Am I TRWTF?



  • Up until yesterday, I worked for a company whose mission I believe in.  The company manufactures medical equipment (specifically, blood-collection devices) and is a subsidiary of a large multinational based in Japan.

     

    I worked in the department responsible for producing software that allows customers (both in-house and in the field) to monitor device performance and the types of procedures they are being used for.  Because we had recently been acquired by our new Japanese owners, our senior management set some rather ambitious goals for the year, both in terms of sales and software development.

     

    We didn't exactly meet those goals.  One of the problems on the software side was that people kept resigning, and there have been no new hires in our department for over a year.  So, to the meat:

     

    I was assigned a project that was supposed to be a maintenance release of some of our infrastructure.  You know, fix a few bugs here, tweak performance there, maybe add a few things that were deferred from the previous release.  The problem was that I was the only developer on the project, and the scope kept expanding.  I'll be the first to admit that I suck at asking for help, but one would think that the higher-ups would begin to notice that the project schedule was slipping.  When I did ask why they intervene earlier, I was told that everyone was busy.

     

    Okay, so:  infrastructure is treated as less important than the customer-facing systems it's supposed to support.  I was unable to do the work at the level of quality that I wanted to and that the company deserved because of the sheer volume of it.  Basically, I was getting blamed for poor management.  Shit rolls downhill, you know.

     

    Anyway, I got a change to my weekly one-on-one from my boss yesterday.  This isn't really that unusual; he would often reschedule due to conflicts or meetings called by his boss.  But yesterday was different:  he changed the date to Friday afternoon (tomorrow, in fact), lengthened the time to an hour, and moved it and to a location where I had never been, in the other building on campus.  Naturally, I got suspicious.  Looking at the calendar, I saw that he had another meeting scheduled for the same room at the same time with his boss and a representative from HR.  The meeting was to develop something called a "Performance Improvement Plan", which is one step away from dismissal.  The cynic in me told me that there was no way that this was going to end well.  If my boss had simply come out and told me why we were going to be meeting in a different room at a different time, things might have been different.

     

    As I said, I'm not the greatest at asking for help, and I know my quality was suffering over the past few months.  But am I TRWTF for resigning so quickly? 

    TL;DR:  I got tired of the hassle at work and resigned suddenly.  Dumb or smart?  You decide.



  • The situation you described does sound shitty and would prompt me to leave.

    Honestly though, I would have made sure I had something else lined up before I left*, and I would have given two weeks notice. People will remember you for that. I hated my last place, still gave almost 3 weeks notice.

    * I have a family to support. 



  • @Nexzus said:

    I hated my last place, still gave almost 3 weeks notice.

    Except in special cases always give notice. I mean it sounds like OP was getting screwed by management, but notice lets you give information to whoever the next guy to get crapped on is so it doesn't suck so bad for him.



  • We don't know how "suddenly" you resigned, so it's impossible to answer. When did you resign? Before or after the meeting? How much notice did you give? Did you do it in person, in writing, or both? Your narrative is missing certain details critical to the story.

    It sounds like the problem here is a bad relationship between you and your boss. You should feel comfortable going to your boss and asking for help, and your boss shouldn't feel the need to hide behind a misleading meeting invite. Obviously it's too late to do anything about that now.



  •  Gut reaction: yes, you are. Always let them fire you first.  Unemployment insurance is nicer to you if you're fired. It's easier to fire for unjust firing than trying to prove constructive dismissal.  And if they weren't going to fire you, you just take notes, file it away in "might be useful for lawsuit", and update your resume. Use any remaining vacation days/sick days to go to job interviews.



  • @Lorne Kates said:

    Gut reaction: yes, you are. Always let them fire you first.

    Employees who go on "plan" never get fired. The company just uses it as an excuse to never again give you a raise. There's no such thing as going "off plan", despite what they tell you.

    Still it might have been worth going to the meeting and seeing what they said. But we don't know from the story whether he attended the meeting or not. It is missing certain critical details.

    @Lorne Kates said:

    And if they weren't going to fire you, you just take notes, file it away in "might be useful for lawsuit", and update your resume. Use any remaining vacation days/sick days to go to job interviews.

    This I 100% agree with.



  • I think you goofed.

    Having figured out where this was likely leading, I would have drafted a resignation letter, giving two weeks notice and clearly explaining why I was leaving, and gone to the meeting anyway. If, in the meeting, they were trying to pin under-performance on me I would reply with the circumstances. If things got nasty I would hand over my letter.


