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I transitioned to a new company as an software engineer 2. I was put on a single project months ago where the problem statement was given to me, but it was up to me to shape the problem, do the research, do the investigation, do the implementation, testing, literally everything. Basically the problem is unknown within our team.

I've objectively accomplished a lot on this project. But I don't feel my team/manager acknowledges that. Furthermore, I've asked my manager multiple times if I can get put onto a project working with other people, instead of a giant amorphous project where I have to do literally everything. But I basically get met with "Sure, after this project is finished".

I find myself frustrated and resentful of others on the team because I've been on this same project for months because of how large it is and I am basically the sole focus of it because I'm the only one working on it. Whereas other team members are all working in groups with at least 1 other person. Moreover, when I try to involve others in my project at least for telling them what I am planning to do, or to have a design discussion, they are so busy that they rarely if ever have time to meet.

Recently, I had done a lot of work to get some setup for testing out my full design. When I presented to my manager and 2 engineers, the 2 engineers basically gave feedback that forces me to redo what I have done in a different part of the codebase. I'm frustrated because had they taken 5 minutes to meet with me at any point previously to that meeting, it would have saved me a ton of time and I wouldn't have to redo all of my work.

How can I explain to my manager the complexity of this project and the need to have other resources on it and/or explain that I really want to - for my growth as an engineer and within the company - work on a different problem with other people?

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    So they didn't give you a mentor from your team when they on-boarded you to help you get oriented? Everyone is too busy for you to stop by and ask for advice (as opposed to setting up a formal meeting)? If so, I can see why that would be really frustrating.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 15, 2023 at 19:13
  • @ColleenV I was assigned an onboarding buddy but that guy was super busy at the time I was onboarding and then after a month had passed I had basically started on this project. It's kind of the culture at the company. Not saying he never answers, but I want to work with others/have involvement in this project too rather than just working in a silo forever. Feb 15, 2023 at 23:13
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    2 cents putting the new guy on a new project by themselves is bad business practice. Ideally, your mentor would be training you on taking on relatively simple tasks so he can focus on new challenges while you learn the ropes.
    – LeLetter
    Feb 16, 2023 at 18:44

4 Answers 4

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Your manager answered your explicit and direct question to satisfaction:

"When can I work with more engineers on a project?"

"After this project."

This means that yes, you can work with others, but after the project you're assigned to is complete.

The nuance you're missing and that they're missing is that there is value in having more developers give you insight or feedback on the code you're writing.

So what you'd want to do is pitch it to your manager as a code review exercise; it's tough to do a review with just yourself, so getting one or two other engineers to review code on occasion would help with your ability to deliver on time.

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You've clearly broached the problem with the manager already, and their answer seems to have been that you aren't going anywhere until this project is done.

It's now up to you whether you want to put your foot down firmer or not.

It's certainly not unreasonable to want to work as part of a team, and as a new hire it's natural to want to forge relationships and settle in by working together with others.

If you've already slogged away for a few months in relative isolation, without feeling as though things are coming together or that some kind of solid foundation has been achieved, then it seems reasonable to assert that you've been allocated a project whose difficulty was not matched by the available support.

Be frank that you've reached a point of exhaustion with the current project, and that you either need alternative work more suitable to a new employee working alone with minimal support, or you need an additional colleague to be assigned to share the burden.

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I'm frustrated because had they taken 5 minutes to meet with me at any point previously to that meeting, it would have saved me a ton of time and I wouldn't have to redo all of my work.

This is really the crux of the issue. Your teammates would rather not meet with you and not give you a proper feedback loop and make you redo days or weeks of work, than to take a few minutes at interspersed periods and make sure you're on the right track and delivering according to their needs.

This sounds less like a project and more like a PIP ("Performance Improvement Plan", which inevitably leads to being fired). The amorphous nature of the project, the lack of feedback, the lack of team integration, the promise of things to come "after this project is done" (which never have to be fulfilled if they fire you), the being treated differently from your teammates, the fact that your boss has nothing constructive to say on this matter, all of this points to this situation being a PIP rather than a project.

