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Poll: Why are people leaving their jobs?
535 points by MobileVet 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 743 comments
There has been quite a lot of press about the 'great resignation,' with employees leaving jobs in droves. This is likely hyperbole, but it does seem that there are a large number of people switching jobs.

If that is something you have done or are considering doing in the near future, why?

1178 points
133 points
flexibility (remote, hours etc)
293 points
new challenge / learning
438 points
change is good
72 points
life balance
281 points
company culture
661 points

I'll be departing my job at the end of the month. I had too many roles, affecting too many pieces of engineering, and my title didn't reflect my work. I needed to go down to a 4 day work week and have my title reflect my roles, but my manager attempted to call my bluff and essentially said it's not going to happen. I hinted about what my decision would have to be if these accomodations couldn't be made, but he didn't budge. When I gave my verbal notice, suddenly there was immediate backpedaling and said maybe something could be worked out. I declined because I don't negotiate like that. If you mismanage a negotiation, there is no do-overs just because you overplayed your hand. The trust is broken.

Same thing happened to me at my last company. I was over worked, wore too many hats, and was paid significantly less than my team mates who were more junior than I was (and had less responsibility). I had a handful of conversations that never amounted to anything. As soon as I put in my notice with a new offer in hand suddenly I was able to "set my price".

I left for other reasons as well, but it really shone a light on how management thought of ICs. Managers: proactively reward your ICs, don't wait until they're halfway out the door. I would honestly take a less aggressive adjustment in comp if it was done proactively, rather than waiting until I'm fed up and on my way out.

Too many roles / too many hats is far too common and why I find it hard to stay anywhere more than 4-5 years.

As a senior IC in a super-flat & growing org.. I'm almost like a customer successs engineer, product manager, scrum master, senior developer and tech lead all rolled into one.

Management administrivia I accumulate administrative things my manager doesn't want to do & pushes down I do unofficially own a part of the team Dotted lines of devs in my "team" that can be rolled in & out sprint by sprint

Customer success / product / architecture I collect customer requirements, translate them into stories & documentation I manage customer/manager expectations with status meetings & reports I project plan out 3 months of work with JIRA hierarchies/Gantt chart I design solutions given the requirements

Scrum I run our standups, sprint plannings, backlog refinements

Corporate citizenship I am involved in recruiting 5-10% of my week I run working groups / long running cross team tech org

Development I do IC work - directly assigned sprint deliverable tickets (analysis, development, infra creation) I need to accomplish

I've been looking at moving to a more official management role elsewhere so I can focus at being good at a few things instead of decent at all the things.

> I'm almost like a customer successs engineer, product manager, scrum master, senior developer and tech lead all rolled into one.

This is also me. Except I really like it. But I'm not sure what to do about it, it can reflect super poorly on a resume for some reason.

"Oh, your applying to be a Senior Engineer? Look at all this product management and developer manager experience on your resume, you must not really be serious about coding, you aren't strong enough technically, the developers won't trust you"

"Oh, your applying to be a Product Manager / Product Director. Look at all this programming and tech experience on your resume, you are really just a developer, you should just be pulling tickets from JIRA/Asana/Linear, you probably wouldn't be able to speak in non-technical terms in front of customers/clients/etc"

(loop on repeat)

I've not heard of a job name/title/role that accurately represents this sort of work, even though companies generally seem to like it, if I can somehow get through their application process.

Make multiple resumes and leave off details that aren't relevant (or are counter-productive) to the job you're applying for.

I believe there was a post on here recently that talked about a person leaving _off_ experience he had on his resume and end up getting _more_ callbacks.

I'm in a similar place, although I'm not really seeing any resume problems. Maybe my resume focuses entirely on my technical side. But on my previous project, I often spoke with stakeholders, helped our ever changing product owners, but I also worked on every aspect on the application (even infra, though that's really not my thing), guided juniors, decided the direction of the application, etc.

