3 Reasons You Shouldn't Aim for Staff

Jan 22, 2024

The following article is taken from Getting to Staff, a weekly newsletter from Thinksy's CTO Eden Ghirmai.

The senior → staff promotion doesn’t mean you’re now a better engineer/coder. It’s a completely different role.

Have you considered if the roles of a staff engineer are something you’d want to do in your day to day?

Here are 3 reasons that should make you rethink a promotion to staff.

1. You Don’t Like People Management

While you wont have any direct reports, you’ll be spending time managing work with other people. Some examples:

  • Helping resolve conflicts between engineers

  • Improving morale after the team has gone through something tough

  • Learning how to best delegate work based on someone’s strongest skillsets or their career goals

Because you work closer to individual contributors (ICs) they tend to trust you more than their engineering managers (EMs). Your EM will rely on you to help with things they may not notice as easily as you.

2. You Want to Code Most of Your Day

For engineers, writing pull requests (PRs) can be the most rewarding part of our day. You feel accomplished and can visibly see your impact in moving a project forward.

While you might’ve prided yourself on execution at the senior level, at staff it’s your turn to take a step back and let the other engineers shine.

Instead of coding, you’re now finding ways to elevate those around you to move projects forward successfully. Writing too much code at this level likely means you’re ignoring the more difficult work that needs tending to.

3. You’re Not Interested In Company Level Goals

At staff+ you may become less connected to your immediate team. You’ll be attending more strategy level meetings with leadership in your organization/pillar. You may even have to jump around different teams depending on what the organization needs the most at the time.

If you prefer to focus on solely your team’s goals, senior might be the best role for you.

There’s a reason why senior is the terminal level at most companies. It’s a completely different role than staff+ and it’d be unreasonable to require senior engineers to completely change their way of working.

So before you embark on this 2+ year journey to get to staff, ask yourself, is this the right role for you?

Thanks for reading!

Eden xx

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