Episode 368: Manager in crisis and cutting costs


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I am a senior engineer working in a team of 7. My team lead went through a pretty rough divorce in December. Since then he’s been quite distracted and disengaged at work. I decided to help him out by temporarily taking on some of his responsibilities.

    Over the months things seemed to have gotten worse. He shows up late for the 10am standup meeting almost every day. He never contributes anything in stakeholder meetings. I am effectively leading the team at this stage.

    Last week we had a one-on-one meeting to conduct my annual performance review. I wanted to discuss my situation and a potential promotion/raise. Instead he spent the entire hour crying about his life situation. He also shared with me that he has been heavily drinking and doing drugs for the past few months. He is clearly in a very dark place. I have experience with depression so I was able to empathize and offer some advice. I genuinely feel bad for him and I’m a quite worried that he might not be OK.

    But now I’m in a difficult situation. I’m sleep deprived while trying to do the job of de-facto team lead/manager as well as my regular senior/IC role. I don’t think anyone in HR or management is aware of what is going on.

    I don’t know what to do about this. I feel that if I tell HR about the situation that I will be betraying his trust. (and I might even get him fired depending on how much I divulge)

    On the other hand if I do nothing then I’m the one who has to keep shouldering the burden without compensation. It’s also negativity impacting the team as I have no management experience while simultaneously my code quality is suffering.

    This is putting me under a lot of stress during a time when I’d love to spend more time with my newborn.

    Sorry for the long and difficult question. Even if you don’t answer it at least I feel better for sharing this with someone :)

  2. Hi there! Long time listener, first time caller. I’ve been working at a small, seed stage startup for a little over a year as a senior IC and team lead. There are developers on another team who have been working at the company longer than me who have… questionable practices. For example, in production they set their log level to debug because they claim it is critical for them to find and fix bugs. However I’ve never seen or heard of an example of them actually using these logs to fix a problem, and this results in log spam and higher cloud costs. Whenever I try to open a dialogue about this or another one of their practices, they’re quick to deflect and insist on not changing anything. They don’t get defensive but just don’t want to do anything differently. Usually I give them my opinion and let them handle their own services but we’re seeing real financial costs to their decisions. I know our greatest costs are on people but I think we should still be responsible with our cloud spending. How can I get these other developers to Quit Their Job™ or otherwise be more open to new ideas for their practices?

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