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Manager expecting quick progress on the new features

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Anonymous User at Taro Community9 months ago

tldr: How to develop new features at a short turnaround time and avoid the stress of turnaround expectations.

I am asked to develop new features on a project with Hugecode base(>100k LOCs) involving Python flask and Angular for UI at a short turnaround time .

For last 4 months, apart from doing other projects I was expected to ramp up on this one. Due to other commitments and issues at personal front I couldn't get to this project.

Starting last week in the daily standup Mgr is asking for progress update in a slightly aggressive way. He is not understanding of my reasons and probably is expecting fast results due to other manager's project taking a huge spotlight. So there are external factors in play.

How do I ramp up fast on the codebase so that I can start contributing with new features fast? I am getting stressed because of unable for being able to deliver the code for features fast.

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(2 comments)
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    Android Engineer @ Robinhood
    9 months ago

    I have a few loose recommendations around execution:

    • Whenever you're given a feature, I'd recommend breaking it down into smaller milestones that can be demo'd indepedently. Give clear time constrained estimates for each milestone (make sure to give yourself more buffer as the milestones are further away): estimates will be tighter the smaller the scope and the smaller timeframe of milestones allows you slip in more time/buffer with less scrutiny.
    • See what parts of the feature can be parallelized: instead of doing everything at once, can some parts be done independently from the other? Are we able to build the Angular frontend on a backend that's returning stubbed responses?
    • Be defensive of your time by opting out of meetings you feel like you're not actively participate in or by reducing the frequency of recurring meetings you need to be involved in. You'll save time with less meeting and save time by having to context switch less (from my experience, a signficant amount of momentum for coding can be lost with a badly timed interruption).

    Outside of execution, it seems me the problem is that your manager has been pressuring you to ship faster, but doesn't have a clear view on why you can't & is not proactive with setting you up for success. This is leading to clear stress and frustration on your end, which is making you less likely to ship in a timely manner. I'd escalate to your skip manager (manager's manager) and tell them how your manager is putting pressure on you in an unhealthy way. You can likely get the feature out faster if certain conditions are met, but is doing so meaningful to you or the company in the mid to long term view? And is it worth the sacrifice of shipping faster for a potentially much more brittle feature (and ownership of said feature)?

    Hope this helps!

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    Senior Software Engineer and Career Coach
    9 months ago

    I agree with Jonathan's points on how you can improve the planning process.

    However, I'd say only escalate to the skip if you've had a conversation with your manager directly about this first, unless you have a really good relationship with your skip.

    If you do have the conversation with the skip, and they have a much better relationship with your manager than they do you, there's a chance it could come back to bite you in various ways:

    • Your skip views you as the problem instead of your manager (not your fault, just how it can be sometimes)
    • Your skip tells your manager about this problem in a way that isn't great, and it leads to your manager having a negative view of you, which then translates to worse performance reviews

    For having the conversation with your manager, I'd recommend following a framework that can help you address it directly but respectfully.

    I have a previous Taro answer that goes into how you can approach difficult conversations like this: https://www.jointaro.com/question/mNYdLgsDo6kejwgBli1c/how-to-scope-tasks-that-you-have-not-done-before/

    With that said, I'd say do this in ADDITION to what Jonathan pointed out. And you can even incorporate those into the conversation with your manager, saying that these are ideas you have for improving the process