Coping with the change from dev to tech lead

Hi all, this is my first post here. I’m fascinated that this community exists and to know that I’m not alone. Sorry for the long post…

I’ve been working on a project as frontend/backend dev and Tech Lead for the past 1.5 years during which I have a developed a good relationship with the client and have deployed to production several times.

I was recently asked to onboard a new dev into this project as a frontend developer while I was expected to keep working as a backend developer and also as a Tech Lead for this and another project, while also being a part of pre-sales effort for a solution the company is pushing to clients. It’s important to note that all these changes came within 3 weeks of a deadline that apparently can’t be postponed.

When asked to onboard the new dev, I notified my superiors that the velocity of the project would slow down considerably because it’s not easy being onboarded into a project as mature as this one. As expected the new guy has been quite slow and is not delivering as needed. Two weeks have passed and he still has not finished the tasks that were estimated by himself and that should be done by now.

I’ve been sitting down on calls with him to try and get things going but nothing. I constantly feel responsible for this guy’s productivity, and even though I do everything in my power to unblock them and help them it’s not working out. I’ve done everything short of actually taking the work out of his hands and doing it myself. Keep in mind this guy is working out of India and it’s an 11 hour time difference, so I’ve been logging in well before my work hours and usually stay at least one more hour after my day is supposed to be done.

Now it turns out the project manager wants me to actually finish the task so it’s up to me to keep the project on schedule. Even though my deadline is now two weeks shorter…

I’m terribly afraid to fail, I don’t want to let anybody down; but I’m tired. It’s been weeks of overtime work and weekend work and now I’ll probably be expected to do anything and everything to finish what this guy can’t. I’ve been feeling like a horrible Tech Lead, as if I’m incapable of enabling this guy to finish his tasks. No matter what I did he couldn’t make any progress.

This stuff keeps piling on me and I feel worse and worse about my abilities, my productivity and my dedication, even though I’m workin 10 - 11 hour days. I’ve woken up with panic attacks and have been feeling anxious pretty much 24/7.

I don’t know what to do anymore.

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Did you have any say during the hiring process ? I’ve been in a situation very similar to this. I needed help and management hired a consultant to work as a front-end developer. I needed someone experienced with Angular and that consultant had no experience whatsoever.

You’re not letting anybody down and you’re not a horrible tech lead.

First, your team should help you focus on priorities. You can’t be expected to juggle so many balls at once. You have to focus on what matters the most for the company.

Second, hard deadlines are BS. Yes shipping is important but not at the expense of the team’s health.
There are plenty of resources online about how hard deadlines just make things worse.

If I were you, I would sit down with management and make sure they understand my situation and figure out a way to move forward without burning out.

Working 10-11 hours days and weekends is just not sustainable. Believe me I’ve been there. It’s not worth it.

You are not shackled to your job. It took me a while to figure this out. You don’t have to feel bad about yourself just because you’re being asked to handle a ridiculous workload and you’re struggling. I would struggle too in your situation.

If management values your work, they will listen and try improve the work culture. If they don’t care, then it’s time to look elsewhere.

Good luck

I did have a say in the hiring process. I interviewed him with one of our best frontend guys and he seemed to have the knowledge and the expertise required. But he simply wasn’t delivering.

I’ve had a conversation with management in which they agreed that I was being overworked but even then I was asked to keep working the extra hours until the project is back on track.

I’m also responsible for the deployment as well; which of course takes time and is always risky.

I keep waking up at 430am with a horrible anxiety because I feel it’s my duty I should be up at that hour solving all these issues.

I will speak with my PM today about moving the deadline. I don’t see any way of completing the work before the deadline that doesn’t involve me working the whole weekend at the expense of my health.