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I am a female manager at a small, mostly male company, and directly manage several people (all male). One of the six has worked for me for multiple years. Since he began his employment, I always felt he had a “crush” on me and kept my distance (as much as I could as his manager).
His crush has gotten increasingly more obsessive over the past year: constantly staring at me, using absurd reasons to contact me through email/messenger/texts, whether at work or evening/weekends, and getting extremely emotional/upset if I do not frequently talk with him or provide feedback for his every task. He never says anything inappropriate or makes any advances but is making me increasingly more uncomfortable.
My tendency to avoid the employee combined with my obvious annoyance with his increasingly absurd reasons to interact with me is reflecting poorly on my management skills — to the extent that my manager is questioning my abilities to manage.25
I recently quit a job which I excelled at technically, but professionally I struggled. The best way to put it is that I was incompatible with my newly appointed manager. My frustration with that manager led to many inappropriate comments that I made in front of him and a couple of other senior leaders. To be clear, I never cursed at them or called them names or raised my voice, but I did make (multiple) comments about their ignorance of projects or lack of experience in this speciality. I’m sure you can tell that didn’t go over well.
Ultimately, my behavior got me put on a PIP by my manager. He explained that I was excellent at the job, but not mature enough to do well. This obviously greatly upset me, and I quit on the spot. I know what a PIP means and I wasn’t about to get fired. I had been at the company for about three years and have dozens of excellent professional references (at this company and others) from as high up as the C-suite to as low as individual contributing peers who I worked closely with. They can all honestly and passionately speak to my technical and soft skills very highly. However, this doesn’t seem to matter in my situation.
Overall, I excel at interviews. Within days after quitting I had over eight different interviews lined up. I made it to final rounds of five and got two offers already (still waiting to hear back from the other three). The offers were both contingent on passing employment and background checks. Well, I gave my references, have no criminal history and never lied on any part of my background or history (though I did not admit to my emotional issues with my previous management team). Needless to say, I was shocked when both offers got rescinded.
One company claimed it was due to a change in the role, and the other told me frankly that the “manager did some digging on my history and unfortunately doesn’t feel like I would be a culture fit.” I looked up the manager on LinkedIn and lo and behold, they are connected with my former manager. This has me worried as back-channel references are super common in my industry, and my industry is not very big overall. My manager appears to be very well connected with many of the companies I am interviewing with or hope to in the future.
I will admit that my behavior previously was very disrespectful and probably deserved the reprimand, but now I feel that I am not able to move past it and learn from this experience as my reputation in the industry seems to be damaged. I’m still fairly early in my career overall and am learning how to handle office politics. It’s been a big struggle for me, but I do get better with each passing year.
Anyway, I’ve decided to wait for the other three final stage companies that I’m in talks with before I officially decide that this manager is my blocker, but assuming he is, what do you recommend I do to get past this? Should I talk to him? As this is all fresh, I’m not sure I can do that now, but maybe in a few months? Either way, I need a job now and can’t afford to go more than two months without a paycheck (and I don’t qualify for unemployment as I quit). What do you recommend I do?8
What can we do with a boss who urinates in a cup in his office and then dumps it in the kitchen sink even when we (all women) are sitting there eating lunch?
We are certain of what is in the cup because it smells, is yellow, and it sits right on his credenza in plain view. He’s even left it outside the office, forgetting to empty it.
A few weeks ago I was washing my lunch dishes and he dumped it right on top of my stuff. I was pretty much in shock, I just couldn’t believe it.
Is there something wrong here that I’m not getting? He’s the owner, the boss, in his 70’s, and very respected, but I don’t understand this. No one knows what to say. We feel that if we said something, he would deny it and since he’s the boss, who knows what would happen. Is there any way to approach this? The only other males in the office are related to him. Someone did mention it to one of them, but nothing has changed.23
I tend to be a perfectionist, and I have a hard time coping when I feel like someone isn’t happy with work that I’ve done, or when I feel like I haven’t lived up to my own standards.
I’ve been at my current job for a little more than a year, and for the vast majority of that time, my supervisor and coworkers have seemed very pleased with me. My performance reviews so far have been completely positive. But I’m aware that over the past month or so, I’ve run up against more challenges than usual. I’ve taken on some new projects that I haven’t felt entirely confident about, there have been some organizational changes, and because this is a busy time for my department, I don’t always feel like I can easily get help when I have a question about something.
To make things worse, I struggle with anxiety, and while I’ve been working very hard to manage it, all it takes is a few bad days to put me behind on things. I really want to step up to the plate, and I’ve been worried that expressing concerns would make me look like I’m not capable or like I’m a complainer. But the truth is, I’ve been getting in over my head a bit, and I worry that it’s reflecting poorly on me. I haven’t made any terrible mistakes, but it’s taken me longer than usual to complete or follow up on tasks and I haven’t been as organized as I usually am. My supervisor hasn’t gotten upset with me, and she’s expressed understanding, but I’m worried that she has less confidence in me than she used to.
