Episode 337: Helping the principal and Manager conflict
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:
I am a mid-level engineer with ~5 years of experience (1 year at my current company). My team has recently hired a new principal engineer, and I’m wondering how I can help the principal engineer. There is, as always, some organization-specific context that I am familiar with, and the principal engineer is not. As a mid-level IC, I am not used to being a repository of knowledge for engineers that many roles above me, and have only ever been on a team that hired engineers at my skill level or below. Are there general tips on how to provide help for someone who has much more experience than I do?
I have been in the industry for 5.5 years and have had 5 managers. My newest one (call them “S”) has been my manager for 4 months. Our communication is terrible. We do not understand each other and I am usually left feeling like I missed something or I am not interpreting his question correctly. I literally have told him “I am not sure what you want me to say” because that is better than “wtf”.
I ended up crying in a meeting because I was so frustrated and confused. I know and trust my team mates. This is only the second time in my career where I just did not get along well with someone. The meeting was supposed to be some feedback for him and me, some career development, and some goals for 2023. It ended up with him giving lots of examples of technical deficiencies, the fact that I am unable to work independently (which is not true, I ask more senior engineers for help), the fact that I give him pushback (no duh why at this point). He even said I was careless because I made some silly copy paste errors in my code (which we all do and is human). [Sidenote: he does not code. He just sometimes asks questions on prs or gives nits.]
I do not know what to do. His manager J used to be my manager. Should I talk to J about my issues since he knows both of us well? Do I go to my manager with ways that I would prefer our 1x1s go and how I personally like to get feedback? Do I ask for a new manager? I know he says he wants me to succeed, but nothing in the last 4 months have made me feel like that is true. I am a young woman in engineering, and I have never felt less trusted by a coworker. Especially the fact that I cried makes me feel like I may have lost more credibility to him. What do I do? Please help. I love my team. I just hate my manager.