It takes more than great code
to be a great engineer.

Soft Skills Engineering is a weekly advice podcast for software developers.

The show's hosts are experienced developers who answer your questions about topics like:

  • pay raises
  • hiring and firing developers
  • technical leadership
  • learning new technologies
  • quitting your job
  • getting promoted
  • code review etiquette
  • and much more...

Soft Skills Engineering is made possible through generous donations from listeners. A heart with a striped shadowSupport us on Patreon

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Recent Episodes

Latest Episode

Episode 417: Should I tell my boss I'm checked out and how do I deal with a PM who has no idea what he's doing?

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hey guys, love the show! (Insert joke here so you’ll read my question) Should I tell my boss I’m discouraged and have checked out? I’m the frontend lead for a project where I’ve recently gotten the vibe that the project isn’t really that important to the organization. The project is already over schedule and they have recently moved a few engineers off to other teams. Should I talk to my manager and try to work with him to get over these feelings, or should I just begin the job search? I’m 2 years into my first job, so it feels like it might be time to move on anyways. What do you all think? Thank

  2. Hi! I’m part of a team of 5 devs with an inexperienced Product Manager who is in way over his head. He was a support agent who, during the acquisition of our startup, somehow convinced the parent corporation to make him PM despite the fact that he had no experience within Product whatsoever.

    The corporation didn’t give him training, he has no experience in Product, and it shows. Our features are single sentences copied from client emails, and our top priority is whatever the conversation is about.

    He is argumentative when we try to talk about it, despite the fact that all of us are careful to avoid blaming him. We’ve tried talking to him one on one, in small groups, as the whole team. No luck.

    The Engineering Manager is at his wits end on how to handle this situation because:

    1. EM has no jurisdiction over PM
    2. The org’s “matrix” structure means EM’s manager has no working relationship with PM’s manager
    3. After many chats we’ve had with PM’s manager, his solution was for dev to pick up the slack instead - at one point our whole dev team was made to sit in *daily* 2hr long “refinement” sessions, spec-ing out empty features and writing user stories to try to sort out our backlog and roadmap - for 6 weeks straight

    PM’s skip level manager won’t give us his time. How do we deal with this situation when our lowest-common-manager is the CEO of this ~2000 person company, and PM himself is completely closed off to any constructive conversation from anyone who isn’t above him in the org chart?

    Love the show! Thanks for reading :)

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Episode 416: My boss wants me to build dark patterns and getting promoted without writing code

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. “I’ve been assigned a ticket to “add more friction to the downgrade process” in order to decrease the amount of downgrades our app has.

    The proposed change has 4 modals pop up before the user can cancel their paid plan.

    I would like to push back on this change.

    Any tips on how to bring up the fact that this is potentially unethical / a dark pattern?”

  2. I work for a mega corp software company as a senior engineer. My boss and I have been working on a promo for me to principal for the last year (I was passed on for the last cycle and so we are trying again in a cycle next year - aka still 8 months away). I previously was in the top 5 PR contributors in our org of 450 engineers, but we were reorged and I haven’t written a single line of code in 3 months. I enjoy doing architecture work and helping unblock teams with technical design solutions, but I’m not sure if not writing code is helping or hurting me. Is it just part of career growth that engineers at a certain level stop writing code and it’s a good sign for my seniority? Or is a big fat zero code contributions a red flag and I need to look for a role where I’m still shipping things myself?

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Episode 415: I got a low raise and merging teams

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hi guys! I’m a technical Data Analyst in a well established Fortune 500 company, in my job I usually work with databases to build queries and prepare reports for our users. In the past 2 years my team and I had a tremendous impact in the business with several successful key projects, and we received very positive feedback from the management during our yearly review. We are talking about an impressive performance that it’s very unlikely to be repeated again in the future, a mix of luck, great decisions and technical efforts as a team.

    I was expecting a substantial raise but my manager, who have been promoted recently and it’s the first time she’s doing this, told me that the salary caps are defined by our Headquarter’s HQ by looking at the average salaries for our roles. My salary is already high based on these statistics. There is only room for a 0.5% increase, which I approved, because it’s better than nothing, but left me with a bittersweet aftertaste. My manager felt sorry and promised that for the next year she’ll fight for more.

    I love my work and I consider myself already lucky to have this sort of issues. However, this method doesn’t reward outstanding performances and encourages to just “earn that paycheck”, knowing that whatever I’ll do, I’ll earn more or less the same unless I get a huge promotion to manager (which I’m not ready to do). I see this in our company culture.

    How can I bring this topic to the upper management and support my manager to change the system?

  2. I am a manager of a small team of four people. I am about to absorb another team of three. While we all work on the same “application,” we own very different “micro-apps” within that site. Our tech stacks are similar (node, react). The two teams have different product owners under a different reporting structure.

    I would love to merge the two teams. I think a seven person team would be more effective and resilient than two 3-4 person teams. Already with my four person team, we feel it when someone needs a couple days off.

    How could I plan for and execute a plan to merge these two teams? What considerations for the engineers and our product partners should I have?