For clarity - a team leader here, is a people manager - they approve leave, and organise your performance management (and yearly remuneration reviews), but don't play any technical role or delegate day to day tasks.

I have a monthly catch up with the team leader, which is an opportunity to present your contributions to the team, as well bring up any issues you're facing.

This is my first job out of uni, I've been in the role for almost a year.

Recently, I haven't been feeling satisfied in my role - I don't feel like I'm learning or developing the IT skills required to develop my IT career. I feel like I'm acting like a simple code monkey, and not solving the theoretical problems that I like. A lot of our development practises has us repeating fairly menial tasks (eg several steps to run a build, and then having to wait a day for the results, when you make a small code change).

I've been reading various advice about negotiating the workplace, for example this other question by me, and they suggest not tipping your hand you're disloyal, as this can prevent better opportunities within the company.

So for my upcoming how forthcoming should I be about my lack of job satisfaction?

Here's a few more salient points:

  • Some of the issues around our process can be improved, and I plan to make the case to the technical lead to do so. (Implement an automated testing framework).
  • I can, and will be looking at other jobs.
  • It's possible that I have a bad attitude toward some of my work. Some of it needs to be ground out, and that's part of it. So that's something I personally can work on.
  • For all that said - I do like the big picture of what I'm working on.

6 Answers 6


So.. a bunch of perspective shaping thoughts.

Can I solve this problem?

This is a great format for a question that sets you up to reallocate your time.

The basic point is - any problem can either be ignored or solved. It sounds like you've got problems coming from old school painful processes, and a lack of technology in place to fix the process. Slow code builds, lack of automated testing, painful processes focusing on checking things by hand when a more modern system could do the checks for you. All of those problems fit this category.

There's two ways to frame this problem, and I suggest the latter:

  • We've got this problem. Here's why it's awful. Some should do this thing to solve it.
  • Hey boss, I have an idea. If we try this solution, we could really improve how we do this thing. When do that this problem will be solved.

Ultimate political bonus points if you can talk about the problem as an opportunity instead of a problem. For example - "our builds take 24 hours which is archaic by modern standards" vs. "if we do X, we can drop our build time from 24 hours to 2 hours - wouldn't that be great?" For all you know, the boss was in charge of the original system, and back in the day, 24 hour builds were AWESOME and he's very proud of that. So if you can help without calling the existing problem ugly, you may be better off.

Start with the easiest benefit to sell. Things that waste a major amount of time, or consume a major number of resources are a good place to start. When you start tuning for theories, philosophies, elegance or because it's a best practice (but you can't actually justify it with a noticeable improvement in the current condition) - you're in trouble.

The key here is that you're not whining, you're offering that this is a better use of your time than what you are currently doing.

Learning vs. Working

There are times when you can't make this sell. If you look around, see painful steps, but can't come with a better way (either alone or in brainstorming with coworkers) then I offer the thought "That's why they call it work".

I'm pointing this out largely because you mentioned you're finishing your first job since university. When you're paying to go to school, it's the school's obligation to continually challenge you and improve your marketable skills - that's why you are paying for the education. When you go to work, the reason you are earning money is to do the work that your employer needs to have done. If they could get it done for free (or get someone to pay for the fun of doing it!), then it would be called volunteering or entertainment.

In every job, there's some boring, repetitive, annoying stuff that you end up doing over and over again. Efficient offices minimize, eliminate and focus on the high value repetitive tasks and don't make people do them for no reason. But there's no such thing as a perfect office - there will always be some mind-numbing tasks.

The bottom line is - it's not really work's primary objective to educate you or give you fun, challenging assignments. In the best case, a workplace will aim to balance employee preferences, talents and learning objectives in a way that mixes the good and the bad for each employee... but there's no such thing as perfect, and it's not inconceivable that the new guy in a work place ends up with a bunch of the boring stuff until he's gotten some experience.

