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Working With Your Manager (221)

What is the expected behavior of an SDE 2 & SDE 3 when given a feature request?

Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Software Engineer at Taro Community

I work in a high-growth, scaled startup where my organization builds revenue-generating platforms and forms small teams to create new verticals. However, we face challenges such as fast-tracked, inexperienced engineering managers (EMs) who disrupt work-life balance and often expect overtime or weekend work.

Feature requests are typically communicated via Slack messages or one-liners, with frequent status updates focused on completion. There is significant bias and favoritism, yet I can operate in such an environment. Although I know the best long-term solution might be to move to big tech or a more stable team, I’m seeking advice on how to behave in this current setting.

I avoid responding to negative remarks within the team because the EM’s typical reaction to any request is dismissive, suggesting that bugs shouldn't happen or that tasks should be managed independently. I was down-leveled upon joining this team from a similar toxic environment but have since been promoted to SDE 2. My senior, an SDE 3, also struggles emotionally, which makes me question whether this is common in leadership across companies of similar scale and situation.

How do you handle working in such an environment? I am currently taking a course on managing up, which seems relevant. I focus solely on my tasks and avoid reacting to negativity, which is appreciated, but I’ve stopped working weekends due to shifting priorities and deliverables. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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PIP & Disability leave

Staff Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Staff Software Engineer at Taro Community


TLDR: I started a new job in September last year, and within three months, I was placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) with impossible tasks to be completed within four weeks, essentially setting me up for dismissal. Two months prior, I had been seeing a doctor for health issues, and they advised that the PIP would likely worsen my condition. The doctor recommended taking Short Term Disability leave to focus on my health. The tasks I was assigned for the PIP were eventually completed by two engineers (1 staff and 1 Sr) over four months. My Short Term Disability leave ends soon, and I'm unsure whether to return to my old job.

Question for this community:

  1. Is it a good idea to return to the same job after being put on a PIP and taking medical leave? (HR informed me that the old PIP would not be in effect upon my return from Short Term Disability leave. However, I'm unclear on how this process works).
  2. I want to change teams upon my return; is this something I can negotiate with HR before trying to go back?
  3. I like the company and its culture but ended up in the wrong team with the wrong manager. Is there a way I can remain employed at this company but join a different team and manager?

More Context: My manager was present during the hiring interview, where I clearly expressed my desire to move away from a particular tech stack. I was highly rated in the interview and received a generous offer, which I accepted. However, once hired, the manager assigned me to a project in the same area I wanted to avoid. Given it was a high-priority project and my first assignment, I reluctantly accepted. 1 month into the job, I faced a personal emergency requiring a few days off. I shared the reason with my manager, who seemed understanding at first. After that, the manager's behavior changed drastically. They began assigning more work, constantly switching me between multiple issues and projects, and bullying me in meetings. Despite working overtime (12-14 hours/day) to meet expectations, their attitude worsened. This was the worst manager I've encountered in my 14-year career who had unreasonable expectations as far as ramping up on the projects is concerned and it almost seems like I was hired to be fired in this situation. Note: This is not at Amazon.

Any other pointers would be appreciated. Please help.

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Should I stay or leave?

Software Engineer II at Taro Community profile pic
Software Engineer II at Taro Community

I'm feeling very undervalued at my current position. I've been working on my service the longest and therefore was the one that onboarded most of my team. In 2023 my manager and tech lead have largely been too busy to help. For instance, I only have 1-1s one every 2-3 weeks.

The new members we got on our team were new to the company and one in particular has relatively poor communication skills, so I have had to spend a lot of time onboarding them.

Unfortunately, in my performance reviews the main emphasis is on the work that I am delivering and there is not much emphasis on the impact I've had through the rest of the team. But the couple of months I tried focusing more on my work, I noticed the culture on the team degrading.

The hardest part for me has been that I have found my manager very unhelpful in helping me with my career and other frustrations. There have been multiple times where instead of helping I've felt as if he's blamed me. I have expressed this to them, but they have not changed.

Now I'm in late stages of interviews with 3 companies. I estimate the pay increase would be between 10-25% if I receive an offer.

Our team also just changed significantly, we swapped a mid-level engineer with a senior-engineer and got a new manager. They will be reporting to my previous manager so that manager will still be around.

I'm optimistic that the new manager and teammate will upgrade my situation but given the more than a year of frustration without improvement I'm still leaning towards leaving. Though I am having second thoughts as well.

I'd love to get any advice on how to handle my situation. Thanks so much!

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Finding more scope internally vs. swapping company

Mid-Level Data Engineer [L4] at Google profile pic
Mid-Level Data Engineer [L4] at Google

I've been a Data Engineer for most of my career and my observation is that scope as a Data Engineer can plateau and therefore I see a lot more L4/5 DE's than L6+. I think it is because you don't impact the bottom line directly and regularly.

At FAANG's I've worked at so far, finding new scope can be difficult even when you are working with stakeholders: it is "easier" to scope/build a product (i.e. SWE work) and show metrics of success to add value vs building a data pipeline which may be limited to them having a reporting need for example which often isn't the case especially in a more established firm.

I moved into a partner facing DE role to help more with scope/stakeholder exposure. The highest impact project I worked on so far is influencing an internal team to change the way we measure a particular metric. This involved mostly stakeholder management and nothing more complex than SQL queries from a technical standpoint. While it was fulfilling, this is also something I 'stumbled' upon and is rare due to challenges like partner scope/vision is limited/slow (their leadership can change and therefore you projects/ideas can), technical challenges of automating things because of larger concerns (e.g. privacy, lack of infra on their side which you have no control over) and so on (you generally have even less control than an internal DE).

In my current role, I am generally able to derive projects, but (in my opinion) they are limited in scope/value: i.e. build a pipeline, deliver an analysis. Therefore, even though the projects 'ticks the boxes' for an L5, it is not really driving a 'transformation' as an L6+ would. I also directly asked my manager what are some of the hardest problems we have, and have been told we have a lot, yet, I'm not hearing or seeing them.

Given the situation, would you:

  1. Move to a SWE role internally at FAANG for a more established path 'up' (not sure this resolves the scope problem especially at FAANG as I think SWE-DE's can almost be even harder to get to L6+ on because they generally lack stakeholder visibility and focus on more top down work?).
  2. Seek roles outside of FAANG where the scope of the work is already scoped to L6+ e.g. Airbnb so the 'heavy lifting' has been done in terms of scope.
  3. Refine your scoping strategy within you own team, and if so, how?

Note: my motivation is to thrive at work, this isn't for a promo, just incase the post comes across as promo-focused. :)

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Choosing between 2 projects

Mid-Level Software Engineer [L4] at Taro Community profile pic
Mid-Level Software Engineer [L4] at Taro Community

I switched jobs ~4 months ago and switched teams (not voluntarily) after ~1 month. My eventual goal is to (voluntarily) internally transfer into the AI org once I'm eligible.

During a 1:1 with my skip manager, I mentioned that my current team didn’t have much opportunity for impact. He floated a meaty project in a different org and asked if I was interested. Previous question . Let’s call this option 1. Afterward, I spoke to my direct manager, who presented opportunities in the other team that he directly manages. Let’s call this option 2.

Now I'm trying to decide between these options.

Pros of option 1:

  • More technically interesting
  • Platform/infra play that will eventually integrate with every single product => project has large scope

Cons of option 1:

  • Not sure whom I'll work with
  • Not sure how much support I'd get. (Good thing if lots of scope; bad thing if I'm flailing alone)
  • Org structure tbd: although my skip asked if I want to work on this, he’s loaning engineers to another org to fund the initiative.
  • Uncertainty re: how well defined the work is

Pros of option 2:

  • I know there are things that I can start working on tomorrow that are time-sensitive and needed for an upcoming product launch.
  • My EM manages this team and is responsible for the overall delivery. He seems to care more about this new project/team than my current team.
    • It sounds like my EM would rather that I work on option 2 than option 1
  • Product surface is high-visibility and therefore affords opportunity for impact

Cons of option 2:

  • I'm less interested in product / user-facing work, even though it's high-visibility

With all this in mind, does anyone have advice on which option I should pick or things to keep in mind?

Thanks for reading this far!

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Need help on how to navigate PIP

Entry-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Entry-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community

I've not had great reviews from manager in the past few months. I think it all started with me taking PTO for 3 weeks in december and something I handed over to team before leaving not working as expected. Before that maybe I had a made an impression that I was not proactive enough and it all escalated with this issue in PTO. They had to source a member from another team to get it done.

