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How normal is it to be mostly hands-off as a senior engineer?

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Senior Software Engineer [E5] at Metaa year ago

I've grown to be more of a "tech lead"-style E5, which leads to a lot of time spent roadmapping and talking to people instead of actually executing on the project and being more hands-on. My team is heavier on the E3/E4 side, so I'm able to delegate a lot of the coding work away. I was wondering if this was normal for Meta and whether this is an okay way to operate as an E5?

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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    a year ago

    This is very normal as a senior engineer at a massive tech company like Meta: I remember back at Instagram Ads, I was given feedback to write less code. Like many other mature orgs in the company, Instagram Ads got to a state where the biggest value add wasn't writing code anymore: It was aligning people and being more deliberate about planning and product direction. There were many E5s and E6s in my org who had less than 25 diffs a half and were doing fine.

    At the end of the day, the expectations of an E5, especially one operating under the tech lead archetype, is to fill in the gaps and deliver the project well, doing whatever it takes. It seems like you're doing a great job here as there are many non-technical gaps in your workstreams that your more junior teammates are less well-equipped to solve and you are filling them.

    All that being said, diff count is super important and is a metric that is always looked at in calibrations. I would make sure that you stay in-sync with your manager about expectations here: Maybe there actually is a "red flag" diff count number they have in mind that you shouldn't dip below.

    For a bunch more thoughts around aligning with your manager about performance expectations, check out our 1 hour deep-dive on performance review.