Lucas' Refuge

Choose to score B

April 07, 2024


"Fortune sides with him who dares."

My current rule of thumb, as I voiced to my mentees and manager alike, is that I proactively ask to work on projects where I can score a B.

If I were to score an A, that indicates I was already quite familiar with a given problem space, which suggests it is unlikely for me to 1) feel challenged and 2) learn anything new. This essentially comes down to risk reward at the end of the day. If your only investment is a savings account, you shouldn't expect to consistently beat inflation. Moreover, were I to pick a project I can score an A, it means I'd be likely depriving a coworker from working something, in which they would score a B.

Preventing such opportunities over a series of projects, might be what hinders someone reaching senior level expectations for that dreamed promotion. That said, you might not be factoring others in your career decisions. There is nothing wrong with that. Nevertheless, we can all agree that doing well in what you have already delivered consistently, only ensures a “meet expectations” in your next performance review. So that's not smart either if you want to grow.

Whatever happens, after having A/B tested some UI change for the third time, there will be increasingly very little new there – as I unsurprisingly knew within just four months at my current role. A mentee of mine, also faced a similar situation, in which he had been for several months, recurrently working on the mobile web version of our team's products. In contrast to all the other things, our team was involved in. Such as data engineering tasks with Spark, a few infrastructure related tasks on AWS, and other subjects he was keen on.

Occasionally, I do find myself working on something, which doesn't fit my score B criteria. That's fine, but it should be the exception to the rule. Very often, my personal agenda and that of the business can go hand in hand. And the same applies to you – if you put the effort. This can be as simple as taking new responsibilities, nurturing a regular meeting with a PM, or persistently asking my manager what's next during your 1on1s. All things I do to have first-hand knowledge of coming projects. After all, early involvement has given me a head start in leading a new initiative for more times than I can count. Independent of your situation, change needs to start somewhere, and that certainly goes through your manager.

If you already had an honest talk with management and yet nothing seems to improve over time, there is something wrong. It might not even be your manager's fault. Not all companies have all the opportunities at the same time. Were I in your shoes, however, I'd start looking to change teams – or even companies. After all, the opportunity cost of being stuck is just too high to ignore, and you own at least that to yourself – as I do.

Lucas Lira Gomes

Written by Lucas Lira Gomes. You should follow him on Twitter, GitHub, and LinkedIn.

© 2024 Lucas Lira Gomes
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