To be fair to myself, over the past couple weeks I feel like I’ve been doing a good job at catching up and getting back to my usual level of efficiency. I feel optimistic about my ability to handle things from here on out, at least for the most part. But I’m scared that a few “off” weeks will damage my reputation and workplace relationships, and that people are thinking poorly of me now. I think because I’m so hard on myself (I feel guilty whenever someone praises me, because I don’t feel like I deserve it), it’s hard for me to have an accurate perception of how things actually are.
Also, do you have any tips for addressing challenges when they come up? I struggle with asking for help or clarification sometimes because I don’t want to come across like I need my hand held. And do you have any suggestions for how to deal with it when things just aren’t going smoothly? I know that in the workplace, what matters is results. The fact that I might be having a bad day due to anxiety or a late night with a sick pet isn’t an excuse. But while I think I’m generally good at managing stress and anxiety and that bad days are uncommon, I can’t guarantee that I won’t ever go through a tough time and that that won’t impact my focus at all.7
Today, my branch manager (vice president in the overall institution) sent an offensive and racist political meme to all employees at our site.
I was shocked and disgusted, as were many of my front-line colleagues. My immediate supervisors, however, shrugged it off. They agree that it is distasteful, but not enough to confront the prickly branch manager about it.
I believe that this sort of communication (which has nothing to do with the purpose of our nonprofit) would be seriously frowned upon by the overall organization’s CEO, were he aware. If this email was leaked to the press, it would reflect very poorly on our organization.
I feel compelled to speak up about this – but how? Confronting my branch manager directly – by myself – is pretty much guaranteed to go poorly for me. And organizing colleagues to action will no doubt be seen as troublemaking.
We have no HR to speak of. I’ve thought about forwarding the e-mail directly to our CEO, but that feels like tattling.20
I recently was given the responsibility of finding interns for our company. In the process of reviewing applications, I Googled one of them. The first search result was her Facebook page so I clicked on it, and saw that many of her posts and pictures were set to “public.” I did not see anything out of the ordinary or really anything that would prevent her from getting a job, but decided to mention it to my boss and coworker anyway, just to see what they thought.
To my surprise, I was met by extreme resistance to what I had done. I was told that it is not okay to look someone up before an interview because what I find might “color my opinion of them” and that my own personal judgments might get in the way. I was under the impression that it is one’s personal responsibility to curate their web presence as they see fit and that whatever is found through a simple search is fair game. I was also under the impression that this is pretty standard these days. Am I wrong? Is looking up a potential intern or employee prior to an interview unethical?6
My company hired a new person on my team. He was scheduled to start on a Monday but pushed back a week at the last minute. The rumor around the office was that his flight home that weekend was canceled, but he didn’t notify our boss of it until minutes before he was expected in.
Next Monday he didn’t come in, and no one could get in touch with him. We eventually discovered that he was in jail. He claimed he was pulled over on the way to work for a traffic violation, then found out he had an outstanding warrant from a traffic ticket mix-up over ten years ago. Unsurprisingly, when he did make it in later that week, he was immediately fired.
I’m wondering how reasonable it was to fire him. A responsible, organized friend of mine also got in trouble from a traffic ticket she was never notified of, so I know his story isn’t impossible and doesn’t mean he’s a bad person. On the other hand, missing your start day because you’re in jail is never a good look — doubly so after he pushed back his start date the first time. My company has a very open culture so I would have some room to encourage us not to put inappropriate weight on what is often a very flawed legal system.6
I got a resume where instead of attaching his resume, the poor guy accidentally attached a letter from his mom telling him to get a job and stop taking money from his grandfather. He didn’t get an interview either. I still wonder if he ever stopped mooching off his grandpa.5
I’m feeling a bit stuck at work recently. I have a new department head and he keeps periodically asking me to do things that are very much not the normal responsibility of my role. These are always very simple things, things I am certainly capable of doing, but should fall outside of my purview. We even have documented methodologies indicating this sort of thing is not the sort of thing I’m expected to be responsible for. The trouble is, I’m not sure if when he’s asking me to do this it’s because he’s still new and not completely up to speed on who does what, or if this is a situation where he is The Boss and if he’s telling me to do it then now it is my responsibility, if not permanently, at least on these specific occasions. I’m also disinclined to just run with it without saying anything because then it really will become my responsibility, and there are good reasons why it currently is not.
