Jay Shirley

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The Daily Practice

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Resignation is a good word.

Published: 24 Jun 2011

Resignation:

  1. An act of retiring or giving up a position.

The most important phrase there is giving up. I am a quitter. Quitters never win, but what is much worse than not winning now is not winning in a year, or two years from now. It’s not really so bad to not win. Not winning is different than abysmal failure.

People quit for a variety of reasons. It’s like breaking up.

It’s not you, it’s me.

We all know we say reasons that are just plain wrong.

For someone making $100,000/year and receiving 20% more is honestly not a huge shift in life. There is nothing you can’t do at $100,000 a year that you can do at $120,000. Things just get a little nicer. A bit shinier. Perhaps more often, but not a blocker.

It’s not money. People will stay at good jobs with bad pay much longer than they stay at bad jobs with good pay. Citation needed? Nope. Just my personal opinion and observations.

It’s about the company. It’s always about the company. If the person is good and people regret their departure, it’s because they are too good for the company. Plain and simple. I’m not talking about the people who quit and everybody rejoices.

Companies that try to justify or make excuses for why people leaving are missing the message. The message is very obvious. Unfortunately, it’s not obvious to the people being left behind (at least not those in charge).

It’s also very easy to take resignation personally, both the person resigning and the manager. Really, though, unless it is the CEO it isn’t personal. The CEO is the one in charge so it’s always their fault. Goes with the territory. It’s also the immediate supervisor to some extent. If the immediate supervisor or group leader is bad it is still the CEOs fault for not fixing it. That’s their job. They hold the keys to the environment. Their actions alone determine if it is good or bad. If it has friction or not.

I am writing this because of my own recent resignation from a job. The reasons that I resigned (and share with other talented people that resign) are easy to understand.

Very simply, the company no longer benefits me. There are people there I will genuinely miss and regret working with. Unfortunately they are part of a very small minority. There are no other benefits. No career growth that I want. No challenge. No excitement. I am not a factory worker.

Much more importantly is not growing or learning. This is the biggest problem that will cause any talented developer to leave. They need to be learning. The culture of “We do it this way because that’s what we’ve done before” is damaging and wholly unrewarding. Talent runs away from this philosophy.

The second reason is being undermined. Saying you’ve been undermined is vague. Again I look to the dictionary and it’s very easy to see:

  1. Erode the base or foundation.

In this environment I saw all of the aspects of quality and achievement that we were proud of and then saw they were all being chipped away.

The environment became one of high friction and low reward. It is hard to accomplish anything, especially the tasks at hand.

Finally, the last point is related to the previous. The complaints go unheeded. I don’t expect anybody to follow my advice, but I always expect and demand to be listened to. In more petty terms, this allows me in the future to say, “Look right here, I was right. I told you so.”

When complaints go unanswered or the attempts to remedy them are worse than the underlying issue, it is obvious that I am not being heard. I am not being listened to. There is a response but it is over simplified. It is a response intended to make me happy with the minimal amount of effort put into it. It is political, not actionable.

When supervisors put in just enough effort to not get people to quit, the best people still quit. Then they are surrounded by the warm blanket of mediocrity and happily can report things are just fine, because that’s what they are able to understand.