The problem with being on a PIP is that PIPs rarely end in something good. It's very rare that someone actually ends a PIP, rather than ends up leaving (or being fired) and joining another company. That's simply the fact of the matter. This being the case, here's what I would advise:

  1. Straight up, go to your manager and ask if you're on a PIP. Mention the things you've noticed, such as the lack of support, the lack of interest from outside stakeholders, the lack of teamwork, the lack of resources on this project, and so on, which are all indicative of being on a PIP. If your manager says yes, then you should immediately be making plans to join another company. Aside from the fact that it is incredibly insulting to put a new hire immediately on a PIP, the chances are you won't come off this PIP and you should prepare for the inevitable loss of your current job.

  2. Even if your manager says that this is not a PIP, you should still search for another job. As you said, this project is large and time-consuming and you are not enjoying your experience working alone on it. Well, guess what? This project, being large and long as it is, means you're not going to be working in your preferred environment for a long time, even if it's not a PIP and you stay at this company. Do you want to continue working in this environment? Also there's no guarantee that your boss is even being honest when he says that you will be better integrated into the team after this project is completed. If this isn't the right work environment for you, then leave it. It's also possible your manager is lying when he says you're not on a PIP, so take that also into account. Cover your ass and start searching for an exit plan. A third option is that this is a hazing ritual for new hires, to drop them in the deep end immediately and see how they fare. Hazing isn't acceptable on sports teams, in frat houses, and certainly not in the workplace. If this is a simple hazing ritual, take a deep consideration as to whether or not you want to work for a company whose ethos includes hazing new hires.

  3. Continue working on this project as best you can, with the tools you've been given. Don't give them a reason to fire you. If you are able to finish this project, make it an achievement on your resume.

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  • If my manager is lying about me being on a PIP then what does asking him achieve? I'd be shocked if im on a PIP and he doesn't mention a single thing to me. Also, we had a discussion about my performance and he said his only concern was that this year he wants me to contribute to more projects. It was positive. Feb 21, 2023 at 18:45
  • I also know for a fact my manager did talk to a senior engineer on the team and told him that I would be working with him on a new project once I was done. Idk why he would do that if he was just planning to fire me a few days later. Feb 21, 2023 at 18:46
  • @JeremyFisher I had similar discussions with my manager once. He said the same things. A month later I was put on a PIP. Even after I was put on the PIP he continued to tell me how good my performance was and how I didn't deserve to be on the PIP. Then he fired me.
    – Ertai87
    Feb 21, 2023 at 19:14
  • Asking him gives him the opportunity to come clean. Some people take that opportunity, others don't. It also lets your manager know that you recognize the signs of being put on a PIP and that such a thing is in your mind. Given that PIPs often end in firing, most people who are put on a PIP seek job opportunities elsewhere, and if he wants to retain you he shouldn't treat you as if you're on a PIP.
    – Ertai87
    Feb 21, 2023 at 19:17
  • Also, when you say you "know for a fact", think carefully about who told you that "fact". If it was your manager, he could be lying. My manager did similar things in my situation. He was truly a piece of shit.
    – Ertai87
    Feb 21, 2023 at 19:20
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I've objectively accomplished a lot on this project. But I don't feel my team/manager acknowledges that.

You won't get recognition from many managers just from doing your job. Your recognition is keeping your job, especially in all companies I have worked in in America. As we say in America "No news is good news." If your boss isn't complaining about you, you're work is fine.

It's not an ideal situation, but it's common. Yes it's not uncommon to be frustrated with your situation as well.

You can ask your boss for more feedback. If you don't get it, that's just how your boss is. Ultimately you cannot control his actions, but you can control how you react to the situation. Don't take the situation personally.

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    Well, he obviously isn't fine.
    – Steve
    Feb 20, 2023 at 20:29

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