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Full-Stack Software Engineer 18 days ago

SWE Ouput at Startups vs Enterprise

Im looking for some advice from software engineers who have worked at companies at various stages of maturity (like small startup, to unicorn status, to enterprise).

Im currently working at a Series B startup after having spent the last 6 years or so doing enterprise company work. Im just starting my third month at the company and have gotten feedback that i need to increase my velocity. 

How do you go about finding the right balance of speed vs quality?
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FatedCannonSoftware Engineering Manager 17 days ago
I think I can respond as someone who has been both a SWE and a manager in both enterprise (non-FAANG) and startups and have also hired ex-FAANG employees.

First off, I don’t like a manager using velocity as an individual performance metric, it’s the wrong metric to use. Now that I have that out of the way, he is looking for more output.

In larger companies it is easier to focus on one thing and change requires a lot of up front design and work. At startups the mantra is typically demonstrating a working solution rather than talking about it. Even if it needs to be revised, a PR showing something, anything is better than weeks later only seeing a write up.

I once hired an ex-FAANG employee (they had been at both Google and Facebook) and was floored at how little output they had compared to others. They were obviously incredibly smart yet 90 days in they accomplished a lot less than even my junior engineers. When I dig into it, I came to understand he valued writing RFCs and discussing over executing as it is how he came up.

It took a lot of coaching to get him to produce MVPs of his work in progress, and I think the best advice I got to him was to open PRs not when he was ready for review but when he started. Once he did this, the discussions he spent so much time writing happened earlier rather than later.

Hope this helps your current situation.
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madscienceSoftware Engineer 17 days ago
I like this! Almost my exact situation as the IC in your story, but my manager's hands on help like yours really helped me out.

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