If you want to learn more, it is worth asking your boss about growth and learning opportunities. Is there a stretch assignment you could work on when you have a free moment? Is there a course worth taking that the company will pay for? Even better is to go with the "can I challenge myself and solve this problem?" where you pick something that is both fun for you and helpful to the company.


I think you can take series of steps to resolve your problems:

It's possible that I have a bad attitude toward some of my work. Some of it needs to be ground out, and that's part of it. So that's something I personally can work on

First of all, Analyse for a few days and resolve this issue of yours. Try to develop a positive attitude and own your work.

I do like the big picture of what I'm working on.

If you like the big picture then try to get more involved in the meetings, ask more questions, increase your interaction with colleagues, this will help you more.

Some of the issues around our process can be improved, and I plan to make the case to the technical lead to do so.

In my company, we had a separate forum where you can your own ideas and stuff, if you have something like that in your organization then go ahead with that, If no then come up with a nice document with your idea and implementation details, and discuss with your team leader or probably one person higher in the hierarchy.

I can, and will be looking at other jobs.

And in the last if nothing works out then you can look for new job, but make sure before you join that you have full details of your roles and responsibilities.


Be a good programmer, stop repeating yourself and automate your build process.

There will be push-back

  • My supervisor wants me to work on more important matters - automate the build anyway.
  • No one on my team will use it - automate the build anyway, hopefully you can use it.
  • I don't have time - make time.

Don't you think automating your team's build process will look great on your CV? And if they ask you why you want to leave the company, just say, "Because they wouldn't use my automated build."

Seriously, like all programming you have to work within restrictions (memory, frameworks, operating systems, business goals, time, etc.). The job place and life in general are no different.


Your team lead probably already knows - generally programmers start getting mopey and belligerent when they feel underutilized.

Much of what you're describing is the human condition - even though programming is often high tech it has a bunch of rote work that gets dumped on people that are still learning their way around. I have, at various times, created automation tools when I couldn't stand it any more. If you know what tools do this, make the case, but get others on board. A consensus is better than a 'single seat user'.

If there are better ways to do this and they are resisted, heading to the exits is a good option, however, you'll need to make sure the next employer is actually an improvement. You may be working in what is fairly normal for employers.

Providing feedback on job satisfaction isn't disloyal. It could lead to it if no one responds, but often managers appreciate hearing something from people they're working with and have whatever chance they have to fix it, before someone simply leaves. Disloyalty generally involves frustrating the objectives of the organization. Nothing in what you're saying suggests this is your intent.


So for my upcoming how forthcoming should I be about my lack of job satisfaction?

Normally, I would say that you should be open with your boss so that there is no miscommunication, but based on your question, I'm going to make a different suggestion:

Do not bring up your dissatisfaction.

Instead of focusing on this negative, instead focus on "hey, can I get more challenging/interesting tasks?". This paints you as someone who's good and looking to get better rather than someone who's upset and needs to be dealt with. Especially for new grads, managers can tend to be conservative in what they think you can deal with. It might be that while your manager was trying to set you up for success, they undershot the difficulty bar for you.


How honest should I be with my team leader about my (lack of) job satisfaction?

Whenever I'm in a position to give feedback to a superior at work, I first consider how I expect that feedback will be received, and if it will make a difference.

Being brutally honest at work is a risky proposition, and you want to be sure that it is "safe" to provide this sort of feedback; that you won't face repercussions.

In your case, you believe that "she's not that interested." Thus, I wouldn't bother to provide honest feedback.

Venting to someone that isn't interested is of little to no benefit, and may put you in an adverse position regarding raises, and choice roles. If she's truly not interested, it's unlikely to make anything better, and has a chance to make this worse for you.

Save your constructive feedback for those who want to hear what you have to say, and for those who can and will change things for the better.

  • I should clarify my 'she's not that interested' comment. I think she's genuinely interested in my wellbeing here, but lacks the passion or interest to really want to get involved with the 'What makes you tick' stuff. Now that you've typed your reply, I'm consisdering that perhaps I was unfair in my initial assessment of her. +1 for a good reply.
    – user10911
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 3:25