does not work well here! And while I understand that adapting my behavior would be more in line with the company culture, I find this extremely difficult. On the one hand, because of the hidden org chart, on the other because we are all fully remote and I rarely see people from other teams. To avoid accidentally stepping on anyone’s toes, my current solution is to stick my head in the sand and focus on my coding. However, this leaves me disgruntled because I feel like I’m not being myself, and that I’m withholding a viable part of my skill set: to see the bigger picture and serve the company as a whole instead of just implementing tickets. Please help, I do not understand how this company works :’-D How would you navigate the situation? I don’t want to quit because, individually, my coworkers are super nice, and the work is really interesting. All the best <3 Hi, I’ve been working at a well-known multinational company for a few years now. The entire time I’ve been here, the company has been well behind what I believe to be industry standards, but they have some great perks, which means it’s been really easy for me to create “wow” ideas (just do the same thing that everybody else has been doing for a few years). At the risk of sounding full of myself, I’ve noticed that I’ve created a critical person risk. There’s not only no push for me to train others in my work; things I thought were standard knowledge is entirely new to this team! I don’t want to become the trainer for a team that has no desire to learn new skills, and I don’t want to dumb down my work either. Is there a happy medium where I can build exciting new things and not create an absolute craphow when I leave? Should I even care about it since no one else does? Show Notes The Tyranny Of Structurelessness - https://www.jofreeman.com/joreen/tyranny.htm

Episode 410: Guaranteed cost-of-living raises and my manager doesn't like me

May 27, 2024 34:28 49.63 MB Downloads: 0

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Hi Soft Skills! I’m writing to you as I look forlornly at my paycheck, unchanged for the last year and a half, and wonder if I’ll ever see market rate again. While I prepare my leetcoding skills for the trek that is your classic Soft Skills Adventure (quitting), I think about future interviews and wonder: how common is it to have something like a COLA clause in your employment agreement? Something like “Oliver will receive a raise of no less than the current CPI% per year”. Are there other ways to mitigate this, other than joining a company with more people and less greed? I don’t think I should have to beg for COLA-s with good reviews in hand. In fact I think those reviews call for raises! Thanks for bringing more joy to my life :), Mr Twist P.S. I am grateful I’m not paid in porridge and any reference to Oliver Twist isn’t to suggest Tech Salaries aren’t livable wages. Mr. Peanut Butter asks, I’m a senior IC at a small startup and I’m struggling to get along with an engineering manager. M has a say in my promotion and has already said no once, which was pretty painful considering the time and energy I’d spent helping their team succeed. I think there are two headwinds to M changing their mind 1) I’m FE-focused, and M’s conception of FE work is dated and simplistic. 2) M can be a bit of a blowhard. Said generously: M is a top-down thinker, quick to make conclusions, process-focused, and loves discussing architecture and design patterns. In contrast, I’m a bottoms-up thinker, pragmatic, plain-spoken, slow to make conclusions. M and I meet regularly to discuss cross-team matters, and it is my least favorite meeting of the week, even weeks that include dentist appointments. M sometimes devolves into lecturing me about software fundamentals (which I know at least a well as they do). I know from experience that there’s an M at nearly every company, so I’m reluctant to order up an SSE Special. How do I leverage this dreaded weekly meeting to turn M from a detractor to a promoter?

Episode 409: Fancy title to IC and CRUD is crud

May 20, 2024 28:27 40.96 MB Downloads: 0

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Listener Shayne asks, ‌ I’m about to start a new gig after 8+ years at a company. I was an early employee at the current company and have accumulated a lot of responsibility, influence, and a fancy title. I’ll be an IC at my new company (also very early stage) but the most senior engineer second only to the CTO. What are some tips for this transition? How can I onboard well? How do I live up to my “seniorness” in the midst of learning a new code base, tech stack, and product sector? I managed to stay close to the code despite adding managerial responsibilities in my current role, so I’m not worried about the IC work. I really want to make sure that I gel with my new teammates, that I’m able to add valuable contributions ASAP, and that folks learn that they can rely on my judgement when making tradeoffs in the code or the product. Halp! I got into software development to become a game developer. Once I became a software developer, I found out I really enjoyed the work. My wife and I joined a game jam (lasting 10 days) over the weekend. I very quickly have realized how passionate and excited I get about game development again! But this has led to a problem - I would much rather be doing that. I find myself moving buttons around or making another CRUD end point a means to an end now, thinking about how I much rather be creating exciting experiences. How can I handle this? Quitting my job to pursue a pipe dream just isn’t feasible.

