game, game. repeat.

Junior vs Senior Engineers

Thu 28 April 2022 #leadership

Warning: preference-style opinions ahead, e.g. pecan pie is better than apple pie. That said, I’ve used these opinions in anger, so they may be of interest to engineers trying to get ahead with a leader that thinks like I do.

Junior: right tool for the job

Senior: right ‘enough’ tool for the job, fewer tools better mastered

Junior: clever solution

Senior: easy to understand solution, even if a bit ugly

Junior: don’t like criticism, don’t want to look bad

Senior: want more criticism, don’t want to make a mistake that could be avoided

Junior: job is to code, meetings are bad

Senior: job is to create value, well led meetings are where I do my highest value work

Junior: this code sucks, the author was lazy and dumb, we should just throw it out and start over

Senior: this code has created huge value and its survived because it did its job, there’s probably valuable context embedded in it that I can’t see yet, what’s the best way to learn that context and leverage the existing code given where I want to go next

Junior: do my best work alone

Senior: do my best work in deep collaboration with a diverse, highly engaged team

Junior: need to spend more time refactoring

Senior: if we spend 1 day refactoring this code it will save us 10 days over the next year according to this quick model I put together

Junior: bored when I’m not learning a new tool

Senior: bored when I’m doing low impact work

Junior: never made any big mistakes, my track record is clean

Senior: made mistakes that cost over $10M, here’s what I learned

Junior: yes I’ll do it, but I’m already working 80 hours a week and I’m burning out

Senior: yes I’ll do it, but I’m handing back item number 8 on my backlog to make room, ok?

Junior: want a raise because I found out Bob makes more than me and I’m insulted

Senior: contributed $X incremental to the company’s bottom line last year according to this quick model. Does that look right to you?

Junior: performance is a secret, just between me and my manager

Senior: want my team to know what I’m working on so I can get their support and improve faster

Junior: compensation is a secret, just between me and my manager

Senior: share my comp numbers with anyone who asks, so all of us have more context to negotiate with

Junior: happy so I won’t interview anywhere else.

Senior: interview a few times a year to stay current on the market, maintain my network, and to be reminded how much I like my current job

Junior: QA is lower value work than coding, so we should hire cheaper people than me and let them do it

Senior: QA is a worthwhile safety net, but quality is my job, I’m not going to let them find bugs in MY code

Junior: if I just had more authority, I could fix all our problems

Senior: the more vulnerable I am, the better my team will be at fixing all our problems together

Junior: I’m an imposter and I’ve gotta do my best to hide it or I’ll be fired

Senior: I’m good at what I do, but there is always someone that knows more, I want to keep improving, and great teamwork is the most reliable way to bring out the best in me

Junior: need to upgrade to the newest computer, 4 of the best monitors money can buy, every year or two

Senior: I’m highly productive on my 4y old laptop, please don’t make me spend 3 days switching to a new one