About a month ago I started a new job at a smallish company. I've been a web developer for about 6 years and only worked in big companies, big enough to be listed on the stock exchange, for example.

At this new job I have immediately been given large, complex features to work on with little to no guidance and virtually no KT about the code base or business model.

All the developers seem super busy and somewhat elitist about the code. When I've asked questions in slack I usually get an answer in the form of "that's really not too difficult" or "I'm too busy right now." The team seems fairly defensive and negative as well.

I and the rest of the devs have been given a deadline for a major to-market release and aside from other people's feelings that it's not realistic, it's doesn't seem realistic for me because I am still very new and learning the code base as well as process.

Since I've never worked for such a small company, is this normal? If so, what can I do to better level set expectations with my boss and the team as to what I can do given X amount of time without seeming like I'm incompetent or unwilling (both not the case).

closed as primarily opinion-based by Dukeling, IDrinkandIKnowThings, gnat, Mister Positive, Jim G. Jan 19 '18 at 16:53

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    If you find yourself needing assistance from your coworkers to proceed or be productive but they're unwilling to help you, that's something you can / should speak to your manager about. – Dukeling Jan 19 '18 at 15:55
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    You are not really asking a question we can help with. If I told you normal was about 40 working days (2 months) to get to productive speed would that be helpful to you if your team expects you to be up to speed in 20? – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 19 '18 at 16:09
  • Are your questions show stoppers or something you can pile away until the standup meeting? – BirdLawExpert Jan 19 '18 at 16:19
  • @IDrinkandIKnowThings is right. This will vary from shop to shop. VTC – Mister Positive Jan 19 '18 at 16:35
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    20 years as a developer and worked for tiny (one room 4 guys) to big (thousands spread over many towns) and the problem is not of size but of organization. Getting from a environment where you got good documentation and one was (ahead of time) assigned to part time help and give you a overview is different from being throw in the middle of a chaos where everybody is too busy fighting fires and managent expects you to join jump in the fight in the hot of the battle is a shock – jean Jan 19 '18 at 17:00

There is no normal.

I've been in a great number of shops, and the variance between expectations can be extreme. Some will expect a developer with a fresh diploma to follow easily the rhythm of the veterans. Others will recruit only veterans and expect them to need one year to be fully operational.

There is no normal; there are different levels of expectations, linked to the local culture, to past experiences (some have been spoiled by ultra-efficient newbies, some have been traumatized by a long streak of inefficient veterans), to current constraints (a team used to giving time might be under heavy pressure for reasons, and ask more to the newcomer just because it needs more out of him/her).

In the specific case of other developers being busy, try to narrow the questions you'll ask them, and to identify when they are more available, to disturb them less. If you reach them with accurate questions like "I see the totals are split in categories 0, 1, 2, 3, but could not find the meaning of those categories", you'll be welcomed more warmly than if you ask "how do the totals work?"

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    yep, everything from "hit the ground running" to "Six months to get all permissions required for access" – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jan 19 '18 at 16:07
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    @TheSnarkKnight sometimes both of them at the same time... :) – Juha Untinen Jan 19 '18 at 16:15
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    I didn't realize so many of my coworkers were on SO right now – BirdLawExpert Jan 19 '18 at 16:16
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    @JuhaUntinen you are not kidding – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jan 19 '18 at 16:26

Consider setting up documentation for new developers (and developers switching to areas of the project with which they are unfamiliar) such as a Confluence instance. This way, you can make requests for people to help you fill in the blanks in documentation that needs to be written.

I'm doubt everyone will gleefully start contributing, but if you explain the benefits to management, and get their buy-in, it might help not only yourself, but the rest of the team.

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    I think under normal circumstances that would be a great idea but in this specific scenario where they're on a deadline that they're already probably going to miss for a to-market release it is a little unrealistic. – BirdLawExpert Jan 19 '18 at 16:17
  • It's a very small shop, setting up a comprehensive confluence page is probably not their top priority. – gazzz0x2z Jan 19 '18 at 16:42

I think you are asking the wrong question. There is no normal. At your current company it is what it is.

If you think you cannot meet your deadline you need to tell your boss now. If you think guidance will fix that then tell them. If you need to offload and get guidance then tell them.

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