A year and a half ago, I joined an engineering organization strictly as an individual contributor. About two or three months later, I was given the role of "tech lead". This involves planning, mentoring, unblocking, cross-team communication and a host of other duties on top of my existing individual contributor responsibilities as an engineer. I'm also the most senior engineer on the team, so it's pretty often that I still have to step in and deliver a complex technical solution.

Anyway, I feel that I'm exceeding in both aspects of this new role. My reviews reflect this as well.

I have two personal objectives here that still aren't aligned now that I've been doing this for over a year:

  • Compensation: Despite excelling in this new role on top of my other responsibilities, my pay has not changed beyond a meager raise that doesn't even meet inflation. I'd be frustrated even if I didn't take on new responsibilities, but taking that into account, I feel even more undervalued.
  • Career Progression: I think it's reasonable to expect such a soft-skill-heavy role to be set up for the management track next, but my managers disagree. They seem to consider this as an altruistic sideshow on my way up the IC ladder, despite my very loud intentions to go into management at some point.

At this point, I am just thinking it's best to move on somewhere that's more aligned with my expectations; that's fine. What I'm really wondering about though is if it's worth exerting this extra energy for what I am now considering a dead-end.

I've edited this from a previous binary question about self-demotion. Let's open it up. What would YOU advise here? I see this as a total dead-end right now, with no realistic opportunity for a raise or career advancement. Does it make sense to continue supporting the management team as a lead, despite no perceived future prospects and a resolution to already leave?

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    VTC - this is a 'What decision should I make' question - which we can't answer. Commented Mar 12 at 19:56
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    I came here for advice, not a binding answer. How can I word this differently to pass the rules in your eyes?
    – Eee
    Commented Mar 12 at 21:25
  • If anyone here asks should I change jobs, I'd say "yes, if you can". Usually wait till you get the next job to quit this one. Sometimes the next job is worse, however, not better. Caution: Money isn't the only metric. For example, if you have good work-life balance where you are, I would stay. Commented Mar 12 at 21:36
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    @JosephDoggie to be really clear—a new job is a given. My question is more about the interim solution, which could take months, given the status of the market.
    – Eee
    Commented Mar 12 at 22:07

1 Answer 1


You want to be a manager some day. In your current role you are getting lots of manager experience. If you cut your duties back to strictly IC then you will lose this benefit. So keep leading and managing to the best of your abilities.

You can even take this opportunity to experiment with different management styles, different ways to manage upward, etc. You will probably be quite surprised at how much you can get away with before they put you on a PIP. Think of your current job as a well-paid internship.

Declining to be team lead anymore is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

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    Thanks, this is a helpful answer. "You will probably be quite surprised at how much you can get away with before they put you on a PIP. Think of your current job as a well-paid internship." Could you speak more on this? Maybe it's my ego talking, but I'm a little more concerned about phoning it in if I'm in a leadership position, than if I bust myself down to another IC.
    – Eee
    Commented Mar 12 at 22:05
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    @Eee The other way around — concentrate on the parts you want to learn, potentially "phone in" the IC parts; more realistically, delegate and mentor others to do the IC parts. When there's a complex technical solution to be delivered, help one of your team to deliver it, rather than doing it yourself; that's even expected for a lead, whether on the mgmt track or on the staff/principal track, so it's not even that likely to lead to a PIP (which may have been a bit of a joke, or at least for more daring experiments). Commented Mar 14 at 1:21
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    @Eee "The most important job of a senior engineer is to make more senior engineers" Commented Mar 14 at 1:22

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