I recently started a new job as a mid level software engineer.Team was made up of 3 seniors and 2 mid levels including me. Within my first month, other mid level colleague took extended leave due to burn out, and a senior colleague announced that he will leave for another company. Within my third month, mid level colleague returned, but this time one of the senior engineers decided to give up title because she felt like she couldn't perform according to the measure and the remaining senior colleague decided to decrease his working hours.

All in all, by the fourth month we became a team with a part-time senior, 3 mid level engineers.

Management is clearly failing to attract new talent and maintain the ones we already have.

This is one of the most chill and comfortable places I have ever seen. They have amazing codebase, near perfect implementation, good behaving coworkers, great product, sizable growth, supportive management, great work life balance.

The problem is the team I joined is unstable and is dissolving by day. I didn't accepted the offer knowing about this, which is yet another story. There are now more hiring efforts for a new manager and a non technical team lead for us that I think are not the solutions we need at the moment. These are the long term solutions, and I think by the time the new management layer joins we will be looking for new engineers if it continues like this.

Our company has an open feedback policy, so I can inform management about my ideas. However the management is clearly at their limit regarding this situation and I don't think pushing them any further will help.

So I started to think about things I can do as a fellow in the team that can subtly but surely turn things around. To solidify what I actually can do, I will note down the state of my coworkers.

1- The mid level colleague who burnt out, is actually wouldn't be considered mid by any measure anywhere. She is a junior, only capable of completing well defined tasks with only certain technologies. The problem with this colleague is, she is an internal replacement, so she already had some years in the company and made it to mid level in particular career track but then changed her career track and her team but maintained the title. This unfortunately was a very poor decision on management's part. It clearly set unrealistic expectations both on the colleague and the team. Thus she refuses to acknowledge herself as junior because the official title even though she is clearly new to all this. She unfortunately fails to be a "mid" engineer regularly and is growing more frustrated by day. Also she has a tendency towards blaming other's and feeling victimized.

  • I can hold learning sessions with her where she shares her experience and context with me and I can share my technical skills and insight with her and in addition we can be buddies in training overall.

  • I am going to ignore her attitude and will act like it is nothing, unless she takes it too far and starts to bother people and erode morale on a regular basis.

The senior colleague who left made a career change, so it was clearly their personal choice. Nothing to do here.

2- The other senior who decided to cut back hours is the one who cannot handle this title vs skill mismatch happening in the team and lacks the soft skills to lead people. He is also growing miserable day by day and eventually decided to work less.

  • I am hoping to gain their trust and showcase some improvement to get them back on track.

3- The last colleague who gave up their title. I must say, she is the true senior in this team given both experience and skill. She is the best colleague I had so far. I personally want to grow as an engineer and become someone like her.

  • I think she and I will be the last to leave this place due to our main motivation being the same, exploring an alternative. So she is determined to make it here. I think the best I can do is to support her by letting her lead and grow in confidence.

These are some of the points I was able to think. I still need more strategy points for overall maintaining an optimal career growth given this situation. I personally want to stay in technical track but I also am aware of my soft and managerial skills at this point and I feel like I should start using them for my own sake at the very least.

tl:dr: It is a great company and job. Management fails to retain talent. I want to do something in form of lateral management to establish and maintain team stability to continue career growth.

What else can I do given these 3 points ?

  • 2
    "to give up title because she felt like she couldn't perform according to the measure" Which measure? "What else can I do given these 3 points?" You need to ask for veto power over any new developer who joins your team, even an internal employee. You need to test whoever wants to join your team, no exception! You already have one junior developer with a bad attitude who's not learning, you don't need any more than that. May 26, 2021 at 4:13
  • Thank you! It makes sense! May 26, 2021 at 5:47
  • By the way, I recommend you start learning Spaced Repetition freecodecamp.org/news/… Once you that technique well yourself, you should encourage the junior developer to use it herself. supermemo.com/en/archives1990-2015/articles/20rules May 26, 2021 at 7:07

1 Answer 1


Realistically very little, so much as you may enjoy it, you may need to leave.

You are at the bottom of the heap here. You can't fix talent retention. You can't hire. If you have a decent network you might be able to refer some people, but that is about it. Management is at its limit supporting you.

These would be questions fairly asked by a team lead. You just don't have the relevant authority to do many things here.

That being said, consider the following for maintaining team stability:

This is one of the most chill and comfortable places I have ever seen. They have amazing codebase, near perfect implementation, good behaving coworkers, great product, sizable growth, supportive management, great work life balance.

Reflect on how accurate this is, especially for other people, as it does not square with burnout, expectations that drive people away from leadership/senior positions, and inability to hire. You have this great team that cannot be staffed and that people want away from?

Company leadership trends towards mindless back-patting and it is often hilariously off. I have often been guilty of buying into it, especially at the beginning of my time at an organization. Think more ruthlessly. Why might people be frustrated or miserable there? Is your definition of work-life balance different from others? I thought my company had good work life balance as most things I would use a vacation for still have me chose to internet, so 95% vacation to me is still vacation if I just need to log in for 10 minutes and do something. Some people in my company disagree as they are tethered to good Wi-Fi, so they hesitate to take that cruise or go camping.

Try and figure out what those areas of value misalignment might be to find more ways to bring stability to your team.

So were I trying to maintain team stability, I might promise that person that I can cover for them while they are away in the back country camping or on their cruise.

  • Thank you for your comment. As I stated in my post the frustration is rooted in title inflation and management failing to manage talent overall and has nothing to do with day to day work itself. What I am seeing is that my colleagues are depending on management to manage their own careers. I do not do this, I manage myself and manage up as much as possible. I want to help others to become a bit more independent so they can steer themselves and not feel frustrated by trusting a poor management. May 25, 2021 at 16:20

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