I have 2.5 years of experience and working as an L3 engineer at Snap. To give you a bit more context about the structure of my team, We have 2 L3s, 2 L4s and 1 L5 in the team.
We just had our half yearly performance review. The review I got from my manager for the half yearly performance reviews was “exceeds expectations”. Clearly, I am a high performer, and in any other case, having 2.5 years of experience, I would be looking at a promotion in the next 6months-1year. However, the other L3 in the team got “redefines expectations” in his performance review.
We have same years of experience. He is a better engineer than me. He manages projects better than me, his output delivery is faster than me, he’s really good at writing technical docs as well as communicating stuff to the important stakeholders. There is no debate as to who is the better software engineer in team.
My question is, how much having him in the team affects the speed of growth from my career ? I am completing 3 years of experience soon and want to get promoted to L4. However I don’t see any situation where I am promoted before him, and I worry that this means delay of my promotion considering he'd be promoted before me and we already have many L4s in the team.
Am I overthinking this? I just want to know if switching companies or teams would be more beneficial for me than waiting in this team. Should I discuss about this with my manager ? While he is very focussed on making sure that the teams does well, I don't get the feeling from him that he cares too much about my professional growth.
This is a really interesting question as I was in a pretty similar situation back at Instagram Ads: There was this prodigy new-grad engineer who came in as E3 (Meta's version of L3) and got "Redefines Expectations" (which I abbreviate as "RE") in their first half. Even at E4, they kept crushing it, because they were honestly probably operating at around E5 when they were hired.
That being said, here's my immediate high-level thought: In a nutshell, I actually believe the existence of this engineer helps you more than it hurts you.
How It Can Hurt Your Promotion Trajectory
How It Helps/Doesn't Actually Hurt Your Promotion Trajectory
Lastly, if you feel like your manager doesn't seriously care about your growth, that's a big problem and you should dive deeper into that. However, you got "Exceeds Expectations", which is a good sign IMHO. Your manager probably had to vouch for that in calibrations. A manager that truly doesn't care usually just gets the average rating for that report. I don't think you should start thinking about switching teams/companies right now.
At a medium/large company, having an exceptional engineer shouldn't directly hurt you. The calibration/stack-rank will generally happen at the organizational level (usually at least 3-4 teams), so you won't be directly compared to the exceptional person.
They will likely get a higher rating than you, but that wouldn't directly hurt your promo ability. I'd instead focus more on positioning yourself as best as possible: what can you learn from this talented engineer, and is there some scope you could pick up from them?