Belle is new software engineer trying to do awesomeness. Manager brings in a friend who overwrites her work with a simple WordPress site. Manager is ecstatic but Belle is disappointed and hurt. What would you do, tech lead?
Here are more facts:
- It’s a volunteer organization and nobody’s getting paid
- Belle suggested the new site that the manager’s friend (Steve) developed but also told the manager she didn’t have time to build it
- Nevertheless she took the time to lay the groundwork with some Github repos, Jenkins build pipelines, etc.
- She recommended a more robust architecture with some REST APIs and other industry standard practices; Steve didn’t know what Github was
- The WordPress site that Steve built ignored all her recommendations and when he deployed it, all her work was destroyed
- The manager is ecstatic about the WordPress site, declares Steve a great software engineer, and worst of all tells Belle “you can learn a lot from Steve”
I documented some of the more interesting community feedback in our new Tech Lead Workshops Discussion Boards. Many of the comments recommended technical or process based solutions; some were good, some were awful imho.
But my favorite comment was something like, for any situation you can either love it, change it, or leave it. I liked that a lot because I have a feeling, based on my own experience, that what Belle is really struggling with here is she feels devalued and disrespected. She feels powerless, like clumsy beach volleyball players trampeled all over her sand castle. Giving her those three choices might let her retake some of the power.
Belle feels her technical contributions are wrapped up in her own ego which is getting trampeled by a chumy relationship between Steve and the manager. What’s significant to her is, possibly, going to come across as mundane or tedious to the manager. She probably knows that instinctively and that adds to her powerlessness.
In this situation, she may have to step up and make her choice: love it, change it, or leave it because nobody else is going to do that for her.
And it got me thinking that, if there was a tech lead in this situation, and it was you, it may be your job to protect her work and make sure she feels valued — even if the manager still thinks Steve’s the hero.
By the way, this all came from a StackExchange post that I read on the flight to the East Coast today. Thought it was super interesting, but the mods disagreed and closed the thread. I swear, they do that to all the good ones….
So maybe the actual question is not the title of the post. Maybe it’s something more like, “Hey Tech Lead, how are you going to protect your team in this situation?”
What do you think? What would you do? Continue the conversation on our discussion site.
Photo by Scott from Pexels