Does the Staff title even matter?

June 28, 2020. Filed under career 13staff-plus 8

If you’re safely nestled within the comfortable clutches of the Senior Engineer career level, you might wonder if you ought to pursue the Staff title. It’s a considerable investment of time and energy, along with requiring a good amount of luck, is that investment worth your time?

Where do Staff-plus engineers fit into the org?

June 28, 2020. Filed under management 110staff-plus 8

When I work on the organization design of an engineering organization, I think a lot about "organizational mathematics", the guideline that each team should have one manager and six to eight engineers, and each manager of managers should support four to six managers. From those numbers you can rapidly determine an appropriate structure for your organization that’ll work fairly well. It might not be perfect, but it’ll work.

Picking problems for programming interviews.

April 19, 2020. Filed under python 58staff-plus 8interviewing 3

Someone recently send me a note asking about whether their internal process for interviewing Staff engineers was a good one. They were particularly concerned that they were encountering a number of Staff-plus engineers who were struggling to write code for finding palindromes or reversing an array.

Staff engineer archetypes.

April 9, 2020. Filed under management 110staff-plus 8

Most career ladders define a single, uniform set of expectations for Staff Engineers. These career ladders attempt to identify the commonalities across many folks performing similar roles in their organization, but in the end these ladders are a tool that apply better against populations than people. In the case of Staff-plus engineers, career ladders paper over a number of distinct roles clustered under a single moniker.

Staying aligned with authority.

April 2, 2020. Filed under management 110staff-plus 8

It’s a common misconception that authority makes you powerful. Many folks aspiring towards more senior roles assume they’ll finally get to do things their way. They believe that the title inherently creates flexibility and autonomy. They believe that the friction holding them back will burst into a whirl of butterflies that scatter into the wind. The reality is a bit more nuanced.