Leaving in anger? Don’t.

Let’s assume you went against my advice from a few months ago and you actually secured that job. That’s actually quite an achievement, but it’s not what I intend to write about. What you leave behind is, most of the time, more significant than what you think is being set in front of you.

Most likely your current job does not compare with the likes of Googamazbook. That’s OK. Or you feel that you did not get to achieve everything you hoped for when you signed up for your current, soon to be previous position. That’s also OK. Let’s walk through some possible frustration points:

1. Promotions (lack of)

You do feel you deserved more and you were passed on for promotions due to unclear, maybe non-professional reasons. Most likely this is true, but it does not always have to be about you as an individual; it’s about the way companies work.

In companies I have worked for, most employees tended to be, rank wise, somewhere in the middle of a gaussian function graph. On the left (lowest ranks) were people at their first job (University graduates, maybe). They tended to quickly advance in ranks towards the bulk of people in the middle. On the right (highest ranks), were higher level managers and people with the “principal” keyword tied to their title. The middle management was also part of the “middle”… well, the middle word should tell you something.

Simply put, there is not much room for natural movement as long as this graph is to be preserved (and is to be preserved, if the company is to survive on the market). If one also considers people entering from the outside, there are – naturally – more people trying to get a seat to the front of the room than the seat count. This is the reason why preparations are needed in order to secure a promotion: you must be better than the other people competing for the same seat. Profesionally better? Probably not, but that’s how things work.

2. Raises (less than expected)

You think that the last raise of 3% was terrible and did not reflect your performance. Openly complaining about this just before you leave will fix… Sorry, it will fix nothing. The companies usually work by different rules.

The compensation, as the company sees it, should reflect the market value of the employee. That is, no other company will pay that particular employee more than the current wage plus the risk the employer is willing to take. The amount itself is only loosely related to the internal ranking described above, as some people are motivated more by their title than they are by their pay. The companies know this and act accordingly.

All things considered, companies pay the least possible amount that will have the particular employee stay with them. Normal companies are businesses, for profit based entities – and act by the market rules. This does not apply to public companies – they pay people in close relationship to their internal ranking as individual performance almost never results in having – not more business, but larger budgets coming their way.

3. Bosses (low management quality)

Bosses are evaluated in the context of the internal management policy inside the company. Very few companies actually listen to individual complaints coming from the minions, but all of them are looking closely to trends, stats and overall scores as gathered through anonymous surveys.

Given that the direct boss is the primary interface of the employee to the company, they usually get to “wear” all the positive and negative projections the company is sending out. Most of the time they have no power to decide on how promotions and compensation adjustments are being handed out; they can of course propose for things to happen and fill in all kinds of positive feedback on the particular employee throughout the various company-mandated forms. Unfortunately they as individuals get evaluated by the minions on the end results only – and the end results are always limited by the company budget.

4. Culture (meaningless words)

You may feel disgusted by the company culture when you leave, but it’s not the culture itself causing such feelings. Many companies have keywords and messages written on walls and doors, for the people to actually not forget about them.

The unspoken problem is that culture is not actually passed through messages on the walls but in a more insidious way, from managers to employees and between employees of different tenures within the company. Cycles of fast expansion push forward managers that are not properly immersed on the vision of the founders and, sooner rather than later, ideas like “the sole purpose of the company is to fill up the owner’s bank accounts” get unanimously accepted. Well, it’s not like filling up bank accounts is not one core purpose of any company, though.

5. Conclusion

If you recongnize anything of the above, please acknowledge the fact that it’s not about a single individual casting spells from some ivory tower. Also, you were not singled out on any of these. Oh – and if things don’t work out, leaving is sometimes the only option.

Why not release some anger? It’s about upsetting individuals rather than getting procedures fixed or budgets redistributed. You may need such individual for a good reference when you successfuly pass the onsite at Googamazbook or even before being considered for an interview. Be human and respect the other peoples’ humanity.


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