Not really sure what this should be tagged with, but it seems relevant to lobsters.
I’ve been noodling notes towards a blog post on canaries. When a tech company’s management is broken, people don’t leave evenly. Senior developers can both recognize the signs and can find work most easily. I’ve seen a few companies where this layer entirely evaporates in a few months. It’s hard to recognize because they often leave for a “dream job” opportunity; senior devs almost always have excellent opportunities available, and presenting their exit this way leaves bridges unburned for future networking. The reddit thread on this story is unanimous that Amazon leans on golden handcuffs to keep senior devs.
Similarly, when tech management is toxic and abusive, it’s the minorities who get the abuse first, then the most junior employees. Abusers look for people with the least power to fight back or escape. Again, it’s largely invisible, there’s rarely a lawsuit or public whisteblowing for fear of retaliation and diminished future prospects. There’s probably a regional grapevine, but if you’re not hooked in or you’re looking at a smaller company it doesn’t help.
I think a lot about Silver Blaze, the Sherlock Holmes story that hinges on “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time”. In programming and business, it seems the most common that the only sign of something bad is the absence of some second-order effect of a good alternative. But such noisy signals!
Similarly, when tech management is toxic and abusive, it’s the minorities who get the abuse first, then the most junior employees. Abusers look for people with the least power to fight back or escape. Again, it’s largely invisible, there’s rarely a lawsuit or public whisteblowing for fear of retaliation and diminished future prospects.
It’s not the retaliation that makes whistleblowing such an unattractive career move. It’s the lack of a sense of protecting our own in this industry. Very few programmers or techies will stand up for a corporate whistleblower, perhaps for fear of getting smacked down by their own employers.
As bad as the bullying and harassment that plague our industry are, they’re made worse by the fact that so few people actually do anything about them. (I try to be an exception, but I’ve gotten in tons of trouble, myself, for that.)
Completely off-topic, but I think everyone should read Silver Blaze, it’s one of the best Holmes stories IMHO :)
I’ve experienced my fair share of people leaving because of management.
I interned at a big investment bank in their technology division. I was on the front office software development team. Initially I thought I “made it” and would get to be in the most prestigious part of the company.
Overall my project was awful, the internship was full of “you are lucky to be here” meetings, and 3 teammates out of a team of 9 quit during my summer. I did not accept a full-time offer from that company.
Also the company had an awful trend of new upper management turnover. Every ~18 months the old upper manager would either leave to work at another investment bank or get promoted. Then, the victor of an office politics bloodbath would emerge as the new upper management manager. Said manager would then feel the need to push all of the teams into a brand new direction, canceling all new software development and making everyone else focus on a new buzzword. 18 months later the manager moves on, a new one comes in, and the cycle repeats.
I recently quit due to horrendous direct management and unreasonably high turnover in upper management (C-suite included). I lasted less than 6 months. Money and stock be damned, jobs are practically falling off trees around here. A good employee does not have to put up with a poor work environment. I wonder why managers don’t understand this and don’t strive to change.
To anyone reading this who feels “trapped” in a horrible office – interview around and quit! If you’re worth anything you will be fine, even better off because now you have more experience and might be able to swing a raise. It doesn’t matter how junior you are, good companies need good people.
Money and stock be damned, jobs are practically falling off trees around here. A good employee does not have to put up with a poor work environment. I wonder why managers don’t understand this and don’t strive to change.
If the economy slows, the “jobs are practically falling off trees” regime will change. It also ends if you switch jobs too often or, in tech, have the audacity to turn 40.
If you’re a 25-year-old developer, most jobs are crappy but they’re numerous and interchangeable. This isn’t the case once you’re older, or trying to protect a specialty, or not able to move easily and make your job search national.
Genuinely good jobs are worth sticking with, as long as you can, because those are quite rare. And at a certain age, fucking around in regular dev jobs (“Everyone must complete 10 story points by Friday or we’ll have a 3-hour Retrospective on Monday!”) is neither socially acceptable nor tolerable. I’d imagine that some people put up with awfulness because they expect it to let up, noting that a 4-year Amazon tenure does a lot for one’s career that a 6-month tenure wouldn’t; in fact, it would be a negative.
If the economy slows, the “jobs are practically falling off trees” regime will change.
You do realize the US economy has been pretty bad since 2008, right?
It has been, but not for software engineers under 35 in the Bay Area.
I suppose what I’m saying is, “Reality might come back.” Most people aren’t prepared for it to get ugly.
Understood. That said, there are a lot of normal, steady, developer jobs in the midwest (where I live) as well. Maybe the solution is to get out of the valley’s artificial job bubble?
I have to agree with this. There’s a world out there beyond the Valley or NYC, it’s not hip or exciting but it exists. I was able to turn my experience in the NYC tech acid mines into a lot of interest in really boring places.
Absolutely true. For the time being the reality supports aggressive job seeking. It probably won’t last.
If you want to see a bloodbath, look at what has been happening in the energy sector in the last couple of years with the oil prices plummeting.
Massive layoffs, though hopefully it’ll come back.
I had a fairly similar experience at my last job – new engineering management regime came in, the culture changed dramatically for the worse, within the next 12 months everyone who could be doing better elsewhere had quit (including myself.)