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Working With Your Manager Q&A and Videos

About Working With Your Manager

Doing this properly is a hard requirement for professional success. As a software engineer in particular, this relationship needs to be carefully navigated to achieve maximum impact.

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?

Thanks!

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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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