But that was only one project, so it doesn't really show up much in my CV. The main problem that recruiters have with me is that they don't know if I'm front-end or back-end, but I consider that a pointless distinction. I pick up whatever needs to be picked up, whether it's a single technical focus or everything else. (I'll even do infra if I really have to, though I'd rather not.) I like the diversity, but I also like to adapt to what the team needs.

I have similarly varied background and I have not had candidate employers put it through that lens.

If anything I find people tend to look upon varied experience as proof that you can add value on multiple fronts and across functions within the organisation, which should make you a slightly less common cog in the machine.

> I've not heard of a job name/title/role that accurately represents this sort of work, even though companies generally seem to like it, if I can somehow get through their application process.

I think you will find that generalists are valued in extremely small orgs like startups, skunk works, spin-offs, and the like. Titles, when accurate, are likely to be vague (eg. Founding Employee). As organizations grow, roles tend to specialize, and generalists are undervalued, but reliable long term career success still tends to accrue to folks that have t-shaped[0] skill sets that allow them to be extremely productive in their area of specialization, and extremely effective at collaborating with other specialists across the organization.

You seem to be getting dismissed as a dilettante, though it is being couched in terms of your expertise in whatever the person you're talking to doesn't feel qualified to assess, or whatever they aren't looking for in the role they are seeking to fill.

There is, however, more than one way to specialize over the course of a career other than your role in an organization per-se. For example, you can develop domain expertise in an industry (finance, healthcare, legal, telecom, entertainment, retail, agriculture), market (eg. regional VARs, enterprise software, small businesses), delivery model (SaaS, information products, durable goods), or product/service category (content management systems, adtech, databases, business intelligence). Don't go crazy with combining these into something too hyper-specific, obviously.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-shaped_skills

I believe you, but that's surprising. I've generally had my well-roundedness very well-received.

The problem is, some cannot believe that high performers, can be experts in multiple branches of a field.

Their development slows to a crawl, as they get stuck in one role. Yours, and others like you, just keep that intense growth happening.

It isn't necessarily their fault, either. Circumstances can keep someone slotted deep in a role, with no way to expand laterally.

So, they may literally think such breadth and depth of experience is just overstatement.

The other aspect is organizational appetite for risk.

The first company I worked for let anyone grow into any role they proved they could do. If you solved the hard problems you were the senior developer, if you took the reigns you were quickly promoted to lead/manager. Seniority didn't count for anything and roles were very fluid.

That's an uncommon situation and what I've learned is it's hard to imagine if you've spent a career in more traditional organizations.

Right, yes, this too.

I recall a contract with a government department. Very much like this. And the very lengthy discussion about the simplest things.

Do you have any experience with:

Azure, Data Engineering, Data Science? Cause I'll hire you

Did you consider skipping the non-relevant parts from the resume and interview discussion? Once you make it in, perhaps you can show them your full background.

I work on hiring 50% of the week and would love to see resumes like this! :)

Technical Product Manager

Followed by a one liner summary

TBH, reading this as a manager, I have to admit I feel like asking my engineers to take on SOME of these beyond-just-the-code duties... is a good thing? Obviously there are a bunch of caveats, and nuances to whether you want an IC engineer to be 100% coding and 0% talking to customers or doing admin (this seems bad), or is it 90% vs 10% (maybe okay), or 80/20 (sweet spot?), 50/50 (concerning), 20/80 (bad again), etc.

That being said, if you are doing all of these things, and not being fairly compensated for it, then that's definitely a problem. A $50k/year web dev position at some random agency, doesn't deserve this level of work from you, esp. if you could instead take all these responsibilities, and do them at a serious technology company or start-up, for 2x-5x the comp.

> TBH, reading this as a manager, I have to admit I feel like asking my engineers to take on SOME of these beyond-just-the-code duties... is a good thing? Obviously there are a bunch of caveats, and nuances to whether you want an IC engineer to be 100% coding and 0% talking to customers or doing admin (this seems bad), or is it 90% vs 10% (maybe okay), or 80/20 (sweet spot?), 50/50 (concerning), 20/80 (bad again), etc.

