Episode 296: Low performer and frantic manager
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:
Hi! long time listener first time caller. i am the CTO of an early startup with 15 employees (12 engineers). 3 months ago, we hired a new engineer whose output is quite low compared to other engineers on the team. i have brought this up with him many times and tried to coach him on his debugging skills, time management skills, etc. After months of this, I am not seeing any change in output and am growing frustrated. At this point, I suspect that the engineer is just spending very little time on their tasks compared to others on the team (who admittedly often work late into the night). I don’t want to fire the engineer or micromanage his schedule, but am concerned that their slowness will impact our culture and product. Do you have any ideas on how I could help this engineer improve?
I started my first SWE job out of college at a startup in the bay area and work in a team of three. Myself, my technical manager, and one other developer who comes from an adjacent field. I came three years of interning as a developer at a very relaxed company with 3000+ employees. I’m finding I have a lot more ownership over my work now than ever before and I really enjoy that!
What I don’t enjoy is watching my manager run around like a headless chicken. Between managing all our jira boards, creating POC’s for a complete redesign of our core services, interviewing candidates, planning features for our existing services, and doing regular sprint work they have too much to do and not nearly enough time for all of it. This results in many things that are critical getting scrambled, forgotten, miscommunicated, or just dropped for lack of time on their part.
I’ve tried to take some of the small tasks from them that aren’t necessarily a manager’s job such as managing the jira board and help desk tickets. Unfortunately they insist that they don’t want me to take over small tasks like that because they can handle it, but the same issues from them being overloaded persist.
I think the team over all would be a lot more effective if they were able to focus in on particular tasks, but since they won’t let me help what else can I do?