288 episodes

It takes more than great code to be a great engineer. Soft Skills Engineering is a weekly advice podcast for software developers about the non-technical stuff that goes into being a great software developer.

Soft Skills Engineering Jamison Dance and Dave Smith

    • Technology

It takes more than great code to be a great engineer. Soft Skills Engineering is a weekly advice podcast for software developers about the non-technical stuff that goes into being a great software developer.

    Episode 287: Informal favoritism and post-hoc finger pointing

    Episode 287: Informal favoritism and post-hoc finger pointing

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    Listener Sara asks,


    How can I deal with favoritism towards informal leaders in a group? The group is losing group intelligence because the informal leader’s reasoning and direction is favored. Example: when member A propose an argument is dismissed, but when the informal leader proposes the same argument it is cherished.



    How do I react to the question “why didn’t you do it this way” for features already in production? I am frustrated by being asked that. I got scolded for an idea that turned out to be bad after I implemented it (in production), although I asked the Lead for his opinion ahead of time. As soon as trouble came up a.k.a performance issue in production, he pointed the finger at me. Lost all kinds of respect for him.

    • 22 min
    Episode 286: I don't care about borkchain and morning procrastination?

    Episode 286: I don't care about borkchain and morning procrastination?

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    I keep hearing about Web3, DAOs and Smart Contracts. Part of me wants to get excited about these and other shiny things but I just don’t seem to care all that much any more.


    How long into your careers did y’all stop getting excited about shiny stuff and how do you keep learning when it is not all that exciting to you any more?


    Maybe it is time to be a manager? 😛



    Every work day seems to start the same way. I check slack, then procrastinate for about 2 hours before feeling so guilty about getting nothing done that i actually start doing some work. Once i get started i don’t have any issues concentrating.


    I want to work, i like my job but i also can’t crack this habit. I am assuming this is not normal…any ideas that could help me out?


    PS: I think (might not be true) i use to be better at getting started before the WFH was the norm




    Show Notes
    Article by Dave on how to make your standups awesome: https://blog.standuply.com/are-your-standups-awesome-91fb124033be

    • 28 min
    Episode 285: Staying technical as a manager and skill over seniority

    Episode 285: Staying technical as a manager and skill over seniority

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    In the past couple of years I transitioned from a freelancer, to a full-time software engineer, to a product owner, to a manager of a small product development team. Due to the relatively rapid changes, I feel I have not had enough time to go particularly deep in my knowledge and experience with any of these roles.


    I’m currently focusing on developing the soft skills needed to be a better manager. I have this nagging feeling though that I should still be developing my technical skills. But in the grand scheme of things, is it still useful for a manager to continue to develop technically in order to provide useful input/guidance on technical decisions? Or would it be better to leave the technical decision-making to the team and instead focus purely on building up the team, supporting members in reaching their career goals, and improving processes? Thanks in advance for your thoughts!



    Hi! Love the show and recommend it to everyone, even if they’re just asked for directions…


    I’m the Front End Lead at a fast growing startup. I really want to start delegating more, so I decided I’m going to appoint a front end tech lead on each of our teams. I already have my tech leads picked out, but…..


    My problem is with one of the teams. The person most fitting for the job is a very talented, yet very junior developer. This team also includes a very senior developer, which I believe is not fit for the job at all. But the senior developer is looking for a promotion.


    I’ve consulted with my managers and they think passing over the senior dev is basically forcing them out of the company (or at the least, making them a very disgruntled employee).


    Right now i’m holding back my decision just because of this.
    Please help me!


    Thanks :-)




    Show Notes

    https://www.lesswrong.com/tag/paperclip-maximizer
    https://www.decisionproblem.com/paperclips/
    https://charity.wtf/2019/01/04/engineering-management-the-pendulum-or-the-ladder/
    https://charity.wtf/2017/05/11/the-engineer-manager-pendulum/

    • 30 min
    Episode 284: Slow mentee ramp-up and quit before new job?

    Episode 284: Slow mentee ramp-up and quit before new job?

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    I started working at a new company last month. I’m just under senior level (I-II-III-Sr) and I am working on a project with someone slightly more junior, who started there a few months earlier, to help them complete a project on time.


    Despite my best efforts, I can’t get on the same page with them. They ignore half of my suggestions, don’t give me straight answers to my questions, take forever to review pull requests, and are making very little progress each day without reaching out for help. I am not certain what to do, but I’m worried I’ll leave a bad impression with my new manager (who is actually pretty reasonable, I’m just paranoid) by missing the deadline, which is in checks watch 1 week.


    Any suggestions? Should I quit my job? (leave that option off the table for now)



    I hate my current job and cannot see myself working here for more than a few months. Is it better to find a new job before quitting? If I quit tomorrow with no offers from other companies, how does this affect salary negotiation for a new job while I’m currently unemployed? Finance-wise, I’m stable enough to not be working for months to a year but I am worried about not having current employment putting me at a disadvantage in my job search. Not working would definitely free up my time and energy (which is being steadily drained each day) to prepare for interviews.


    I recently got a raise and promotion to a senior role too. Does quitting shortly after look bad on a resume? I could coast for the next few months in my current job while I search for a new one but I feel like this would be in bad faith. It takes a long time to actually fire someone at my company for performance, even if I barely do any work.


    Thanks for reading my question. Love the show.

    • 27 min
    Episode 283: Jealousy and burnout

    Episode 283: Jealousy and burnout

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    Jealousy - as bad as it is, it still happens. I was the first employed programmer at a startup.
    Within the first year of my work there an colleague from my previous company I worked for asked me if it’s okay with me if he comes work for the same start-up as me. Since I strive to be a good person and friend I answered “yes”, but deep down I knew it is a bad idea and what I was thinking will happen, happened.
    So few years passed in the same company and my friend got promoted higher than me and into a position I wanted to move to eventually. The company is kind of small and there is no room for more positions like his (Tech Lead). So now I live with Jealousy. Each time I see his title I’m reminded of it and I don’t know what to do. I’m even thinking about just leaving the company and never work with friends again.



    I have been doing software development for around 7 years now and in recent times I have lost the enthusiasm to write code at work. I mostly feel bored and tired. I have no other marketable skill and talking to people usually exhaust me, so moving into a management path is not an option. Honestly, I feel like, these days I am at work just for the money; I love the money, no complaints about it, and I want to make more of it. How can I still be relevant and valuable even if I am completely bored and waking up to work feels like a work in itself, these days? P.S: I have already tried quitting my job and that didn’t help. Now I am at my new job. Six months in and I feel bored already.

    • 34 min
    Episode 282: Setting boundaries late and junior joy

    Episode 282: Setting boundaries late and junior joy

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    Listener Rafael asks,


    If you’ve already been working at a company for several months, how do you set boundaries with your employer as to when, time during the day, it’s acceptable for them to contact you? What can you say to your employer or colleagues if they expect you to respond to correspondence at all times, with a 30-min turn around? Can you adjust expectations after you’ve been working the role for several months, or is it too late?



    Hi, Do you see any benefits to being a junior developer? Any advice you would give to a junior, like “Hey, do this while you’re still a junior, once you’re a senior+ it might be harder to do or find time for it”?

    • 27 min

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