I am having difficulty thinking of a way to bring this up that doesn’t sound like I’m refusing to do it. On the one hand, it’s not my job, but I also know that going around saying “that’s not my job” is not appropriate. The situation is not quite that I don’t have the authority to do the task, but that’s closer to the type of reasoning for why my role isn’t responsible for the thing, and it’s always restricted to people in a different role. Part of the internal rationale was a sort of “too many cooks in the kitchen” situation in the past, but there are also other logical reasons why staff in my role are not intended to be involved.
I’m also hesitant to push back at all since I can’t tell if the boss is coming from a place of not knowing or one of reassigning. I don’t want to seem difficult (but also reallllly don’t want this added to my plate). I don’t know the new department head well enough to guess whether it’s more likely a misunderstanding vs a change in policy. I’m struggling with finding the words for how to bring it up without sounding like I am saying “that’s not my job”. Is this the sort of thing that is better handled in the moment, or waiting for a time separate from when he’s making the request to talk about it more generally? Help!1
I had a prospective employer be late to every single interview we had scheduled. I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, but they simply didn’t value my time.
I was in the process of moving and a recruiter called me to tell me a job I had been submitted for wanted to do a phone interview that day. Even though I was driving across the country in a box truck, I agreed to the interview. We arranged for the employer to call me at 2 PM. I figured it would give me a break from driving in the middle of the day anyway.
I pulled over at 1:45 and waited. At 2:15 I called the recruiter to verify the time. He said he would get in contact with the employer and call me back. At 2:45 I called the recruiter and told him I needed to get back on the road and we’d have to reschedule.
We rescheduled the call for a few days later at 1 pm. This time I got the phone number of the employer, so at 1:15 I called him. He apologized and said he lost track of time. Whatever, let’s just get this interview going.
He liked me on the phone, so he wanted to meet in person the next day. I was a bit irritated by the situation, but I was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.
I showed up for my in person interview 15 minutes early and checked in with the receptionist. 30 minutes later I asked the receptionist when they were going to be with me as my interview was supposed to start 15 minutes ago. I was finally seen 5 minutes after that.
The interview was supposed to be a several hour affair where they were going to have me sign an NDA and show me some of the issues they were having to see if I could solve them. I had cleared my scheduled meetings for the afternoon so I could attend this lengthy interview.
After about 45 minutes of interviewing, the manager suddenly said that they needed to cut the interview short because he had just realized they needed to get something done that afternoon. He asked me if I would come back the next day to finish the interview.
I shook his hand and left, shaking my head the entire time. When I called my recruiter after I had calmed down, I let him know that I would under no terms be interested in a job with them. If they refused to acknowledge my time was worth something as a candidate, they would never respect it as an employee.
They still offered me the job and couldn’t fathom why I was upset about the situation. I’m very glad I didn’t take that job.5
I was told recently by a recruiter that not having a LinkedIn profile in the modern age of job applications is like being invisible, as that’s the first place recruiters and HR managers look to research interesting applicants beyond their cover letters and resumes.
While I admit that I somewhat resent the notion that it’s a “must have,” I’ll also admit that my current job searches sans profile have proven to be somewhat less than fruitful. Though that could be for any number of other reasons as well.
Is there any legitimacy to her claim? Are people applying to jobs while not on LinkedIn essentially ghosts? I’d very much appreciate your insights.9
I want to get your take on an icebreaker I was subjected to recently. For a 9 a.m. Monday morning training last week, the facilitator opened with, “Tell us your name, your team, how long you’ve been with the company, and a ‘scar story’. Pick a scar on your body and tell us how you got it. If you prefer not to talk about a physical scar, you can tell us about an emotional scar.” I am not joking.
As we went around the room, there were lots of blood and guts stories (gross) but people also shared really traumatizing tales, like an infant daughter being diagnosed with leukemia. The whole thing took 30 minutes of a 90-minute session. I was very turned off by the activity in the moment and even more so later after reflecting a bit.
Besides this one being in very bad taste, I find myself turned off by icebreakers in general. They feel forced and never seem to give you a useful introduction to your colleagues. I’m wondering if your readers have ever participated in an icebreaker they think was particularly effective or are these just a reality of office life we need to endure?3
My workplace is a generally nice place, but there is a lot of gossiping and complaining. Voices carry and we have a lot of people coming through, so there’s a risk that if people are gossiping, other people could end up overhearing colleagues talking about them or someone they know. It doesn’t help that some of our employees work all of their time in the office (including me) and the others come and go, which I think creates an in-group and an out-group. When gossip comes up, or the urge to gossip, it’s tough to be as empathetic if you don’t have a real in-person relationship and primarily interact with someone over email.
I am a good listener and generally want to hear people out, but there is so much potential for problems when people are talking harshly about others. Could you give me some advice about how to politely shut it down when people are gossiping to me?