1. Agree 100% coding and nothing else is bad most of the time. You can leave out admin tasks but engineering is more than just coding, it's problem solving. Understanding requirements (e.g. by talking to customers) is crucial and also the best code is the code that had to be never written.

2. Think that is also in large part an individual thing, some people like to wear multiple hats to some individually varying degree while others don't.

3. It must work out in practice and you have to make sure the sum of both does not result in a value above 100%

4. I agree if the technical stuff is as low as 20% it may be better to just transfer in another role completely as it is hard to contribute meaningfully there then.

... and 5., try to avoid duties which involve a huge amount of smaller interruptions over the day.

I agree most engineers should be doing SOME things beyond code-centric activities. There are things that almost nobody, whether they're an IC or people manager, wants to have take up their whole day. That requires spreading them out across staff.

Problems arise when that work isn't assigned out explicitly, evenly, and thoughtfully. Sometimes there's important work that isn't really assigned to anybody, and it can end up landing with whoever is least willing to ignore it. Over time, that can lead to situations that feel (and/or are) unfair.

Ask them.

Some engineers just want to do engineering. Nothing else. But more often engineers will be happy getting involved with the customers in some way, or working to improve some process they don't like, or some even love doing documentation.

Best thing is to bring up options and ask if any of them sound appealing. Letting people choose their work generally gets you stronger buy-in to what they're doing.

Same. As an IC I like ownership. I'd be fine with most of that list assuming it was related to something I owned. I may not specifically like some task, but I'm fine doing it if it's because I'm the person responsible for something.

The biggest issue I would have with that list is the description of the scrum setup, and being directly assigned tickets. I find it more engaging if I'm given or find bigger problems to solve, completing individual tickets isn't as interesting.

Yes I love ownership as an IC.

It's more that I spend near-zero time on any coding anymore, but also have very little visibility into the wider strategy (because there kind of isn't one).

So I am tasked to have work for my customer(s) / 2-3 devs on loan to me, planned out for a few months. However my manager doesn't really give us what his quarterly goals are most quarters. Product team doesn't publish them very often either.

In order of time spent in applications top to bottom it looks something like - Zoom, Slack, Email, Jira, Confluence, Sharepoint, Gitlab, VSCode.

Right, I'm rather experienced and make many multiples of 50k/yr, so its not really a compensation thing.

It's more that it feels very ephemeral / tenuous as none of it is in an org chart or official. It is basically what problems management has to solve and what seniors are available at the moment.

I am, officially in title and org chart an IC. In reality 10-20% of my time is IC dev work. 6 months ago it was 50%, 6 months before that it was 0%.

Further it feels like too much of a time split to really get any better at any of the aspects - software dev, tech lead, product, people management of this role.

What does this look like in FAANG?

It can be better, but it also can be just as chaotic sometimes. On balance overall, FAANGs are probably better at managing this "IC utilization" rate if you wanna call it that, vs just randomly expecting you to pick up and wear all the hats all the time or that hats are chaotically assigned, with no plan behind it. Certainly FAANGs aren't perfect, but at least it's easier to find "reference implementations" because there certainly are some very high-performing and well-managed teams, and if you're not on one yourself, then you can at least have the benefit of being able to see-and-compare, which then provides a potential for betterment and learning from others (which might be harder in non-FAANGs).

Right, I like the term "IC Utilization Rate". I think for me its the chaos of the hat wearing. I went about 6 months doing pure project management with 0 leadership or development work.

I periodically go long enough with 0 hands-on dev that stuff in the SDLC has changed again. So I have to go poke around and figure out why my commit message formatting is rejected, which teamcity instance we are using now, and what QA box I should be testing on.

Also the unmentioned part for me is that while 10-20% of my time is Dev at best, 50% of it is high urgency fires I am brought in to extinguish because I have the most knowledge of that part of the code base and can ship whatever improvement in 1-2 sprints without needing to spend 2 sprints on analysis first.

