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How to navigate switching teams when working on a project that's dragging on?

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Senior Engineer at Taro Communitya year ago

I'm an E5 mobile engineer at a Big Tech company. Due to lots of manager attrition, I currently report to a hands-off Director with too many reports to have regular 1:1s. I found an awesome EM who agreed to let me join his team and promised me E6-scope projects on his team. My Director is his skip-level, so I'm staying in the same org.

However, before I could make the official team switch, my TPM loaned me to another team lacking mobile resources to meet the TPM's own OKR. He did not bother talking to the awesome EM or me beforehand. My scope on the TPM's project is E5 at most. Now that project is dragging on. It's already code complete, but they want to keep me on that project until it's fully rolled out. We're waiting for mobile adoption to reach a certain threshold before we can do a force upgrade. Due to the code chill around the upcoming holidays, we likely can't do the force upgrade until next year. In the meantime, the project's EM is asking me to investigate pre-existing bugs in their feature. The awesome EM met with the TPM and that project's EM to fast-track my transfer, explaining that he needs me for Q1 planning & our team's own OKRs, but the latter two insisted that I need to support their project until it's completely done, which includes the force upgrade. Am I stuck on this project until January next year or is there a way to switch teams more quickly?

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Discussion

(2 comments)
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    Am I stuck on this project until January next year or is there a way to switch teams more quickly?

    January next year is pretty close, so I wouldn't worry too much about this. Now if you were going to trapped on this thrashy project until late Q1 or Q2, I think there's some room to optimize here, but 1 month isn't really that bad. A lot of December isn't even real work as it's peak holiday season.

    It seems like your new EM is fighting for you, so I would just let them do their thing. What I do recommend though is time-boxing this all as much as possible. Push your new EM to work with the TPM/other EM to have a final date for you to stay on that project. Once that date passes, you are going to move to your new team, no questions asked - By setting it in stone, it will incentivize this other team to really get their stuff together as they can't rely on you to fill in the gaps forever.

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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    7 months ago

    Engineers feeling stuck on a project is not good for them and not good for the company. If you're unhappy on a team, and there's no sign of things improving, you should switch.

    The question is, how do you do this gracefully? That requires figuring out how you can switch without the team getting screwed over, and there's sufficient knowledge transfer? If you show how you're proactive with making the transition seamless (potentially even finding someone to take your scope), you won't be blocked from switching.