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Seeking Guidance on Measuring Early Contributions

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Microsoft3 months ago

I wanted to share an update and seek advice following my first 1:1 with my manager. Based on one of Alex's earlier suggestions, I inquired about how many commits I should aim to have landed after my first month to gauge my ramp-up progress. My manager mentioned that he doesn't track commit counts as a metric.

Given this, I'm curious about how I should approach setting tangible goals or milestones for my initial period at the company. Without commit counts as a metric, what would be a good way to measure my progress and contributions during the ramp-up phase?

I'd greatly appreciate your insights on this.

Following up on my previous message, I've been pondering whether my manager's response regarding not tracking commit counts might be influenced by my recent joining of the team. Is it common for managers to initially downplay the importance of specific metrics like commit counts for new team members, perhaps to alleviate early pressure or for other reasons?

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(3 comments)
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    3 months ago

    Without commit counts as a metric

    This is probably a lie. It's probably said in good faith, but for an engineer, the code you write is a fundamental marker of progress. It may not be an explicit input into performance review at MSFT, but you can be sure that the code you write + review is how you build reputation among engineers, and how you get things done.

    If your manager can't give you a straight answer, you should look at the commit counts for all the other engineers on the team. Count how many commits and lines of code the average engineer has, and stratify it by level/domain. I talk about this in the Talk & Observe framework.

    See also:

  • 0
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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    Microsoft
    3 months ago

    @Alex any comments from your side ?

  • 0
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    3 months ago

    I have heard directly from Microsoft engineers that commit count isn't as scrutinized as much as a company like Meta. I believe this to be true given what I know about overall Microsoft culture (generally more laid-back than other Big Tech). However, it obviously still matters. If you go 6 months landing just 2 commits as a mid-level engineer, I would be very surprised if you didn't end up on a PIP.

    That being said, I 100% understand your manager. "What should my commit count be?" is a very loaded question. The politically correct answer is to say "There's more to an engineer's performance than commit count", and that's 100% true. But that answer doesn't give you any clarity haha.

    Anyways, if your manager won't tell you, you can simply benchmark yourself against other engineers on the team of a similar level. If you can reach the same level of output as those engineers, you are probably in a great spot! And when it comes to concrete goals, make them completion-based. Ask your manager what tasks and projects they expected you to have shipped at the 30/60/90 day mark.

    The important thing is quality though as I have mentioned many, many times before. No point jacking up your numbers if your code sucks. Follow the advice here to write great code: [Course] Level Up Your Code Quality As A Software Engineer

    I recommend this discussion as well: "How does Stack Ranking work (at FAANG) and how can I be proactive at a base level?"

Microsoft is an American technology corporation which produces computer software, consumer electronics, and personal computers. It developed the Windows line of operating systems, the Microsoft Office suite, and the Internet Explorer and Edge web browsers. Microsoft is often credited for ushering in the modern PC era.
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