I'm just a senior IC, and not at FAANG. But my employer does recruit from FAANG. 0%-20% sounds low for dev work, but the basic description looks somewhat familiar. We don't have project managers, and not all teams have product managers, so seniority can get you more of that work, and less dev work. I don't think ICs do managerial people management if you don't include mentoring. And I do know one or two directors who still code a lot. Maybe some FAANGS have senior positions with more IC dev work.

They do, but it's vastly easier to get promoted to those levels as a manager, because the organization needs managers to function, but super senior ICs are less critical.

For me it mostly depends on management staffing levels, if I'm in a standup with more management/business folks than developers I don't expect to spend a lot of time handling that side of the process, especially if we aren't in a place where we are stable from a technical perspective or have deadlines looming. On the other hand if I'm just directly reporting to a single person I'm much more open to lending a hand and pick up a lot of stuff.

My last title before I went on my own was CTO/Architect. And I was doing all the things you mentioned down to coding. I could not complain about compensation as it was very fair - $250K in 2000 (the last year). But I was becoming a wreck.

Now I have my own company and I still do all those things, LOL. Big difference being I choose what I do, how I do and obviously the size so I can chew it on my own or with my few trusty subcontractors. It is basically development of new products from scratch either for clients or for my own company and once in a while some very short hit and run type jobs. I now also leave plenty of time for myself to enjoy whatever activities make me tick.

Sounds like you could co-found a company, which could also be cool but in the other direction.

What you're describing is a Staff or Principal Engineer title and should be compensated accordingly.

Not even. This is far past what is expected of a staff, senior staff, or even principal engineer. This is a full-on technical cofounder, or hybrid cto/vpoe.

I have 2 yoe and end up doing all of these. Startup life I guess haha

> and was paid significantly less than my team mates who were more junior than I was

This is the kind of thing that any company doing this should be named, shamed and blocklisted.

There is no reason other than greed that a higher ranking employee shouldn't make at least as much as a lower ranking employee in total compensation. "Person was hired earlier and is okay with the lower wage" is, frankly, a reflection of a company hating their employees. It's a shame and an embarrassment.

I don't know. At every company I've worked for (as a junior, and as a senior) there were some juniors who clearly contributed more to the company's success than some seniors. I don't think this is an uncommon experience.

To me the "rank" of senior engineer should indicate the engineer's experience, and maybe their "wisdom" and depth of knowledge, not their salary. A senior engineer may slack off a bit and be less productive than an eager junior, or want to take on less responsibility; it seems fine in that case that the junior is rewarded with higher pay.

Know your value to the company, and negotiate compensation to match it (or exceed it!). I'd also suggest companies not tie pay to title.

Disclaimer: I'm not trying to say anything about or against your parent here.

This can be a very subjective thing. How do you 'rank'? This is not something that is completely clearcut, cut and dry and you are 100% accurate without fail.

Example: I have a guy on my team that is 'more junior' than some others. He's killing it though. He's consistently behaving like he's got 10 more years of experience than he does and people that had 20 more years of experience than him couldn't do 10% of what he does without fail.

Of course you could say that the Senior developer should never have been hired if he was actually a Junior developer that's just been around for some time already but hiring practices aren't perfect, people get hired on one team and move to another and you're the first to actually do something about it etc.

Ranking can be hard for sure, but once that ranking existsz paying the lower ranked person more is indeed unethical. If the lower ranked person deserves more money, give them the promotion and title.

In six months are you going to promote him? If not why not?

You are missing a few other questions and are assuming this can only go one way.

Are you going to promote him? If so, why? Are you going to give him a meager raise? If so why? Are you going to give him a proper raise? ...

FWIW, the "Senior" is no longer in play. I do not tolerate such incompetence for long. And yes I am doing everything I can to get the 'junior' a proper raise and a large bonus.

It's really hard to justify with management.

Instead saying "X left, we need extra budget to replace it" will often work.

It's idiotic and expensive for the company but what can you do.

