Engineering manager dilemma

Mar 31, 2018 46 Comments

I have an engineer 6 Month in to the job and now i learnt he is interviewing and looking out , he has not found anything yet but now since i know he is going to quit i don't feel like giving him more critical work on projects. Small company everyone is super important, not ton of people to back up, I can go hire extra engineer and then hope he will quit.

I want to keep the one I have but i cannot confront him about him looking out since i came to know from other person on the team.

I tried to check negative signals on my own but nothing negative came out of it. He seemed to be happy at work.

What should i try next?

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TOP 46 Comments
  • Microsoft ✊🖐✌️
    You should fire the snitch.
    Mar 31, 2018 2
    • OP
      It doesn't work that way but yes i do tread with snitches very very carefully and really don't take their word for it unless their are other strong signs of confirmation.
      Mar 31, 2018
    • Google chppnbrcly
      Chances are, the snitch is playing you. I would confront him, or at least ask whether he is happy with his current role. It is also possible he may have lied to the snitch for whatever reason
      Mar 31, 2018
  • Facebook / Data
    YCHk03

    Facebook Data

    PRE
    Nunya Business Inc
    YCHk03more
    ^^My first boss (at a diff company) openly told me that he used to interview for “practice”, and met a lot of people that way, and that I should strongly consider it.

    Seriously though, pulling someone off projects because of gossip is a great way to enable manipulative people to bump someone else off an important project without the bump-ee being able to defend themselves or even know why. Think REALLY hard about what kind of culture you’re wanting to create there, you’re a small company and now is the time that your cultural norms are being established. Good luck.
    Mar 31, 2018 3
    • Broadcom Ltd. uKwp26
      Really nice answer!
      Mar 31, 2018
    • OP
      Being small i don't have enough people to bump people off projects. The only thing different that I can do at best is pay more attention to that project so as to be not left blind sided once he decides to leave. But that is more work for me.
      Mar 31, 2018
    • Broadcom Ltd. uKwp26
      Yes, it’s painful, in smaller
      companies to see people leave after 1 year of investing time in them. I think the big diff between big and small orgs is the feeling of ‘This is our/my company’; you gotta instill that in the team for smaller companies, so they believe in the common goal and work for the team while also growing.
      Mar 31, 2018
  • Microsoft / Eng 5533
    Ask him if he is happy and if he would like to change anything.
    Mar 31, 2018 2
    • OP
      It's an open ended question, everyone wants ping pong table, foosball table and bean bags.
      Mar 31, 2018
    • Broadcom Ltd. uKwp26
      Hahaha
      Mar 31, 2018
  • Reputation.com punt3r
    Let him interview and look around. I will often interview around to see where I stand and what I could do to improve.

    If he gets a once in a lifetime opportunity, good for him. Else I am hoping you are a good manager to him everyday in which case, you don’t have a reason to worry.
    Mar 31, 2018 0
  • Microsoft / Product @zzzzz
    Wow with managers like you, I could start rumor in the team about a colleague, make sure they get crappy projects and opportunities, improve my reviews. Jokes aside I prefer managers who are transparent and interactive about what I want, what they want, what the business needs are, and how to balance all that. On a separate note, just because they are interviewing doesn't mean they will get anything. Plenty of people here on blind like that. You have time.
    Mar 31, 2018 2
    • OP
      It's not about them getting anything or not , in a small company unless all hands are on deck everyone suffers.
      Mar 31, 2018
    • Microsoft / Product @zzzzz
      And it's your job to understand and balance all that, keep people motivated etc, even more so in a small org.
      Mar 31, 2018
  • Microsoft / Eng ELGu86
    How did you find out he is interviewing ? How do you know it's not something personal instead of job hunt ?
    Mar 31, 2018 1
    • OP
      Through other engineers.
      Mar 31, 2018
  • GitHub / Eng om3J8a
    I once had a manager who thought I was looking to leave the company and started looking to hire my replacement.
    The thing was: I wasn't looking. But that manager freaking out over it became a self fulfilling prophecy. One month later I had 3 offers and I was out of there. Within 3 months all but one member of that team quit, within 6 months that manager was fired, and within a year the company essentially folded.

    Moral of the story: if you start treating someone badly because you think they're leaving, they will certainly leave.
    Mar 31, 2018 0
  • Amazon Full-Jeff
    You basically deal with this uncertainty. It your job to be smart about assigning work that wouldn’t impact the productivity if he leaves. Meanwhile, you do want people to grow in their career and should take that in right spirit. One man doesn’t make a team and it show your ineptitude in dealing with nature of the game. You, yes you, are the one that needs recalibration.
    Mar 31, 2018 5
    • Broadcom Ltd. uKwp26
      This is so offensive I feel. This person could be a new manager who is trying to learn the ways and it’s a small company. You don’t have to judge him/her and suggest some recalibration.
      Mar 31, 2018
    • Amazon Full-Jeff
      Calm your tits. It’s anonymous forum, comes with strong judgement. Maybe this post would make him think a bit deep or call me an asshole. I’m fine with both.
      Mar 31, 2018
    • OP
      Your answer is full-of-Jeff. Too much bull shit without any real situational response.
      Mar 31, 2018
    • Snapchat Snapped;
      Actually agree with Full-Jeff’s response and attitude here.
      Mar 31, 2018
    • VMware / Eng andor
      Agree with full Jeff. And no I don't think it was offensive.
      Mar 31, 2018
  • Netflix abcabc123
    The market is hot, even if someone is not looking they are probably being approached on Linkedin and other-ways.

