I am a software developer, my skillset, experience and my previous employer's trust and so on would qualify me as mid to senior-level.

At the previous company I was kinda "head of" backend department and I was often tasked with leading projects. So working in a more "regular" position is something new to me. There was always something to do. Right now I feel like the work is drip-fed to me.

I have recently changed jobs and in the new company for the week and a half all I'm getting is trivial tasks of "add something here" or "remove this from here". I get 1 task every time, I have to finish it and ask for another one. The problem is - these are trivial things that I finish in half an hour or an hour tops. Which means I have to constantly bother a developer who is a technical leader on my project.

What to do? I don't want to be bored at my work but I also don't want to constantly bother that poor guy. I have already asked the Project Manager about it and they promised to have some sort of task backlog for me from which I could take tasks freely. That didn't happen for a whole week.

Should I patiently wait for a week or so to see if things improve or...?

  • I think it would be helpful to characterize company and the project you're working on.
    – Simon
    Oct 12 '18 at 10:41
  • Can you not take initiative and create a backlog yourself by identifying things that need to be fixed or can be improved? You could then take that to your manager to see what he/she thinks.
    – jcm
    Oct 12 '18 at 11:56
  • have you considered, given you're apparently senior, taking the initiative and proposing tasks that will help things run smoother?
    – bharal
    Oct 12 '18 at 12:34

This is one of those questions I'd advise asking pretty directly to your technical lead or manager:

Hi x, I'm conscious that I end up bugging you a lot at present since I'm being allocated reasonably small, atomic tasks to complete one at a time. Is this ok, or would you prefer that I worked on something longer term in between these tasks so I don't have to ask so many questions?

Phrase the question in a "I feel bad bugging you all the time" way rather than a "I'm bored and pissed off because I'm getting crappy tasks" way, and you can't really go that wrong by asking it.

From experience, your technical lead is most likely giving you small tasks to complete so you can gain confidence and get up to speed with the codebase and their development methodologies / lifecycle. It's normal to be allocated these sorts of tasks for a while after starting a new job, then at some point you'll likely be given something "meatier" to get your teeth into.


You just walked in the door, do things their way while they sort out how to handle this. If that means asking for a task every hour then ask.


If you're a senior dev then I suggest taking the initiative.

Codebases always need improvement - run the app. I'd happily bet you there are warnings and little log errors. Clean them up, it's not hard to do, shows initiative and gets you familiar with the codebase.

What is the build process like? Can it be improved - if it takes more than 5 minutes, then the answer is yes, so see if you can improve it. Would having a faster build machine improve it? Then push for one.

What is the test process like? Does it exist - if so, is it multi-threaded (and how much time might that save?). If it doesn't exist, could you propose a test framework - perhaps one that business could drive?

There are countless ways to improve a software system, instead of going and asking for jobs, just make a few for yourself. If there was anything really urgent they'd tell you to do it.

  • That's actually a good idea. I was hesitant of doing that because I was afraid of being seen as "bossing around" right after joining. But maybe that's a skewed perception based on my anxiety. I think you might be on to something.
    – user134865
    Oct 13 '18 at 13:50
  • @user202729 it might feel like "bossing around" but it shows leadership. I guess that's a feature of showing leadership, really.
    – bharal
    Oct 13 '18 at 13:59

I suggest you talk to your boss about doing a passion project. A passion project is a task you come up with, using a technology you want to learn and/or use that you feel can greatly benefit the company. For example, developers always see something they can improve, and want to use some new framework/tech to accomplish it.

The key here is to phrase it so you highlight the company benefits, not just benefits to you. If it's agreed upon, you get to do something you love, and the company gets some sort of benefit for your time.


Your situation suggests that work on your project is organised ad-hoc primarily within the lead developer's head. This is a symptom of lack of organisation, and can be remedied by adopting a development methodology. One option is scrum.

In scrum, this kind of thing should be discussed at sprint planning. This juncture is an ideal point to call out the tasks you feel you have the information and expertise to complete. Once sprint planning has created a sprint backlog, you should feel free to begin any of these tasks without waiting for instructions, once you've completed the current one.

If you don't manage work with any kind of organised process, start. A first step might be to say to the lead developer and the project manager, at the start of the week, "Can we have a quick discussion to plan what I'm to be doing this week?".

  • 1
    I read and re-read the question text and couldn't find anything pointing that the project they talk about follows scrum / involves sprints and planning, did I miss something?
    – gnat
    Oct 12 '18 at 11:49
  • Did you find anything that says they don't? OP's situation suggests that a better approach to work organisation is needed, scrum is one option to provide that organisation.
    – Tom W
    Oct 12 '18 at 12:12
  • 4
    I feel like this could be a good answer if the employee in question were a trusted employee who had worked for the company for 6 months or more and still found this to be a problem. In this particular question, though, they have worked there for a week and a half. They've been told there is a backlog, they just don't have access to it yet... Because it's only been a week and a half. If we had a brand new employee who said, "Hey guys, I don't know how things are done here yet, but you need to use scrum!" my reaction probably wouldn't be, "Wow, I've never heard of that, we'll start immediately".
    – Keiki
    Oct 12 '18 at 12:33
  • @Keiki that's a fair point, and I have just now noticed the mention of the backlog - so that's the answer to the question - OP needs access to the backlog now and to use it the way a backlog is supposed to be used, to solve the problem.
    – Tom W
    Oct 12 '18 at 12:35
  • @Keiki well it sounds like you need to have an agile process for creating agile processes then. i recommend hiring 100 scrum people to help, but you'll need a scrum process for managing the 100 scrum people for making a scrum process for creating agile processes, so you'll need about 20 scrum management personnel. Happily, my scrum company "Scrumdom" provides high-quality scrum people
    – bharal
    Oct 12 '18 at 12:54

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