4 min read

Pulling The Trigger

Pulling The Trigger
Look, I had to reuse the same movie to tie things together all right. All credit to 20th Century Fox

Earlier this year in August, I wrote about how Atlassian was getting rid of the M50 level of manager in order to flatten the management hierarchy and speed decision making.

I'm an M50.

That is to say, I was an M50.

It's been a pretty wild couple of months, but everything is basically done and dusted now, so it's time to close the loop with a good old fashioned debrief.

How's The Arm?

The announcement signalling the dissolution of the M50 role gave a few options:

  • Get promoted (M50 -> M60)
  • Become an engineer again (M50 -> P50 or P60)
  • Leave Atlassian (M50 -> ???)

Each M50 in the organisation had an option pre-selected for them, which they discussed with their manager shortly after the announcement. Obviously, there was some flexibility, but not a lot. There were existing managers for whom paths were effectively locked off based on the perceived chances of success.

In my case, I got pre-selected to try for promotion, but I probably could have given up on that if I wanted to and just went back to being an engineer. Or leave.

I knew what the path to promotion looked like.

I would have to write a document explaining why I should be promoted so that people could evaluate the case and make a decision. I put one together over the course of a week or so using the same template that I'd used for other peoples promotions in the past.

Once I'd finished it up, I was feeling pretty good. I mean, I don't like being forced to toot my own horn, but I felt like I'd told a good story about me, what I'd managed to accomplish and why that was evidence that I should be promoted.

But I jumped the gun a bit.

Shortly after I finished up my case for promotion, the organisation released the actual template that needed to be filled out to provide evidence for promotion.

It was substantially different.

After an initial period of incoherent rage, I got to work again and ploughed through the new template, using what I could from the old one where possible.

After that I was lucky enough to have a bunch of leadership contacts who agreed to review it unofficially, which resulted in more edits and tweaking to make it more convincing and to bring it down to a read time of less than 15 minutes.

This was incredibly tiring, because I had to do this in addition to any of my normal day-to-day responsibilities.

Massive props to all the people who participated in those early reviews, especially my own manager. Without their input, the evidence that I presented and the story it told would have been much weaker.

Then I submitted it and the waiting game began.

Stop Screwing Around, It's Me You Want

My understanding of the details of what came next is somewhat limited. As far as I understand it, it was a well orchestrated process with multiple layers of approval to ensure that the decisions being made were fair and well-justified.

I have a little bit more information than that, but I suspect the people involved probably don't want me to share the nitty-gritty of the process to the entire world. Or, at least, the tiny subset of humanity that reads this blog anyway.

Anyway, time to stop keeping you in suspense.

I got promoted.

Don't You Want To Look Me in The Eye?

I'm not actually sure how I feel about everything at this point.

On one hand, yay! Clear and unmistakable proof that I am good enough at my job to be promoted. Take that lack of self-confidence and imposter syndrome!

Also, I like money. More money means that there is less time between the suffering of now and the eventual bliss of disappearing into the mountains to live like a reclusive hermit.

On the other hand, it does mean that I can expect my scope of responsibility to keep growing. For example, the number of people that I am directly responsible for will continue to grow, from the ~10 that it is now to some other number yet to be determined. Hopefully <20.

That's a lot of people to understand and guide and grow and coach. It's also a lot of work to be done when it comes to performance evaluations and other things that scale linearly with the number of people you are responsible for.

As for expectations, they are probably higher too. I became intimately familiar with the growth profile for an M60 when I wrote the case for promotion, so the difference is mostly in quality and scope of impact. After all, you don't pay someone more money for nothing; you want a return on that investment.

But none of it is terrifying. It just is what it is.

Ambivalence is a great word.

You Don't Need No Gun

It's been a pretty tumultuous and tiring couple of months, but at least the promotion thing is dealt with now.

There is a lot of change happening at Atlassian, underpinned by a subtle shift in the culture that I'm not sure I'm completely in favour of.

Still, no reason to panic and run for the hills yet.

That can come later.

I definitely need a holiday though.