After I was back from my PTO I did work really hard to get back at the work left and finish diligently, but it again happened that after this work was merged, some other api's failed in Integration environment. And I fixed it soon and got it working. But by this time my manager had decided to put me in PIP I guess.

Now about the PIP, its 60 days long and the way my manager talked about it seemed like she wants me to take it very seriously and improve and she and other seniors can support me during that. My skip manager who is a director, however seems like a not so nice person, I also have a have monthly connect with him next week. He can easily influence the decision even if I do well and my manager wants me. How do I talk to him is one question? And how do I navigate this whole PIP is another.

Since the market is also very bad right now, I'm planning to work hard and complete every objective there is on the PIP document. What do you think about this? I am on stem opt visa and might have 3-5 months to find another gig that's all.

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How to give constructive upward feedback towards an Engineering Manager?

Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Software Engineer at Taro Community

A bit of context, I've read the EM videos on Taro, and I feel the one that I have is not on the same levels. They lack of many things. I fear to provide the proper feedback because my promotion and appraisal is on the line.

They got promoted from SDE 1 to EM because of the funding

  1. I would recommend my manager to others?
    ~ For people management yes, for technical stuff no
  2. My manager assigns stretch opportunities to help me develop in my career?
    ~ I don't really understand this question
  3. My manager communicates clear goals for our team
    ~ No they don't, don't have any documentation, a system design decisions are made on ad hoc basis, team is not aware about the changes.
  4. My manager consistently shows consideration for me as a person
    ~ yes people ops are good
  5. My manager effectively collaborates across boundaries(eg team, org)
    ~ Nope, there are certain teams expecting the manager to steer the ship but since there is no planning many of the things are pending
  6. My manager gives me actionable feedback on a regular basis
    ~ Nope 1-1 is there is no feedback for me
  7. My manager has had a meaningful discussion with me about my career development in the past six months
    ~ Yep promotion and appraisal talks as I'm identified as top IC + team lead who is proactive
  8. My manager has the technical expertise required to effectively manage me.
    ~ Nope, they lack
  9. My manager keeps the team focused on priorities, even when its difficult
    ~ This they do but always the output has no value only there is a hype and fear to get things done, no business value is generated
  10. My manager makes tough decisions effectively
    ~ They reorg the team only thinking them as a resource rather than how much context and individual has made in the project
  11. My manager provides the autonomy I need to do my job
    ~ They do and then I plan it accordingly but when a junior goes to manager he changes the scope and context
  12. What would you have your manager change?
  13. What would you recommend your manager keep doing?

But, overall I fear to write what I wish to communicate to the leadership.

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Worked with manager for promotion, but he suddenly got laid off. How to navigate?

Mid-Level Software Engineer at PowerSchool profile pic
Mid-Level Software Engineer at PowerSchool

I read and implemented a lot of the advice from Taro on building my relationship with my manager. I also worked closely with him for a year to position myself for the promotion to Senior. Every two weeks, I would meticulously document senior behavior in my "brag document" that I shared with him through Microsoft OneNote. Every month during our 1:1, I would ask him for feedback on what I needed to continue doing or change to reach Senior. During performance review each quarter, I used all of this to officially document my growth, and secured 3 Exceeds with 1 Meets. By the end of Q4, he was primed to go to bat for me.

Then he suddenly got laid off a month or two before names are submitted up the chain of command for promotion. I imagine others might have or will encounter a similar situation. In addition to layoffs, company reorganization or your manager jumping into another opportunity might have similar effects.

It feels like so much of my effort over the past year was futile. What makes this sting even more is that I'm fully aware of my company's promotion cycle, which is once a year in March/April. Promotions rarely happen outside this cycle.

What are some tactics to navigate this current situation and a strategy to avoid this single point of failure in the future?

Here's what I've done so far

  • Reached out to manager on LinkedIn to console him on layoffs. Fortunately he brought up the topic of my promotion and advised me to pass along a message to my next manager that we were working together on my promotion.
  • My company is still undergoing reorg, and I don't have an official manager yet, so reached out to his manager, which is the Director. The "brag document" in OneNote came in handy since I shared it with him and passed along the message from my manager
  • Started looking at other companies for senior roles. It's difficult to bear the thought of starting over from square one with a new manager within my current company and waiting a whole other year.

Here's my thoughts around strategy moving forward

  • Maybe work with manager's manager, in addition to the direct manager, for promotions. Would work more closely with direct manager, but at least touch base with manager's manager once a quarter regarding the promo.
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Promotion Level Project?

Data Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Data Engineer at Taro Community

I'm at a company where we are migrating from AWS to Snowflake due to Snowflake's simplicity and cost savings.

The Team responsible for the migration and in charge of Snowflake is led by a guy who is difficult to work with. He's not unpleasant, but if he gets you on the phone, he loves to talk and take up a ton of time. I was literally on a call with him for 2 hours yesterday because he goes off on tangents and likes to hear himself talk. He also has a bit of an accent which makes it harder to understand him.

So he's a Director and leader of that team and I'm a Data Engineer on an adjacent team. As part of the migration to Snowflake, he had the company agree to license a piece of 3rd party software to move data into Snowflake. This piece of software is one that none of the Engineers in the department want to use: it's old, closed-source, no one knows it and is a dead-end on a resume. On top of that, I'm pretty sure it's completely unnecessary! I think Snowflake provides a way of getting data into it that works as well. The biggest thing is the cost! It's a whopping percentage of our cloud spend!

This director had a good relationship with the VP of my department (my former skip) who was the one who signed off on the 3rd-party software but recently left. I was discussing the situation with a colleague today and realized that since my former skip is no longer around, I could potentially make the case to my new skip, which could earn my plaudits. It's an easy way to save the company a pile of money every year (multiples of my salary).

So I'm thinking of doing a POC of how I can replace the 3rd-party. I mentioned this to my manager today, and he said we already have a 3 year contract with the vendor. I think he's resigned to the idea that we're locked in for 3 years.

If I can reproduce the functionality of the 3rd party software (just bringing in data into Snowflake), should I make the case to my new skip (who doesn't know me yet)? I'm assuming I should go through my manager first.

Should I try and share the credit with my coworkers who also don't want to use the 3rd party and would probably back me up?


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Should I mention offers I turned down to my boss?

Data Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Data Engineer at Taro Community

It's performance review time, and I want a nice raise and bonus just as much as anyone else.

Standard procedure for getting a raise seems to be making the case for yourself: keep track of all your accomplishments during the year so you can present them to your boss when asking for a raise/bonus. Simple enough. I'm prepping that list of things right now.

It's also been the case that this past year I turned down 3 offers that each would have paid me more than my current gig - between 20% and 40%. Now, even though I'm underpaid at my current gig, it's also the case that I'm compensated for that by it being super chill - no deadlines, lots of latitude on what to work on, a nice WFH arrangement (1 day in office a week), and pleasant coworkers.

My question is, do I mention that I got the offers in addition to mentioning the things I'd accomplished over the year? There's an element of "hardball" in that, but maybe it's not a bad move. I guess the phrasing of it is the key. So instead of saying "I've got other offers, give me more money or I leave", it's "I really like working here and with you. So much so that I turned down other companies that were offering decently more. Can you see what can be done to raise my compensation?"

Finally, I'm aware that the best way to ask for a raise is :
"I really enjoy working on this team. I want to do more to increase my impact and empower my teammates - What are the steps I need to take to get to that next level?"

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Feeling stuck because of the unwanted office politics.

Staff Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Staff Software Engineer at Taro Community

tldr; I am a Tech Lead working in of the big tech giants, getting burnt out due to office politics and ignorant managers.

I am one of the few people (~20) who accidentally was made remote, this was the result of one of the irresponsible move from one of the tech giant.

Anyways, I was part of a team for almost more than a year and the company culture was a bit shocking to me as my manager refused to do 1:1, lack of quality work and ignorance because of me being the remote was evident.

Six months before I, including my team, was transferred to another team with a greenfield project (with little or no prior info), we worked really hard but after 3-4months, another reshuffling happened and most of the team was moved to other projects/team. After couple of months the team was finally dismantled, I thought we will go back to our original team but to my surprise, instead of retaining me, they hired two new lead engineers in their location. In between all of this I was surprised to know that my manager (previous) didn't fill my annual review, when I tried to contact him I didn't get any response. I also scheduled a meeting with him but he didn't show up.

