Sunday, March 9, 2014

You Should Leave Your Job

Here we are again.  I'm talking to you.  It's just us here, and no one is listening.  Clear your mind.  Take all your preconceived notions about what you were going to do today and toss them out the window.  What I'm going to say may shock you.

You should leave your job.  Soon.  I mean it.  Start looking today.

Look, you know and I know that life is too short to hate your workday.  Let's make a huge assumption: 8 hrs of work a day + 30 minutes lunch + 30 minutes * 2 for commute = 9.5 hrs of your 16 hour day.  That is 60% of your useful day.  If you eat or work longer or are further away from work, the numbers get worse. The numbers get better if you're willing to skimp on sleep for a longer useful day.

You know that every keystroke you give someone is a gift, right?  In this great presentation, Scott Hanselman suggests you check this out.  Are you giving the gift of your limited keystrokes to the right people?  For the right reasons?  Do those keystrokes match up with your values?  Are you giving gifts that others want and only you can provide or are you buying generic gifts that the recipient will ooze with "meh" over.

I've seen your situation before.  You're dark matter.  You're a 5:01 developer.  When you got to the organization you're in, you loved the first project you were put on.  You were hired specifically for that project, so it met your idea of what you'd be doing when you signed on.  You put in lots of time learning, showing people you were excited, showing you could be counted on to deliver.

You were enthusiastic.

But that was years ago.  That was a couple CTOs ago.  That was a couple technology strategy direction changes ago.  The organization has moved on and you've adapted to provide it value, but maybe your day-to-day is not what you wanted to do.  Shoot, it's a convenient commute.  The compensation's right.  Family health matters made it inconvenient to take on a change at that time.

You like what you did at the organization in the past, but now there's very little to do.  You're in maintenance mode for the product you were hired to build.  Management appetite for new development is nil because of cost cutting.  You've been told to keep the lights on.  Leadership doesn't want to spend time adding new features because they would rather buy a replacement system, but never seem to actually complete the research to buy that replacement, resulting in continued use of subpar tools, and missing opportunities to sharpen developer chops.

You're a developer, but because of "budgetary constraints", the organization is not allowed to staff a team that develops software appropriately.  So you are doing business analysis or QA, because there's no one in those roles.  In agile teams that's something that's expected of everyone, but your projects aren't agile.  You spend a lot of time writing up documentation that never gets used or read.

The excellent team you signed on with?  Excellent teams are an unstable equilibrium.  If you were on a tiger team of development that does everything right, did your organization split it up to "seed" the talent in multiple places, not realizing that it's the team that did things right, not the individuals?  Great people working on excellent teams get recruited to join other excellent teams.  So maybe your team fell victim to entropy.

So that team is no longer.  Maybe that was many reorganizations ago, before many different sets of leadership came in and tried to optimize output of a fixed group of resources.

Maybe your organization favors butt-in-seat over other productivity metrics.  For that reason, you can't work from home, contributing to that feeling of wasted commute time.  Collaborative technology is discussed, and maybe even experimented with, but because not enough people are using it, it's never optimized.  Time-shifting is not allowed to enable you to work at your most productive times.

Maybe you're on a support rotation.  That wasn't in the original sign-on agreement, but "You know... We all have to be team players", and you don't really mind since it's not all that often.  Although when it does, even though comp time should be an expectation, it's never discussed.

Yeah, maybe this describes your situation.  Maybe only some of it does.  If it does, however, you should leave your job.

But maybe you're not convinced to move.  You're too complacent.  You're comfy.  This job thing is a solved problem and you don't think you'll ever really need to look for another one.  You can coast out your career on your current skill set.

Maybe, but I've put together a few signs that it might be time to consider moving on.

  • Don't like working on what you're working on
  • Don't like who you're working with 
  • Don't like your immediate manager
  • Don't feel as if the discourse is civil or nonconfrontational 
  • Don't believe in management's vision or goals
  • Don't believe in your management's ability to make good decisions
  • Don't feel valued for your contributions 
  • Don't feel the tasks in front of you are very exciting
  • Don't feel focused enough on any one thing
  • Don't have clear reporting structures; have overmatrixed teams
  • Don't feel like your organization can prioritize
  • Don't feel like productivity is as important as appearance
  • Don't feel like the organization is moving forward quickly
  • Don't feel like the organization makes data-based decisions 
I read the following as symptoms of organizational dysfunction.  To change any one of these is like moving a cultural mountain and require clarity of vision and charismatic leadership from the very top.  I don't think that mid-level management in any organization can change these effectively.  If you recognize a lot of these, it may not be just your position in jeopardy; the whole company may be in trouble long-term.

  • Very peaked/deep org structures indicate a problem with reporting.  Need a low ratio of managers/doers.
  • Lack of information flow
  • Lack of recognition
  • Lack of celebration for hires or promotions
  • Lack of visible employee enthusiasm
  • Lack of unity of processes across divisions
  • Too many junk drawers 
  • Too much reliance on transition plans (which don't work) 
  • Lots of Not Invented Here silos of experience 
  • Headcount is kept flat regardless of technical investment or debt reduction 
So if any of this resonates with you, consider leaving your current gig.  Fast.  There is too much demand in the development industry to spend time in an organization where you're not happy.  Some organizations just don't get it, but there are plenty that do.  Find one and let the ones that do hire unenthusiastic, unmotivated shlubs to barely work until they go out of business or get sold to a competitor.

If all of this resonates with you, call a recruiter today.  Shoot, call me.  I know enough recruiters and folks at good places to be a good resource, and I'm happy to help you find your passion.  If you just want to talk, I'm here too. You'd do well to find yourself a mentor, too.

And if you're happy with your gig, good on you.  Come on out and be part of the community.

I just want you to be happy.  Yes you.

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