Episode 399: Higher paid than my boss and crossing over to management

Soft Skills Engineering

Mar 11 2024 • 30 mins

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Listener Jim asks,

    I am currently a senior software engineer in a well funded (but not profitable yet) startup. I am highly effective and well regarded, to the point where the tech lead also comes to me with questions and always takes my technical input onboard. I also get along very well with the rest of the team and with my manager. I am confident that I am in a good position to bargain for a decent pay bump, however there’s a chance I might be asking for pay that exceeds the salary of the tech leads or even my manager’s. Would it be a hard no from the start if that’s the case? Do you know of situations where certain people were paid higher than someone from a higher position? Thank you, I’m loving the show!

  2. I did it. I crossed over…

    I’ve been a software engineer for nearly 25 years. I worked my way from junior to senior, staff to principal, and for the last six years I’ve been a technical articect.

    I’ve been very deliberate in my caraeer path and told myself that I would always be on the tecnical side of the wall rather than the managerial side. Most of my boses over the years have been former technical folks that just seemed to have step off the technology train at some point. Maybe they couldn’t keep pace with the rapid changes in their older age, or maybe they just didn’t like IC work, who knows? But I always had this feeling about them, like “they just don’t get it anymore”, or “their technical knowledge is so outdated, how can they make good decisions”? Much like a teenager looks at their parents who stepped off the fassion train many years prior and now doesn’t want to be seen in public with them.

    Well, I just accepted a job leading a team; with headcount, and a budget, and the works. It was not the role I really wanted, but in this market, I didn’t have a ton of choices. It’s billed as sort of a hybrid Architect/Manager role, but it *feels* like I crossed a threshold. I feel like my future will be that of a retired race horse living out the last of his days if the middle-management pasture. So, 2 questions:

    1. What can I do to not become a hollowed out shell of myself as the technology train eventually starts to out pace me, and eventually speed away at ludicrous speed, because I’m not “doing it” every day
    2. Is this just the envitable for every SE? I mean, I don’t see a lot of 70 year old coders, so this is normal, right?