Few weeks before, I was moved to another team, which I found was in the mid of big release. The Principal engineer who was responsible for the design and architecture of the system was moved out before I joined so there was no knowledge sharing per se. I tried to contact him but he is too busy to entertain me now. During the first couple of days, my new manager briefed me that I am the owner of this new project and I have to look after each and everything. The project in itself is very huge: It was in design phase since last 1 year, and it depends on 2-3 teams. Everyday I am pulled into random meetings where there is a lot of alignment going on with some crucial decision making as the project is going to be live in new few months. In the daily sprint the manager wants to make sure I have enough work assigned to me as well. In two weeks I am almost burnt out as I have little or no time left after hours of meeting and going through the random documents.

Recently I came to know that there will a week long in-person workshop to get an alignment on the various decisions on the current project and I am not invited, I pinged my manager for the same but there is a long silence.

As of now, I have little or no breathing space to prepare for the interviews and almost on the verge of burnout.

Few important points:

  • To my surprise my official manager is still the same manager (first team) and he has still not filled up my performance review.
  • I moved countries because of personal issues so leaving the company may not be easy as of now. I have a lot of financial responsibilities, plus the current market and immigration condition has made the condition worse.
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Advice for Feeling recognized in the team, while switching domain (e.g. C++ to python)

Senior Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Senior Software Engineer at Taro Community

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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How to talk to my manager about switching companies?

Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community

I joined company A in October (prior to which I did a contract job at company C for 1 month) but I already had an offer from company B which was delayed and joining was pushed to Dec. Now, I need to inform my manager at company A that I have to leave the company. It breaks my heart because all we have been doing so far is kind of training and stuff and no active work however, I do not like the kind of work I would be doing here as it is more like a Salesforce developer/ tester with the development outsourced and they are building a team to bring development inhouse. So even though the company is quite stable and has good benefits I have decided to leave it for a better paying role that I feel will satiate my career aspirations. Here are a few questions I am seeking answers for:

  1. The company has a Winter break starting Dec 22 and my manager goes on leave from 20, when should I break this news to him? (In my last company I informed my employer with a two week notice and I was given the last date to be just a week later. I am a foreign student in USA who has just started working and utilized almost half the number of unemployment days I have for this year to be precise 2 July, 2024)
  2. How should I tell him about this decision without burning the bridges. Honestly, I have this feeling that I am kind of cheating my employer so I am finding it difficult to justify it in front of my manager.

Thanks in advance!

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How to push for changes when not directly in a leadership position?

Senior DevOps Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Senior DevOps Engineer at Taro Community

Hi Taro,

I'm cross posting this from the premium slack because it was raised that the answers might help the broader community.

I work for a small company - the engineering org is approximately 60-70 people all told. The company is about a decade old, but has grown more recently, and I joined the small SRE/Developer Tooling team within the last year. Historically, the company has operated at a relatively slow pace, and followed practices that are, politely, out of date. Just to give an example of the kind approach the company takes:

  • We operate out of a single AWS Region, with no DR or failover capabilities
  • infrastructure was provisioned ad-hoc and manually, with effectively no Infrastructure as code
  • Developers would typically bypass deployment pipelines to manually update files or run commands, even for production systems
  • QA is primarily manually performed for our SaaS application. There is some automation, but this is something that QA runs and checks the output, instead of automatically tracking the output in some way.

In my role, I've been pushing for change where possible, trying to evangelize the better ways of working, such as Infrastructure as Code, logs sent to a centralized location like Splunk, and deploying to other AWS regions to assist in both regional lag and general DR/failover concerns.

Thankfully, there's definitely some purchase there by leadership, at least on a high level, as they're generally receptive to these changes and recognize that they cannot continue with the same old practices. However, this mentality doesn't appear to be flowing through to the rest of the engineering organisation. My team and I are repeatedly asked to revert changes we've made, often because developers are merely used to the way things used to be, or because PMs/teams want to stick to a schedule or speed that was only possible via shortcuts (such as manually provisioned infrastructure). All of this has happened despite repeated public comments by some in leadership against those requests specifically.

What can I do to push for these kinds of changes, when I'm not in any kind of official management or leadership position? I have no official power beyond a general remit by my manager to uphold certain standards for my team.

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Switching teams after joining for 6 months - How to go about it?

Entry-Level Software Engineer at Flatiron Health profile pic
Entry-Level Software Engineer at Flatiron Health

Hey all, I'm a new grad Data Scientist and I've been working for my current employer for about 6 months now. It's a mid-sized company so I didn't get the chance to pick the team when I first joined. I realized not that long into the job that I don't want to stay on this team for the long term, and today I just heard the news about another team actively hiring for Data Scientists. But I'm not sure if I should pursue this opportunity for a few reasons:

  1. I've only been at this company for 6 months and haven't gone through a formal perf cycle yet. This means that I would be evaluated on a "case-by-case basis" and would need approval from the HRBP and my manager.
  2. They are hiring for one level above my current role, although someone on that team told me it's flexible.
  3. My current team is understaffed and is currently hiring as well, so there is a risk of my manager not approving this transfer. This also means I won't have enough time to prepare for the interview.
  4. This is not currently listed on the internal job board (although supposedly this position was only released externally today so the internal job board might have been updated yet)

Here are a few reasons why I want to transfer to the new team:

  1. Due to the scope of the work on my current team, I feel that I'm not learning as much as I'd like to. It's not very technical and relies heavily on specific business contexts. I'm more interested in improving my technical ability in writing code and building products over learning business contexts, at least for now.
  2. A lot of my current work involves writing ad-hoc SQL queries to support other functions. I don't find a lot of value in this kind of work and want to invest my time in building stuff from which I can learn new skills.
  3. I interned on the team I want to transfer to and really enjoyed it. I keep good relationships with many of the team members and am familiar with their work. Also, I genuinely think the work they are doing on that team is very interesting.
  4. I don't see a clear way of progression on my current team. My current team was only established two months before I joined due to a reorg. Every IC on my team is brand new and my manager is brand new to being a manager as well. There are no senior engineers to learn from and I can't see what senior engineer scope looks like on our team.
  5. Our team supports the sales team in client communications, which means we have very unpredictable workloads and deadlines. Sometimes I have to work very long hours and take on-call requests which can be very stressful.

I really want to switch to a new environment but I feel like my chances aren't great. It would be great if folks could share their thoughts on:

  1. Should I reach out to the prospective team's manager to express my interest in this role right now?
  2. Since manager approval is required before starting the interview process, it's possible that I would have to stay on my current team with my manager knowing I want to transfer out. I think it is a situation I want to avoid but also don't want to miss the opportunity because of this.
  3. In general, what would be a good approach to this? And is there any specific advice?

Thanks in advance!

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Risk of PIP!!! Performance Review: Sometimes Meets Expectations x2.

Mid-Level Software Engineer at TikTok profile pic
Mid-Level Software Engineer at TikTok

My Role is Senior SRE

I received my second performance review and it came in at a -M which means Sometimes meets expectations. This is my first year in big tech and I'm at a loss for words. I worked 12-hour days since I started. The first 6 months I just winged it and did not realize how strategic and crucial these performance reviews were.

So for my second 6 months, I aligned with my team lead and manager. I executed every project they asked me to and even created some projects to help the entire team. I was led to believe I was doing good work. However, this Tuesday I received the news that my rating is again a -M. They said that they did not put me on a PIP because they saw improvement from the last PR.

They told me the reason was that I am one of 3 Sr. Engineers and that two of them are performing more than I am. Since we are rated on a curve I am last. 9 out of my 10, 360 reviews were positive and an M or above. I have a follow-up meeting next week with my manager to discuss my improvement plan. I also set up a call with my manager's manager for a coaching/mentorship call.
Here are my questions.