    Years ago I was the kitchen manager and brewmaster at a brewpub in Idaho. One night my boss took a swing at me across the bar. I went home and drafted my letter. Next morning he wanted to talk to me about my "conduct". Idiot came to MY office instead of making me go to his. Anyway, as soon as it became clear he was going to be a dick (incidentally the name he went by) I handed him the letter.

    I've also just walked off jobs before but, handing a letter of resignation to someone clearly not expecting it is exhilarating and freeing. More so than just walking away. Many of the times I've walked a small part of me felt like a failure. Delivering a letter of resignation puts the power back in my hands.



  •  I've had the opposite experience with people going "on plan".  In my experience it's basically advanced warning that you're going to be fired.  Never actually seen someone go "on plan" and keep their job more than 3 months.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @TwoScoopsOfHot said:

     I've had the opposite experience with people going "on plan".  In my experience it's basically advanced warning that you're going to be fired.  Never actually seen someone go "on plan" and keep their job more than 3 months.


    I always understood that it was basically a process to prove and document that dismissal was "with cause" to avoid lawsuits/paying unemployment.



  • Depends on how obnoxious it would have been to continue. I agree with other people that "the plan" was just a pretext for firing. But you can always use that to your advantage and just not give a shit. Look for jobs on company time and run down the clock. Always a good idea to have another job waiting for you before jumping ship.

    At the same time, I can see being so unhappy with the environment that you just walk out. Ultimately, though, you're writing Dear Internet for advice which makes me think you are having second thoughts. The one time I did anything like this, I didn't even go into the office the last two months. I just spent my time looking for jobs and relaxing. When I found a new job, I went into the office in the middle of the night and took my monitor and other stuff, and then left a resignation letter. It was really sweet.



  • @Nexzus said:

    The situation you described does sound shitty and would prompt me to leave.

    Honestly though, I would have made sure I had something else lined up before I left*, and I would have given two weeks notice. People will remember you for that. I hated my last place, still gave almost 3 weeks notice.

    * I have a family to support. 

     I would have given the two weeks, but this was simply the last straw, and the stress was really getting to me. 

     



  •  We don't know how "suddenly" you resigned, so it's impossible to answer. When did you resign? Before or after the meeting? How much notice did you give? Did you do it in person, in writing, or both? Your narrative is missing certain details critical to the story.

    It sounds like the problem here is a bad relationship between you and your boss. You should feel comfortable going to your boss and asking for help, and your boss shouldn't feel the need to hide behind a misleading meeting invite. Obviously it's too late to do anything about that now.

     

    As for how suddenly, I wasn't planning on leaving when I went into work yesterday.  I resigned before the meeting, giving them no notice, in writing (WTF#1, I suppose).  The thing is, I was never clear as to whom I could report things like this to.  I'd been asking for 6 months about what came after this project.  Crickets.  When I get blamed for someone else's mistakes, I am not going to sit still.  Why should I be the one to suffer for poor management or planning?

     

    BTW, Blakey, I always enjoy your posts, yours and Morbs'. 



  •  I've also just walked off jobs before but, handing a letter of resignation to someone clearly not expecting it is exhilarating and freeing. More so than just walking away. Many of the times I've walked a small part of me felt like a failure. Delivering a letter of resignation puts the power back in my hands.

     

    I did want to leave on my own terms.  I have been fired before, and it's not nice.  It's a lot easier to explain to potential employers when you resign rather than get fired, in my experience.  YMMV. 



  • @slavdude said:

    As for how suddenly, I wasn't planning on leaving when I went into work yesterday. I resigned before the meeting, giving them no notice, in writing (WTF#1, I suppose).

    Ok; that wasn't clear from the original post.

    What you did was probably a bad move from a career standpoint, but an excellent move for your own mental wellness.

    As for "on plan" meaning prelude to firing: I guess I only have experience of this at one company, where the employee was "on plan" for a good 8 months, never fired, but he was screwed out of the standard raise. So maybe that company was unusual, I dunno.



  •  Ultimately, though, you're writing Dear Internet for advice which makes me think you are having second thoughts.

     

    Actually, I'm not really having second thoughts, though I really do regret leaving the QA person in the lurch.  The other developer whom they finally put on the project at the end of March (the system architect, one of the original authors of the system) has not been able to get to any of the work assigned to him because he has been busy with other, higher-priority projects.  That means that this one is the Project That Wouldn't Die and will now be even further behind.

    My soliciting the DWTF community for opinions is just that; I was curious to see how others have handled similar situations.  Yes, I know, the title is clickbait and all that. 



