Staff engineers are extremely vital to any engineering team, viewing the landscape from the overall team charter level instead of individual projects.
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.
I have about 5 YOE and trying to grow from Senior -> Staff engineer but noticing that the path is taking longer than I'd hope.
This is the case whether I try to speak to other companies and ask about interviewing at that level or try to grow within my own company.
Within my own company: Requirements unclear, seems to be more time based (just keep on shipping). Since we're on the smaller side, we don't have a clearly defined structure like FAANG.
Externally: Due to the YOE, usually discussion of Staff isn't even an option even though I think I'm doing Staff level work. In fact, they usually decline the idea before even having a chance to explain what I'm working on.
The projects I'm working on span the entire org (startup), I have multiple mentees, and org-wide impact. I will be honest and say that I don't think the projects I work on are necessarily insanely technically complex (not going out to millions of users, dealing with hyper concurrency issues, or needing to deal with large scalability issues), but they do have a large amount of scope and senior+ level management required to run them.
I think from the project management perspective, I have things nailed down pretty well.
So I wonder if I'm either missing...
I'm essentially trying to understand what my gaps might be, and the technical aspect is one I'm unsure about how relevant it is.
Would appreciate any thoughts, especially from Staff+ engineers, maybe sharing what they feel makes them a Staff vs a Senior and how much technical skills play a role vs other elements.
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.
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?
I am been working as a Senior software engineer for quite some time now. To move to the Staff level, one feedback/pointer I got was to start developing opinions on how to do certain things. When people start respecting your opinions, they start to see you as a leader.
The problem I have is, in many cases, I don't have enough relevant experience for the problem at hand. Also, I find, that in discussions I am listening more than I am speaking. Having no opinions, and finding it hard to express opinions for fear of being judged and losing respect in case my opinion is wrong, are the problems I am facing.
Is there any advice on how to develop these skills?
I have 10 years work experience, and I have previously worked at a FAANG that had no levels (big clue here!). So regardless of the scope of work, we were Senior. That kinda played at a disadvantage to me when I found my self looking for a job due to a layoff and visa issues.
I believe I am working at staff capacity, leading 5 folks, driving initiative. But I feel like I am unable to "show" Impact. We have metrics at each level. I have addressed the same with my manager, went over the metrics and identified gaps and took action.
I got lukewarm response, at best from other staff engineers and management. No idea if at all I will be considered for promo, and I get no response besides stating, it is a lagging promo.
Right now, I have no visa issues, so I can hop around other companies, I want to move back to a FAANG+ company because of higher pay.
Question is :
How do I ascertain my promotion?
and which of the following is a good bet:
What is the role of Staff Engineer at a early stage startup where infrastructure is on an average setup? In terms mobile application it is standard app with migration scope to react native but there are no takers for migration at all (only product release need)
Here how can staff engineer play a role and how to deliver product and engineering goals with awareness to large eng teams?
I’m an E5 at a Big Tech company. My team’s E6 does not communicate or delegate effectively. He dives straight into the weeds without providing proper context, then gets frustrated and explodes when people ask questions or do the "wrong thing" because they are lost. I’ve seen him do this to multiple team members, including my EM and another E5 teammate. He always assumes that everyone has the same context that he has and is unable to tailor his communication to the appropriate audience. How can I best work effectively with someone like this? He would delegate tasks to me without providing acceptance criteria or proper context, then explode when I ask questions or do something other than exactly what he had in his mind (but never communicated properly). Is there a way to fortify my questions so he’s less likely to explode on me? My EM thinks that this E6 has a “my way or the highway” approach because he’s not used to people challenging his ideas. The E6’s feedback for me is to drive discussions more. However, I find it challenging because he leaves out critical information, then explodes and shares it only when we pull teeth about it in team discussions. I tried sharing pre-read meeting docs beforehand, but he still waits until the meeting to explode / share his feedback. Unfortunately he's a domain expert in this area, so there's no one else I can extract the context from.
I'm an E5 at a Big Tech company. My EM's pushing me to lead projects on our team so I can work on getting to E6. This is challenging when the E6 on my team tries to micromanage everything. How do I lead when I keep getting overruled? The E6 usually makes good decisions, but oftentimes struggles to articulate his rationale / justification.
