The setup on my team is pretty standard: There's an E6 tech lead that has broken up a big project into multiple pieces, and I own one of those pieces (and the rest of the pieces are owned by other E5s). I'm leading a couple engineers (<5), and I think they're E3/E4.
Zooming out, this seems like decent E5 scope, but I'm sure there's some gaps to turn it into E6 scope. The tricky part is that my org is pretty XFN heavy, so it's hard to get things added to the roadmap, and with the hiring freeze, it's hard to get more engineers onto my team to lead.
All that being said, what are some ways I can find staff scope in this situation?
What is the E6 doing that you are not, and what would they be willing to give up to get you E6 data?
Have you talked to them about promotion, and where they think the gaps are? Your manager?
You’re speaking very generally. You’re looking for “scope”, but there’s a dozen things you could be missing.
There is an eternal hunt for the “E5” or “E6” golden project that will check all the boxes. And there’s one per every 20 people at the lower level, so it doesn’t fall into everyone’s lap. You need to construct the scope from what is there.
Are there processes across this large project that need honing? If a TPM is owning them but they are ineffective can you champion and make it happen on the engineering side? Is there a cross-cutting concern like business and operational metrics, security, privacy, launch plan, experimentation model, or anything else that will span all of the E5 pods that you can own and deliver on? Is there a part of the work you’re doing that would be generally useful outside of your team, and you could design that modularly then socialize it? What mentorship, training, knowledge sharing, book clubs, and other org-wide initiatives exist, and can you revitalize one or create another that adds value?
Do you give your director feedback on what you’d like to have prioritized to improve your systems? Do you know what they value most and you ensure it has appropriate focus?
Do things that everyone is impacted by and no one else is doing. Rework your on-call to be more sane. Do a run book refresh program and assign out sections to make sure everything is accurate. Own driving a needed feature with internal tools teams, and see if you can build it yourself. See if there’s a common paper cut that you can catch with Lint rules and write them.
Shipping E5 scope well, as you seem to realize, does not get you to E6. You need to do both jobs for a while, so keep delivering on this subsystem and making the engineers you’re guiding better at every step, but be taking on additional work that is highly visible, impactful, and doesn’t have a clear solution.
And ask. Ask your manager if something you want to do is E6 scope. Don’t pour your heart into something and find that it doesn’t move the needle.
Good luck, god speed.