  • I feel like my manager sees others as more proficient than me. Even though other colleagues tell me I am better than the other senior engineers how can I break out of this perception my manager has?
  • How can I avoid a PIP? Our next performance review is in 2-3 months due to some changes they made in the yearly PR schedule. I don't think I can make enough changes during that time.
  • What should my approach be towards my manager and his manager?
    • I want to be humble but also direct.
    • I feel I am not being treated fairly but I also think the system may be designed this way. I don't want to appear like I am a victim either.
  • I fear that I will get a PIP due to my manager's subjective opinion I will lose my job, my apartment, and I will have lost the last 2 years of working myself to the bone. How can I escape being in this state of survival?
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Dead end job role at Apple?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer [ICT3] at Apple


I have 6 years of experience in the software engineering field, mostly working as a software consultant and at not well known startups. Having done MSc in the field AI, I got an offer to interview with Apple for an interesting role that seemed to have the best from 2 worlds - Software Engineering & AI/ML. To my surprise, after 6 interviews over the span of 2 months and an emotional rollercoaster, I got the job at ICT3 level and moved to another country. I thought I might be underleveled at first, but I kept thinking I actually don’t have experience in AI/ML so they’re levelling me as ICT3 must be right, I also don’t feel like a senior yet.

The situation I’m in now at work is very frustrating and disappointing to me, because of the following :

  • I’m still onboarding after 9 months in, without being in a senior role. There is no serious documentation, I have to “network” in a forced manner, to find out vital information for an engineer like “do we have 2 prod environments and when do releases happen”.
  • up until now I have not received any tasks or projects to sharpen my skills or keep the ones I worked hard for so far
  • I had to beg for 8 months to be included in a project, the explanation was “we’re in the planning stage, we’re waiting for OKs to get started”
  • I get neither serious SWE experience from this, nor ML/AI related one.
  • Over the past month, after telling my manager I would apply for other jobs if this situation (not participating in anything palpable - just meetings) did not change, they finally moved me to another team that’s closest to SWE that this role can get.
  • in the new team, they advertised this project that would mostly be backend work in Go. It turns out the codebase belonged to another team and the role that I’m in, does not imply bettering/maintaining their codebase or adding new features, it’s mostly data hillclimbing and adding some strings in the right places, so super humiliating after having prepared from DSA , system design & design patterns
  • I don’t get to touch any AI/ML models yet or work with them, because I don’t have experience with AI/ML
  • My manager is a new manager and has half the experience in the field as I do. I talked to him about my disappointment of being so undervalued and his take on this is, I first have to learn the tech stack to participate in “more advanced” projects. However my male colleagues, who joined the company a few months earlier than me, have been given more responsibility faster (participating in 2-3 projects after aprox. 6 months in)
  • Time spent in the office is not productive at all, I can’t do focused work there at all. People chat and socialise all the time in the open spaced office we all work in and there are at least 60 people working there. This forces me to work overtime & during weekends, to achieve deadlines for the project and to learn the needed tech stack
  • I’m starting to feel trapped in this job because it’s consuming my time, including my free time and I’m actually worried that if I continue like this without coding, participating in code reviews & other healthy SWE practices I’ll get out of hand and have a hard time getting another software engineering job or staying relevant in the industry
  • Maybe what I’m experiencing in this particular branch of Apple is unusual for FANG or even other Apple jobs and would be grateful for others’ opinions on this situation.
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How to handle negative surprise feedback?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community

I've been working as a Sr Fullstack Engineer for 2 years at a Series B startup. I've never received negative feedback, actually, I thought everything was fine until last week. My manager told me that I need to improve my Problem-Solving skills and ask better questions, she kind of implies that I'm a candidate for starting a PiP.

I agree that I struggled in the last 2 months (they switched me to a new project where I'm the only engineer and my manager only has 20% of her time for me), it's been super challenging but I'm trying to make it work. That means that I'm putting in more hours than I should frequently, and I'm starting to feel demotivated and depressed.

Honestly, this feedback took me by surprise, as no one told me anything about my performance during the last two months, I thought that even when I was struggling, they were fine with it because it's a new project and I'm basically on my own and no one is there that I can reach out to for help.

  • I have ~6 years of experience and I come from a non-traditional background.
  • Her feedback is vague, she says that I need to improve my backend skills, but she hasn't told me exactly what's lacking. "backend" is a big word.
  • My manager told me that I should think about how to get better and that is on me to come up with an improvement plan. This feels wrong to me, isn't that her job as a manager? how can I create a plan for myself when I don't know what she wants to see from me?

How can I better navigate this? Should I start looking for a new job? I like my job and it would be sad to leave.

What do you think?


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How do I give critical feedback to my manager?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community


I recently started a new position and I'm facing challenges with my manager's communication style. It's making my onboarding process difficult and I've noticed it's affecting our team's culture.


  1. On my first day, there wasn't a structured 1:1. I received a call with scattered instructions about completing 4 PRs by the end of week 1. When I mentioned needing time for machine setup, signing up for health insurance and mandatory trainings, my concerns were dismissed.
  2. By day 4, I hadn't been assigned an onboarding buddy. When I tried initiating a discussion, my manager seemed to think it was unnecessary. During an impromptu meeting, I wasn't given a chance to speak.
  3. My manager suggested working during my vacation. During that vacation, I injured myself but hadn't completed health insurance formalities to see a doctor.
  4. In the first week, I saw my manager confront our designer aggressively during a standup.
  5. In week 2, I was abruptly reassigned to a different project without clear communication to other stakeholders.
  6. During week 3, my manager had a heated debate with our team lead during standup. When I tried mediating, I was told I could leave the call.
  7. Again in week 3, I was told to drop everything to complete a security training by the end of the day.

Environment & Manager:

Speaking with peers, it's clear I'm not the only one feeling overwhelmed. Our onboarding process seems disjointed and the team's morale is low due to constant shifts in priorities. This all seems to link back to our manager's communication style.

Seeking Counsel:

While I understand I'm new and might not have the full picture, I believe this issue is beyond just my experience. I'm looking for advice from:

  1. Someone within the company with the authority to effect change.
  2. Someone who has dealt with similar situations before.


  • Given what I've shared, how would you handle this situation?
  • How can I maintain high performance when it feels like there are barriers?
  • How should I approach giving feedback to my manager?
  • Are there any strategies to improve my current situation?

Desired Outcome:

With your guidance, I hope to find a sense of balance and detachment, focusing on my role while navigating these challenges.

I genuinely want to make the best out of my current role and contribute positively to my team. Your insights and advice will be invaluable. Thank you in advance.

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Feel like I lost a lot of my time at my current company

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Anonymous User at Taro Community

Sorry if this seems like a rant. Trying to collect my own thoughts.
I have been at my current company as a mid level backend engineer (a startup - around 10-12 years old, went public recently) for around 4-5 years and have a total of 6 years of work experience.

I feel like there has not been much career growth. Got my first promotion after an year of joining the company and not much thereafter. Thus, feeling very lost about where to go next from here.

In the current climate, we had our recent round of layoffs in the organisation. Also, I don't feel very good about some of the things in the organisation such as the stuff I am working on. I don't feel I am learning enough. It is just business requirement - one after another, that too often getting cancelled. Last project I worked on for 3 months, got cancelled after that due to changing priorities. Stock price is plummeting as well. I feel like the best way forward is to restart my own learning journey - what are your thoughts? I used to be one of the top performers in my current and past company and even got awards around 3 times in last 6 years. I tried to work hard for promotions as well, but even after multiple rounds of my manager asking me to do things such as leading the team, multiple XFN projects, infra level revamps etc. - I did not get a promotion. I asked my manager if there is a list of things I should do consistently for a good enough time and if then, we'll be able to make a case for me. He said, that I am trying to gamify the system, but I was only trying to set goals for me. Now, I feel somewhere midway, I have lost my motivation. Feeling a little depressed and often evade work, just coasting to get by.

I want to take charge of my life again and be positive. Quite often I think about other career choices, but have always been in love with CS (and math in my childhood, particularly due to them being intellectually challenging). Just want to make up for the time I lost, and want to do some things I am proud of. I often think of my life being pointless in last couple of years. And want to get a renewed sense of motivation and be excited for the things I work on.

I feel like joining a fast paced place or somewhere I can learn a lot (even outside of work) might help. Don't feel very happy about my current situation though.

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How can I work better with toxic staff engineers and bring this to my manager's attention?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community


I am 8 months in, and there are only two staff engineers on the team.They are pretty demeaning (I find it almost racial, and sexist) and always try and create a bad perspective of me to management. My manager had no clue what I was working on, and she asked me if I consider myself a senior engineer? (I have been a senior for half my career) Only after I was removed from that toxic person's project, I grew and management trusts me now.

I am not a newbie, I have 11 years of work ex and previously worked at a FAANG, where I got exceptional reviews. I am now in a tier 2 company now, and literally anything I suggest to them is po-pooed.

