Why you shouldn’t have seniors on your team

Why you shouldn’t have seniors on your team

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Fabian de Almeida Ramos


Read more by Fabian de Almeida Ramos

If you look at INFO’s organizational structure, you can say that it’s pretty flat. We don’t have a lot of management layers and we strive to create a culture where everybody is equal. It doesn’t stop there, however. Apart from having a flexible corporate culture, we don’t use the term ‘Senior’. To us, this term is arbitrary, and barely used in our day-to-day business. But why?

First, a bit of background: I’m a Junior Backend Engineer. I graduated mid-2018 and started working at INFO at the end of fall. This past half year has gone by in a flash, and I’m still enjoying it as much as the first day I started. To some, 6 months may not seem like a very long time, but I’m an advocate of reflecting often on past experiences, as those can potentially give insights that help you develop yourself.

 

The junior

Looking back, I have never been approached as “the junior”. It’s obvious that I have less knowledge and experience than most people working at INFO, and because of that I do sometimes get treated differently, but that is realistic: some tasks are just a lot harder for the inexperienced, and at the end of the day we need to deliver a high-quality product.

I’ve noticed that never being called a junior had a huge impact on my productivity and the pleasure I take in doing my job: it makes me feel more equal. A big reason why people are afraid of sharing their opinion is the feeling of “What if this sounds dumb?” This fear has a real detrimental role within a project, because discussions can help bring both your team and the customer new insights that could potentially have a lot more value than the direction you would be going in without it. By categorizing your team by means of seniority, you inexplicitly support the “this person is clearly smarter than that person” mentality, which could cause a junior to be a lot less comfortable with sharing their opinion.

Instead, at INFO, we work with so-called “disciplines”, such as software engineering, DevOps, or design. As we work in multidisciplinary teams, knowledge on certain topics can be very spread out across the company: some teams work with Spring Boot, while others work with NodeJS. The “senior” engineers obviously have knowledge about a bigger variety of topics, but sometimes the mediors or juniors have knowledge about something that the seniors don’t. With the help of our discipline leads, it becomes clearer who has what knowledge, so that you always know where to go with your questions. We really aim for sharing knowledge between the teams, so that we can all feel more equal, and thus have more fun and feel more comfortable at work.

 

The effect of equality

And this works really well – I truly feel like an equal within my team, and that my opinion is respected. I also felt comfortable enough to give a workshop about Kotlin within the company, which was possible because I have the feeling people are genuinely interested in what I have to say.

If you’re interested in our company culture, or would like to meet my wonderful colleagues or me, do not hesitate and reach out to us!

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