How do I deal with a busy senior?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Consulting Startup9 months ago

Hello.

I have a busy senior/manager. We used to have 1-1s twice a week, and now I'm lucky if I even get a single 1-1 every other week. I understand that it's because he has a lot of responsibilities (e.g., coding, managing, scrum'ing) and end-of-year deadlines.

Here are some things I've done to make up for the lack of 1-1's:

  • I over-communicate via IMs (even if he doesn't respond) to let him know how I'm progressing so he can "smoke test" my theories if I'm heading the wrong way.
  • I present high-level overviews of the code (<15 bullet points) I'm working on to avoid doing deep dives into the implementation.
  • I deliver short standup updates with easy-to-remember keywords that my manager has mentioned before.
  • I try to offload some of his managerial tasks (e.g., onboarding new engineers) to free up some of his time.

Does anyone else have a busy senior? Should I be doing anything else? Thanks!

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Discussion

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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    9 months ago

    I love how thoughtful this is, and I think all of these are great tactics! Here are some additional thoughts from me:

    1. Can you hire more engineers? - How you scale a tech lead/manager is by hiring more people. If they have clear "bundles" of scope, maybe your team can hire another junior or mid-level engineer. I would bring this up with them to get their thoughts - It's also a good opportunity to learn how your org is learning about headcount.
    2. Are you offloading senior scope? - It's good that you're taking work off their plate, but a failure mode I've seen is that mid-level engineers get delegated a random collection of tasks without a clear narrative that holds them back from a senior-level promotion. Is it possible for you to take all the bugs off their plate or all the analytics work? The idea is to have some cohesion/synergy around what you're offloading to build a senior promotion case for yourself (i.e. I am the master bug fixer of my team).

    I know they're busy, but I feel like 1 on 1s are something that you make time for, at least biweekly. I wonder if there's anything they can apply from our masterclass on effective time management - If you have any ideas (e.g. "Add more automated tests so your lead spends less time firefighting"), you can suggest them in a friendly way.

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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    Consulting Startup
    9 months ago

    Awesome, thanks, @Alex! I think I will become the Analytics Guru for my team. I will keep you posted. If you don't hear back from me, there's been a change of plans...

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