How Staff Engineers Give Feedback

Nov 6, 2023

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

How Staff Engineers Give Feedback

Without being an asshole lol

I’m going to assume that you’re a highly competent Senior Engineer. You've likely become proficient at executing projects quickly and feel confident in specific areas within your team.

Let me make another guess: if someone else on your team, especially someone senior or more experienced, writes a technical spec that isn't related to your area of expertise, you tend to ignore it. 😬

Why? Because it's intimidating. What if what you say makes you sound dumb? What if you offer advice and it's not the right approach? What if you inadvertently hurt the other person's feelings?

Often, we underestimate the value we can bring to the table when commenting on someone else’s design, code, tech spec, etc. It’s highly likely that you possess knowledge that could enhance the other person’s work.

A very easy way to dip your toes into providing feedback is by asking questions. You don’t have to show up with any answers.

As a Staff Engineer myself I rarely advise engineers on how to solve problems. About 90% of the time, I'm simply posing questions to guide their thinking on how their idea will play out in practice.

So! Your goal for the week: read a tech spec this week unrelated to your expertise. If you don’t understand a part of it ask questions. It might bring up some potential flaws in the design once you get the discussion started.

Now let’s Goo0o0o0o!


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