    As a manager don’t give into rumors. It’s not good for you, the team and the company. Put the best people for the project on the project.

    Does not matter if they might leave because you should work under the assumption that anyone can leave at any point in time. There are many reasons for people to leave or take time off (personal, health reasons etc).

    Also, no one engineer is ever irreplaceable. It may take a little longer to finish the project and that’s about it.

    At times having an honest 1:1 with your team members on how much you value them can go a long way.

    Don’t move the person from the important work, it won’t help. Plus finding someone as good does not happen easily either so by giving him irrelevant project you are essentially pushing him/her out. Not good imo.
    Mar 31, 2018 0
  • Oath Trim
    I think you can start interviewing candidates. Create a job desc and start actively screening people for when he leaves. If he doesnt then its fine you can keep them warm for when someone else leaves. I always have hired a replacement in 2 weeks because i stat connected to several candidates. Attrition is natural but as a manager i try to minimize the impact. Of course people will talk about trying to retain .. bla bla.. let’s face it. Retaining engineers in bay area is a hypothetical concept.
    Mar 31, 2018 2
    • OP
      Interestingly enough this person did quit in January and i was able to retain him. Now i think he just doesn't know what he wants .

      He is close to 40yrs , unmarried - i think he is generally unhappy in his personal life and some how i am suppose to provide that happiness at work.
      Mar 31, 2018
    • Oath Trim
      Interesting background story. I am surprised that he is trying to quit again in 3 months. May be best to reduce his workload. You might also let him know that you heard he was interviewing, which is fine..
      Mar 31, 2018
  • New NcV6dn
    You could try asking everyone if they are thinking of leaving. As a manager aren't you constantly talking to candidates or potential candidates you'd like to have join? Most candidates who you make a counteroffer to end up leaving anyway within a year. People sometimes leave because they don't feel valued.
    Mar 31, 2018 1
    • OP
      Yeah learnt it now, counter offer just does not work. If some one has checked out it's tough to keep them. In a big company they can switch projects and may find their peace there but small org has limited opportunities.
      Mar 31, 2018
  • Broadcom Ltd. uKwp26
    He asked for WFH option and you’re denying it and you want him to stay to avoid all the hassle; looks like you should take some steps, some ideas —
    See why he doesn’t want to spend more time in office? Maybe arrange more team building stuff. Encourage him to talk to team mates, make sure he collaborates and maybe make him work with more positive people, who are happy.
    Or, could it be, he wants WFH to learn new skills and change career. Then sooner or later, he’s gone but maintain a nice rapport so he can do good knowledge transfer. Also, just tell him a story that you know, you some times get tired working on same stuff but it’s important that we understand our obligations and responsibilities.
    Mar 31, 2018 1
    • OP
      Good point.

      He is not even a year in to job so i am not overly dependent on the person at this time. I want to be though and that is how envision this role else its more work for me.

      He was full time WFH before this job and probably now realizes that working at office calls for different lifestyle.
      Mar 31, 2018
  • Snapchat Snapped;
    Yes. You shouldn’t change your behavior based on third hand snitching. If anything, the employee who snitched is a jackass and can’t be trusted.
    Mar 31, 2018 1
    • OP
      Everyone is a snitch , order of magnitude might be different. Welcome to Engineering Management.
      Mar 31, 2018
  • MZ GB1138
    How often do you meet with him?
    Mar 31, 2018 1
    • OP
      Everyday but 1:1 very often. He is looking for i think some work from home but that is something not in company's policy.
      Mar 31, 2018
  • Zonar TpER51
    Talk to him. "I sense maybe you aren't happy. What can I do to help? You're important to our success and I want to make sure you are able to do your best work."
    Apr 4, 2018 0
  • Uber / Eng
    sight

    Uber Eng

    PRE
    Facebook, Cisco
    sightmore
    Talk to him about growth and personal goals. He may be happy in the role now, but he may not see a future for himself.
    Mar 31, 2018 0
  • New zgBx36
    What is his tc
    Mar 31, 2018 0
  • OpenText / Eng no_scrubs
    You should give him interesting projects regardless. I was in the same situation as your engineer. My manager decided to give me irrelevant projects that didn't allow me to learn much about our main software because he knew I was interviewing elsewhere 6 months in. Unfortunately, I failed all my interviews, and my company has a no layoff due to performance policy. So now he's stuck with me.
    Mar 31, 2018 2
    • OP
      Good luck to you for your job search.

      I am sure once you have your next job you will learn to appreciate it that much more since you would know it did not come easily.

      Why did you start looking for a job in the first place?
      Mar 31, 2018
    • OpenText / Eng no_scrubs
      I was given too much frontend work. Wanted to do more Java. The person who was hired at the same time as me was given more Java work, whereas I was given the frontend work

      The commute wasn't that great either (1-1.5 hours each way on a good day).
      Mar 31, 2018
  • Microsoft mochat
    If he is good, talk to him about what will make him stay. Show him the carrot
    Mar 31, 2018 0
  • Capital One Horned
    Why not just be direct and address the rumor? Tell your guy hat there’s rumors of him leaving and tell him the consequences of such behavior.
    Mar 31, 2018 0