I have been my teams' tech lead since the beginning of 2022. While I have enjoyed it most days, it definitely is somewhat different from what I expected. I started out writing a post about what I've enjoyed about being a tech lead and how I do things... but honestly, I rather get the downsides out first.
It's also a decent incentive to post this one first -- I don't want people coming here thinking I hate being a tech lead! I will have to post about what I love about it soon :)
the things I dislike
- less coding: Less time/capacity to write feature code so while I still review other code and make a bug fix here and there, it's just not the same. I feel like I tend to make dumb code mistakes when I do finally write some code. It's just so much better to be doing it daily. I can see new things being introduced into the codebase but I have less time to try it out these days. Wish I had more time to code.
- context switching: yes, I can get asked things more often (with slightly more urgency, too) via messages/email, attending meetings, do PR reviews, review tech debt, gather notes/resources to write documentation, write some code, get pinged for prod issues, etc all in one day. On some days, the stars align and I can focus on writing some code and a couple PR reviews. Otherwise, yeah, I'm doing a lot of those things throughout my day which can lead to me feeling like I didn't really get anything done.
- talking to more people: not just the usual product and scrum teams. Architecture, backend, business, etc. I'd say the most draining part is usually the business part but it's just a different world there - they speak to each other differently, too. It's healthcare so it's already complex AF, generally.
- more pressure to get things right in a shorter timespan: oh, this might just be a me thing but come on... with a title change like this, there's some increased expectation in both technical and communication skills, right? If I don't know the answer to something right away, it's fine but I do feel like I should be able to figure shit out quicker and be able to present it confidently. I don't think I do and it can really feel like quite a hit to the ole ego.
Ah, there are my complaints. I'm sure they're common among newer leads.
figuring it out
I have found ways to manage them and of course, my manager has helped, too! But it's definitely an adjustment going from just a team member to kinda covering for the tech lead sometimes to just full blown being a tech lead.
It's not for everyone - hell, even I have gone back and forth between staying tech lead and an individual contributor within the team.
However, being in this role has been very helpful in understanding the things I work on from a higher level, collaborating with others from other disciplines to deliver features, and just being part of the process of how work arrives to our team.
Regardless of if I decide to remain a tech lead or not, I think it's helped me become a better and more flexible eng. 👍