DEV Community

Sloan the DEV Moderator
Sloan the DEV Moderator

Posted on

How do I know if it’s burnout I’m feeling or something else?

This is an anonymous post sent in by a member who does not want their name disclosed. Please be thoughtful with your responses, as these are usually tough posts to write. Email if you'd like to leave an anonymous comment or if you want to ask your own anonymous question.

I have been a developer for a number of years, working my way from graduate junior to now an experienced senior, I have loved the climb and generally known when it felt right to move onwards and upwards.

A bit of background: I was working for a startup which should have gone live by or roughly around the time the pandemic hit. The small team thought we had got the system in a place to have been live but the founder was hesitant and when the pandemic hit pulled the plug all together on the project and the company focus switched drastically to a domain I was not familiar with nor ever felt a need to be part of (I'd had bad experiences of this domain before).

It got to the point where my workload pretty much depleted to nothing, yet the company was growing in number and the people who seemed to have been handed responsibility for my work became massive bottlenecks as they didn't know what they were doing. I spent 2 weeks telling the founder the equipment provided for my role was inadequate and yet nothing was done until I asked for one of the cloud dev environments the company was supposed to have rolled out 2 years before but hadn't although it was still on the todos list.

Feeling redundant I sought new employment and successfully gained employment elsewhere. Now on probation I find it hard to get going at the full power I once was at, forever saying nothing because my opinion obviously doesn't mean very much if my last company just glossed over it, I am scared of failing probation and failing the family my energetic and eager approach to my coding career now supports.

Is this burnout? Do I just need to get confidence back by being my best and letting my new team decide its merits for themselves? Do I need to stop worrying I am the sole provider for my family?

Top comments (5)

jeremyf profile image
Jeremy Friesen

I am scared of failing probation and failing the family my energetic and eager approach to my coding career now supports.

I have long lived in a similar light. And what you're experiencing is a lot.

I see an Urgent and Important problem (e.g. "Surviving" Probationary Period) and a not-Urgent but Important problem (e.g. finding your voice/confidence/purpose).

What would focusing on the Urgent and Important problem look like? What support can your family give you so you can focus your energy there? What are some questions you can ask of your manager to understand where you're at? When does the probationary period end?

What would it feel like to fail the probation? What would it feel like to succeed? What are your immediate concerns if you fail? What doors might there be that you haven't considered?

All of this can be really hard, but it's also temporary. You either pass your probationary period or you fail. That's your window for the Urgent and Important. It is also quite acceptable to say "I'm okay failing at this probationary period, now what does that look like?"

If you proceed with the Urgent and Important project, look to the skills you have to help you move through it: You've probably done a task breakdown. What does that look like for moving past the probationary period? You probably have a daily stand up. What does that look like involving your team (aka your family)? You've probably had to solve multiple things at once, what are things you could do that address both important problems? Talk about it with your family. You've probably had a project board, what does that look like for this project? What's your "confidence" of meeting the project "deadline"; talk about that.

You've likely piled up a tremendous corpus of skills. And right now, I'd say the project to focus on is the You project.

Good luck!

nombrekeff profile image

Does not seem like burnout to me, but a side-effect of how you were incorrectly treated in the company you worked at before. It seems they might have made a negative impact on your confidence. I'd say you should get your confidence back, talk with your new team, and let them know about how you feel. Your opinion is worth the same as everyone else's. If the team is worth it, they will understand and try to help out. Otherwise look again, until you find a team and company that values you.

I know this can be difficult, and providing for your family is always the first priority, but you should not be treated poorly just because of that... You're doing a great job, keep going! And fuck incompetent bosses and leaders!!

nikfp profile image
Nik F P

Keff stated this in other comments, but I'll second it and back them up: you were a victim of bad leadership, not burnout. Let me qualify the rest of my response by clarifying - I'm not a professional dev. (maybe in the future) I'm in management in a non-tech sector. However, a lot of the same business lessons apply across the board. I've learned this through years of integrating with tech culture and writing a lot of code myself.

From the limited writeup given, I can offer these points.

  • As leaders, your former employers had a responsibility to understand and attempt to remove any blockages to your productivity. The job of a manager is to orchestrate work and to make it as smooth as possible for the people doing the work, and they weren't doing that.
  • The equipment and dev enviroment issue might have been bigger than just your request. There might have been constraints around security, available resources, budgeting concerns, etc. However, this should have been a communication point between you and your leaders. Their transparency could have been a portal to let you in on understanding and maybe even solving these issues.
  • When they switched domain focus, they probably picked up on your dissatisfaction. What they didn't do from what I read above, is talk to you about it. Instead they let a valuable resource go idle, with little to no direction on what was needed or expected. This is poor form on their part.
  • What lessons can you take away from the experience at the old company for yourself? Is there anything you did wrong or would have done differently? I'm not saying this is the case, but that self reflection can be very valuable moving forward.
  • Regarding your new position: You have to remember that the new company is not the old company. You might have some hesitation speaking up, but remember that you also have a unique history and thus unique experience that can contribute to the conversation. If they didn't want to hear what you have to say, they wouldn't have hired you. Be nice when you chime in, and maybe find a watercooler conversation where you can open up to your new leaders about your experience and history. If they don't understand and don't encourage you to be a part of your current team, you're still in the wrong place. BUT unless you speak up, they won't know where you stand. They could be interpreting your hesitation as something else, possibly incorrectly, and since you are new to the company they won't have any context to know otherwise.

Jeremy Friesen did a great job of outlining my thoughts on personal growth and how to analyze your current situation, so I'll say "Well done" to Jeremy and refer you to that comment. The only thing I can add to what Jeremy wrote is this: It will take a moment of courage for you to take the next steps to move past this problem, but it's worth it.

I'm at a point in my career that I'm tasked to lead leaders. I've learned a lot through trial and error (mostly error, no joke), and I've tried to study leadership whenever I can. For what it's worth, in my opinion, I wouldn't want to work for the founder of your old company from the standpoint of an employee, and I wouldn't hire them from the standpoint of a leader and manager. I think you dodged a bullet by leaving.

anugoon1374 profile image
Anugoon L

Go see professional doctor. Most company insurance already covered this.
Asking medical advice on Internet is dangerous thing to do. You are not an expert. I am not an expert. No body here is an expert on this matter.

justinmaker profile image

Take a break. Maybe you need a rest?