Episode 408: Terrible retrospectives and "hard to work with"

May 13, 2024 33:38 48.42 MB Downloads: 0

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: I am an electrical engineer working on and off with software for about 15 years. From mainframe applications with Cobol and PL/1 to plant floor supervisory systems with SCADA and some.Net along the way. 6 years ago my husband got an offer to move to Europe and I came along. Had to reinvent myself amidst the chaos of juggling life with a toddler, learning a new language and a new social tissue. After some time I landed a pretty nice job as a DevOps engineer at a pretty cool company. However, I have never really worked with scrum or agile methodologies before and, oh boy…I found out I HATE retrospectives. Like really hate them. They bring me down every time and I anticipate them with dreadful anxiety. I feel they’re just a way to blame other people for what’s not going so well and I don’t see ownership or any improvements actually being made. Action items are frequently just finger pointing and generally about people that are not even present in the retros. In order to improve engagement my boss said every team member is now responsible for the moderation of this dreadful thing and, surprise, surprise : I am next. How can I moderate something I just don’t believe in? I believe in improvement and learning from mistakes and I genuinely believe that we shouldn’t focus on people but processes. I also have to say my colleagues don’t feel the same way as they seem to love retros (yikes!). I think I’m too old/too skeptical for this. Please help!!! Ps.: I love your show and the episode on “that guy” changed my life. I’m forever grateful for the question asker and your answer. The Letter J: Can you please talk about the PIE theory (performance, image, exposure) and its importance, especially in highly political orgs? I lost my leadership role at a large GSI due to what I believe was a poor image. I felt I could not achieve targets without some level of collaboration (which became conflict once others didnt want to actually collaborate) We hit out targets, but unfortunately, by the time I realized I was labeled “hard to work with”, it was too late. Also, I hereby declare that Jamison is the Norm MacDonald of podcast, which is my highest compliment. Dave is some other comedian, also good. Seriously thank you both for all the humor and advice over the years, it’s been helpful and validating.

Episode 407: I'm too territorial and should I quiet quit?

May 06, 2024 25:53 37.26 MB Downloads: 0

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: I am a data scientist and have been at my company for 2 years. Each of the data scientists on my team specialize in a different area of the business (growth, marketing, etc). I have developed a reputation for being the expert in my area and have worked really hard to understand my domain. I have a new data science team member who works in an adjacent area and has expressed interest in learning more about “my” area. But every time I talk to him I find myself getting defensive and possessive (on the inside). I don’t want to share my area, and I like being known as the expert, and I don’t want him working on stuff in my domain. Any advice on how to be less territorial here? Should I quiet quit? I’m a year in to a new job, and am doing well. I work for a large consulting company, and have been doing a decent amount of unpaid overtime by volunteering for internal projects that we can’t bill to our clients! The extra 5-10 hours a week have been adding up, and I feel overwhelmed. I don’t think the extra work is as appreciated as it should be. I’ve received lots of positive feedback, and my performance reviews have been fine. Am I getting taken advantage of? Will people notice if I step back and just do the bare minimum expected for my job? I like being useful, and do genuinely enjoy some of the projects I’ve volunteered for. They’ve probably also been good for my internal visibility, as I’ve gotten to have my name on some large internal announcements and have had some good face time with very senior people. If I end up sticking around here, it’ll probably be good, and I wouldn’t mind a promotion. But I’m exhausted, and it’s starting to get in the way of my personal life, hobbies, and even client work sometimes. I’m also wondering if that time would be better spent on upskilling or open source or something outside the company. How far can I cut back without repercussions?

Episode 406: Acquired taste and limited mentorship

April 29, 2024 27:54 40.17 MB Downloads: 0

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Listener Brad asks, I am currently a Senior Engineer with a small software company. I have been developing software for more than 20 years. We were recently acquired by another mid sized company. Since the acquisition, things have been going downhill. It feels like they’re trying to nickel and dime their employees to death. They moved from a bi-monthly to bi- weekly pay, from accrued PTO to Flex PTO, they sat on merit raises for over 2 months , and have paused all promotions unless you are getting a promotion to management. We have a number of engineers who are deserving, but broaching the subject with HR results in excuses, pushback or silence. I have about a year and a half to be in a position to retire but I love what I do and plan to continue for many more years in the right environment. I’m really on the fence as to whether I quit for a new role or hope that they somehow become more efficient. I’ve been doing this long enough to know they will probably not change. So would you quit? Hello Dave and Jamison, My name is Angelo, and I’m writing to you from Italy. I’ve been enjoying your podcast for quite some time. I’m reaching out because I’ve been working for four years at a small company with 11 people in the cultural heritage sector. Although the company produces software, there are only 2 programmers (myself included), while the rest are roles like graphic designers, art historians, and archaeologists. It’s a rather unique company in its field, and for that reason, I’m happy to work there, also because I have many responsibilities related to the company’s performance, probably more than I would have in a multinational corporation. However, there’s a catch. The fact that there are only two programmers, and in this case, I am the more experienced one, often makes me feel that I don’t have the opportunity to interact with more experienced individuals, and this might hinder my growth as a professional as opposed to being in a team with more programmers. My question is: what can I do to compensate for the lack of work interactions with other developers and to keep myself updated? I’ve always read that the best growth happens in a company where you’re surrounded by more experienced people, but in this particular case, I find myself in the opposite situation. I participate in Telegram groups and often read software development books to stay updated, but it’s also true that the hours outside of work are meant for rest and leisure, so they only go so far. How can I keep pace with those working in larger teams on bigger projects? I don’t intend to change companies at the moment. Warm regards from Italy, Sinhuè

