I work at one of the big 4 as a software developer.

I joined my team 6 months ago. I am not happy here. We don't have a direct manager, but another manager is "taking care of the team" alongside two other teams.

The manager doesn't have time to collaborate on our product or tech. Our product manager is not performing well, she is always away, or in training. We have to manager our backlog ourselves. I have a problem with another developer, he is senior but trying to shift our product focus to what I believe is wrong. However, since he is senior, he can always convince the manager to do so.

The good thing about this team is that I'm learning a new product.

I feel so burnout because of the problems with the product manager and that senior developer.

The other developer doesn't care because he is leaving the company in three months.

I'm thinking of moving teams, but I'm reluctant because the product is really nice, and I'm afraid to be a failure if I change teams in such a short period, maybe the new team won't accept me if they know that.

I'm afraid to escalate to my manager's manager because I'm afraid that he'll think that I'm a toxic person.

  • Hi fkwpbrs, I've changed the title of your question in hope to make it more revealing. Feel free to change it again if I got the key problems wrong.
    – Igor G
    Feb 20 '20 at 11:59
  • He knows things you don't. Be quiet and learn all you can. Feb 20 '20 at 14:35

You've laid this out as a problem, but what I see here is an opportunity. If this senior developer is leaving in 3 months you have a clock established for you to which you should be actively working.

  • Learn from this person. This doesn't mean emulate them. It means figure out what they're doing that works and doesn't work. Identify what needs to change and then work to change it. Seek help from peers to effect that change.

  • Identify individuals who can help you fulfill your agendas and goals. Begin establishing and fostering relationships with them. Find out how you can help them. Then help them there.

  • Begin asking questions of your peers and the people with whom your team operates. Have the confidence to push back on opinions and commentary that don't fit the goals of the team.

  • Start being present and having a voice everywhere you can. Make your comments useful.

  • Operate inside your organization in such a manner that everyone who encounters you instinctively understands your driving motivation is "How can I be better for you?".

An opening is coming, and your team clearly needs a leader. It's your time to show that you can be that leader, but you need to build the relationships in front of you to make it happen. Nothing can hurt you by stepping into the void to fill that need.

You mentioned another manager is "taking care of the team". This person needs help. I guarantee you they need help. It takes a very good manager to handle 3 teams effectively, and your description makes me feel this person may be just a little underwater at the moment and your team is suffering for it. They might be expecting the senior person to step up and be that help, and they're not actually getting it. Be that help. Reach out and ask how you can make the team better.

Don't attack the manager for not being there. Praise the manager for the work they're doing, and ask what you can do to help. Even the act of asking will be a relief for the manager. They want to know that the team cares and needs leadership. If you step in to help, this person can coach you to become that leader.

You'll make mistakes. Get over it. Learn from them. Get feedback. Encourage dialog and discussion. Hear your teammates and your team's peer groups concerns and genuinely do what you can to help.

Be the architect of your own arrival. Become the leader your team needs.

  • 3
    Sorry I didn't make it clear. We are 3 devs, and the one who is leaving is the other dev, not the senior one
    – anon
    Feb 19 '20 at 23:10
  • 1
    I am reading your answer, slowly ... but I'm not into being a leader. I like being a developer.
    – anon
    Feb 19 '20 at 23:11
  • @fkwpbrs: That changes things a little, but not by much. Relationships are everything to improving your situation.The technical and developmental issues are just symptoms. These relationships are broken, and if you can start fixing them you'll clear so many of these problems and improve your own situation in the process. Feb 19 '20 at 23:12
  • @fkwpbrs: There is nothing mutually exclusive about those concepts. I'm not asking you to step into management. I grade my senior engineers on leadership qualities more than technical expertise. Coding is the easy part. Working within the team and between teams is so much more than just being able to do a job. Only you can improve your circumstances, and relationships are the tool to do it. Feb 19 '20 at 23:14
  • @fkwpbrs: I rarely grant team moves for individuals requesting them for these reasons. Running away from the problem instead of working to fix it is a very fast way to put yourself in the wrong light for me. Feb 19 '20 at 23:17

The good thing about this team is that I'm learning a new product.

The other good thing is that it's an opportunity to show an ability to work well in a team.

I have a problem with another developer, he is senior but trying to shift our product focus to what I believe is wrong.

Unless you want to be a lead yourself (and your comments indicate that you don't - which is fine) then you're going to encounter this, a lot. If you only want to work where your leader's direction for a product matches your own you're going to be narrowing yourself hugely.

I'm afraid to be a failure if I change teams in such a short period, maybe the new team won't accept me if they know that.

A "failure" is perhaps an extreme way of putting it - but it is somewhat marking yourself as someone who cuts and runs at the first bump in the road or disagreement with the direction of those senior to you.

I'm afraid to escalate to my manager's manager because I'm afraid that he'll think that I'm a toxic person.

Again I'd say "toxic" is too strong a word - and there's nothing wrong with having a differing opinion from a senior or a lead, and I've always personally encouraged developers I've managed to speak up when they have a different opinion to mine. But ultimately if a team member can't follow directions where they don't personally buy into them - and would rather team hop until they find one they can agree with is either a prima donna or someone who just plain can't be counted on. Neither of which lends itself being a good employee. Especially where their other complaint is that they aren't getting enough direction/management - ask yourself this, if the product manager were the one taking the product focus in the same direction as the senior apparently is would you still be unhappy?

Honestly if you were to come to me asking for a team move in these circumstances I'd be reluctant to grant it because I wouldn't be convinced that it would do anything but move the problem to another team.


You say you're in one of the "big four." Those companies are (or at any rate pretend to be) meritocracies. So making a well-reasoned proposal isn't a career-limiting move.

First, do your best to set aside your personal frustration with your two leaders. Make it about business, not personalities. What matters is customer acquisition, retention, and ultimately profitability.

Make a short (short!) and clear proposal for the direction you think your product should go. What would be the result if you were king of your product? Start your proposal with a two-line executive summary. Spell out its benefits to your customers and business. Always answer the question "why?"

This proposal will take quite a bit of thought, but that's OK.

Then get feedback from a couple of friends on other teams, to tighten it up. Then ask your short-timer co-worker what they think of it.

When you're ready, ask for a conversation with your senior co-worker and product manager, and ask for a critique of your proposal. In person is best; it's too easy to blow off email. Listen to what they say, carefully. They may have access to information you don't, or wisdom you don't.

Be patient with this. It takes time to absorb new ideas, and your senior co-workers may claim credit for some of your ideas. All that is part of persuading people to change. Just roll with it.

If, after a couple of weeks, they won't listen at all, if they say "shut up and row," if they won't explain why they're doing what they do, only then revisit your idea about changing teams.

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