Episode 303: Should I stop coding and off to the field
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:
I’ve been a Staff Software Engineer at my company for 1 1/2 years. We have about 120 engineers company-wide. I’ve had 4 different bosses during the last year and our team has moved around a few times on the org chart.
I lead a team of 2 engineers. My boss told me I shouldn’t be doing any of the coding but should spending my time working with the product manager, doing research for upcoming features, doing code reviews, managing the Jira board, mastering jellyfish metrics, reviewing architecture documents, setting up measurement in our logging tool and coordinating deployments of our features.
Because my team is small and our product roadmap is pretty well defined, these tasks do not take 40 hours per week. I feel like I have nothing to do. I’ve tried to improve the velocity of the team by doing some coding and triaging on bugs. I miss doing the technical work and feel like I could do more but I also want the other 2 engineers on the team to own most of the big, bulky tasks.
What do you suggest I do? Should I enjoy my light load or should I be looking for other ways to add value?
I am the lead developer on a few projects with developers that have 20+ years of experience compared to my eight years. I have been made lead of the projects, but I’ve never actually had management tell the team that I am the lead or that I have any control whatsoever on the members of the team (typical ‘all of the responsibility, none of the power’ scenario). One of my teammates is tough. He writes unreadable but working spaghetti code. He also works in the field and will often times push to master and then leave to perform fieldwork, leaving the team in the lurch for several days before he can come back and fix his broken code. He habitually fails to push code, often holding the source on his own computer for months before pushing. I have mandated using pre-commit hooks to guard against breaking the build, but as IT has control over the repositories, these become “optional” and appear to be disregarded. I have brought this up with management, to no avail; the behavior continues. I have also expressed my concerns with management, and provided data on the impact this has to the project via tickets and time spent between the remaining team members.
How do I rein in this unwieldy developer? What else can I do?