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How can I quickly gain respect among my team as a senior engineer?

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Senior Software Engineer [E5] at Meta2 years ago

At my old company, where I worked for many, many years, I wasn’t learning anything new. On my new team, I feel like a junior engineer since everything is new. Because of this, I don’t feel like I’m being taken seriously, even my engineers more junior than me.

I'm trying to stay positive throughout this learning process but would obviously like to build up respect among my team as quickly as possible to start feeling like a heavily valued voice in the room. Any advice on how to do that?

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(3 comments)
  • 57
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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 years ago
    • Show your fundamentals: Senior engineers have strong technical instincts that are applicable across stacks and spaces. If you only have a senior title because you know this 1 particular domain very well, you don't deserve to be a senior engineer.
    • The most tangible thing to connect fundamentals to is code quality and at a broader level, technical depth.
    • Code review is a great place to show your technical depth. Look for deeper issues like structural problems and performance optimizations. Even if you don't have the better code in mind, senior engineers can add value to code reviews by asking very salient, insightful questions.
    • In general, go deep on any task you get and weave as much quality into it as possible. Write ultra-clean code. Dress up your diffs in code review immaculately with a stellar summary and test plan. Show your technical writing chops by improving (or even creating) onboarding documentation.

    For a very in-depth example of how to onboard and earn respect quickly as a senior engineer, check out my Meta -> Robinhood onboarding case study: [Case Study] Becoming A Tech Lead Again In Just 1 Month After Joining Robinhood From Meta

    • Back in March 2021, I switched from Meta to Robinhood, and as you might imagine, the tech stacks are very different across the 2 companies.
    • This led to me being pretty bad at writing Robinhood code for my first month at the company, but as a senior engineer, I need to hit the ground running fast - I can't just use "I'm new" as a shield against high expectations.
    • This video goes deep into how I was able to add a ton of value to my team using my fundamental skills, which are completely separate from raw coding ability.
  • 22
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    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    2 years ago

    At a big company like Facebook, one powerful thing I saw from new senior engineers was the ability to complement the knowledge of the existing engineers on the team.

    Internal tooling at Facebook is constantly changing, so there's a very good chance that the existing engineers are using some old workflow. Could you dive deep into the jellyfish (jf) CLI, or some testing framework, and make a post about it? Or offer it as an improvement when you review other people's code?

  • 18
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    Meta, Robinhood, Baidu
    a year ago

    By creating value. It doesn't have to be technical strength.

    Meta emphasizes concepts like "influence without authority" and "judging the idea by its merit instead of the level of the person behind it". What's less likely to happen in Meta:

    • 🚫 I respect you for your level is higher than mine (because I don't even see your level).
    • 🚫 I respect you for having more technical knowledge than me (unless I need help from that knowledge.
    • 🚫 I respect you for being smarter than me (unless that helps me in a direct way).

    What's more likely to be useful for you:

    • ✅ I respect you because you help me make a bigger impact than I could have done by myself.

    How you help someone else make a bigger impact can come in many different ways. You can apply your technical strength to solve problems that block others. You can use your business sense or product sense to identify better opportunities for others to work on. You can build tooling to enable others to work more efficiently. You can build alignment with XFN to unblock the launch that is currently blocking others.

    In my last team at Facebook, I think it was two things. I was good at identifying opportunities and creating scopes for others. When people in my team worried about not having enough scope to deliver impact I helped them with ideas. I was a good listener to provide emotional support. When they felt bad and needed someone to whine and rant they came to me.