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Advice for Feeling recognized in the team, while switching domain (e.g. C++ to python)

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Senior Software Engineer at Taro Community6 months ago

Hi Everyone,

I am a senior software engineer in my company. We are an R&D company who work for the retail industry. I work in the Computer Vision and systems area.

I joined this company as a senior software engineer. Initially, the project that I was hired for had C++ work but that project was scrapped and we worked on a new product where everything was Python and lots of DevOps tools.

Now the problem that I am facing is all my colleagues who are software engineers know a lot about Python and these tools. I have never used them so far. For me, it was exciting that I was using these new tools which were very necessary in the current industry but I was anyways slow and my code quality and the way I designed things never matched the team's ways of things. I know everybody says that the fundamental principles are the same but I found there are some pythonic ways which are way better than a person who is learning it. Additionally, I was a Senior Engineer, so the manager and lead always came to me and said that they expected more from me. I was not contributing enough.

I feel it is normal to expect things from me as I am a senior. The main problem that I face is I don't feel myself important to the team. Most of the development or coding is done by the rest of the team. I even see they are given more design and senior role work too. I am given very small things. Honestly, even I don't know if I will be able to work on designing systems using these technologies. It affects my confidence and so I am never confident in my work, I have a constant fear that I can lose my job anytime. I don't feel proud of my work anymore now. I have learnt the new tools from last 1 year but I am unable to lead the team in any direction. There are some new concepts in Computer Vision world now like Embeddings which is completely new to me I am struggling to catch up on anything.

Our product is going live very soon, so the issues and pressure have started to grow. I am not even able to build any relationships with the real stakeholders in the team. They all love my other teammates and thus keep giving them work. Whenever I try to talk to them about any issues I do not get any encouraging reply, it feels like I am giving very basic suggestions.

Can anyone advise me on how to handle and perform well in the team and above all feel recognized in the team and organization? I am pretty sure many people here would have changed technology and should have faced similar situations , many would have recovered from this situation.

I always have very high standards for myself and have always been recognized as so in my previous companies. Lately, I feel I am not feeling very proud about my work, and I feel that is the main issue. I need some advice to improve in my field and in a consistent way.

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Discussion

(5 comments)
  • 1
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    Fractional CTO, Board Advisor, & VC Tech Advisor
    6 months ago

    Do you do anything outside of the job role to bring yourself up to speed with the new technology? There's a couple things I'd consider:

    1. Do you get a consistent push of other work minimally to keep you busy besides tech work? Adjusting into a leadership career now is not necessarily a bad move.
    2. Your coworkers having style guidelines and everything is ok, but have you poked around with anyone else and asked how you can contribute more? You don't know how they want you to react if you don't ask them.
  • 2
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    6 months ago

    I don't want to alarm you, but I also don't want to sugar coat anything: I think you may be at risk for a PIP.

    As you have mentioned in your post, a senior engineer is expected to work on big problems, ship quality work, and lead. It seems like you're not getting much of that in your team. You should have an honest conversation with your manager ASAP about your current performance and how you're trending. Check out this video here: How To Work With Your Manager To Get The Performance Review Rating You Want

    If you have more time, you should watch the entire masterclass the above video is clipped from: [Masterclass] How To Work Better With Your Engineering Manager

    When it comes to learning a new tech stack, check out the following thread and follow the attached resources as much as you can: "What is the effective way to understand new repository in order to make the required changes in that repo?"

  • 1
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    Senior Software Engineer [OP]
    Taro Community
    5 months ago

    Thanks, @Brad and @ Alex for your advice. I followed your advice and did implement certain things.

    I got the performance appraisal today. I am not in PIP(at least Officially), but also I am not in one of the averages.

    I am noting myself as I am in PIP and would like to improve myself to a high-performing engineer next year.

    I guess I will be using a lot of the content here to improve my performance. The key point that my manager said is communication. He said I am working in complex technical things like a senior but his peers and managers are not able to know about it. That is why I need to communicate what I am doing to everyone such that it becomes easy for him to pitch during my appraisal.

    I don't want to nitpick but this year my managers changed twice so it was tough for me to adjust to this change. I was confused by every change.

    Help me to direct me to articles and specific blogs to improve in writing quick documents or articles of what I have done in my work and growing

  • 1
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    5 months ago

    Thanks for sharing the update! It sucks that you're not fully meeting expectations, but I'm really glad you aren't formally on a PIP. This means that improving the situation should be quite feasible.

    Your feedback around visibility and communication is fortunately something I have seen many times before which is also fairly fixable (at least from my experience). The resource that immediately came to my mind was this one: "How to get more visibility on work?". While Meta is admittedly an outlier with its usage of Workplace, the habit of writing weekly to biweekly project updates is a behavior that can be translated to pretty much every tech company.

    Another thing I recommend doing is making extremely high-quality technical design docs and socializing them with the team. You can learn how to do that with my course here: [Course] Frontend System Design Masterclass - Building Playlists. While it is front-end focused, all of the underlying core concepts are applicable to literally any stack. Following the advice of the course has 2 benefits:

    • It produces a clear artifact with the design doc that shows your technical depth in great detail
    • The meetings you hold to optimize your docs further build up your presence among the team, giving you the opportunity to show your sharp technical communication firsthand and definitively prove to everyone that you're a rock-solid senior engineer

    Best of luck! I hope your next update is about how your manager's feedback of you has greatly improved. 💪

  • 1
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    Fractional CTO, Board Advisor, & VC Tech Advisor
    4 months ago

    I'm going to second what Alex has said here. As a senior, you need to be communicative and get yourself out there. To an extent, you also need to start advising the business on trends they should look at adopting and how that should be implemented in the business.

    You definitely want to start with what Alex has said though and just increase your visibility within the team through design documents, mentoring, great code review feedback, and giving managers regular, but concise updates on how things are going across the project portfolio.

    One thing to keep in mind is that all managers have a different update cadence as well as workers, so just have a talk with them about what they feel is appropriate.

    I get the feeling once you dial this in, you should be in a good place. This is something that is so easy to fix and I expect it to happen naturally. Think about it this way, I had something happen in my business earlier today and first thing I did was communicate with my business partner and set up a meeting.

    Remember your manager and coworkers are your partners and you want to work together with them to drive the best business outcomes possible.