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Feeling stuck because of the unwanted office politics.

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Staff Software Engineer at Taro Communitya month ago

tldr; I am a Tech Lead working in of the big tech giants, getting burnt out due to office politics and ignorant managers.

I am one of the few people (~20) who accidentally was made remote, this was the result of one of the irresponsible move from one of the tech giant.

Anyways, I was part of a team for almost more than a year and the company culture was a bit shocking to me as my manager refused to do 1:1, lack of quality work and ignorance because of me being the remote was evident.

Six months before I, including my team, was transferred to another team with a greenfield project (with little or no prior info), we worked really hard but after 3-4months, another reshuffling happened and most of the team was moved to other projects/team. After couple of months the team was finally dismantled, I thought we will go back to our original team but to my surprise, instead of retaining me, they hired two new lead engineers in their location. In between all of this I was surprised to know that my manager (previous) didn't fill my annual review, when I tried to contact him I didn't get any response. I also scheduled a meeting with him but he didn't show up.

Few weeks before, I was moved to another team, which I found was in the mid of big release. The Principal engineer who was responsible for the design and architecture of the system was moved out before I joined so there was no knowledge sharing per se. I tried to contact him but he is too busy to entertain me now. During the first couple of days, my new manager briefed me that I am the owner of this new project and I have to look after each and everything. The project in itself is very huge: It was in design phase since last 1 year, and it depends on 2-3 teams. Everyday I am pulled into random meetings where there is a lot of alignment going on with some crucial decision making as the project is going to be live in new few months. In the daily sprint the manager wants to make sure I have enough work assigned to me as well. In two weeks I am almost burnt out as I have little or no time left after hours of meeting and going through the random documents.

Recently I came to know that there will a week long in-person workshop to get an alignment on the various decisions on the current project and I am not invited, I pinged my manager for the same but there is a long silence.

As of now, I have little or no breathing space to prepare for the interviews and almost on the verge of burnout.

Few important points:

  • To my surprise my official manager is still the same manager (first team) and he has still not filled up my performance review.
  • I moved countries because of personal issues so leaving the company may not be easy as of now. I have a lot of financial responsibilities, plus the current market and immigration condition has made the condition worse.
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Discussion

(4 comments)
  • 1
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    Staff Software Engineer [Lead MTS] [OP]
    Taro Community
    a month ago

    Also, one thing to notice here is that any discussions around career progression etc. is out of the park.

  • 3
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a month ago

    Seems like your manager is absentee and negligent. At the very least, seems like they are completely ignoring you as a remote employee. This is a tough position since it's clear you don't trust your manager at all (for good reason). Two pieces of advice:

    • Can you cultivate relationships with others, e.g. your skip manager or other Staff Engineers who can advocate for the work you're doing?
    • Since you're being iced out of projects, you should find opportunities in other ways. Try the Talk & Observe framework.

    If and when your manager does get back to you, you should have a crucial conversation with them: [Masterclass] How To Work Better With Your Engineering Manager.

  • 2
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    Engineer @ Robinhood
    a month ago

    From my view, there's 2 levels you can work with:

    • Your skip manager. Your manager doesn't seem available to provide the support you need, so the natural step is to go to their manager. Try to put time (or regular time) on your skip manager's calendar so you can sync on the state of the/your world. You could learn that your manager is also equally overwhelmed, and there might be opportunties to support them. At the very least, you will have a connection to someone who is directly accountable for your manager.
    • Your teammates. If you have consistent teammates despite the project churn, I'd look to build relationships with them. While you are the owner of larger/efforts as a tech lead, that doesn't necessarily mean you're directly executing on everything (especially when your time is limited). These teammates can support you, and it's to you to gauge what they're capable of taking off your plate. Observe these teammates & try to gauge what scope of work they're able to consistently execute on in their day to day. I usually like to gauge my teammate's capabilities by directly working with them throughout projects and tasks: this way, there's lots of opportunities to directly observe and gauge their baseline of operating. If you don't have the time to do this, I'd guage this based on their levels.
  • 0
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    Oof, this sounds rough - Sorry to hear this. Do you have a decent trove of stored up PTO? If so, you could use that to semi-brute force the interview grind and hopefully land another offer.

    Now when it comes to figuring out your crazy work project, you need to take control. Here what you should do:

    1. Make a single source-of-truth document that has everything. Try to make something like in my system design series: System Design Masterclass: Taro Playlists
    2. Create a rough timeline for the project. After you have something there with milestones, you can work backwards on what needs to be done and exert pressure on relevant stakeholders appropriately
    3. Hold a daily standup/situation room meeting where you go through the document and fill in missing pieces. Keep in mind that these could be very long initially (1+ hours)
      1. Try to kill other meetings. The goal is to consolidate all the random meetings into this 1 "super" meeting where all relevant stakeholders are together
      2. This is what we did when a major workstream (director/VP visibility) in Instagram Ads went off the rails
    4. Do #3 until you feel like the workstream is in a good state

    More good resources here: [Taro Top 10] Project Management

    I'm happy to chat through this 1 on 1. Reach out to me in Slack, and I'll set something up.