41

I'd like to ask how should I handle the following issue.

I've been working at a company for about 10 months so far. I was initially hired as a mid-level c# web developer. All the questions during the interview were C# and backend-related, though I was warned that this is a full-stack job.

I have good knowledge of javascript and related technologies, so it didn't bother me.

However, for the last 7-8 months I've been doing only frontend work, which I don't enjoy. I don't really care for UI and, though I do have the qualifications to build complex SPAs and am trusted to do so and make decisions regarding frontend architecture, I can't stand all this move-this-1-pixel-there and so on.

I just do not care how UI looks. I want all applications to be console-based and websites stripped of all styling besides header tags. As of lately I cannot concentrate on my work and my results are stalling.

How should I bring up this issue? I do feel that I've initially been hired as a C# dev and should be working with it. Which would make my job more enjoyable.

I also know that I could make quite a bit more money doing frontend-only work which, though boring, would motivate me financially.

  • 10
    "i want all applications to be console based and websites stripped of all styling besides header tags" ... and how many people are going to use such an application and such websites? – Masked Man Sep 12 '17 at 7:29
  • 70
    That was just a bit of a joke. I wanted to underline that I can't be effective doing things I don't care for. – Greenmachine Sep 12 '17 at 7:36
  • 2
    facing the same dilemma, the only thing is that I vice versa with the one you facing(where i prefer more towards to UI script change, instead of back end process), the only thing that come in my mind is "quit" and find job that really suit – Se0ng11 Sep 12 '17 at 9:08
  • 1
  • 4
    Shouldn't the title actually be something more like "How can I tell my boss I want to work on what I was actually hired for?" – JPhi1618 Sep 12 '17 at 17:45
58

I think this is a pretty clear situation. You have been hired as a C# backend developer who could use some knowledge in frontend technologies, and you ended up doing mostly frontend, so you're not working on what you've been promised. This is a problem, and you are right to bring this up to your management.

People tend to forget a very important thing: you have the right to be unsatisfied by your job. If you have been lied to about what your job would be, you have the right to bring it up. Of course, it could be that the people who expressed the need for a C# developer overlooked the need for a frontend developer, but that does not matter to you. If you are not working on what you are there for, you need to reconsider working there. It's a two-way street, really, companies lay off people if they're not happy with their performance, if you're not happy with the company you're working for, lay them off.

Now, I'm not saying you should quit right away. You should always try to resolve issues in the simplest way possible. The first thing I would do is talking with your team (if you have one), and suggest they might need a frontend developer to handle the work you've been doing recently. If you're working alone, you can skip the rest of this paragraph. You can either first bring this up casually (recommended), or Schedule an appointment with your team lead to discuss it. It needs to be a discussion, and not a rant: no manager/team leader would take it positively if you just came to complain. Just explain the situation and try to suggest that you would be more efficient if you could work on the backend tasks you were hired for, and thus that having someone else working on frontend would help the team's productivity.

If this doesn't work, or if you're not part of a team, you can indeed bring this up to management. Again, it's not about telling them you're unhappy with what you're doing, it's about suggesting an idea to improve overall productivity. You can try to explain that a developer specialized in frontend would be more efficient, and allow you to work on backend tasks, on which you would perform better yourself. To maximize the chances of this working, you need to make the manager feel like he's not doing it to accommodate you, but rather to improve productivity.

At this point, if things don't change quickly, I suggest you start looking for another job. It means they do not care about what you want to work on, and they will just have you work on the tasks they need. You can probably find a place where your expertise will be better used, and where you will get more respect from management. Plus, you're a software developer, and that means you shouldn't have too much trouble getting a job elsewhere.

7-8 months is already a very long time. I don't feel like your company has any different plans for you, but you should make sure of that by yourself.

  • 17
    While I mostly agree with you, I would not condemn the employer so much. The need not lie but maybe their plans just changed and they don´t wanted to fire you. Also they may care for your happiness but don´t know that it makes a difference to you if you code backed or frontend. – Daniel Sep 12 '17 at 9:16
  • 4
    It feels like I'm condemning the employer because I'm trying to emphasize the fact that one should first look for themselves. The employer might not be in complete control of the situation, or might have misjudged things, and that's why a discussion is always necessary. But if you can't make it better, you shouldn't make excuses for your employer, it's their problem if they can't offer you the working environment you're looking for. I don't know if I'm being very clear. – Sheldonator Sep 12 '17 at 9:20
  • 24
    Hanlon's razor: never attribute to malice what can be explained by ignorance. – Sheldonator Sep 12 '17 at 9:32
  • 5
    Good advice.. I might add that the use of a few key buzzwords when talking with management might help get the point across in a politically-correct way. The use of words like "concerned", "slightly frustrated", "different expectations" will speak volumes to an observant supervisor. My guess is that management currently has no idea of the OP's unhappiness. – DanK Sep 12 '17 at 12:16
  • 1
    "you have the right to be unsatisfied by your job. If you have been lied to about what your job would be" -- this! +1 – Mister Positive Sep 12 '17 at 13:42
7

Bring it up as something that's impacting your performance (which is bad for the company), and offer changes that can be mutually beneficial.

Telling managers you are bored usually doesn't go over well (there are some exceptions), but telling them that you are unable to be as productive as you can be due to not enjoying the work as much and not having the talent for it often shows them that it's in their best interests to let you do something else.

Then make sure to bring up your proposed solutions, such as "50/50 c# & frontend" or whatever else you think can reasonably be accomplished. Then see where the conversation goes.

It is both in your and your company's interests to make sure all employees are motivated and enjoying their job, but it is also in everyone's interests to make sure the work gets done. Your manager might ask around if someone else is willing to take over your work so you can do more backend, but it might be nobody is available.