Here's what you can do: Hold and express sincere trust in and appreciation of your employees.

Sincere trust and appreciation doesn't make my retirement any closer. Show your appreciation with cash.

Do both?

The comment said “employees”, not “employers” :)

I swear at some of these companies it is going to take engineering managers going on strike before corporate actually respects that we know how to run effective teams for the good of the business.

You get what you measure, and the only thing they know how to measure is negative outcomes.

You can't prove that giving me an extra 5k made me stay long enough to pay it back at >= our revenue targets.

The semi-healthy version I see play out is when people who want to be better use the loss of a customer or a coworker as fodder for pushing their agenda. Essentially it's one class of teachable moment. People learn from pain when nothing else works, and you can amplify or dull that sense of pain.

proactively reward your ICs, don't wait until they're halfway out the door.

[Insert frustrated comment here about how capable, sufficient and well-performing ICs are absolutely rewarded.....with more work and additional duties]

IC = independent contractor?

Individual contributor. So writing code yourself, not managing other people.

Thanks. I have never heard that term. At my company, we’d just call that a programmer/developer/engineer.

I was playing a board game with my 7-year-old niece recently. She negotiates the same way most companies do. She holds the line firmly until her bluff is called, and then backtracks quickly once it's too late.

The biggest différance is my 7-year-old will learn, while companies will continue to make the same mistakes.

I highly support playing negotiation and/or lying+consequence board games with children. The skills are lifelong, and the stakes are much lower than when they have to exercise them in the real world.

Coup [0] and Love Letter [1] are both easy entry and quick play examples.

Also, I got in the habit of making my kids negotiate their own payment for household tasks. With agreement based on the skill with which they do so. ;)

[0] https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/131357/coup

[1] https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/129622/love-letter

Cockroach Poker is another good bluffing game that 4-year-olds can play.

That's a good one to play with in-laws who don't speak your language as well.

But as much as I enjoy it, I'm not entirely convinced there's any more to it than straight up luck.

What part of Love Letter has negotiation or lying(+consequences)? In my house it's nearly strictly deduction.

Maybe it's because I played Coup first, but the way we play there's continuous talking about what's in ones hand. Which gives it more of a poker flavor.

Or maybe companies negotiate this way because it's an effective strategy. If, say, 90% of employees never call their bluff, they come out ahead, even if they occasionally lose someone. And backtracking later will convince some percentage of people to stay, while having zero cost if unsuccessful.

The optimal strategy for you and the company may differ because you can only work one place at a time, but the company employs many people at the same time.

The best people are the first people to leave. I've seen it time and again. Once you lose your best engineers, the prospects of the successful delivery of a quality product are greatly reduced.

Usually the 90% of the employees that don't call their bluff are the bottom 90%. If a company affords to lose the top 10% on a regular basis, it's a bad business model.

Meh ... It's the top 10% at interviewing and moving, not necessarily the most productive 10%, right? Although they may be over-represented.

Negotiation was one of my favorite classes I took in college, I think it should be taught as soon as possible. I must say applying it in real life under stressful conditions has been much harder than in the classroom! At the end of the day I think a lot of companies don't operate from a standpoint of both parties coming out fairly, which just leads to mistrust in the end.

It was one of my favorite classes too!

I remember that BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) was the most important factor (but the least interesting, it can't be improved as a skill). If the figures of employees switching jobs are as high as they say, that means either lots of impossible negotiations (misfits) or lots of negotiation failures.

Same, good ole BATNA! No better BATNA than being able to walk away from the table.

TIL there are colleges who actually have a class dedicated to the topic of negotiation.

Is this "new", say within the past 15-20 years?

I took it back in 2012 at a fairly large but run of the mill public college, but it seemed like a fairly mature class. I would imagine that given it’s prevalence in intelligence communities, it has probably been offered for a while, but maybe not everywhere.

It's more likely that those saying 'it's too late' don't have experience negotiating and have misjudged what 'too late' means.