In particular, I’m interested in knowing how to shut it down if the gossiper is senior to me, versus a peer, or versus junior to me. Also, should I handle it any differently if I agree with the comments being made or if I don’t? What if the person is sharing something confidential that I know they shouldn’t be talking about? And does it make any difference if the information is work-related or not?3
My coworkers and I work in close quarters in a laboratory all day. We all get along well, and since we don’t have “offices” and often work together on things, we are a pretty close team.
We recently got a new member, Jill, who is 22, and this is her first job out of college. She lives at home with her parents, who are incredibly well-off, and has lived at home all through college. The rest of us are late 20’s to late 30’s. Jill is very nice but also very sensitive and somewhat immature, and I’m not sure if she’s just not 100% sure how to deal with people in professional settings yet or what’s going on, but almost everything that comes out of her mouth has to do with money, mainly how much money her family has. If it might offer some context, Jill and her family are not from the U.S., but have been here since Jill was a teenager.
I usually just kind of inwardly roll my eyes and change the subject, but with the holidays it’s gotten considerably worse and Jill is driving my team and me crazy. Some examples of things she has said just in the past week are: “My dad’s buying my mom a new car for Christmas!” “I’m going to buy my mom a Gucci Keychain for Christmas. It’s $225 dollars!” “I’m so excited, my mom is buying my puppy a Tiffany collar for Christmas!”
The thing that sent me over the edge was when a male coworker asked for ladies’ opinions on a very nice coat he was considering buying for his girlfriend. My opinion was something along the lines of “I like it, but I would go with the gray because white coats get dirty very easily, in my experience,” whereas Jill’s opinion was “It’s not even a name brand, you should go with either a North Face or a Michael Kors.”
I am honestly not sure if Jill knows there are people in the world who are not as well-off as her family is, and that people who aren’t as “fortunate” don’t want to hear these kinds of things every day. We are not paupers, but we are definitely not buying our dogs Tiffany collars. Is there a way that I can tell her to please stop talking about how rich her family is, without sounding jealous or mean, or causing a lot of friction on my team? Like I said, she’s a nice person, but money is a touchy subject in any capacity and I think this might hinder her professionally in the future, not to mention that we’re all sick of hearing about it!4
“Arya” and I were classmates in college. We were in the same year and did the same major. We’ve known each other for 16 years and have worked together twice; one time she was my manager and the other time I was hers. We often attend the same work-related conferences and exchange thoughts on articles that appear in industry publications. Our relationship is a professional one, although I did attend her wedding because her husband was in the same fraternity as me, and she did introduce me to my future husband at a networking charity event. Besides her wedding, we have never talked outside of work or a networking event.
I was hiring for a position and one of the promising candidates was working for Arya and had put her down as a reference. Arya sung her praises and told me she was the best employee in the department. The position I was hiring for would be a promotion for the candidate, and Arya said there was no room for promotion in her department at the moment. Based on Arya’s glowing review and the same from another manager there (and her strong resume), I hired her.
It was a catastrophe. Her work was sloppy and disorganized. She struggled to do basic tasks, missed deadlines, and was sometimes cold to her coworkers and clients. She was asked to take point on a project because her resume listed a similar project, and it went so far off the rails we had to bring in outside help to get it back on track. I know a promotion and new company can be an adjustment, but she was incompetent beyond having to adjust to a new place. Her mistakes cost us so much money she had to be fired.
When I spoke to Arya the first time, she played dumb. The second time, she admitted to lying about how good the candidate was because she was tired of dealing with her mistakes and wanted her gone. She told the candidate she wouldn’t fire her if she quickly left on her own and promised a good reference in exchange. The other manager agreed to do the same thing when Arya asked him to. Arya also told the candidate to lie about how long she worked there to make it seem like she was there longer and to put the project on her resume even though she wasn’t point on it. Arya said it was business and nothing personal.
After she was fired, my boss told me the bad candidate is being investigated by federal authorities for regulatory violations from her time at Arya’s company. The investigation started just when we were interviewing her, and Arya knew about it and didn’t tell me. The other manager is also being investigated for the same violations, which is how Arya got him to lie about the candidate. If the candidate had not left her job there, she would have been fired when word of the investigation got out. We had another candidate who worked for Arya, and Arya told me he was a mediocre employee who does the bare minimum. He just won two different prestigious industry awards. Arya also admitted to lying about him because she didn’t want him to leave. He still works at the same company as her.
