Episode 398: Tech lead for contractors and how to detach my ego from my work

Soft Skills Engineering

Mar 4 2024 • 28 mins

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. How do you mentor a junior-level contractor?

    My company has been hiring a lot of contractors lately. Sometimes they hire out a full team form the contracting shop to build a particular feature. Other times, it’s an individual developer, but with the same general mandate: implement some specific set of features from our backlog over x number of months, then move on to the next project somewhere else. Generally this happens when we have extra budget that needs to be spent for the year, etc.

    It works well enough when the contractor is experienced and able to self-direct and focus on just getting the work done; but sometimes the contractor is less-experienced and needs lots of guidance and mentorship.

    Hiring and mentoring a less-experienced full-time developer is a long term investment. Over time that person will become more productive and hopefully stay with the company long enough to provide a net benefit. But when the person is only contracted for a short time, it seems we’re effectively paying the contracting agency for the opportunity to train their employees for them.

    As a senior engineer / tech lead, should I devote the same amount of time to mentorship and growth of these contractors, or should I just manage their backlog and make sure they only get assigned tasks that are within their ability to finish before the contract runs out?

  2. Hello, I have a really hard time not attaching my identity to my work. I know I’m not supposed to, but i really take pride in what I do and i feel like if I don’t, my performance would take a hit. But where this really bites me is taking it really personally when things go wrong (like when a customer submits a bug report and I find that it was something I wrote, or when I take down prod and have to involve a whole bunch of C suite people to address and post mortem the issue). I understand humans make mistakes but it eats me up so much inside every time. I know all these things but I have a hard time really internalizing them especially when things go south at work. What are some practical ways I can train myself to approach things without emotion?