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How to turn around my trajectory on my team?

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya year ago

I joined my current company a bit more than a year ago as an L4. Within 4 months, I'd launched a high stakes project, and after some churn in the team leadership, I was put into the role of being a tech lead to my remaining team of L3s.

As a pseudo TL, I did well in the mentorship and technical guidance responsibilities, but my code output dropped drastically (due to my projects being in the design phase which were being done by my juniors with me providing high level guidance).

In the last three months, I suffered some mental health issues. My work productivity dropped significantly during that time. I've been very open with my manager about my mental state throughout this process, and they've been very supportive of the things I need to do to recover. Around this time my team also hired an L5, who is now officially the TL.

Due to my drop in performance in the latter half of the year, I'm afraid my manager won't trust me with important projects. I wonder if I need to again prove my credentials to keep me on track for L5. I feel very low about my software development abilities.

This has made me demotivated and disinterested in my work. I took a couple weeks off, yet I don't feel like going back to work. I'm not considering changing teams due to immigration issues. I also don't want to leave a team on a low.

Any tips on turning around my motivation, and trajectory on the team? What can I change in my mindset and working style to overcome my struggles?

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(3 comments)
  • 7
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    UI Engineer @ HashiCorp (Nomad)
    a year ago

    I faced this struggle recently. This is a very challenging situation. I nearly got myself put on a PIP because of mental health challenges. What I found to be helpful was:

    1. understanding my personality

    2. using that understanding to address my shortcomings at work and in life

    3. creating super short term goals based on these on communicating them with my manager and team

    4. learning the appropriate methods to be vulnerable with my professional relationships without getting myself into the danger zone

    Understanding Personality

    Personally, I used two sources:

    1. Ray Dalio's Principles You website (free). This helped me understand my archetypes and how I work with other people. From there I used his Principles Journal ($30), this helped me identify my goals and create systems around them. I also used his method for creating an issue log to start tackling the problems that were immediately in front of me.
    2. Dr. Peterson's Understand Myself ($10) and Self Authoring suite ($30). Dr. Peterson used the Big 5 Personality Test to help people understand their personality and this will help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of your personal nature. Once you understand the drawbacks of your own nature you will have prioritized list of what your short-term areas of improvements should be. From there, I completed the Self Authoring suite to help me gain perspective about my behavior and a set reasonable goals. Anecdotally, I gave this to my college students where 40% of them were considering dropping out and it had a profound impact on keeping them engaged throughout the semester.

    Addressing your Shortcoming At Work and Life

    Once you have a set of goals that you want to improve on, you'll want to find the relevant ones to communicate with your team and manager so you can be held accountable.

    Learn the appropriate methods to be vulnerable at work

    David Bradford and Carole Robin teach a course on Interpersonal Dynamics at Stanford. They recently wrote a book called Connect. The book helps you identify and work through 3 relationships in your life.

    Personally, I had a very challenging time adjusting to my new tech lead and my new manager. Often times, I felt unheard and unappreciated. By leveraging a few techniques in the book, I learned how to appropriate amount of what to reveal at work and how to communicate it.

    Its been 3 months since I've made these changes, I had to really dig deep to make changes however I went from someone who was nearing a PIP to someone who is now leading a project at work. My relationship with my tech lead and manager is very enjoyable. I still have moments at work that bother me and stress me out, however, I've learned the techniques on how to address them and get people to be willing to be flexible for me (and I reciprocate). My next step (in this current project) is going to be exercising autonomy (read as: can we please do what I say this time?).

    If you only take one thing from this post, I would HIGHLY recommend Dr. Peterson's Self Authoring Suite because it drove about 80% of the impact for me (and my students).

  • 5
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a year ago

    Building the trust back up will take time, there's not a quick solution around around that. However, it sounds like your manager is supportive and understands the personal situation you had.

    Focus on doing on-time, high-quality work. To speed up the process, I'd also look for additional projects you could take on to improve the team.

    I wonder if I need to again prove my credentials to keep me on track for L5

    Something I'd highly recommend is to remove some of the ambiguity you're facing and have a candid conversation with your manager. Ambiguity leads to anxiety, and that can't be good for your mental health. You're making a bunch of assumptions about your performance, but I'd be really curious to hear what your manager thinks. Some pointed questions you should ask:

    • How am I doing relative to your expectations of me?
    • What are the major areas I should work on as I work toward L5?

    It sounds like you're predicting the answer to some of these, but hearing the actual words will really help you form the action plan.

  • 1
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    Anonymous User [OP]
    Taro Community
    a year ago

    @Jai wow! Thanks for that. It is amazing how you go over the implicit issues in my current situation, without me mentioning them in my post. Certainly better work prioritization, goal setting for motivation, being vulnerable without over sharing are key things for me to focus on. You mention about your students - do you offer courses to help others improve on these topics?

    @Rahul I agree the ambiguity around my performance has impacted my mental health. I've been discussing expectations with my manager regularly. From the previous conversations I've had with them, they've asked me to contribute more from a coding pov. They're very pleased that I performed the L5 role when my team needed me to.