12

I am a software developer for the last 5 years. I like this work and since I started this career I have been in 3 companies. Each change resulted a good raise of the salary and more interesting projects. The last months I am feeling that I am getting more and more pushed to the ropes. The tasks that I have to do seem to get more difficult for me but my co-workers seem to struggle as much as they always struggled.

The last two weeks I actually didn't manage to finish what I was supposed to finish (although I was affected and driven backwards by the work that other developers had to do). I was expecting to get told off for my performance but nothing happened. The meeting went smoothly and I am just expected to make a pull request for my code (I am starting another project and that was decided before the time period I am speaking about).

I don't know if they were expecting me to crash and burn and I didn't and that's why people were happy. I dont know if they are just polite. I know that openness is a thing where I work and they would tell me something and also developers are hard to find where I live so they would not risk making me want to go for two bad weeks.

So I want to ask, assuming the management identified my bad performance (I am sure they did), why would they not tell me anything about it?

P.S. I have already spoken to a colleague today to have some guidance and work with him to improve myself, but I am sure he didn't have the time to tell to anyone yet.

6
  • 1
    So this is the only and first time you've not delivered as per agreement? Sep 18 '20 at 13:07
  • 7
    Could it be that you're being too hard on yourself? Even if you think you've performed poorly, your performance might be within the margins of what your employer expects. I would hope that if your employer found your performance unsatisfactory, then it would get flagged up. This doesn't always happen, and sometimes there are nasty surprises, but ultimately if you're not sure then there's no harm in asking.
    – Touchdown
    Sep 18 '20 at 13:18
  • 7
    Why are you so certain that others noticed (or are even concerned with) bad performance for the last 2 weeks? Sometimes work falls behind and as long as it's occasional, there should be no problem.
    – teego1967
    Sep 18 '20 at 15:22
  • 3
    If you normally produce 20% more (better) code than everyone else, then a bad week might have you off by 10%, yet still far above the rest of your team.
    – CGCampbell
    Sep 18 '20 at 15:39
  • 2
    "The last two weeks I actually didn't manage to finish what I was supposed to finish" - Five years as a software developer and you haven't worked out that deadlines are meaningless/optional yet? Frame challenge; you weren't told off for underperformance because you never underperformed.
    – aroth
    Sep 19 '20 at 13:18
31

There are a lot of reasons they might not have said anything. As a leader, here are some reasons I might not:

  1. They might have known it was going to be a miss so they weren't surprised. Surprise misses are when my attention gets snagged.
  2. If this is a super rare occasion, they might view this as a one off. No one can hit every deadline every time. If it becomes a pattern, it will be time to speak up. They may be allowing you to course correct.
  3. It might not be classified as "bad" performance. While to you it may seem poor, it's possible your standards for performance are higher for yourself than theirs.
  4. Times are tough right now. Everyone is going through a lot of things both personally and professionally. When someone misses, it doesn't help to pile on unnecessarily.
  5. They may be afraid you might leave if your past performance is as good as you hint. It doesn't help to make a big deal of every performance miss. It only adds stress to people.
  6. It's just possible they have no idea that you missed because other people around you have missed so much it has become kind of "normal". (really hope this isn't the case)
  7. They just might not care.

There will be plenty of other possible reasons. These are the reasons I would apply for myself if I wasn't going to mention a miss. Numbers 1-4 are the primaries for why I don't speak up for when it happens. 5-7 will never be on my personal radar, though I have known leaders for whom it has been true.

4
  • @jmoreno: There are parts of 5 that fit into my personal radar. I don't like adding stress, and I don't make a big deal of singular performance misses. That being said, I'm not afraid of people leaving, and I still mention performance misses. When I do it, it's from a frame of "how can I help", so #5 doesn't factor into why I wouldn't say something. I would pretty much always say something. Sep 18 '20 at 17:09
  • 2
    I'd add the option that they just didn't notice. Unless there is some really stringent KPI tracking system in place (the kind that would make this a terrible place to work), 2 weeks is just not enough data to indicate a problem. The boss has surely bigger things to worry about than tracking the performance trends of all his/her employees every 2 weeks.
    – Seth R
    Sep 18 '20 at 19:52
  • Your team leader may have set goals in a way that hitting all the goals results in being finished two weeks earlier than planned. In that case, missing five days is fine, missing ten days gets them worried but is still fine.
    – gnasher729
    Sep 18 '20 at 19:53
  • 3
    One thing that I needed years to learn, is that one tends to overestimate how much other people are thinking about them. So don't sweat it. And I think Mike Robinson's suggestion should be self-evident. Your manager would (or should) know if you have something to worry about - that is what they are for.
    – Mike Wise
    Sep 19 '20 at 11:12
19

Hey – go have a private chat with your manager. That's part of what s/he's there for. Don't let these feelings stay bottled-up inside of you. Go get some perspective.