I’m angry. She knowingly lied to me. I put stock in her opinion because of our relationship. I feel stupid and duped. I’m afraid making such a bad hire and passing up a good candidate will make me look bad and affect my career. My boss and her boss are upset about this debacle, and everyone knows something is up because the regulators came in when they found out the candidate worked here. They haven’t found anything yet but everyone is still nervous. The other manager who lied about the bad candidate has already been arrested and, based on what the bad candidate is accused of, she will likely be arrested soon also. (Arya cooperated with authorities, isn’t being investigated, and isn’t accused of doing anything against regulations.)
I don’t plan on talking to Arya again beyond being arms-length and professionally cool if I run into her at a conference and others are present. I’m not even sure if I can go to her boss because I don’t have any proof beyond her telling me verbally. Whether I knew her or not, the lie was egregious. Do I tell her boss? Do I confront her or leave it alone? She didn’t show any guilt or apologize to me.8
For context: I’m a relatively new employee (~six months) on the outreach team at a large nonprofit. Our team rarely gets together, working remotely and out at events most of the time. My supervisor’s managing style is odd to me, and I’m not really used to it yet. She is very hands-off and flaky, but extremely numbers-oriented and goal-driven. She doesn’t respond well to emails and often ends up communicating solely via text.
Last week, a friend of mine passed away unexpectedly. My manager was out of town and not working that day, so I emailed instead of texting her to let her know that I would be travelling for the funeral and wouldn’t be working on Monday or Tuesday. She actually emailed back apologizing for my loss and telling me to just let her know when I’m back in town. I was impressed that she got back to me and thankful for her flexibility.
On Sunday night at 11:30 p.m., I received a text from her about a Monday morning meeting that I chose to ignore because I was annoyed that she would text me so late and expect a response, even if it would just be to remind her that I’m out. At around midnight she sent another that said, “That’s right, you’re out. I forgot.”
On Tuesday morning, while pulling into the church parking lot for the funeral, I received a text from her to our whole team complaining about outreach and program recruitment numbers with several follow-up texts asking for immediate explanations for not meeting this month’s goals. I immediately silenced notifications from the conversation and haven’t addressed them.
Am I wrong in thinking that this was extremely inappropriate and insensitive? I feel like that conversation would have been much better suited for an in-person meeting, or even an email, especially since she knew I was out on personal time. At the very least, she should have left me off of the text chain, right?
Should I talk to her about this when I see her next? Go to HR? Bring it up the next time I take a personal day (“I’d like it if you don’t text me while I’m out this week”)? I’m really terrible at confrontation and am nervous about looking like I’m overreacting, but this really upset me. Thankful for any advice you can give!5
I have to meet with a staff member who is generally good at her job but has become increasingly disrespectful and resistant to any direction. Her attitude makes it difficult for me to work with her, but every time I talk to her about anything she is so unpleasant about it and afterwards it is almost the silent treatment. Do you have suggestions for me as her manager to address the attitude without making the whole situation even more unpleasant?
I know I can’t make her respect me, but is there a way that discussing her disrespectful attitude will result in a better attitude and not just make the problem worse?3
I work for a company known for its unbelievable perks and benefits. Every time a job opens up, we get thousands of applications.
Candidates are becoming increasingly aggressive to stand out. Hundreds of them (literally) have purchased Facebook ads or LinkedIn promoted posts to get their information in front of current employees.
Others have taken to outright stalking our employees. I freelance occasionally and have a separate website for my freelance business. I receive dozens of calls and emails to my freelance number and email account daily from people who want to “chat about the open position.”
My husband — who has a different last name — runs a small retail shop. He’s had people come into his store and tell him that they did internet sleuthing and found out he was married to an employee of my company, and would he please pass on their resume?
I expect to get these messages on my LinkedIn or company email, but am I wrong in thinking that stalking me out and trying to contact me via personal contact info (or my husband) is way out of line?
Is there a way to sharply tell them that this is not okay? Normally, I just don’t respond, but I have to turn my phone off or it rings all day and it’s really annoying. Would it look weird to put a message on my freelance website that says do not contact me about Company X jobs?
My company is aware of this problem, and has said to forward the names of aggressive or alarming candidates their way to remove them from consideration, but it’s so common, I’m thinking this is a product of being told that if they just showed GUMPTION, they’d get the job. I feel bad for them, but it’s also creeping me out.18
I’m in a high-stress work situation where the organization is way too reliant on me to maintain day-to-day operations. We’re working on hiring a second person for my role, but it’s likely to take six months to find someone and get them on board.
And I’m afraid that I’m burning out now. I’m tired all the time and grumpy. Worse, in the last couple weeks I seem to be losing the ability to think. I’ll read an email and be unable to make sense of the words, or unable to figure out what to do with it – it’s just a blank white fog in my brain where I should have words and ideas and next steps. My productivity is less than half what it should be, and I’m horribly embarrassed and ashamed of myself.
