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

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Soft Skills Engineering is a weekly advice podcast for software developers. We answer questions about all the stuff you didn't realize you needed to know about being an engineer:

  • navigating pay raises
  • hiring and interviewing
  • deciding to go into management
  • dealing with annoying co-workers
  • quitting your job
  • managing meeting creep
  • micromanagers
  • installing a ball pit in your office
  • and much much more...

For answers to these and other questions, our hosts Dave Smith and Jamison Dance are here to help.

Why should you listen?

Soft Skills Engineering listeners are awesome. Here's what they are saying about the podcast.

Saad says:

I owe you a lot, listening to Soft Skills has completely shifted my thoughts on what it means to be an engineer. It’s probably one of the more useful things I’ve gained during my time at Amazon. I kind of brushed this stuff off, considering some of it politics, and the rest unimportant, but boy was I wrong. It definitely helped me grow, and I’m totally indebted to you for that.

Recent Episodes:

Episode 87: Pushover Coworkers and Productivity Metrics

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This week Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

  1. My peers give up and say “have it your way” whenever we have technical discussions. How do I get them to be more vocal about their opinions?
  2. I like the idea of measuring things, but metrics seem easy to game. How do I effectively measure team and personal productivity?

Jamison cites this tweet and this blog post about examining your own productivity.

Episode 86: Sharing Salaries and Offensive Words

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This week Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

  1. Could you (Jamison and Dave) share some salary information publicly? It would help to know how much others make.
  2. My boss uses an offensive word in technical discussions. How do I ask him to stop?

Episode 85: Annoying Know-it-alls and Company Headshots

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This week Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

  1. One of my co-workers is a know-it-all, which is pretty annoying. How do I work with them?
  2. A former employer still has my photo on their team website eight years after I left. How do I get them to take it down?

Episode 84: Shy Developers and Outsourced Architecture

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This week Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

  1. I work with a very shy and anxious remote developer. How do I work effectively with them?
  2. Our manager is outsourcing the core architecture of our next products to an offshore team. How do I tell him I think this is a bad idea?

Episode 83: Gaps In The Resume and Moving To Business

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This week Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

  1. I think I’ve saved enough money to get out of the rat race. If something goes wrong and I need to get a job again, how do I explain a long gap in my resume?
  2. I like writing code but I’m interested in moving to a more business-focused role. How can I test this without burning bridges? Do I need to take a pay cut?

Episode 82: Blow Ups and Job Security

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This week Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

  1. How do I smooth things over after a blow-up between team members?
  2. A team mate admits he writes bad code on purpose for job security. What do I do?

Episode 81: Unwilling To Grow and Forced Out During Two Weeks Notice

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This week Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

  1. A developer on a team I lead doesn’t seem interested in growing. How do I help them engage more?
  2. I gave two weeks notice, but was told part of the way through to not come in any more. I still had work left and this made me feel bad. Is this common? Did I do anything wrong?

Jamison talks about the Khan Academy engineering culture. He kinda misquoted it though. They don’t explicitly say they lay people off who don’t progress.

Episode 80: New Team Leads and Constant Follow Up

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This week Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

  1. How do I keep up with new tech as a team lead?
  2. I manage a team. A manager from a different team wants me to run everything I do in my team by him. What do I do?

Jamison mentions this by Charity Majors on the pendulum between technical and people leadership.

Jamison also mentions this HBR article on employee happiness.

Episode 79: Story Point Misses and Measuring Productivity

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This week Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

  1. It seems like my teams always miss their story point commitments. Is this normal? How do you change it?
  2. How do you actually measure developer productivity?

The article comparing research on productivity in static and dynamic type systems is here. It is a great read.

Jamison also mentions Goodhart’s Law. Read more about it here.

Episode 78: Endless Rewrites and Fake Deadlines

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This week Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

  1. We’ve re-written the project I’m on 10 times without launching. What should I do?
  2. I worked hard to hit a deadline, only to find out the deadline was moved. How do I avoid this in the future?

We talked a bit about the value of deadlines way back in episode nine if you want to hear some positive things about deadlines.