You'll never know unless you let them know. Just focus on how the change will make things better for the company, not on how your current work is making you feel bad.

5

though I was warned that this is a fullstack job.

In today's world if you are hired as a Fullstack developer (No matter what they use in the back-end such as C#, etc..) working with lots of front-end Frameworks and UI related tasks are indispensable.

It wouldn't be professional to just simply inform your manager that you are bored with front-end tasks and expect him to give you the back-end ones. The fact that you are being assigned to such tasks indicates there is a demand for it.

You can tell your manager that despite your having become more comfortable to handle UI related tasks, you're still more interested in back-end design and development and you hope he/she will consider you for such tasks once they are in the backlog.

  • 3
    Yes ofcourse, but there is a big diffrence between fullstack and only doing frontend like I am. – Greenmachine Sep 12 '17 at 8:26
  • Okay, when you say fronted, are you referring to playing a little bit with CSS and HTML elements to make something looks as expected. Or your tasks is to build the UI from the scratch? – comxyz Sep 12 '17 at 8:28
  • Yeah, building the projects UI completely from scratch or copying it to a new framework from a legacy version of our app. – Greenmachine Sep 12 '17 at 8:47
  • 1
    What makes telling your boss you're bored with your current work unprofessional? Your boss, if they're competent, wants the employee engaged and working as efficiently as possible. If they're bored in their work over extended periods, they're either not going to work optimally or quit. – Chris Schneider Sep 12 '17 at 14:33
2

Set up a meeting with your Boss. As you stated, he is also the owner and hierarchy is quite flat, so this should be a pretty open discussion. Explain to him your goals and interests and also mention that your current assignment is starting to affect your productivity.

Now there are two possible outcomes:

A. You discover together that there is a way to make use of your skills in a way that also interests you. Great, go for it.

B. Your boss has currently absolutely no use for another C# backed programmer but need a lot more UI-Coding. The plans under which your employment came to be, have changed. You should make up your mind before such a discussion what you want in this case. Keep your job or find a position that meets your interest, elsewhere.

  • If the problem is boredom at work, I guarantee you the solution isn't more meetings. – T.E.D. Sep 12 '17 at 13:49
  • 2
    Why not, as long as he´s in a meeting, he does not have to do UI-Coding ;) – Daniel Sep 12 '17 at 13:54
  • That would be like trying to get rid of a persistent earworm by thinking about Madonna's Get Into the Grove. Sure it will work, but the cure is almost certainly worse than the disease. – T.E.D. Sep 12 '17 at 14:06
  • So what is your solution if you got problems with your workplace - tell nobody, get frustrated and quit? – Daniel Sep 12 '17 at 14:14
  • 2
    Ok, I don´t know what you think a meeting is, but where I live it is exactly that. Only, the person I want to meet is expecting me and has actually reserve time deal with me. – Daniel Sep 12 '17 at 14:21
1

While you have my sympathy to a certain extent (I loathe frontend work if I'm honest!) I do have to point out that what you "feel" you should be working on is largely irrelevant, I might "feel" that I should be working on my XBOX Live gamerscore but I doubt that my employer would agree.

The company hired you as a full stack developer (and they told you as much) and that includes just as much frontend work as backend, in fact in reality it means that you are multipurpose resource for the company who can do either back or front end work depending on the business needs at the time. So you either need to accept that and do the frontend elements to the best of your ability or move on and look for backend roles, and there would be nothing wrong with that at all - as I said I hate front end work and I tailor my job search to reflect that.

You may be able to steer your current role more towards your liking (I wouldn't count on it since they clearly have a need for front end skills) and the best way to approach that is to have a one-to-one conversation with your manager, something like:

Hi [Boss], I was wondering how you see my role progressing at [Widgets Inc], I understand the role is for fullstack work but I'm stronger at backend aspects and as my time so far has been mainly on the frontend I was wondering what sort of split you see for me?

Try to avoid mentioning preferences or "feelings" - instead you're much better off positioning it as a benefit to the company to focus you more on backend work, hence my use of the term "stronger".

  • While you are right from a technical standpoint, there may be a better solution if you just talk to Management. They may not want to loose a good programmer, even if he wan´ts to alter the role from full-stack to back end ... – Daniel Sep 12 '17 at 9:20
  • @Daniel true, I've updated the answer to include how the OP might approach that sort of talk. – motosubatsu Sep 12 '17 at 9:30
  • He's done frontend work exclusively for 80% of his employment time, I feel like we can agree he's not working as a full-stack developer. OP stated that working on frontend didn't bother them, it's only doing that for a long time that causes a problem. – Sheldonator Sep 12 '17 at 9:31
  • @Sheldonator Yes but his employment time has been less than a year, I understand that this is a subjective thing but I'm not sure I'd consider that long enough to form a fully representative picture of the role. – motosubatsu Sep 12 '17 at 9:36
  • 1
    I am not sure I would risk wasting that much time just to be sure the position is not for me, but it is indeed subjective. – Sheldonator Sep 12 '17 at 10:42
1

The flip-side can help you too:

It's in the company's best interest that visuals are done by the kind of developers who are motivated by delivering good-looking, friendly user interfaces.

You are not motivated by visuals - you are the most effective doing other tasks. However, there are developers out there who enjoy working with visuals a lot. Such a developer is likely to do this kind of task not just more eagerly, but perhaps also more efficiently and with a better outcome. Just because they enjoy it, they might put that extra bit of effort and add additional polish or spend some extra time with a designer, improving the looks or behaviour.

Does your team have such a person? Maybe you should hire one, or at least borrow one from another team for the time being? That's a promising conversation starter that you can use with your manager.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.