Something as simple as a suggestion to maintain a on-call log as we are ramping up on releasing a new feature, was vetoed against by these two. Our on-call is dumpster fire, with no one knows what is going on expect these two.

Since these two know the technology well, they can get away with any behavior as managers is under pressure and just want this damn feature to launch. Our team is filled with junior engineers and contractors barring a few Senior engineers and these two.

Every task while planning for JIRA starts with "oh this is verrrryyy easy". But it turns out they don't know sh*t and their estimates and providing context is setting me up for failure. I quickly got hang of it, and figured out how to reach my target in-spite of their mis-doings.

They are rude, degrading (only towards me, I find) and are each other's allies. How do I bring it up to a manager without complaining or sounding emotional (I am a women, so its easy to say, I am overreacting by these two, I DO NOT trust them).

I don't want to run away, but stay strong and prove to them and management my caliber. But this also makes it harder to grow on this team.

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Seeking Advice: Advancement from L5 to Staff Role and Leveraging Knowledge for Impact

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Senior Software Engineer at Intuit

Hello Taro community,

I hope you're all doing well. I have a question and would greatly appreciate your insights and guidance.

Background: I joined the company last year (ex-FAANG) as an L5 level and have been actively involved in developing internal tooling for a new product. Recently, while exploring our growth and levels documents, I came across our internal rubrics that outline the expectations at each level.

Situation: After identifying a gap between my current level and the staff level, I expressed my interest to my manager. As a result, I am now leading a team of five individuals in the endeavor of implementing automation tooling from scratch. This effort encompasses setting up everything related to automation.

Additional Information:

While my background is primarily in development, I possess knowledge and experience in quality as well. Given the broad impact automation can have across the company, I am eager to leverage my expertise and make a significant contribution.

However, I am uncertain if my focus on quality within a developer role might put me at a disadvantage when aiming for a staff position as a developer.

I am seeking guidance on how to navigate the path towards a staff role, either by leading projects to completion (quality) within my team (& across) or by continuing to work on internal tooling rather than customer-facing products.

Or should I pivot to product development tasks - How do I navigate this conversation with my manager about this dilemma?

Lastly, how can I show metrics and impact?

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How does Stack Ranking work (at FAANG) and how can I be proactive at a base level?

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Senior Software Engineer at Self

Hi Taro - just wanted to say thank you for the .  I was wondering if you could share with the Taro community your thoughts on how managers evaluate their employees in detail (you mentioned some things like internal tools that one could go and see how many PRs, discussions, comments someone had in Github/JIRA and who all were at the top of that baseline followed by the bottom rankers; so I would like more specifics if possible).

Although no one likes it, it would be good to understand how "stack ranking" works at FAANG - and how some managers evaluate on this criteria, despite it being a practice that sucks. In this way I can just be more sure I'm hitting a baseline - even if it's invisible because I can take daily steps to work on my own visibility and perceived performance.

I feel like the biggest challenge right now is getting critical feedback from a manager / org (and it sounds like some companies in the FAANG space are pretty awful about it).  E.g. I read about a Redditor who got let go without much notice because they weren't up to par (decided by a skip level manager) in terms of their code and daily output (while the direct manager and everyone else had been communicating often that this employee's performance was great). But this goes back to the idea that 'great' is 'average' lately, and it's way harder to hit exceeds and greatly exceeds on performance.

Thank you in advance!

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How to set myself up for a good performance review?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community

I have joined this new company for little less than a year. I had interviewed for a different role but due to certain hiring constraints joined in a different team and role. The team I am in is not very technical, there's a lot of process and grind work that's part of the role. It is rather different from what I have been doing which was essentially automation of manual processes and deployment pipelines using tools and coding.

I had one review till now where I got an average rating, to me it seemed sub optimal given I put in a lot of effort to add value to the team. Some of the comments I received included that I should come up with my own ideas (this was with respect to a manual process that I automated which was lying in the backlog for over two years) and also related to some of the choices I made (manager asked if I want project A or B and I said I'm definitely interested in A).

To be honest, I feel my manager is nit picking and he also trivialized my work by making comments like anyone can code, ideas are important, etc even when no one from the team actively owned to execute the ideas.

I feel my manager doesn't particularly like me due to the above behaviors. In this situation how do I set myself up for a good performance review the next time. I would have considered quitting but I like the vibe of the company and some of the other teams are doing phenomenal work. It was hard for me to get in so even if I quit I don't want to quit without trying first.

In most of my previously held roles I became a go to person pretty quickly and got good visibility. How do I do this here?

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How to thrive in a new role that's much bigger than what I'm used to?

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Senior Software Engineer [L5] at Google

What should I think about and focus my efforts on when I get a project and a role that's of (1) bigger scope and (2) tighter deadlines than I'm used to?


A reorg has suddenly thrust me into the TL role for a very high-profile project on a new team. This project is part of OKRs 4 levels up the chain and has the eyes of several director level people across different functions. From what I've heard, this project already suffered from "too many cooks in the kitchen" syndrome, and on top of that, this project has delivery date set in Q3, which is quite aggressive from our org's standards.

I've landed in this position because I was transitioning to this team prior to the reorg, AND the EM/TL/PM/2 L5s has been reorg'ed out, and they needed someone who had previously TL experience and was willing to do it.

I've previously TL'ed a team of 4 people, with important but "normal" priority projects. This is clearly a great opportunity for me, but I am afraid I'm not ready to handle it and I'm at a bit of loss as to what I should be focusing most of my effort on. With the tight deadlines I have, I feel like every day will be a battle so any advice on how to approach this will be appreciated.

I have one other L5 supporting me who I trust very much and a new EM who's rumored to be very good. We currently have 4 SWE including me and we'll be getting more at least 4 more engineers, with lots of adjacent teams helping out. I do also have good standing and connection in the org overall and I know how to get a "normal" project in our org over the line (I did an in-org transfer).

What I'm thinking about right now

  1. Knowledge Transition: since a lot of critical members of the team are leaving and I am taking over, I feel the biggest priority in the near term is to absorb as much knowledge from them as possible. So far, they have some prototypes, and I wanted to get my hands dirty, so maybe I should focus on is to understand the work that's been done really well, and the design choices that's been made already?
  2. Gather support: I feel like biggest personal risk is that I don't know how to show up in higher-stake meetings with directors. Is it any different? Where do you all see the risk is?
  3. Enable the team: I know the biggest responsibility I have, more than anything, is to make sure the team is able to work on the project and help us deliver this. Aside from the L5, I don't know a lot about the people. I feel I should putting my focus on ensuring they are as successful as possible, not focusing on my own technical knowledge as much, for us to succeed. Is that a good way to think about it?
  4. Self-management: I anticipate I'll be very stressed and pulled in many directions. I already feel this way. What are some tools I can leverage in "crunch time"?
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Working with a micromanager

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Anonymous User at Taro Community

I am a mid level engineer and I work for a manager who has micromanaging tendencies. Some of these tendencies include,

  1. Going deep into implementation details of tasks that engineers are working on. I have been in meetings/discussions where proposed solutions by engineers have been ripped apart by this manager without them having enough context about why the engineer is doing it a certain way. This almost always leads into the engineer having to explain the nitty gritty implementation details to this manager to convince them that the engineer is doing the right thing. Overall, the manager shows very little trust on the decisions taken by the engineers.
  2. When there arises a situation that the manager wants something from an engineer, they will want it immediately i.e. within the next few hours, eod etc. The manager is aware that the engineer is working on a bunch of things but they will not show any regard for that fact. This means that the engineer has to put everything they are working on aside to produce the thing that the manager wants. The problem is that this happens very often and it results in engineers either having to overwork to get their job done or affecting quality of their work.
  3. The manager will put the engineers under extreme pressure to deliver projects on or before the deadline. This includes minor nudges in meetings, lunches, team activities etc. reminding engineers of the timeline to having 2 hour meetings to discuss where we are in terms of meeting the deadline.

I have a few questions based on the above context.

  1. How to deal with such managers?
  2. Is it sustainable long term to work for such a manager? I am considering getting to the next level in my role within the next 2 years, would it be advisable to continue working with this person?
  3. Do most managers have more trust on their directs than described in the above situations?
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What is the best way to let my management know I am looking for internal transfer?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community

For me i am looking for promotions. I architected, led a staff level project successfully with 5 engineers working with me over a period of 5 months.

Nor one person had a bad thing to say about me or the project and everyone agrees it was a major step for our team.

