Career Conversation With Your Rockstar Developer

Kartik Lakshminarayanan

CTO at Sanvira INC



"We had a very prolific developer and an amazing engineer on our team. He was fast-paced and his co-workers were complaining that his tempo was hard to sustain. When confronted with these complaints he stated that he is not challenged enough and that the team is lazy and slow. If you aspire to be a great team leader you have to take on a different perspective and take a step back every once in a while. He clearly was not challenged enough but he also lacked non-technical skills to make the team function adequately."

Actions taken

To address the problem of the insufficient challenge, we discussed and then compared his roadmap proposal for the upcoming three-year period and the proposal developed by the rest of the team. It was apparent that the differences are insurmountable and that this is no place for him. After mutually agreeing about the differences, we reached the conclusion that he should not stay on the team. I helped him find a more suitable position within the company. There, he was technically challenged and consequently more satisfied. I understood that replacing a developer of his caliber would affect the velocity with which the team worked. But the team was slowed down by his behavior too. I was aware that we are jeopardizing the release with him being away. I talked to management and explained the situation. The management raised the same concerns about jeopardizing the release. I conveyed to them what the team estimated -- that they will be able to complete 80-90 percent of what was initially planned. The management assessed it was a risk but let us proceed. Eventually, the team delivered the assigned task with only one week of delay because of the improved morale.

Lessons learned

  • "Any aspiring team leader needs to build soft skills. Find some interesting courses, improve your habits, connect with managers."
  • "You also need a champion in the company. This person should not necessarily be a manager but has to be willing to help others. I acted like a champion to four of my mentees and three of them have been successful moving up the career ladder. What I have learned from my mentors many years ago is that the champion is someone who is willing to nurture a relationship that transcends the technical point of view."
  • "Once a manager, you need to be a champion. To further develop your potential, find a person within the company whom you admire as a manager and build a relationship with that person. Though you initially will not be able to contribute much to that relationship, it should be a symbiotic relationship and both sides should contribute to its development."

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Kartik Lakshminarayanan

CTO at Sanvira INC

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