Episode 405: Scaled agile pain and top-heavy team

April 22, 2024 34:24 49.52 MB Downloads: 0

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: One and a half year ago, I joined my current team as a tech lead, in an organisation that uses ‘Scaled Agile’. This was my first time joining an organisation that employed dedicated Scrum masters. In previous organisations, the role of Scrum master would usually fall upon a team member that felt comfortable doing so, and the last couple of years that ended up being me. I feel this worked out well and I managed to create teams that were communicating well and constantly iterating and improving. Upon joining the team, I noticed that despite having a dedicated Scrum master, the team was not doing sprint reviews or retrospectives, and it felt like every team member was on an island of their own. In the months that followed I tried to reinstate these and improve teamwork and communication, but often felt blocked by the Scrum master’s inertia. Eventually, they were let go and a new Scrum master was hired. This new collaboration did also not work out. They didn’t have enough of a technical background to engage with impediments, were trying to micromanage team members during Standups, and would continually try to skip or shorten retrospectives. If retrospectives were to occur at my insistence, they would try to determine actions without the team’s input, only to not do them and never look back at the outcome. Two months ago the new Scrum master was let go and I was asked to take over their duties in the meantime. Ever since, it feels like the team finally owns their own Scrum process. Our collaboration is not perfect, but we’re finally tracking measurements, evaluating retrospective actions, and iterating as a team. However, the organisation wants us to go back to having a dedicated Scrum master. I’m not against this, but I’m afraid the next Scrum master might undo our efforts. How do we as a team navigate this situation to get an optimal outcome? A listener named Max asks, I’ve been working in a Data Engineering department at a mid-size product company for over 5 years. When I joined, we had a well-balanced team in terms of average proficiency - some juniors, some middles, and a few seniors. Over these years, we’ve developed a great internal culture where people can grow to a senior level pretty easily. The company itself is wonderful to work for, and we have a pretty low “churn rate” - most of my colleagues are highly motivated and don’t want to leave. As a result, we now have only senior and staff engineers in the team. This is well-deserved - they all are great professionals, highly productive, and invaluable for the company, having domain knowledge and understanding of how all our systems work. Management wants them to take on only senior-plus-level tasks, which are usually larger projects and initiatives that involve a lot of collaboration with other departments, process changes or technical initiatives affecting our engineering practices. They have two reasons for this: 1) management doesn’t want to waste the time of such skilled professionals on smaller tasks; 2) management cares a lot about people’s morale, because losing them would be very harmful for the whole company, so they don’t want people to take on small and boring tasks. At the same time, we have a HUGE backlog of tech debt, small improvements and refactoring initiatives. Ideally, we would hire 3-4 additional middle and junior engineers to share all backlogs with them, but we now have a hiring freeze. The amount of tech debt is starting to damage team morale on its own, and I feel like we have an unspoken deadline to deal with this problem, which could be someone’s burnout and departure, or a major outage in some vital services we support caused by ignoring tech debt. How would you approach the problem of overseniority? I appreciate any advice, and thanks again for the show.

Episode 404: Interview comedy and talking pay while new

April 15, 2024 28:25 40.91 MB Downloads: 0

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: “Hello, Is it considered ok to be a bit funny during an interview? To give more context: In a recent interview, I progressed up to the final cultural-fit round after clearing all technical rounds at a well-known company. One of my interviewer asked how I would deal with conflicts with a peer. In a effort to lighten the mood, I jokingly said I would snitch on them to my manager. I saw the faces go pale on the zoom call. So I backed-up and explained I was just joking and gave them an example of an instance where I had to deal with a conflict. The story didn’t help much to make my case, as there was some “snitching” involved in it. But in all seriousness, if I had a conflict in the past and have reached out to my manager to help diffuse the conflict, is it considered a bad thing. How do I make it sound like a good thing during culture-fit interviews? By the way I didn’t get an offer from them. Can’t help but think I goofed-up the culture interview. Thanks for your time and help.” I recently started my first full-time job out of college. I earned an engineering degree but took a job with a company in a more management/ business development/ leadership track. Now I’m the only person in a department with an engineering degree.I’ll be here for a couple of years before they move me into the next role in my track. In a casual conversation about going back to school, one of my coworkers jokingly mentioned they would get free school at a local university because they made less than X dollars. This threw me off, as I (having started less than 3 weeks ago), make more than X dollars despite us having the same position and them having worked in the department for almost a year. Should I say anything, or just assume that the difference in pay is due to the fact that I have a technical degree and am on a leadership track while they are in neither? I’ve been told it’s mutually beneficial to discuss salary with your coworkers, but I’m afraid to shake things up at my very traditionally run company in my first month here. My pay corresponds directly to the starting pay that an engineer in a design role in my company would be making and I think I was given this pay so not to discourage me from taking a role in the company in favor of an engineering job with engineering pay elsewhere.