Episode 373: I have no vision and not-so-positive environment


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Love the show, you guys have saved my bacon more times than I can count!

    I interviewed at an organization for a Senior Engineering role, but the interview went so well, they actually offered me the option to accept a Staff role! I definitely didn’t feel ready for that, but I accepted as a way to stretch and challenge myself. The company has been through some internal churn and re-arranging for most of my time there, and I bounced between a lot of projects, which means I’ve now been at the company coming up on 2 years, but not really had the chance to grow into the role. Now, I’ve been here awhile, don’t have a lot of excuses, and am bad at being a Staff Engineer. My biggest failing, is that I lack a bigger vision for our project, beyond just meeting customer needs for today. I’m not even sure how to start building that bigger vision! In my current project, this is especially apparent, because we do need to meet internal customer needs, but the end goal is a larger platform. We need features that inspire new avenues of work as well as enable current ones. How the heck do I even begin to start imagining what this bigger vision could be? Moreover, once I have that vision, how do I get buy in for that vision? My inability to do this kind of forward thinking has been a boat anchor around my ankles my entire career, and I’m lost as to where to even start.

    Help me guys, I love my job, but I fear I’ve become the embodiment of the Peter Principle. Help me chew my ankles off to save my career

  2. Listener Trevor asks,

    I work as a data scientist at a small company. I joined the company specifically because of the positive work environment. I do mostly software development and until recently have only received positive reviews.

    Recently we had a heated meeting with the CTO and CFO where we demonstrated that a customer’s request wasn’t feasible. The CTO challenged and expressed disbelief in our numbers which we had thoroughly analyzed and confirmed as accurate. I felt like their reaction was due to our results conflicting with our business needs.

    After that, my manager began pushing me to prioritize data science tasks. He attributed the outcome of the meeting to my lack of attention to detail, even though the results were accurate. He also said this would affect my next performance review. We reached a resolution when I apologized and committed to improvement. I’ve only received positive feedback since, but I still feel the assessment was unfairly based on such a brief meeting.

    Now I view the company and my manager differently. Without the positive work relationships with management and colleagues, I’m not sure what is keeping me here. Our tech stack is outdated, and there’s reluctance to change practices. For example, we didn’t have a CICD pipeline until only a few months ago. Additionally, the performance review and promotion schedules are nebulous and irregular.

    I’m uncertain about my next steps. Should I address the perceived unfairness of the meeting feedback? Or would it be better to start exploring other job opportunities?

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