  •  I apologize for the italicizing of quoted comments.  Stupid CS decided not to let me use the Quote button after the first time.



  • @slavdude said:

    @Nexzus said:

    The situation you described does sound shitty and would prompt me to leave.

    Honestly though, I would have made sure I had something else lined up before I left*, and I would have given two weeks notice. People will remember you for that. I hated my last place, still gave almost 3 weeks notice.

    * I have a family to support. 

     I would have given the two weeks, but this was simply the last straw, and the stress was really getting to me. 

    Sounds like you made the right decision, though. However, finding a new job is a lot easier when you already have a job.

    However, there's a way around that. Find some FOSS projects to contribute to, and start fixing bugs. Preferably, they should be projects you have used before, are at least vaguely interested in and they should be on GitHub (or the like) so it's easy to point people to a page that shows your contributions.

    "What, Morbs telling people to contribute to FOSS?" Hey, I didn't build this fucking world, I'm just telling you how to leverage it to your advantage. If you're going into interviews and saying "I left my last job because it became too stressful and they were about to reprimand me for poor performance so I walked out without giving notice", well, you are not getting that job.

    So you need to creatively bullshit and in this case FOSS projects are your friend. Contrast the previous statement with "I really enjoyed my time there, however I was really itching for a new challenge and decided to head out on my own to pursue my passion of contributing back to open source projects." That phrase will tick a lot of bullshit checkboxes. No, it's not perfect, but it's better than telling them you walked off the job to spend your days drinking vodka made from agricultural waste and watching re-runs of Northern Exposure.

    Unfortunately, your previous employer is probably not going to give you a rave review. Do you know anyone who used to work there over you but left recently who would be willing to say something good? Or even someone still there who is sympathetic and would say something positive? If they're checking references, they probably already at the point where they want to hire you, so all you need to do is not give them bad references. In my experience, if you have a boss from your old job who can say "Yeah, I worked with slavdude at Initech for three years. I left a few months before he did, but he was always a great employee, etc.." then they won't really care that it wasn't your most recent boss. Maybe your direct boss was a dick but the VP of Product or COO who are still at the company will give you a rave review.

    You probably did some damage to your career by walking out, but you can mitigate that. Focus on positive things and the future. Don't talk about your old job, except when directly asked, and then only say good things. Believe me, nothing kills your prospects faster than complaining about your previous job during an interview. I've interviewed great candidates who would not stop talking about their last job. I'd drag them away by asking some other question, and they'd find a way to bring the conversation back to how badly-run their previous company is. "Have you used git?" "Yes, I have in my spare time. But my last company didn't use any version control. They just kept everything in folders on a Windows share! It was awful. I'm glad to hear you guys are so much better."

    The thing is, the complainer might be 100% right, but if you malinger excessively during an interview I can't hire you. It's a huge red flag that this person will just malinger at the new job. If you can't be positive and forward-looking in a job interview, then it tells me you may not be able to do that in the job. I don't care that your old boss was Satan, just gloss over it, say some faintly positive stuff and move the conversation to what you want to do. "How was your last position?" "It was good. There are always things to improve, of course. For example, I feel our testing could have been a bit better. Lately I've been really interested in doing end-to-end testing using a framework like Protractor. It ships with AngularJS and..."

    See, you didn't malinger, you noted something that could be improved and jumped right into talking about making things better. Always positive. And it doesn't have to be Protractor/Angular, just modify to fit whatever work you were doing and what might sound good to the people you are interviewing with. Be sure it's something you can speak knowledgeably about; you'll have some time to research as you look for a job. Mostly, just anticipate the questions interviewers are going to ask and have good, positive answers.



  • Resigning a day before being fired? Bad move my friend, at least in Europe if you resign, you don't get unemployment assurance (or whatever is called there). Also, if you're being fired, you have to be paid for being so without a reason, and not meeting a deadline on a single project is not a sustainable reason that would hold in court, so you would get your X days of pays.

    I was fired a few weeks ago knowing that it would happen (company restructuring, projects cancellations, etc) and got a pretty fat pay after two years of working in this place.

    About the whole finding new job, I mean, you can always lie if you feel like it or simply go with another stuff. Of course you're not going to tell a potential employer that for whatever reason you weren't able to meet a deadline.

    Anyway, good luck, and for the looks of what you were doing, I don't you will have a hard time finding a new job, and maybe that's what you needed anyway.



  • @slavdude said:

    As I said, I'm not the greatest at asking for help, and I know my quality was suffering over the past few months.  But am I TRWTF for resigning so quickly? 

