|After working at multiple tiny companies, I've been working at BigCo for nearly 6 months. When I interviewed, several people mentioned that it can take a LONG time to get small things done. They were right! I'm getting increasingly stressed and exhausted trying to get simple things over the line. I'm looking for survival skills and ways to not totally burn out, since I love the benefits and relative] stability of BigCo.
At present, I'm just Cog #23980 and don't have the power to change processes. Here is the situation:
As a software engineer, I'm expected to complete projects by a certain time. Whether or not the project meets the deadline is attributed to me. However, there are many gatekeepers along the way whose approval is needed to proceed on certain aspects of my project. They are not evaluated on whether or not my project succeeds. It's not that they DON'T want me to succeed, but they don't care about my work and it can be very hard to get ahold of them and get their permission to proceed. Thus, getting things over the line take forever.
So say I need to make a Unicorn Widget by next week. The plan for the widget needs to go by the Universal Widget Team first to get their approval. But the Universal Widget Team reviewer is very distracted. They don't get to my Unicorn Widget plan for 2 days and when they do, they give a couple hurried comments that are based on incorrect assumptions, and say "No, can't proceed."
Their comments are inaccurate, but I can't proceed without getting their approval. So now I have to spend the next few days confirming with my team that the comments are inaccurate, then chasing them down and resolving this (virtually — via email or code review comments — since they don't Slack and aren't in my timezone). There could be 24 hours between every communication. So my simple widget-by-next-week stretches into widget-in-4-weeks and since my name was next to the widget deadline, I could be seen as "slow" even though it wasn't me.
This by itself would be a pretty typical work challenge. But say I actually have to make 3 widgets, all different types - a Unicorn Widget, Griffin Widget and Hippo Widget, all with different timelines and challenges. Theoretically, when the Universal Widget Team rejects my Unicorn Widget plan and I spend 2-3 days tracking down the reviewer, I'd be able to switch over to my Griffin Widget project in the meantime, or my Hippo Widget project. However, I find this to be EXHAUSTING. Because:
* All of the widget projects have very different contexts, requirements and build environments, so switching to a new widget could take 20 minutes to boot up and takes a lot of mental energy to remember where I was, what I was working on, etc.
* I'm waiting for the Universal Widget Team to get back to me and I'm nervous about how long it's taking, and I'm worried that they WON'T get back to me, so I'm really preoccupied with it and not able to concentrate on anything else
* Because I'm still new, I may need to ask someone on my team to help me decipher what the Universal Widget Team said, and it may take a long time to hear back from someone from MY team (again, everything is asynchronous)
* I haven't mapped out each step of every widget plan so to switch to the Griffin Widget project I'd need to remember where I was, figure out the next step and go there, and by the time I do that, I might have heard back from the Universal Widget Team reviewer and need to get back to them
* I'm tired from being so anxious and demoralized by how hard this whole thing is so I don't have energy to switch projects.
I'm starting to end my days with literal headaches. I feel like I make SO little progress. HALP!
I want to know from others.. how do you handle this? How do you get multiple projects over the line and get past gatekeepers without losing your mind?
I want to add that so far I've gotten excellent feedback from people I work with so this is not in response to negative feedback at work. It's more wanting to set myself up for success and manage the frustration and mental fatigue. There are a lot of perks at my job - salary, scale, people - and I really want to make this work!