Oct 1, 2009

So I switched teams at work...

A few months back, I expressed an interest to two of my supervisors in switching teams. I felt that after spending a year-and-a-half on the same team, I was growing bored with my work, that I wanted new challenges, and that I wanted to increase my visibility both with the rest of my team, but also the larger company my team works for. For a long time, it didn't seem like anything was going to happen, but then about a month ago, they announced layoffs.

After the layoffs, there was the usual shuffling of teams. It took several weeks for everything to be finalized, but at long last, I finally got shifted to the team where I had specifically requested to be moved (thanks to my direct supervisor advocating for me NOT to be moved to a team where he thought I would be unhappy and would be more likely to *ahem* reassess my employment situation.) This has been my first full week on the new team, and...

For the most part, it's just been kind of boring. Because I'm fully trained on the development platform my new team uses exclusively, I haven't needed to do any training or shadowing my fellow team members. Because the team was in the middle of a big project, and all the work was already divvied up, there also hasn't been much work for me to do. So it's been a lot of twiddling my thumbs, taking extraneous trainings (I've been looking into our social media training program), and waiting to wow my new team lead with my super impressive skillz.

There are some differences between my old team and new team. For one, my old team really pushed for the web developers to go the extra mile. If I was adding or removing content from one page and knew there was similar elsewhere on our website, I was encouraged to include those additional pages in my work. If I had an idea for how we could improve content I was working on, I was more often than not given the thumbs up.

Because I was on a small, tight-knit team before, it was more important that we all be aware of the content and ensure that we caught any problems, and it was more likely that if I recommended a change, I could go directly to the manager for my team and be given the go-ahead. My new team is larger and has a more formal relationship with those further up the ladder. You do not ask about additional work on other pages, and you do not make suggestions or comments on the content you have been given work on. You basically do what you are told. On that level, I'm not super-excited about my work, because I feel like I'm scaling back my skills several notches and losing, in a sense, my voice and my ability to prove that I am willing to (and often do) go above and beyond.

The new team also has more meetings, which is not super fun.

On the upside, I'm getting to share (and prove) my expertise with new people at work. A few weeks before I left my old team, we get a new person doing our quality assurance testing, and she was surprised by how thorough and how good our team in general was, and I know that her experience will be passed along, if to no one else, then at least to her supervisor. That sort of thing is good for my reputation at work. I feel confident that doing good work on my new team will also help to spread my reputation as a strong and conscientious worker. The biggest drawback on my old team is that no one except two or three people knew what I was capable of or knew the quality of my work. I know that my relative invisibile-ness didn't help me in interviews regarding promotion back in May.

Already, I'm working on building a better relationship between my old team and my new one. Because we work on the same platform at least some of the time, I think it would be useful to share knowledge about the platform between the teams, both about how to do things and about the latest problems we're having. I'm also taking on some new responsibilities regarding documentation, which should help me gain additional visibility and is good for demonstrating that I am willing to take responsibility.

This is probably the first time in several months that I feel I'm doing something really useful, both for my team and for my career. I'm hoping this horizontal move gives me some vertical oomf. Or at the very least, spices up my life a little with new teammates and new work.


  1. Good for you! I think the change is a good thing. At least now you aren't wondering if your new team is doing awesome things that you're not part of. And you're right...it will at least spice things up a little bit.

  2. Katie -- I'd love to ask you a question. I'm looking at making a change right now as well. I went to college hoping to become a programmer, but the jobs thrown my way were only project management, so I took them. Now, 6 years later, I feel I must get back on track and I just applied to a programming job in my company, which is a side move, but technically a down move as well, since I'm more qualified to lead programming teams as opposed to doing the development myself. If I get the job, I hope the technical aspect will make me happier in my day to day. Do you have aspirations to become a program lead some day? What kind of upward move do you hope for and how soon? Do you even want to get away from the programming aspect of the job? (I hope these answers will give me a sense for how I will feel a couple of years into the job). Thanks!!