Even in a 'kids board game' with short negotiations, there's literally no such thing as 'too late' - unless the game has already moved on to something else, but before next moves have really been taken, it's not too late.

It's like they all take the same crappy HR seminar from 20 years ago and haven't updated their skills since. Times have changed.

No, times have not changed. People are still human, employee problems are the same as ever.

HR was never good at dealing with this, that’s not a new thing.

People haven't changed, times have; the market currently favors employees in a way that pushes poor HR policies from "annoying" to "people call your bluff".

> I hinted about what my decision would have to be if these accomodations couldn't be made

I don't hint because it's too confusing. I try to very politely offer options, where one option is me looking for another opportunity. It's not as though it's a secret to either party that's always an option.

I wouldn't hint either, but because at best it puts you in an incredibly vulnerable position.

First, it indicates that you're willing to look for a new job, which decreases opportunities at your job. Maybe that means being passed over for larger projects, since they're less certain if you'll be there through the entire project. Maybe that means not receiving ongoing training, because they're uncertain that they'd benefit from it. Repeat this over a longer period of time, and your list of accomplishments comes short, because you've been denied opportunities.

Second, it opens you up to retribution. The USA has at-will employment, meaning that you can be fired at any time, and have no legal recourse for it. It can be for any reason that isn't explicitly prohibited, or can be for no reason at all. Looking for a new job is much less stressful when you already have a job. If you indicate that you might look for a new job without already having an offer, you could end up doing a more stressful job search while on a countdown to bankruptcy.

Third, even if you have an offer letter, it still isn't a position for effective bargaining. The employer could agree to the raise, wait a month until your offer expires, and then fire you.

I hate that it's a game that needs to be played. I hate the deception, and wish that there could be smoother transitions instead. But so long as the power disparity exists between employer and employee, you should never hint that you're looking for a new job until you are announcing your resignation, and you should never accept a counteroffer after having announced it. Maybe that would be different in a system with stronger unions or better protections for workers, but that isn't the system we're in.

>I wouldn't hint either, but because at best it puts you in an incredibly vulnerable position. First, it indicates that you're willing to look for a new job, which decreases opportunities at your job. Maybe that means being passed over for larger projects, since they're less certain if you'll be there through the entire project. Maybe that means not receiving ongoing training, because they're uncertain that they'd benefit from it.

I probably used to think this way too but I think it's somewhat foolish now. Unless you have a highly unusual contract or employment situation (usually involving family), there is always an implicit threat that you can leave. These "maybe" hypothetical opportunity carrots being dangled in front of you (and by you) just aren't relevant. You can literally say: "give me the training for this position and then put me on that project, or I'm taking an offer from your competitor and in two weeks I'm out."

edit: "and give it to me in writing with a guaranteed 6 months of pay subject to me meeting expectations" (if this is somehow illegal I'd be surprised).

I mostly agree with the above rationale, though I am skeptical about your first point. Having other options, in my view, is a strength. If a company can't put together something comparable to your alternative, it probably is time for a change.

I agree with your point. Marketability is the best job security. You should always be testing your worth to your firm and others. Maybe your company undervalues you -- be prepared to move on. Or, your market value might be lower than you think -- time to push yourself to enhance your value proposition.

That's not without risk if you don't already have an offer in hand, though. And it really is part of the manager's job.

Neither is hinting if you are assuming the person you are hinting to understands the hint. And if they don't understand, the hint is useless.


Employer might not have even known quitting was on the table if there is only a hint. Be bold and direct to reduce miscommunication and you'll be the one standing with integrity.

To be specific about what my hint was, I said "it doesn't make sense to me that the company would be willing to lose me over letting me go down to 4 days." I'm fairly certain my point came across clearly, but my guess is that he thought I was bluffing.

Or ... instead of being 'bold and direct' and assuming that 'you are the one with integrity' ...

... try letting them know your position tactfully, and be reasonable by trying to understand your own demands in context, with eye on both industry norms and norms within the company, and creating a good outcome for both sides.

