I have a question. I am a senior software engineer, not a team lead. I have received feedback on two annual reviews, from two different managers at two different companies, that team productivity could have been improved. Like this was negative feedback on my review. I was surprised to hear this, given that I am not the team lead and I thought this was the team lead’s area of responsibility. The first time I heard it, I thought it might be a fluke. However, given that I had similar feedback from a different manager at a different company, maybe there was something to it.
Is it normal for senior-level staff to be held responsible for team productivity, even when they are not team leads or managers? This was not spelled out in my job description. I am not one of those folks who frequently says “this is not in my job description.” However, being responsible for the team’s productivity implies a certain level of leadership and supervision, which seems crucial to be spelled out in the job description, especially as to whether I am authorized to engage in supervision of staff members. It would be easy for a team member to respond to me, “You are not my supervisor,” and they would be right.
Given, in both situations, I am finding that management hired staff that is dramatically underqualified with technical skills and/or professionalism. This is to the point where I have had to file feedback and complaints to management. Sometimes staff does not have adequate technical skills, where it is taking too long to get the job done. Alternatively, there is outlandish unprofessional behavior that is interfering with the work being done.
I have not been part of the hiring process, to screen candidates and bring them on board. With one company, I started giving management interview questions and criteria to look for when hiring new staff. Gradually, the new staff that was brought on board improved. For the second company, employee roles are getting outsourced to another country, where salaries are 10% of salaries in my country. It would be an understatement to say that this complicates the situation. Due to the lower cost of labor, I do not know whether management is willing to tolerate more errors.
Granted, if I am going to be held responsible for staff performance, I should have a voice in who gets hired/fired. Also, I should have authority to supervise, to ensure that staff is in compliance with quality standards. Without explicit authority, this enables unprofessional staff to undercut my instructions and get away with it.
The feedback further surprises me, because I applied for both the senior software engineer position and the team lead role at one company. I was not considered for the team lead position, yet I am still accountable for team performance as a senior software engineer.
My question is, is it normal for senior software engineers (or senior staff) to be held responsible for team performance, when they are not the team lead or manager? It would be helpful to get feedback from people in the information technology (IT) field. IT seems to have more gray areas in employee roles, than a factory that produces widgets on an assembly line.
Please note that my long-term career goal is to become an architect. I am not interested in a management track. I am not sure if an issue like this might come up again in the future.