    TL;DR:  I got tired of the hassle at work and resigned suddenly.  Dumb or smart?  You decide.

    No, never feel bad about quitting. Working is a two way street. If they're not giving you what you need, you are 100% in the right to dump their asses.

    I've had a treading water kind of job for a while. Recently they decided to change my schedule about 4 times in a month. I told them to get stuffed. And now I'm working the job I always wanted, with stable hours, and better pay than I ever had as a developer.

    So, find something you want to do. Find a way to prove that you're good at it. And prove it. You'll get the job. Also, don't starve or become homeless before then, or it will be more difficult to get a job. In fact, you'll probably end up doing slave labor for the prison system.



  • @ubersoldat said:

    in Europe if you resign, you don't get unemployment assurance
     

    I don't think every single sovereign European nation has exactly the same policy.

    Wild statement, I know.



  • "Dumb or smart?"

    Dumb to let the situation develop: you should have addressed the problems before this point or, if that wasn't possible, got lined something else lined up.

    Smart if you learnt something from being dumb.

    Smart to walk away from a bad situation.

    Two out of three ain't bad



  • Some more sweeping statements; in most European countries (I am in the UK) it is actually pretty difficult to fire someone without "due cause". So a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) is typically, as suggested, a mechanism to show that everything was done right before firing someone. It's about being seen to follow the process, rather than a genuine desire on the company's part to actually improve that person's performance.

    We also employ people in the U.S. and my understanding is that, with the exception of some states, an employer can pretty much fire anyone at will, as long as it's not discriminatory (gender, race, disability). There is typically no need to have any kind of PIP in place prior to firing.

    Finally, in the UK at least, being fired or resigning are both going to put you in a bad place re unemployment benefits. But then, unemployment benefits in the UK are shit anyway (compared to IT salaries, anyways) so you wouldn't miss out on much.

    Best of luck to the OP, though - as suggested, it's probably for the best in the very long run - nobody should have to put up with that kind of crap.



  • I have been in the same situation and I can tell you, no, you did not make a mistake.


    They were taking the first steps to fire you. Go to any career website and look at what HR people are writing. Every post about getting fired will tell you that a PIP is the first step to being fired, and they have never seen an employee who went through such a plan, even if completed "successfully", who did not get fired later.


    And TBH, you did exactly what they hoped you would do. You saved them a lot of bother. Never mind the fact that loads of software never got delivered.

    Now they have someone they can blame. And shifting blame may have been the plan all along.



  • @skotl said:

    a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) is typically, as suggested, a mechanism to show that everything was done right before firing someone. It's about being seen to follow the process, rather than a genuine desire on the company's part to actually improve that person's performance.

    This is spot on.

    @skotl said:
    We also employ people in the U.S. and my understanding is that, with the exception of some states, an employer can pretty much fire anyone at will, as long as it's not discriminatory (gender, race, disability). There is typically no need to have any kind of PIP in place prior to firing.

    Actually, in the US there is a reason for at-will employers to fire someone for cause. If they fire without cause then the employer must pay a portion of the employee's unemployment benefits. This is usually a state law rather than a federal law.


  • @slavdude said:

    TL;DR:  I got tired of the hassle at work and resigned suddenly.  Dumb or smart?  You decide.

    As I understand it, long periods of stress cause people to go nuts, so I would say the unpredictability or rashness of your reaction should have been predictable. I also realise that management tends to blame their stupidity on anyone below them.

    @slavdude said:

    Shit rolls downhill

    I guess you covered that part. I'm stealing this term, FYI.

    Maybe this is one of the reasons I'm always suspicious of interview questions such as "How well do you handle stressful situations?". If your organisation is actually organised, why would I be feeling stressed?

    Since I like telling stories (and hijacking posts), one of my early jobs was contract web development. Since the guy employing me knew I was being made redundant he basically said "you don't have any other options, so you'll take what I pay you". I was too young with too little experience to tell him to fuck off, so I ended up being paid just about enough to cover my expenses (about two thirds minimum wage because rent was cheap) on a per-feature basis. A few months later, including at least one month without any features to develop, I had no money to take the bus. One of his business partners found out because I idly mentioned it, and I get an angry phone call from the guy who knows exactly how much money he is paying me asking me why I didn't tell him I had no commuting money. On the upside, I haven't had anything to do with him for several years, and I didn't burn down his house.

    The point is, no matter how often we are faced with the fact that our managers are this fucking dumb, we don't absorb the information. We trust them to do their fucking job because teamwork, and they abuse our trust to outmanoeuvre us because they're cunts.

