I feel useless as a tech lead

Aug 7 32 Comments

I’ve been assigned as a tech lead for a new project, and I’ve been on it for three months now. The team is pretty well staffed and they are all senior (6 people), so I am basically not doing much:

- I try to have architectural and design discussions, but it’s useless since they are good so they can come up with the best architecture on their own (I’m not under qualified, but they are as qualified as me basically).

- I try to get myself assigned some critical part of the code, but they are better and faster developers than me (more specialized) so they are handling it themselves efficiently.

- I try to be helpful on cross-team dependencies, but more often than not it’s useless since all the team members are well connected and have no problem interacting with other teams.

Basically the only thing I’m doing is reporting to management and upper stakeholders the progress of the project, under the form of well crafted technical demos, and highlights of what is coming and what we are working on.

Both management and the team seem to appreciate my role since I give ample credit to all the team members and never blow my horn, but I feel incredibly useless.

I used to be a hardcore software engineer crafting advanced pieces of code and architectures, and now I’m basically sitting idle all day, reading and testing other people’s code.

TC: 350k, 8yoe

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TOP 32 Comments
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Amazon / Eng OlAl28
      Lol
      Aug 7
    • Facebook j8&-
      💯
      Aug 7
  • Google gcloud
    That’s leadership. Running block for your team, keeping them happy and showcasing their strengths.
    Aug 7 5
    • OP
      Yeah but what about the fact that I’m not doing anything substantial myself?
      Aug 7
    • Google gcloud
      You are. You just don’t understand.
      Aug 7
    • OP
      But it’s not. If I wasn’t there the team would technically operate the same way they are now. So I’m not really a tech lead.
      Aug 7
    • J.R. Simplot deathbud
      But if wasn’t you, someone else would probably be fucking it up for them.
      Aug 7
    • Google gcloud
      Not necessarily you are blocking a lot of bs
      Aug 7
  • Microsoft 🌲fiddy
    Sounds great. Congratulations leading a good team.
    Aug 7 2
    • OP
      But I’m not. If I wasn’t there the team would technically operate the same way they are now. So I’m not really a tech lead.
      Aug 7
    • Microsoft 🌲fiddy
      Consider yourself lucky that you have a great team, it's a good problem to have.

      If you are really looking for something to do, start looking at inefficiencies and see how you could improve processes. You can start investigating new technologies and introduce them to your team. You could use your downtime to learn new skills that would help your team and your career progression.

      You could also ask your manager to give you more responsibilities or a new team to lead and then you can long for the days that you were leading a self sufficient team.
      Aug 7
  • NVIDIA gruse
    You are winning dude. Find a hobby, do some travel, start a side business not competing with your current one. No need to overthink this one or look a gift horse in the mouth.
    Aug 7 1
    • Snapchat gqkO66
      “I don’t write real code anymore but my team loves me and I sit in meetings all day” +1 winning
      Aug 7
  • NVIDIA gruse
    Time to pull a 180. Quit with no notice. Burn all your bridges. Find a shit tier startup. Put in 80-100 hours for useless lottery ticket options and ramen wages.
    Aug 7 0
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Verizon nsIA64
      Umm yeah, do exactly opposite this ⬆️
      Aug 7
  • Google __human__
    If I were on your team and I was insulated from bs meetings, crazy product requirements, other people's random demands, etc, and people above were happy with what we were delivering, I would say you were doing a good job.
    Aug 7 0
  • VMware udsjxiuxn
    The fact you understand each team member's value, respect and step back, and stand behind them to gain management visibility means you're a great tech lead. There are a lot of tech leads who can barely do even one of the above well.
    Aug 7 0
  • Credit Karma
    SrfrBoi69

    Credit Karma

    PRE
    Google
    SrfrBoi69more
    TC or GTFO :)
    Aug 7 0
  • New / Product dowop
    You sound like you're doing a great job tbh.
    Aug 7 0
  • J.R. Simplot deathbud
    Ask your team individually what’s something they wish they had implemented in the build chain that they haven’t had time for, you’ll find some stuff to lead on there
    Aug 7 0
  • Microsoft ufhudv
    Don’t keep doing it. You’re still a dev and not a pm. If you don’t develop or provide value as a tech lead then it can bite you. You’re basically a program manager doing demos and reporting. Short term, you’ll find out during review season that you need to do your day job as well as the pm role as a tech lead. Long term, you’re skills will atrophy and be too late to jump ship.

    Source: seen this happen to a peer.
    Aug 7 2
    • OP
      That’s exactly how I feel and the source of my worry.
      Aug 7
    • Microsoft ufhudv
      Trust your instincts. I suggest taking up a big project in addition to handling this. When the big project starts to get busy, request to transition this to someone else due to the more important project. You’ll look better being able to delegate the work while at the same time getting away from a bad situation. You’ll also be an expert at two things in the end.
      Aug 7
  • Amazon / Eng OlAl28
    Which company?
    Aug 7 1
    • OP
      It’s a medium sized startup in the valley
      Aug 7
  • LinkedIn yFSV61
    You may want to start thinking along the lines of what is the bigger picture. How to take your team and the products you own to the next level. How can you leverage your team products to help eliminate the ineffeciencies that consumers of your products may be facing. How your products can potentially help create new innovative workflows for your customers. How to improve the prominence of your team in your organization. Your role at this point is to create a technical vision for your team and a coaching role to inspire your team to produce their best work.

    I was of the opinion my manager was whiling away time and not really adding any value. That was until I got into a one on one with him and had him lay me out the vision of where he sees the team in 3-5 years. That is when I realized he is a genius and how valuable is he to the team.
    Aug 9 0
  • Could be that you are riding the pinnacle of a wave of 8 years of hard work, challenges probably lay ahead. Focus on self development and make sure the project is executed as perfectly as possible. Leadership and soft skills are very different than technical break throughs
    Aug 7 0
  • eBay / Eng gkhldncjs
    All of you are comfortable with the current roles and responsibilities, either you push them to do something uncomfortable (yet) or you step up to something new
    Aug 7 0
  • Amazon CeoExtra
    Management have you for oversight. Everything is going well ... for now. There’ll be mistake by some overzealous teammate, there’ll be conflict between two of them. At that time you’ll have to do something useful.

    Also, why not start raising the bar even if they’re doing good work?
    Aug 7 0
  • LinkedIn pGvQ35
    Next challenge phase in your career! Now start networking your teams work into the rest of the org and getting other teams to want to work for you. Build the pyramid!
    Aug 7 0
  • Apple / Eng shark tank
    Great job as a tech lead/EM!
    Ask your manager to give you more responsibily, e.g. to lead another team in parallel. Establish the same process there, and you'll get a promo.
    Aug 7 0
  • New r00kie
    Isn't it great opportunity to ...?
    Aug 7 0