And dispense with this 'integrity' moralizing.

Much like young CEO's trying to nego with VC's, hiring managers and companies do this day in and day out, they see it all, moreover, they have a different set of objectives, which you have to respect and build them into your consideration.

It's definitely a good idea that they know you might have competing offers, or that you are strongly considering moving on, but those are things you definitely don't want to browbeat them over. A simple, tactful acknowledgement is good enough. I would recommend having a quick chat in-person about it. And stay away from hard lines or antics.

The grass is always greener on the other side, wherever you go it'll be great for 6 months and then you'll discover a bunch of things you don't like ... while there's definitely a lot to be said for moving on, sometimes I think that grinding is definitely under appreciated.

This is a bad idea. Never tell an employer you might leave until you have an alternative option. This only gives them an opportunity to look for an alternative to you.

quitting is always on the table, thinking otherwise is silly

people evaulate what they are doing constnatly

Middle managers in particular get paid in large part for "drinking the kool aid". They might honestly not realize that their subordinates might see other companies as a viable alternative since so much of their self worth is tied up in this one particular company.

Agreed - people who employ dishonest tactics during negotiation should be left alone at the table.

I have been in this situation in the past and it's always the right move to walk if they won't come to the table when you ask politely.

Yes, being dishonest during a negotiation often torpedos the whole interaction.

I tend to think there is a pretty broad space where most reasonable people will agree to what an honest discussion looks like.

Just remember, when it comes to companies and compensation, there are myriad ways a company can not lie and still mislead you.

Giving raises and promotions only when people have outside offers invents awful behavior all around. Yet so many companies do this “just this one time…”

Yes. Incentivising looking for other jobs instead of performing well.

Re "trust is broken" - I used to think like this and I understand, but I would encourage you to try a more nuanced POV. There's a decent chance your manager was simply not allowed to accommodate you, and your verbal notice unlocked options from upper management.

A good human being would say, "i'm not allowed to say this but...". Which good managers will do. You're on the path to leaving anyway.

If that got out, said manager may be marked by the bosses for opening Pandora's box. When people have dependents and mortgages on the line, "good" has very little to do with it. Sad but true.

A good manager would still make clear that their hands are tied and this is all they can offer at this time. They will have to check with upper mgmt for any further options depending on the response to their current offer.

There are a million legal/safe ways to say that the negotiation is not over just keep pushing.

It could also hint that the manager thought the commenter was one of those social cripples that cannot handle negotiations professionally but it doesn't sound to be the case.

Out of the million safe ways to say the negotiation is not over, quite a lot are so obscure that most employees would not even pick up on the subleties. (And if we're honest, we all know coworkers who wouldn't get that hint even if the manager outright told them their hands were tied at this point in the negotiation)

Without blaming the manager for the decisions of those above them, surely you have to see that this strengthens the argument that you shouldn't trust this person?

Maybe - I'm mainly making the point for future situations where it may make sense to stay if you don't adopt a binary trust mentality (which upper management probably does not have).

> There's a decent chance your manager was simply not allowed to accommodate you

A trusted party wouldn’t hesitate to explain the situation.

All that means is that the problem isn't managers but upper management micromanaging IC benefits.

> I had too many roles, affecting too many pieces of engineering, and my title didn't reflect my work [...] I hinted about what my decision would have to be if these accomodations couldn't be made, but he didn't budge.

My position exactly.

I won't be leaving my company, but I will be transitioning to a more defined role in a different department. Didn't sit too well with my current manager. He told me that I couldn't just leave like that. I offered him a 80/20 arrangement, and he didn't like it either.

I'll be transitioning anyway. It's just a bit bizarre that a manager would potentially alienate someone who seems to be indispensable for the operation.

> He told me that I couldn't just leave like that.

isn't the answer to that question "take it up with HR"? that was very gracious of you to even offer an 80/20 arrangement. Ironically, i bet HR would have a hard time with an 80/20 dual role setup.