    So I would say you are not TRWTF for being outmanoeuvred. Take it as a lesson: never move on without getting your next job. How you manage your time between work and looking for work becomes a more complex issue. Yes, I am aware I have an anger problem. I am dealing with it by using swear words instead of not committing arson.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Shoreline said:

    On the upside ... I didn't burn down his house.
    How is that an upside?
    @Shoreline said:
    I am dealing with it by using swear words instead of not committing arson.

    Oh I see. You're a recovering fireaholic.



  • @whiznat said:

    I have been in the same situation and I can tell you, no, you did not make a mistake.


    They were taking the first steps to fire you. Go to any career website and look at what HR people are writing. Every post about getting fired will tell you that a PIP is the first step to being fired, and they have never seen an employee who went through such a plan, even if completed "successfully", who did not get fired later.


    And TBH, you did exactly what they hoped you would do. You saved them a lot of bother. Never mind the fact that loads of software never got delivered.

    Now they have someone they can blame. And shifting blame may have been the plan all along.

    I was put on a PIP once, and was indeed immediately convinced that it was a combination of blamestorming and an attempt to constructively dismiss me.

    Being a stubborn bastard, I stuck it out, did everything they said exactly by the book and with documentation. At the end of the plan duration, they were forced to agree that I had performed to required standards and took me off it.

    I stuck it out another couple of months until I was well past the PIP, just to prove the point, and then completely surprised them by slapping my resignation on my managers'(*) desk one morning, just after fixing yet another management-led fuckup.

    I reckon that was the best I could have handled the situation, and I could see the whole place was only going to get worse, so I call that a win.


    (*) - Yes, that apostrophe is correct. There were two managers (neither with really clearly-defined roles, and often pulling apart rather than together) working from one big extended desk arrangement.



  • @Shoreline said:

    n the upside, I haven't had anything to do with him for several years, and I didn't burn down his house.

    That's not an upside.



  • @Shoreline said:

    I am dealing with it by using swear words instead of not committing arson.
    They didn't go as far as to take your red stapler?



  • @slavdude said:

    As I said, I'm not the greatest at asking for help, and I know my quality was suffering over the past few months.  But am I TRWTF for resigning so quickly? 

    TL;DR:  I got tired of the hassle at work and resigned suddenly.  Dumb or smart?  You decide.

    Yes, you and all those other people who resigned are each individiually the problem. Clearly, this awesome company got extremely unlucky and hired a large number of people who all have exactly the same problem.

     



  • @Shoreline said:

    I am dealing with it by using swear words instead of not committing arson.
    Instead of not commiting arson?



  • Dumb, in my book.
    I would've gone to the meeting, explained them that if they wanted the project to perform well, they should've paid more attention to it and commit more human resources to it, which they will have to do now for sure, because I quit, and they're welcome.
    Oh, and thanks for scheduling this meeting so I didn't have to.



  • @SEMI-HYBRID code said:

    Dumb, in my book.
    I would've gone to the meeting, explained them that if they wanted the project to perform well, they should've paid more attention to it and commit more human resources to it, which they will have to do now for sure, because I quit, and they're welcome.
    Oh, and thanks for scheduling this meeting so I didn't have to.

    And finish it off by leaving a steaming Tijuana soft serve on your boss' desk.



  • @slavdude said:

    I'll be the first to admit that I suck at asking for help, but one would think that the higher-ups would begin to notice that the project schedule was slipping.

    The above sentence is worrying. To me, it sounds like the situation escalated out of control, you didn't inform the relevant people, like your boss, in an e-mail (so that you have your concerns in writing).

    Also, do you wait for somebody else to notice that things are getting out of control? Why didn't you ring the alarm bells before?

    At your next interview, be very sure to have a good answer to questions like these. If they get suspicion that you don't communicate very well... that's not something you want to happen.

    @slavdude said:

    I was unable to do the work at the level of quality that I wanted to and that the company deserved because of the sheer volume of it.

     This rings another alarm bell. It almost sounds that work could have finished quicker if you didn't set such high standards. What the company is interested in is that it works, not how well it's written.

    Don't get me wrong: I want my software to be perfect. But there are other considerations, such a business decisions and customers waiting for their software, that you have to weigh against one another.

     This is another thing you need to be able to explain away at your next interview.

    @slavdude said:

    I got tired of the hassle at work and resigned suddenly.  Dumb or smart?  You decide.

     Personally, I think your decision comes from ever-increasing frustration with the whole situation. What you have to ask yourself is whether you could have prevented this situation to begin with, and what steps you can take to ensure it won't happen again.

     


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