I’m taking sick days and leaving work early when I can, which helps a bit, but not enough. I’m also doing all the recommended self-care stuff – diet, sleep, exercise. I’m scheduling a doctor’s appointment for next week.
I have a very good boss, which is the only reason I haven’t said screw it all and bought a one-way plane ticket to Tahiti. (I hear it’s a magical place.) Any thoughts on how to approach this with him? Under normal circumstances I’d try to arrange for some vacation time, but I’m afraid a week or two of rest isn’t going to fix the problem, just delay it a while. Any substantial amount of time off is going to really hurt my department. They may need to bring in someone to cover for me, which would be very expensive. I’m afraid it’d destroy my reputation as someone who can be relied on. What options do I have? What should I be doing next?1
I recently left a job after a few years of intense work and long hours. After leaving, I left a critical but fair Glassdoor review. Since then, I have received multiple emails from the CEO of my former employer asking me to remove the review and including (what I perceive to be) threats of the industry being “small” and mentioning my new manager by name.
I had seldom spoken to the CEO before these emails – a bit of small talk here and there in the office – and his notes to me contained details about personal and family struggles (as justification for poor leadership and mistreating employees?) that I thought verged on inappropriate. I had also delivered all of the feedback in my review throughout my tenure at the company – and, of course, had not received any interest from leadership in discussing my thoughts until I made them public.
What is the best way to respond here? As an attempt to diffuse the situation, I sent a kind email back acknowledging that working there was at times difficult, but also expressing my gratitude for all I learned and the opportunities I had. After that email, he again asked that I remove the review and made reference to the “small community” of the industry.
Should I remove the review? Is he really going to tell my new boss that I left a critical (but truthful) Glassdoor review? If he does, will my new boss even care, or will he see this as a weird and inappropriate overstep from my old employer?16
I work for a small company with about 10 employees working full-time in the office. We all report directly to the CEO, Phil. When the pandemic hit, Phil went into full panic mode and had us all move our desks 12+ feet apart, wash our hands every 20 minutes, sterilize everything in between uses, etc. Nothing super weird, and better than having no reaction at all, but it was a hypervigilant process that made me expect him to be very accommodating when our state went on lockdown.
Boy, was I wrong. Our industry is considered essential so we’re still open, but Phil is being odd when it comes to working from home. For background, about 95% of our work can be done remotely. The other 5% would require about 15 minutes in the office once a week. I was the first one to pose the idea of working from home and Phil nervously agreed, but only let do it three days a week. My coworkers were given similar instructions but were “encouraged to come in every day, if possible.” A few of them do.
Since then, Phil has gotten pretty weird about the situation. He refers to people who are working from home as being “off work” (which is NOT the case, we are all working and available while at home, which he knows because he calls us for work-related things during work hours!). Today, Phil asked me if my coworker Travis was in his office, and I said Travis was working from home, and Phil replied in a sour tone, “So he’s not working then, great.” He has made similar comments about my other coworkers. When I’m working from home, he’ll call me and ask in a sarcastic tone, “What are you even working on today?” Or he’ll give me an assignment and end with, “Can you actually do work on this today? I need you working.” One time, he called while I was in the bathroom and when I called him back less than five minutes later, I was told that I “need to be available and not screwing around.”
The weirdest thing is that none of us has had productivity problems! My job is such that I can tell when anyone is slacking even a little and I haven’t noticed any issues. Personally, I’ve actually been MORE productive! And I’ve never been accused of “screwing around” while at the office before, so this attitude has baffled me.
He is so convinced that we aren’t working that he cut our work-from-home time down two days a couple weeks ago, and now it’s being cut down to one day as of next week – when COVID cases are higher in our city than ever!
My guess is that because Phil isn’t physically seeing us work, he assumes we aren’t working. CCing him on stuff to leave “proof” doesn’t work because he doesn’t read his email. He is also naturally a nightmare of a micromanager (and an across-the-office yeller) so not being as “in control” is probably freaking him out. But what is the best way to handle this?11
If I login to some account, log out, and then log in through some other account, I still get push notifications for logged out account.
It doesn't unregister device for push notifications, you need to uninstall to get rid of it.8
Here comes lots of random pieces of advice...
Ain't no shortcuts.
Be prepared, becoming a good programmer (there are lots of shitty programmers, not so many good ones) takes lots of pain, frustration, and failure. It's going to suck for awhile. There will be false starts. At some point you will question whether you are cut out for it or not. Embrace the struggle -- if you aren't failing, you aren't learning.
Remember that in 2021 being a programmer is just as much (maybe even moreso) about picking up new things on the fly as it is about your crystalized knowledge. I don't want someone who has all the core features of some language memorized, I want someone who can learn new things quickly. Everything is open book all the time. I have to look up pretty basic stuff all the time, it's just that it takes me like twelve seconds to look it up and digest it.
