Jay Little - Software Obsessionist
The Last Moment Before Change

09/23/2016 13:31:45

Here I sit mere hours before a big decision I've made will become official. I've long followed a rule requiring me to sleep on big decisions so here I am, unable to sleep because I'm so excited. That's because when the opportunity was presented to me yesterday afternoon I already knew what my answer was going to be (which is typically the case). Spoiler: I'm saying yes and obviously I'm feeling good about that. This is new territory for me in a number of respects though. For starters, I'm making a change in my career that doesn't involve leaving my current employer. That's definitely not how I usually roll. This is largely the result of the realization that I don't really want to change employers. Switching to a new place every year or two has gotten very tiresome and never seems to result in the benefits I was expecting beforehand. Also I really like working for Paylocity. Me working out of my home office suits Annette and I perfectly so it's a benefit that I'm loathe to relinquish.

More interestingly this decision will put me into a position in which I'll be forced to exist outside of my comfort zone and by that I'm referring to CRUD software development. That's where I've spent my last 16 professional years. It's neither real nor unreal though after 16 years I've become exceedingly good at prospering within this world. I've written hundreds upon hundreds of CRUD screens over that time and even come up with multiple ways to pump out these screens in assembly line like fashion (if anybody reading this does UX, know that your tears are like chicken soup for my soul). That's because unlike a lot of other people I've worked with, I don't believe each and every CRUD screen neither has to be nor should be a pretty and unique snowflake.

But I digress. Maybe that's just part of the bitterness that comes with rigid, consistent and utterly predictable familiarity. Or perhaps that statement is simply a symptom of a conflicting attitude which inevitably makes a change of this magnitude become more desirable. Either way the idea of creating, exposing and supporting a load testing framework is very interesting to me. Not only is it something different, but there is a real chance I might actually learn something that isn't transient like lets say a "flavor of the day" single page application framework.

Am I moving up the org chart? Nope. Though to be honest, my org chart aspirations are minimal at best. Whether a dev or a dev lead my intention is to work my ass off and write as much code as possible because solving real problems through code is what truly interests me. Besides, I'm not 100% sure being a lead is for me yet. The last year and a half has really only served to confirm how ill-suited I would be for such a position. I've had a lot of opportunities to inspire and lead others mostly as a result of unofficial de-facto acquiescence on the part of others and I honestly think my results haven't been that great. It's been a mixed bag at best.

I tell a lot of people, "I got into this career because I like code better than people" and that remains the case. If you ever interview me, that will probably be the most honest thing I'll say to you as an interviewee. I've been saying it for years too. Though it wasn't until the last year and a half that I began to realize how true it actually was. Leading people is frustrating and tiresome. It's a constant grind. It can also be very rewarding, but I haven't experienced that part as much as I would've liked. I think that is largely because my leadership style is firmly rooted in the "lead by example" approach to doing things because that's what I respond to personally.

I believe that my approach to leadership failed because it was tailored to me. I hate being micro-managed. I hate being under a watchful eye. I want to be given a problem to solve (not a task mind you, but a problem) and given the breathing room to examine and attack the problem from all different angles. Thankfully I've largely been blessed with managers that allow me to work this way, and that includes my current manager as well. Sadly I'm starting to realize that what works for me doesn't work for others and maybe this is why my attempts to lead others other the last year and a half seem to have fallen flat on their face. Or maybe I'm just not qualified enough yet to know what success actually looks like from the other side.

The truth is, I don't know what the solution to this particular problem is. I need time to think through it. I also need to work through it. I'm going to do that while making a lateral move in the organization because at this point, I think that's best for everybody. Serving the coffee before it's had time to brew never ends well and this situation is not the exception to the rule. I will miss my current team and I will definitely miss our customers. I won't miss CRUD screens so much, at least not at the moment. Perhaps in a not so distant future I will long to feel their embrace once again. Only time will tell.

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