To be fair, I had a troubled relationship with a principal engineer who namecalled me in a public meeting with my engineering manager in that meeting and I decided to stop talking to him (i would avoid going to meetings with him instead of confronting him)

The principal engineer gave my managers feedback that I am trying to hoard information.

Now my manager is giving me the feedback that I don't go along well with more senior engineers (which is not true, it is just 1 person). I was denied promotion even though more senior engineers than me who I led are getting promoted.

There is also some resume driven development going on at the management level and pe level which is what I was asking questions about.

This was the reason for strong resistance against me and product.

From my end I have tried to normalize my relationships. But it seems my hard work may be better rewarded elsewhere.

I don't want to say all this but am curious how would one let their managers know that they are looking outside within the company. The reason for letting them know is they will get an email when I apply internally.

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1 Comment

How to Balance Responsibilities: Prioritizing Personal Work vs. 'Glue Work' in a New Team Environment.

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Senior Software Engineer at Ex-Apple

Hello everyone,

As a senior engineer L5 in my company for 1 year, I recently found myself in a new team with a new direct manager but report to the same Director in the same Org due to the recent company restructure/company reorganization as part of layoff changes. My Director and I are the direct responsible individuals for the Backend Platform System for the last 1 year. However, I am finding that a significant portion of my time is being taken up by "glue work," such as onboarding new teammates, updating the Wiki, documenting On-call Runbook, mentoring cross-functional team members, providing code reviews for new developers, and unblocking people in their code development. While these tasks seem important, they are making it difficult for me to focus on my own projects.

In my first one-on-one, my new manager expressed a desire for me to take on new initiatives. I am eager to do so, but I need to be able to focus on my own work to make this possible. My manager understood that the frequent on-call support was a blocker for me and asked me to train and onboard a new teammate to take over the on-call support, as well as field requests from users and help others with their work. However, I have still found myself doing a lot of training and providing support even two weeks since my last meeting.

I would like to hear from others who have found a way to balance these responsibilities effectively. How can I prioritize my own work while still contributing to the team's success? I know this will be a difficult decision, and I'm not sure how to approach it. I'm worried that if I stop doing some of these tasks, it may impact my relationship with my manager and team.

If anyone has faced a similar challenge, I would appreciate hearing about how you approached it. Did you stop doing certain tasks and responsibilities, and if so, how did it affect your relationship with your team? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

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Should I join the new team along with my manager?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community

Hi all,

Due to recent changes in the company (Big Tech), my current manager is moving to a new org and a new manager is brought to manage the team. I really respect my manager and they were amazing at supporting me (helped me grow from E3 to E5 in 2 years).

They mentioned the new team has an opening and mentioned that I'd be welcome to join if I wanted to. The new team is our company's top priority and based on initial understanding, their work sounds very interesting to me. Here are some pros and cons I could think of:

Not Changing Team:

  • Pro- I have great relationships with IC6s on the team and also junior engineers.
  • Pro- I know the codebase well and scope is well defined.
  • Con- Been working in this space for 2+ years and feel slightly bored sometimes. Skillset also becomes stagnant.
  • Con- Manager mentioned hard to find IC6 scope in the org moving forward.

Changing Team:

  • Pro- Will continue the same manager, who I have a great relationship with.
  • Pro- Exciting new space and top company priority.
  • Pro- Manager considers me as high IC5 and mentioned potential IC6 growth opportunities-(although since manager hasn't joined the new team yet- so I should take this with a grain of salt).
  • Con- Having to ramp up to a new team as an IC5 (seems a little risky considering layoffs).
  • Con- Unknowns like work life balance, team friendliness, team success etc.

Considering these, I am planning to talk to the senior manager in the new org to evaluate their team and vision. Since this is a unique situation, how should I approach choosing between the two? What kind of questions should I ask? Thanks a lot!

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Should I send my Boss a Raise Request Email?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community

I’m looking for a healthy raise at work of 15%-20%. To that end, I have done 2 things:

1.      Shared a file with my manager last week detailing things I have accomplished in the last year and their business impact.

2.      Asked my manager in our in-person one-on-one last week for a raise

My manager indicated it will be difficult for me to get a raise, both because raise guidelines are largely determined by how well the company is doing overall and because I got a nice raise last year and so the expectations were higher for me this year.

For background, I work at a big, boring, and bureaucratic finance company. I don’t think I did a particularly stellar job last year, but I benefit from being one of the few technical people on our business team, so am very valuable to the team. As a consequence, I can get away with doing a minimal amount of work, and I generally have a few hours during the day to spend it however I want. I am currently applying to different places, but realistically see if taking 3 months, plus or minus another 3 months till I jump ship. I have it set in my mind to only jump ship for a company which compensates at least 50% more than my current TC (which is low, by industry standards).

My question is, is it worth sending a raise request email to my boss asking him for the 20% raise? I’m leaning towards yes, but the counter would be he is already aware of what I want since I’ve asked him in person and shared my “ego file” with him, so I could be seen as overly aggressive. I would also only be recapitulating what I’ve already said.

The raise request format would be taken straight from Josh Doody:

Thanks for the guidance!

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How to avoid building the wrong thing when navigating ambiguity?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community

I'm an E5 at a big tech company. I've been on multiple projects where stakeholders waited until the very end of the projects to say, "That's not what I wanted." What can I do to prevent this from happening? I got feedback that I "need to navigate ambiguity". Does "navigating ambiguity" mean somehow predicting that stakeholders want something besides what they sign off on? If so, how do I develop this skill?

This seems to only happen on projects led by E6+ engineers or an M2. I have not had this experience when working with other E5's or more junior engineers.


  • Misaligned OKRs: At the beginning of the quarter, my M2 told me that it was okay to have a multi-quarter effort, so I planned to do an analysis and roadmap in the first quarter, then execute on improving metrics in subsequent quarters. My M2 signed off on my OKRs for the first quarter. When I provided my deliverables at the end of the quarter, the M2 said, "That's not what I wanted." Then he told me that he wanted metrics moved, even though my OKRs clearly said it was just an analysis & roadmap. I asked 2 mentors (a Director & an M2 - both not in my management chain) for a 3rd party opinion and they both agreed that there was no way to read my OKRs as moving any metrics. I'm confused why the M2 signed off on it and didn't say anything about it in our team's weekly OKR review meetings if that's not what he wanted. He gave me feedback that I need to "navigate ambiguity." When I asked him for concrete, actionable steps to navigate ambiguity, he said, "If you need to ask that, then clearly you don't know how to navigate ambiguity." I'm so confused! Please help!
  • Low-level design missing on a cross-functional project: The DRI (an E6 backend engineer on a different team) kept talking in circles & refused to answer questions whenever the other mobile engineer and I asked about the low-level design for our project. The other mobile engineer tried escalating to our EM, but our EM did not help us. As a last resort, the other mobile engineer and I aligned on the mobile implementations and built that. During end-to-end testing, the DRI said, "That's not what I wanted." He did the same thing to the data scientist. The project was initially scoped for 6 weeks, but ended up taking 2.5 quarters due to all the churn around "late findings". My EM gave me feedback that I need to have a low-level design before starting implementation.
  • Wrong requirements on a cross-functional project: The DRI (E8 web on a different team) provided a requirements doc that was confusing, meandering/disorganized, and hard to follow/understand. An E7 mobile engineer flagged that the doc is not a proper requirements doc at a TSG (Tech Steering Group), but the DRI ignored him and forced me to implement it. I asked for requirements clarification, acceptance criteria, and end-to-end test cases, but he refused to provide any of them. He told me that the requirements doc was all I needed. I escalated this to 3 EMs (my EM, the project's EM, and the DRI's EM) due to my bad experience from the previous project, but none of them helped me. When I asked my EM point-blank how to avoid building the wrong thing, he told me to just make sure I get sign-off on the low-level design in my mobile RFC. I made sure to get sign-off from the DRI before implementation. I also provided TestFlights every 2 weeks for the duration of the project. On the final day that I was allocated to the project, the DRI asked what happens in an error scenario. I said, "Exactly what was documented and signed off in the low-level design of the mobile RFC. Why would it be any different?" Sure enough, he said, "Oh, that's not what I wanted." When I asked why he signed off on the low-level design, he said he missed the flowchart that described the error handling. This happened even though I explicitly tagged him on that flowchart in the Google Doc. So the overall mobile design was about 80% wrong. Turns out his requirements doc said the opposite of what he wanted and that's why the wrong thing got built. The TestFlights had the wrong behavior starting with the initial build, but he missed this as well. His feedback for me: "needs to make sure we build the right thing". How do I avoid this in the future? My EM was unable to provide any advice on how to avoid this in the future. All 3 EMs resigned towards the end of the project.
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How to effectively onboard and train 20+ engineers for production on-call support?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community

Hi everyone,

I work for a company that offers online web and mobile apps for US-based customers. As part of a recent re-organization, all mobile, web, and backend engineers have been combined into a single on-call rotation. Even though most of these 20+ engineers (mobile + Web engineers) have not much context about the backend system, my director wants to alleviate the frequent on-call rotation, and he proposes having a healthy size of on-call rotation that uses the "follow the sun" model approach, which involves training engineers in different time zones to have knowledge transfer about the backend system and potential issues. I'm curious to know how I can effectively onboard and train over 20 web and mobile engineers for the on-call rotation while following this model.

