It takes more than great code
to be a great engineer.

Soft Skills Engineering is a weekly advice podcast for software developers.

The show's hosts are experienced developers who answer your questions about topics like:

  • pay raises
  • hiring and firing developers
  • technical leadership
  • learning new technologies
  • quitting your job
  • getting promoted
  • code review etiquette
  • and much more...

Soft Skills Engineering is made possible through generous donations from listeners. A heart with a striped shadowSupport us on Patreon

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Recent Episodes

Latest Episode

Episode 248: Non-private slack channels and expectations


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. Our engineering manager keeps sneaking/creeping on our private slack channels. As an admin of the workspace he can join any private slack channel without being invited.

    I feel like this is an unacceptable behavior. What should I do? Should I just reach out to him and ask him not to abuse his admin privileges? Should I setup a discord server for me and my fellow developers? Or should I take the soft skills engineering advice and quit my job?

  2. Thank you guys for your awesome podcast.

    I have recently begun my foray into management with the reception of my first subordinate. I selected him due to his illustrious undergraduate project presentation and his ability to expound on the intricacies of said projects. But, I’m having a hard time managing my expectations. He is unable to complete the simplest of tasks, often going off on tangents that, despite being given the answer, result in spending hours in unrelated rabbit holes. Additionally, he asked for a high salary and was promised an increase scheduled ahead of review.

    As a first-time manager, I worry that I am inflicting unrealistic expectations especially since software is my passion. I enjoy learning learning new languages and technologies.

    What is the best way to let him know that he is not meeting expectations? How can I say this without my typical brashness which will ultimately result in me blurting out something to the tune of “you aren’t nearly as capable as you made yourself out to be”?

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Episode 247: Estimates and hotdesking


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. What is your opinion about estimates. Is it a good practice? Are they helpful or just a guess? Should we estimate in story points or hours? How can we improve our estimation skills to be more accurate? I really don’t like estimating. I don’t think it is a good practice because we almost never get it right. The teams that I have worked also almost always made wrong estimates, causing us to miss our sprints commitments frequently. Is it a problem with this practice, or there is a way to improve it? I heard about the Kanban method, that don’t use estimations, but metrics, to give predictability. What do you think?

  2. Hello Soft Skills Audio :) Love the show and the great advice, I look forward to the show every week.

    I just joined a company that embraces hotdesking and I’m having trouble feeling like I am part of the team. All the engineers report into the head of engineering but we work on different projects. I work with one other engineer who works remotely from another state, and take direction from the product owner who works from another.

    The culture of hotdesking across five floors of a multistory building means each morning I end up circling around hunting for a place to sit. Because anyone can sit anywhere, I could be sitting next to someone new from sales, marketing, finance, or engineering everyday. Everyone always looks hard at work with headphones on and our organization chart doesn’t feature profile photos.

    I’ve tried introducing myself to the people I find myself next to but it’s just small talk and I never see them again as everyone shuffles around. I’m sick of sitting alone at lunch and missing out on “watercooler” conversations. How do I make friends and figure out how I fit in with an office environment like this?

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Episode 246: Humanitarian salary conundrum and family benefits


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. I listen to the show while I’m working out and wanted you to know I’ve almost dropped the weight on myself multiple times when one of you cracks a funny joke (which is often, I’m learning to be more careful)😂.

    I work for a growing startup as a dev manager. Hiring has proven to be one of our most difficult challenges. We had one candidate in particular that would qualify as a potentially “Risky” since they lacked experience in our industry. We ended up hiring them because their salary requirements were so low, they were half of what we pay other junior engineers. They quickly proved be miles above the Junior engineer position. They have strong technical skills, are proactive with resolving problems, and have raised the bar for the entire dev organization. They currently meet all the criteria for what we would qualify as a Senior engineer at our company.

    I’ve started feeling uncomfortable about how little we are paying this person. I’ve brought this concern up with management, but their take is that if they asked for the little amount that they did, then we should leave them at that for as long as they are comfortable there. The part that takes this to a whole new level of humanitarian concern for me is that, in passing, I found out that this person is trying to get approval for adoption and that is why they had to leave their consulting background and settle for a salary job. I’m familiar with the adoption process and if we were paying them what they were actually worth (or even 25% closer to what that number is) the entire process would be different for them. I want to take care of the company, but I also believe that we should pay people what they are worth. What should I do?

  2. I’ve recently joined a new company (hoorah!) and even more exciting, I’m engaged (double hoorah)! Previously, I’ve focused heavily on my career progression and decided what a good job for me was based on my selfish reasons (more pay). Now, my priorities are shifting towards family first and I’ve been looking into any parental benefits the company may offer (unfortunately none).

    Is it worth looking around for a company that will provide better parental leave benefits and child-care days?