Build, build, build, build, build. At least while you are learning, you should always be working on a project. Don't worry about how big the project is, small is fine.
Remember that programming is a tool, not the end goal in and of itself. Nobody gives a shit how good a carpenter is at using some specialized saw, they care about what the carpenter can build with that specialized saw.
Plan your build. This is a VERY important part of the process that newer devs/programmers like to skip. You are always free to change the plan, but you should have a plan going on. Don't store your plan in your head. If you plan exists only in your head you are doing it wrong. Write that shit down! If you create a solid development process, the cognitive overhead for any project goes way down.
Don't fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, especially to the experts you are learning from. They are good because they have done the thing that you are struggling with at least a thousand times.
Don't fall into the trap of comparing yourself today to yourself yesterday. This will make it seem like you haven't learned anything and aren't on the move. Compare yourself to yourself last week, last month, last year.
Have experienced programmers review your code. Don't be afraid to ask, most of us really really enjoy this (if it makes you feel any better about the "inconvenience", it will take a mid-level waaaaay less time to review your code that it took for you to write it, and a senior dev even less time than that). You will hate it, it will suck having someone seem like they are just ripping your code apart, but it will make you so much better so much faster than just relying on your own internal knowledge.
When you start to be able to put the pieces together, stay humble. I've seen countless devs with a year of experience start to get a big head and talk like they know shit. Don't keep your mouth closed, but as a newer dev if you are talking noise instead of asking questions there is no way I will think you are ready to have the Jr./Associate/Whatever removed from your title.
Don't ever. Ever. Ever. Criticize someone else's preferred tools. Tooling is so far down the list of what makes a good programmer. This is another thing newer devs have a tendency to do, thinking that their tool chain is the only way to do it. Definitely recommend to people alternatives to check out. A senior dev using Notepad++, a terminal window, and a compiler from 1977 is probably better than you are with the newest shiniest IDE.
Don't be a dick about terminology/vocabulary. Different words mean different things to different people in different organizations. If what you call GNU/Linux somebody else just calls Linux, let it go man! You understand what they mean, and if you don't it's your job to figure out what they mean, not tell them the right way to say it.
One analogy I like to make is that becoming a programmer is a lot like becoming a chef. You don't become a chef by following recipes (i.e. just following tutorials and walk-throughs). You become a chef by learning about different ingredients, learning about different cooking techniques, learning about different styles of cuisine, and (this is the important part), learning how to put together ingredients, techniques, and cuisines in ways that no one has ever showed you about before.
A misconception that software engineers just sit in front of their laptops and code 40 hours a week, with no social interaction.
A software engineer’s job is actually pretty social. Personally, I probably spend around half of my time interacting with people. This could be partially due to 1:1, team, and other meetings. But a large part of it is spent in bouncing off ideas about your project with your project mates (especially during the planning phase), chiming in the conversations about some recent or urgent problems to help find or propose solutions, answering others’ questions, organizing some events, etc.
Of course, I do need some dedicated uninterrupted time to focus on programming and to get into the zone, but it’s certainly not the only activity I do at work. The main point to understand is that the software engineering is not a solitary, but a social job.
Overall, I’m very happy with my profession. The enjoyment I get out of my work vastly outweighs all of these points combined.1
I hate how willing companies are to let someone go over money.
I’ll use a real life example with someone I knew. This person joined a company at the entry-level developer and worked up to a senior level. His pay rises were around 3% per year with around a 5–7% promotion raise (there were two of these).
At this point, 4–5 years after joining, he was making far under what a senior developer salary was in his area. Eventually, he interviewed on the team of a friend at another company and was offered a 40% increase. Four-Zero. CRAZY.
What the company did is baffling to me.
His boss said they may be willing to increase 5%, but there was no way they could even match what the other company offered, let alone beat it. The benefits were better at the new company, but he would’ve stayed with the original for a salary match.
So he left…
But what did the original company do? Hired a new senior level developer for the same dollar amount the dev was offered at the new one, then lost about 6 months ramping up that developer due to a super complex code base, and the new developer turned out to be much less capable than the one they just let go.
So wtf? It’s flat out stupid on the company’s part. Some sort of effed up pride or something.
They’d rather let someone walk out the door, knowing it’ll cost just as much to replace them, plus losing literally tens of thousands of dollars on ramp up time, and they gamble on getting a capable developer instead of a known, proven, loyal developer.