The Backend team has compiled a comprehensive support run-book log for each corresponding issue/alert, which shows the severity, priority, and range of the issue. The on-call rotation involves acknowledging alerts and following the steps outlined in the run-book.

Please note that the support run-book is not a 100% comprehensive source of truth since the production system is integrated with multiple 3rd party APIs and systems, and the backend platform serves as middleware for both mobile and web applications. There may be instances where issues are caused by third-party vendors and cannot be solved by the on-call person.

I would love to hear your thoughts and perspectives on this matter. I'm also meeting with my boss for our one-on-one to talk about his idea. This is still an experiment, but would like to get people's perspective. Thank you!

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How to turn around my trajectory on my team?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community

I joined my current company a bit more than a year ago as an L4. Within 4 months, I'd launched a high stakes project, and after some churn in the team leadership, I was put into the role of being a tech lead to my remaining team of L3s.

As a pseudo TL, I did well in the mentorship and technical guidance responsibilities, but my code output dropped drastically (due to my projects being in the design phase which were being done by my juniors with me providing high level guidance).

In the last three months, I suffered some mental health issues. My work productivity dropped significantly during that time. I've been very open with my manager about my mental state throughout this process, and they've been very supportive of the things I need to do to recover. Around this time my team also hired an L5, who is now officially the TL.

Due to my drop in performance in the latter half of the year, I'm afraid my manager won't trust me with important projects. I wonder if I need to again prove my credentials to keep me on track for L5. I feel very low about my software development abilities.

This has made me demotivated and disinterested in my work. I took a couple weeks off, yet I don't feel like going back to work. I'm not considering changing teams due to immigration issues. I also don't want to leave a team on a low.

Any tips on turning around my motivation, and trajectory on the team? What can I change in my mindset and working style to overcome my struggles?

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How to deal with difficult a SWE2 on his promotion to Senior Software Engineer?

Anonymous User at Taro Community profile pic
Anonymous User at Taro Community


I am an Entry level Software Engineer( SWE 1) in my current team for a year now in a mid sized company. I have a matured tenure( 3 years ) SWE 2 in team who has been wanting to get promoted to a Senior Software Engineer for sometime now.

The situation is, in order for a chance for promotion, this SWE 2 was asked to lead a small feature implementation of 2 people where they ended up missing deadlines twice stating engineering complexity. Due to this situation, whole of the team, including Teach lead and SWE1s have swarmed in to help them meet the deadline which is almost a week from now.

The thing is, this particular SWE 2 has been calling me out in Standup and grooming meeting and in person to EM for not completing my story in time even though I am giving proper updates in standup and Tech lead hasn’t raised any concerns yet. According to this SWE2, the stories I have been working on should be completed in a particular x timeframe because he thinks so. They have not laid out any scope or plan where to make changes for it. Their argument is, unless I complete this task, the whole team is blocked because of me. They made it a point to convey it to EM along with PM. EM reached out to me in frustration and seemed content after I explained him the complexity and was able to deliver it next day morning. I had reached out to other senior engineers on team and they guided me properly to finish this task.

This particular SWE2 again called out my name again in my Tech Leads one of the PR and mentioned that other devs are blocked because of me. Tech lead gave a great suggestion to unblock others ( which he could have asked way earlier and implemented ) and others are unblocked now. When I reached out to this SWE2 asking an estimate for current story, in our 1:1 conversation he mentions go with your speed. We don’t really need your part to be unblocked. It will be a good to have. But he keeps on throwing me under the bus infront of team, EM and PM. This SWE2 lacks technical depth and keeps on checking with me everyday if I need any help. But they can’t explain anything properly and I consider it as a waste of time to even decipher their explanation because it tends to increase my confusion.

If it matters, we have our end year review next week and EM seems to think SWE2 is the one helping me (in fact not at all, can’t even explain a proper code change). This SWE 2 is one of the main reason I was given not meet expectations last time in our mid year review rating. I am scared of how much impact he has because of EM’s calling out, again on my review this year when in fact I have hardly worked with him this year. Please advise how to handle this situation.

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Ok to have low code output for IC5?

Senior Software Engineer [E5] at Meta profile pic
Senior Software Engineer [E5] at Meta

This quarter, my skip requested/ gave me an opportunity to lead an org wide efficiency initiative as we are at risk of hitting quotas for some internal services (he mentioned potential IC6 scope) and it’s quite urgent to act on it. My role is to start and lead a large team of engineers on this initiative which involves tons of direction to ensure our org isn’t over quota. I would look my role as a hybrid of TL+ TPM with following responsibilities: analyzing data to find opportunities, creating roadmaps for the program, supporting engineers for execution to reduce usage, project management, understanding and enforcing processes, building knowledge on internal services, coaching engineers, setting Eng excellence culture within the org. All that to say, given limited time and a need for someone to lead, I will be focusing on direction and delegate all of the execution work to the squad.

  1. How risky is it to have low code output as an IC5? Given the year is just starting, does it make sense to explicitly discuss this with my manager and skip that my code output will be close to zero in Q1?

I did read some accounts (anon post on WP) where EM and skip aligning on low code out out but the IC5 still got MM at the end because they had only 10 diffs for a half. I don’t want to be in that position.

  1. Should I deprioritize some direction work and allocate some time for coding on my timeline through P2 projects? This will increase diff count but that just seems not a great usage of my time. TIA!
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How to handle being on a team with slackers?

Anonymous User at Taro Community profile pic
Anonymous User at Taro Community

We are 3 people in my team. I've been at the company for 2 years roughly and my team mates for 15+ years. I'm in a situation where my coworkers do stuff, but stuff that's often completely unrelated to our backlog. One of them struggles with being motivated by the job. Occasionally, a 16-hour job takes a month to complete. Maybe 2. And you never know why or when it will be done. This causes a lot of tension with the product lead. The other teammate (focused on the front end) rarely makes any PRs. I'm not sure if it's due to the fact that they have mostly done HTML/CSS and are unsure of how to navigate the frameworks we use or what it is. Our manager tends to cover for us, but obviously he's not loving this situation. It's been like this for 1–2 years. Now it has started affecting my pay raise, and I'm starting to feel tired of always playing dumb or referring to the other great work that they're doing when asked what my teammates are up to. Both seem to be struggling somewhat with stress and anxiety, so I've tried to be compassionate with them. But what do I do? I want to take ownership of the team's performance, but it's difficult to know what to do. They have the senior roles, and they have most of the ownership of the project, so I also feel weird telling them "what to do," if that makes any sense. The company size is roughly 20 engineers, FYI.

Any advice on how to handle this situation nicely, i.e. making sure we're still friends afterward, would be highly appreciated.

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What should I do in a situation where my manager is well-meaning but incompetent?

Senior Software Engineer [L5] at Google profile pic
Senior Software Engineer [L5] at Google

Apologies in advance for a long question. Not sure how to ask this question without providing deeper context.

I’ve been working with my current manager for the last 1.5 years. While they have recently helped me get promoted to Senior, it’s been a constant struggle. I dread our 1:1 almost every single week because it always run overtime and we are often still not on the same page. 

I see two major issues that haven’t notably improved in the times I’ve reported to them.

(1) My manager isn’t able to coach me, or any of the SWEs on the team. My manager doesn’t seem confident when we have career discussions - I recently asked them what they thought was the difference between good TL and a great one, and they struggled to coherently answer this. Instead, they said they would know better after the next performance calibration.  Additionally, none of my teammate has gotten proper coaching either.  For example, a teammate struggled to submit code due to their poor code quality and thus had low CL velocity, so my Manager simply told them to submit more CLs, which only made them more stressed without a legitimate way to improve. 

