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I've recently started working at a software development company where the style seems quite different to my previous experiences. Mainly, the work comes infrequently and after I finish it, I don't know what is next. When I ask, I'm told that some work will come in soon and just to wait. Other members of my team are often not busy either which seems strange to me.

In my previous company, we had a backlog of issues and any urgent tasks come in with a high priority so we know to take them first. This suited me as I could see what was next and I could keep picking up work myself without having to bother my manager to find out what is next.

What I want to know is: although I clearly like the previous style, is it wrong to expect that in every company? Should I try to change it? To me it feels like bad management but I don't have a lot of experience (about 3 years) so I'm really not sure.

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    There is a related question. – scaaahu Mar 23 '13 at 5:35
  • Is there something about the company that indicates why products may not be expanding with new features? Are they in the middle of a buy-out, refinancing or dealing with a struggling market? – user8365 Mar 24 '13 at 19:24
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To some degree, yes and no. Depending on the style of work you prefer, I'd say it may make sense to know what's next in some cases and in others it may not be that advantageous. If you were told to study some new technology and it turned out the company didn't want to use it even though you thought it would be a good addition to the platform, how would you handle that decision?

I would suggest asking your manager for low-priority tasks that may be worth doing in the background such as documenting systems, fixing minor bugs or other work that could be seen as useful but not critical to get done. There may be things they would like to see done but don't want to explicitly ask for it.

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    What's wrong with filling in extra unused time learning a new technology, even if you never wind up using it? There's always something useful that you can integrate with your current skills, even if it's just a slightly different way of thinking. – Amy Blankenship Mar 24 '13 at 13:24
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What I think I can read between the lines is that you're not really comfortable with the situation, right?

In my career - some 20 years as developer - I have never come across anything like what you describe, and it sounds like a waste of resources. Moreover, accomplishing things is what makes most people happy. Not waiting for something to do. In other words, this is a demoralizing work climate, so yes. Do something to change it or risk that you'll loose momentum in your own career.

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