I'm an E5 iOS at a Big Tech company. Our team's E6 backend and E6 iOS tend to dominate our team discussions, often talking over each other. I get the impression that the E6 iOS wants to be the smartest person in the room and enjoys micromanaging all the details, but the E6 backend enjoys challenging him. When I proposed a solution to one of our project's challenges, the E6 iOS quickly shot it down but could not propose any alternatives. The E6 backend challenged the E6 iOS to explain why my idea wouldn't work, but the E6 iOS just talked in circles. It seemed like the E6 iOS just didn't like it because he didn't come up with it himself. How do I avoid making the E6 iOS feeling threatened? I'm a bit hesitant to contribute to team discussions due to this dynamic, but my EM wants me to contribute more.
I run into this from time to time where more Senior and Staff Engineers take interesting projects. I’m usually left with ones that take medium time and medium impact. How do I find projects for myself that expand my impact?
I'm an E5 at a Big Tech company. My team's working on a very ambiguous project. 3 opinionated, vocal engineers (2 E6, 1 E5) tend to sidetrack our brainstorming discussions by playing devil's advocate to shoot down ideas. How do I drive these meetings forward with this dynamic? We often rehash the same discussions over and over. When we're close to reaching a decision, oftentimes someone would throw a wrench into things. Moreover, some engineers require upfront planning and want to finalize all the details before committing, while others prefer to defer the details to future milestones. Both my manager and team are getting frustrated, but are unsure how to fix this.
I am a tech lead for my team of 5 engineers. I am also a senior eng intending to climb up to staff level.
My manager is not very vocal or supportive and seems reluctant in terms of helping out a plan for myself. I have been working hard though. How can I work with my manager to create a promotion plan for myself and get buy-in from them?
I am not sure if I should move up the eng ladder or transition to management, but are there any guidelines for creating a written promotion plan and manage up so to speak?
An E6 and I recently joined an existing team and are working with an E6 who has all the historical context on the project's requirements/limitations in his head. The PM is brand new to the team and the company. The EM and designer are also fairly new. The newer E6 often proposes architectural directions that the more tenured E6 shoots down due to this context. Is there a good way to extract all this context from the more tenured E6? I feel like we're often throwing things on the wall and just seeing what doesn't get shot down -- things get shot down more often than not, unfortunately. The more tenured E6 said it'll take too long to document all the context.
I worked on backend for 10+ years and was a Tech Lead before switching to iOS for the last 10+ years. I was offered an E6 position at a Big Tech company, but I asked to be down-leveled to E5 due to imposter syndrome since I mostly worked at smaller startups and didn't know what to expect. When Leadership later found out that I have backend experience, they started pushing me to do backend. Is it easier to get to E6 doing only iOS or doing both iOS and backend? I'm much faster coding iOS than backend since I know the Xcode shortcuts, a lot has changed in backend over the past decade (e.g., AWS, Kubernetes, etc.), etc.
Often we talk about how, when getting feedback during a PR or Design Review, there are mistakes that I have seen, at least in my case, creep up repeatedly. Any tips to ensure that the learnings stick?
I’m currently relatively happy in my current role working on challenging problems, I like my technical peers and management and during my 3 years here I got promoted from entry level engineer to senior engineer (SD1 to SD3).
However, given the scope and impact I provide, it feels like I can potentially make ~100k more (50% increase) with a job hop talking to multiple recruiters.
The worry is that I lose the equity I built in my current role and be exposed to layoffs at the new company. Also, getting promoted to staff engineer for a similar compensation increase would probably take a while. I’m tempted to switch jobs to maximize compensation.
I got promoted last half to IC5 and have been leading impactful work streams within our team. I am enjoying my new role and work. In our last 1:1, my manager asked if I wanted to lead a very high priority org level initiative that has impact across multiple teams and suggested this could be a potential staff level project. While this is a great and unique opportunity for promotion, I am also nervous about taking this up because:
Wanted to get your thoughts on this and what you would do in my position? And if I say no, should I be worried about my manager passing me up for potential opportunities in the future? Thanks!