(2) My manager lacks technical understanding of our projects and constantly pushes for speed. My manager was externally hired, and to this day, they don’t really understand the complexity of the work our team does. I understand EMs don’t need to contribute code directly, but my manager almost always underestimate how complicated the projects our team takes on are. As engineers, we frequently have to defend our timelines, which is not only frustrating but also pressures some teammates to favor suboptimal design or hastily done CLs that just causes even more churn. 

The weird part is, my manager often seem unaware of their own actions, and when I talk to them about these issues, they are always receptive to feedback and seem willing to improve. However, I simply haven’t seen enough improvement in the last 1.5 years. 

I could leave, since this is having an impact on my emotional well-being. But I do have good standing w/ my own team and the overall org, and I want to use this situation to learn as much as I could. I know that I myself have a lot to learn as a tech lead (Thanks for , it’s really helpful), and I know I can probably get a bit ahead of our projects and start estimating/de-risking earlier, so my Manager doesn’t get overly aggressive with timelines. I know I can also take this chance to more closely mentor my teammates and help them succeed, since they aren’t really getting it from our manager. 

I want to stay, but is it the wrong decision because I have little career support from my manager? If I do stay, what should I focus on so I can really help my team and at the same time learn something valuable for my career?

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Wary of current situation in terms of layoffs, need some advice wrt international relocation

Anonymous User at Taro Community profile pic
Anonymous User at Taro Community

I have been doing good at my current company, been here for 3+ years working initially as an Entry Level, then promoted after an year to a MidLevel Software Engineer. I have been receiving "Exceeds Expectations i.e. 4/5" rating since the beginning and "Superb i.e. 5/5" rating once.

I applied for international relocation to Singapore back in July. The manager and skip mentioned that while cost cutting is going on, they are making an exception for me and it should be processed completely by initial weeks of January 2023. In times of layoffs, and especially with my company's stocks not doing that good, I am afraid if it could lead to getting laid off. This is causing me a bit of anxiety.

Although it is being mentioned by leadership that no layoffs are happening, we are seeing projects getting cut off, rigorous re-orgs happening, and entire focus of the organisation is on cost saving, which I feel is great especially in current times.

I started the conversations for relocation when times were going good in terms of offers being posted in the market. The teams were thriving as well in terms of work. But by the time entire process got over, it seems the situations have changed. What should I do?

To add on, another thing I did sometime back was to share with my manager on how I am performing several roles of the next level and how it can be used to further the cause of promotion in the upcoming performance reviews. I tried to break down the career ladder doc into key umbrellas of behaviours needed, and assigned the initiatives I delivered under those. Now afraid if this was another way I shot myself in the foot by asking for more in times of cost-saving and probably being conservative. Please assist with your advice.

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Assigned too difficult work, what can I do?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community

I'm mid level, new to the company.

I got assigned a chunk of a bigger project owned by a staff level engineer, let's call him X, who has worked on the product for a long time and has a lot of context.

Things that were new to me: the language, the tool chain, product context. The codebase is several years old.

My skip level manager (1 level above my direct manager) once encouraged that I should aim to finish my work in less than 2x the amount of time it would take X to do it (but besides this I received no pressure, or reminder to push for this target from managers).

This was overly ambitious. I worked longer hours and harder than anyone around, including weekends but still could not finish it in 3x the amount of time initially estimated.

The staff engineer overestimated what I can do too. He's very willing to explain but I had a hard time mapping his high level explanation to what happens at the code level.

I could not tell if the standard here is high or the task is too hard. So I leaned towards putting in more effort rather than voicing my concern.

I also did not have a good sense of "are these unknown parts of the code base grok-able with a little bit of time or do they require a lot of time?" to estimate time spent up front.

In the end I got some barebone thing out and he took over. Still took him a couple more weeks to get the thing finished. Along the way he solved some problems I'm sure I have no chance of solving in that timespan.

With this evidence I was sure the task was legitimately too hard for me and was comfortable letting my manager know my opinion.

Back up a little bit, when I started working on the project, my manager knew I could not stick to the original timeline set by the engineer and encouraged me to take my time to learn the codebase. What is puzzling is my manager did not tell the engineer about this unrealistic estimate. The engineer reports to a different manager and has been around way longer than my manager.

Maybe there is some politics going on that I'm not aware of.

Anyway this has been a very stressful experience.

What could I do better? What should I do to mitigate any harm done through this experience?

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

Senior Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Senior Engineer at Taro Community

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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Per last performance review, how can I best demonstrate that I've improved since then to my manager?

Anonymous User at Taro Community profile pic
Anonymous User at Taro Community

I've gotten feedback from a mid performance review and my manager wants to see improvements in various areas. It includes improving my debugging skills by paying closer attention to pertinent details (and not getting distracted) for example.

Since then, I've become much more conscious and aware of the errors that I run into and much more deliberate in my debugging approach. This has resulted in me being able to diagnose problems much more accurately, and has also lended to me problem-solving much more effectively as well.

The problem is I'm not sure how to best demonstrate (or prove) that value improvement to my manager. Unlike PRs (which are often more visible in the value it demonstrates) -- you see what you get, my debugging skills/tactics are not readily obvious to the outside party unless they're observing my day-to-day activity. I can say that I've gotten better but if I have nothing to back that up with aren't they just words without weight? Who's to say that I'm even right in my own assessment without social feedback? I could be dunning kruger for all I know.

Is it enough for me to simply document those performance improvements and share (or talk about) them with my manager?

Note: My ultimate goal is to get promoted so I'm trying to (1) show that I've taken their feedback seriously and (2) demonstrate actual improvement since my last performance review.

Let me know if I'm thinking about this the right way or if am I overcomplicating it. Thanks!

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How do I turn SWE roles behaviors/descriptions into concrete actions in a startup environment?

Entry-Level Software Engineer at Series B Startup profile pic
Entry-Level Software Engineer at Series B Startup

Question: "For being promoted from SWE I to SWE II, how do I take the behaviors my company has associated with each role (below) and make that more concrete for a growth plan, taking into account the changing & flexible timelines startups have?"

For context, I already have weekly one-on-ones with my manager (who is new at being a manager & is also my mentor), and a growth plan (that I created with him) that roughly outlines (meets most expectations, meets expectations and exceeds expectations for my role). Additionally, keep in mind I work at a startup w/ <30 people so highly specific concrete goals set on a particular date can change in 2-3 weeks as priorities change. Also, my company has defined a series of behaviors as to what each SWE level should be able to accomplish. Here it is.

Software Engineer I (<1 year - 2 years)

  • Technical Skill
    • Broad knowledge of CS concepts
    • Focus on growing as an engineer, learning existing tools, resources, and processes
  • Getting Stuff Done
    • Develops their productivity skills by learning source control, editors, the build system and other tools as well as testing best practices.
    • Capable of taking well-defined sub-tasks and completing these tasks
  • Impact
    • Developing knowledge of a single component of our architecture
  • Communication & Leadership
    • Effective in communicating status to the team
    • Exhibits company’s core values, focuses on understanding and living these values
    • Accepts feedback graciously and learns from everything they do

Software Engineer II (2-6Years+)

  • Technical Skill
    • Writes correct and clean code with guidance; consistently fellows stated best practices
    • Participates in technical design of features with guidance
    • Rarely makes the same mistake twice, begins to focus on attaining expertise in one or more areas(eg. embedded , testing, algorithm, support code, commlink).
    • Learns quickly and makes steady progress without the need for constant significant feedback from more senior engineers.
  • Getting Stuff Done
    • Makes steady progress on tasks; knows when to ask for help in order to get themselves unblocked.
    • Able to own small-to-medium features from technical design through completion.
    • Capable of prioritizing tasks; avoids getting caught up in unimportant details and endless “bikeshedding”.
  • Impact
    • Self-sufficient in at least one large area of the codebase with a high-level understanding of other components
    • Capable of providing on-call support for their area including systems that they are not familiar with.
  • Communication & Leadership
    • Gives timely, helpful feedback to peers and managers
    • Communicates assumptions and gets clarification on tasks up front to minimize the need for rework.
    • Solicits feedback from others and is eager to find ways to improve
    • Understands how their work fits into the larger project and identifies problems with requirements.
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