9

The last two weeks I actually didn't manage to finish what I was supposed to finish (although I was affected and driven backwards by the work that other developers had to do)

Two things immediately jump out to me here:

  1. Failing to finish a 2-week sprint is not all that unusual, in my experience. It's not ideal, but it happens from time to time.
  2. You didn't fail to perform. You were blocked by someone else's work.

When this sort of thing happens, in general, the expectation is that you go to your boss (or PM, Scrum master, or whoever is tracking your work) and tell them that you're blocked, what's blocking you, and (if they ask) any other relevant information. Then, you say one of two things:

  • "Hey boss, since my work on X is blocked, I'm going to start working on Y instead."
  • "Hey boss, my work on X is blocked, and I don't have any other tasks assigned. What would you like me to work on instead?"

After that meeting, you'll either start working on Y, or your boss will assign you something else to work on. Either way, you're no longer blocked, and you're off the hook for X (at least until it gets unblocked).

A couple of additional notes:

  • It's somewhat culture-dependent, but in general, you want to avoid making it sound like you're blaming the other developer for your blockage. Focus on the facts, try to stay dispassionate, and (where possible) refer to tickets or bugs rather than people or teams.
  • If your bug tracker can keep track of which bugs are blocking other bugs, use this functionality religiously. It makes the PM's job a lot easier when they're trying to figure out why no one has made any progress on X, Y, and Z in the past month.
  • If you are struggling to make progress on something, for any reason, it's almost always a good idea to let your boss know as early as possible. They may be able to get you more resources or other help, and even if they can't, they will appreciate the advance notice.
    • Of course, there's a balance. It wouldn't make sense to inform your boss every time you get stuck on some minor issue for five minutes. Use common sense.
2
  • 1
    This answer covers nearly all the points I was going to make. I would suggest pointing out that if being "driven backword" implied spending time helping others on the team or accommodating last minute requirement changes than the value provided to the team may in fact be greater then the value of completing the assigned work.
    – psaxton
    Sep 19 '20 at 2:10
  • Frankly in my experience, spending time to make the entire team more efficient is the step from a developer to a senior position.
    – psaxton
    Sep 19 '20 at 2:13
5

The last two weeks I actually didn't manage to finish what I was supposed to finish (although I was affected and driven backwards by the work that other developers had to do).

First, the assigned task are by definition estimates. Sometimes they are pessimistic (or you just happen to be lucky) and you finish ahead of schedule. Others they were too optimistic and they take more than expected. This is normal. Occasionally you will not finish in the scheduled time, within reason, this doesn't mean that the performance is "really poor". More often than not, it simply means that the job required more work than what it seemed to.

Second, even if the estimates were perfect, you already mention that you were "affected and driven backwards by the work that other developers had to do". That's more than enough for breaking expectations. If you had to rewrite half your task in order to adapt for the changed api by JDoe, the changed task might take up to 50% more. Similarly, if you had to finish work that was going to be by other developers, or even there were more important duties that required your attention. As the circumstances have changed, missing the initial estimate is not unheard of.

Relax and don't be so hard against you. If everything else thinks the results are acceptable in context, it's not worth worrying about it so much.

3

So i want to ask, assuming the management identified my bad performance (i am sure they did) why would they not tell me anything about it?

Perhaps they are being patient and seeing if you are able to do better going forward. But everyone here is just guessing.

Only management knows if they saw a problem and if so, what they expect you to do now. If you really want to know, you'll simply have to talk about it with them. If you have regular one-on-one meetings, that would be the right time.

If you are afraid to ask, just let it go and try to do better.

0

I am a software developer for the last 5 years.

The last two weeks I actually didn't manage to finish what I was supposed to finish...

That hardly constitutes a pattern of bad performance and not something where I would expect management to feel the need to intervene. Even the best of us miss the mark now and then. Your boss knows this. If you've otherwise been a good employee, they very likely didn't even notice. I can almost guarantee your boss has much bigger things to worry about than an employee who had a bad 2 weeks. Two weeks in years-long career is nothing.

So if you've identified the problem, go ahead and fix it. Make sure these last 2 weeks don't become a prolonged pattern and get your performance back to where it needs to be. Then quit being hard on yourself and carry on as usual. You're doing fine.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .