Episode 383: In the trenches without writing code and how to close a social skill gap


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I recently started the interviewing for a senior engineering manager role at a fairly prestigious, but not huge (maybe 30-50 engineers) tech company. The job description heavily emphasized the idea of leading as a peer as opposed to just relying on the EM title. I love this approach, but the lead interviewer then disclosed that they don’t want EMs writing production code. This seems like a contradiction.

    Am I naive in thinking so? I certainly understand that taking on a more managerial focus will result in less IC work. However, as a leader I find a ton of value in staying close to the trenches. It allows me to earn the respect of my reports, empathize with their day to day, and sniff out good/bad decisions quickly.

    As an engineer with good softskills, it feels like gravity wants to rip me away from writing code. How do I stop this? Can I? Should I resign myself to a work-life filled with never ending 1:1s?

  2. Hello Dave and Jamison, thank you for your podcast. I have listened to almost all episodes and they provide both educational and entertaining values, you rock!

    I would like to ask you for advice. I am struggling with a problem related to communicating and cooperating with people in general. I have over 10 years of professional experience. I was always a hardcore nerd, sitting alone in front of the computer and programming, focused only on pure technical skills, everything else was unimportant. Most of my career I spent in small companies where I could just spend time writing code and I wasn’t bothered by anything else.

    However, one year ago I started to work at FAANG and now I feel overwhelmed. Technical skills seem not so important anymore. Most of the problems are being solved by talking, negotiating and following up with other teams, participating in meetings and presenting results to management. It stresses and burns me out. I feel it like a waste of time and potential but also I was never a people person, so I am anxious every time I am in a new social situation.

    How could I convince myself that such non-technical skills are equally important as technical skills? What steps can I take to improve my attitude and skills? What would you advise if you had to work with a person like that?

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