Bad Language

As an engineer, communication is almost more important than code

As I move through my engineering career, I’ve been able to retro a lot of shit. Times I’ve caused production dataloss (Always have a migration rollback plan) and times where I’ve just fucked up working relationships. As I look back throughout my career, I have basically one big regret.

I was fucking bad at communicating. People used to tell me this, in nicer, fluffier words. “Make sure you keep your tickets up to date”, “Alright how did your week go?”, etc. I always chalked it up to a PM being a PM and just kinda trying to get a status update or whatever.

I REALLY wish someone had sat down with me and told me the following:

“You suck at communication and consistency and it’s holding you back as an engineer. It doesn’t matter how good of a programmer you are; if the person assigning the work can’t get a read on how long things take, what you’re up to, etc, they’re not going to assign you the bigger shit because it’s an execution risk”

My last manager KINDA got there, but I think he was too nice about it.

Throughout my career I used to wonder why I had to fight tooth and nail to build cool shit. I think part of it comes down to working at big companies and everyone kinda wanting it, but in retrospect I realize I was just bad at communicating, or rather didn’t think it mattered.

It REALLY matters, and it’s taken me until I was on the other side of the table to realize that.

It’s also an exercise in framing things in such a way that the incentive to fix the problem accurately conveyed to the person. All I ever wanted to do was build cool shit.

If someone had told me “Hey listen we don’t trust you to build those big systems because they NEED to be done and you’re not consistent. If you want to build and lead out these things you need to do better at this; it’s literally a non starter” I would have fixed it when I was 19 instead of at 23-24.

So, hopefully, junior engineers can read this and realize, while you might be able to carve code like nobodies business, that’s not as important as you might think and in fact it might end up holding you back.