Thankfully, the younger tech companies understand this, and many pay people appropriate to level and talent, regardless of what they were making before they advanced to that level.13
Yes, senior developers get stuck just as much as junior developers do, the difference is that they get stuck in places that junior developers can’t even access. That is partially because senior developers are expected to do so much more than just simple coding, they need to also grasp and untangle client requirements, communicate clearly and thoughtfully with the team, be some sort of guiding/mentoring/leading figure, make sweeping architectural decisions, and so on and so forth.
A junior developer is struggling with making relevant columns of a table a nice shade of purple. A senior developer is struggling with making sure that implementing new client requirements will not have a destructive impact on the current infrastructure, there will be no regressions elsewhere in the system, tries to pinpoint what prior assumptions the new stuff breaks (it inevitably does), and how to reconcile everything.5
I called into work today and was completely honest with my boss. I needed a mental health day after a huge break down last night. He completely understood and asked if there was anything he could do and told me to take care of myself today.7
Working from home has added 10 hours a week to my life from not having to commute to the office.9
I turned 40 yesterday. Here are some lessons I've learned, without fluff or BS.
1) Stop waiting for exceptional things to just happen. They rarely do, and they can't be counted on. Greatness is cultivated; it's a gradual process and it won't come without effort.
2) Jealousy is a monster that destroys everything in it's path. It's absolutely useless, except to remind us there's a better way. We can't always control how we feel, but we can choose how we react to those feelings.
When I was younger, jealousy in relationships always led to shit turning out worse than it probably would have otherwise. Even when it was justified, even when a relationship was over, jealousy led me to burn bridges that I wished I hadn't.
3) College isn't for everyone, but you'll rarely be put square in the middle of so much potential experience. You'll meet people you probably wouldn't have otherwise, and as you eventually pursue your major, you'll get to know people who share your passions and dreams. Despite all the bullshit ways in which college sucks, it's still a pretty unique path on the way to adulthood. But on that note...
4) Learn to manage your money. It's way too easy to get into unsustainable debt. It only gets worse, and it makes everything harder. We don't always see the consequence of credit cards and loans when we're young, because the future seems so distant and undecided. But that debt isn't going anywhere... Try not to borrow money that you can't imagine yourself paying back now.
5) Floss every day, not just a couple times per week when you remember, or when you've got something stuck in your teeth. It matters, even if you're in your 20s and you've never had a cavity.
6) You'll always hear about living in the moment, seizing the day... It's tough to actually do. But there's something to be said for looking inward, and trying to recognize when too much of our attention is focused elsewhere. Constantly serving the future won't always pay off, at least not in the ways we think it will when we're young.
This sentiment doesn't have much value when it's put in abstract, existential terms, like it usually is. The best you can do is try to be aware of your own willingness and ability to be open to experiences. Think about ways in which you might be rejecting the here and now, even if it's as seemingly-benign as not going out with some friends because you just saw them, or you already went to that place they're going to. We won't recognize the good old days for what they were until they're already gone. The trick is having as many good days as possible.
7) Don't start smoking; you'll never quit as soon as you'll think you can. If you do start, make yourself quit after a couple years, no matter what. Keep your vices in check; drugs and alcohol in moderation. Use condoms, use birth control.
8) Don't make love wait. Tell your friends and family you love them often, and show them when you can. You're going to lose people, so it's important. Statistically, some of you will die young, yourselves.
When it comes to relationships, don't settle if you can't tell yourself you're in love, and totally believe it. Don't let complacency and familiarity get in the way of pursuing love. Don't be afraid to end relationships because they're comfortable, or because you've already invested so much into them.
Being young is a gift, and it won't last forever. You need to use that gift to experience all the love that you can, at least as a means to finding the person you really want to grow old with, if that's what you want. Regardless, you don't want to miss out on loving someone, and being loved, because of fear. Don't be reckless; just be honest with yourself.
9) Take care of your body. Neglecting it makes everything tougher. That doesn't mean you have to work out every day and eat like a nutritionist, but if you're overweight or you have health issues, do what you can to fix it. Losing weight isn't easy, but it's not as hard as people make it out to be. And it's one of the most important things you can do to invest in a healthy adulthood.
Don't put off nagging health issues because you think you'll be fine, or you don't think you'll be able to afford it, or you're scared of the outcome. There will always be options, until there aren't. Most people never get to the no-options part. Or, they get there because all the other options expired.
10) Few things will haunt you like regret. Making the wrong choice, for example, usually won't hurt as much. I guess you can regret making the wrong choice, but my deepest regrets come from inaction, complacency and indifference.
So how can we avoid regret? I don't know, lol. I don't think it's as simple as just commiting to choices... Choosing to do nothing is still a choice, after all. I think it's more about listening to your gut, as cliche as that sounds.
To thine own self be true, I guess. It's worth a shot, even if you fail. Almost anything is better than regret.14