Generally speaking, what's the general opinion on 80/20'ing your way into a lateral transfer?

I've done it a couple times, at best I ended up leaving, at worst, HR never actually recorded the transfer so when time came a few years down the road, it was on my resume, but come employment verification time, I (and the firm that had offered me a position) learned that archived employee records had me listed down under my prior role, not the one I had transferred into-and had since that point, used for experience in leveraging new jobs. I lost a job offer because of it.

Now I'm reticent to do any kind of 80/20's without written considerations from the company.

> Ironically, i bet HR would have a hard time with an 80/20 dual role setup.

I guess I thought I did my best to avoid burning any bridges, but I was actually bargaining against myself.

Beautiful. I remember hearing it said that if you're not willing to walk away completely from a negotiation, you have zero actual leverage. Bravo!

Negotiating courses often refer to this as the BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement). Considering what that scenario is and having it as your bottom line is the best piece of advice they impart.

Haven't looked at it in years but I remember Getting to Yes as being a great little book on negotiation. Maybe there are better books out there but I found it a good place to start.

There are a number of other things in there too. For example, you may not have the same priorities as the person you're negotiating with.

I'd recommend _Never Split The Difference_, by former Chief FBI Hostage Negotiator Chris Voss. Very fun read and widely applicable.

Spoiler: His advice is not to strong-arm, but to build trust with your counterpart.

Hostage negotiation is a game played once between parties. Most of daily life situations are repeated games, in which dynamics are different. I found that the author was biased by their experience in one-off games and their suggestions wouldn’t generalize well into repeated games. Unfortunately, there is no acknowledgement of this until the very end of the book. Still a good read though.

my wife and i actually read that as part learning to deal with my mentally unstable ex-wife. i thought it was good for repeated performances as well.

Not sure I understand the distinction you're making, isn't interviewing with one particular company a one-off game as well?

> Not sure I understand the distinction you're making, isn't interviewing with one particular company a one-off game as well?

No. In a situation where you're thinking of leaving, you are negotiating with your manager. That's a relationship that will continue if you stay.

Ah, you mean that one, not potential prospects.

Yep I agree on one hand but on the other, getting to that point is being 95% out the door anyway. Even if you stay, many managers and businessmen have very persistent bad memory and will remember you as the guy who twisted their hands or whatever. I've experienced this a long time ago; some of these people are very resentful and vengeful.

Often times staying at a place where you have thrown the "I'll leave for a better offer if you don't budge" card on the table successfully... is not worth it.

Also, I saw a lot of parallels with Playing to Win by David Sirlin [0], about competitive gaming.

One of Sirlin's points is that the most common reason casual players lose is because they restrict themselves to a subset of legal moves. I.e. they play the game they think exists, or they think is "fair", rather than the rules as written.

Transposed into negotiation, Voss feels very similar to me. Whereas most people get distracted with the minutiae, or their feelings about the negotiation, or 1,000 other non-rule parts... he treats negotiation as game.

Not in the sense of "fun" or "lighthearted" (he worked for the FBI!), but in the sense of understanding all the actual rules, and using those rules to win.

[0] https://www.sirlin.net/ptw

I hadn't thought of the connection yet, but now that you mention it there are indeed a lot of parallels. Thank you for pointing this out! :)

Terrible book that has some gems.




Edit: Yes dang, I did copy/paste a prior comment of mine, but it seemed silly to post a link to a comment that itself is just links!

It's an OK book. I really liked "Bargaining for Advantage".

Having a BATNA that you're perfectly fine doing takes a huge amount of pressure off in a negotiation.

I feel like I can always replace “BATNA” with “alternative” or “option” and the statement conveys the same information.

People like secret words that show they're in a certain group. It's called PLSWTSTIACG.

It came out of research at Harvard (by the authors of Getting to Yes) and is related to game theory. So it's academic (and therefore jargony) but is probably also intended to be more precise than alternatives or options.

That said, for day to day use, understand your alternatives if the parties can't come to an agreement works perfectly well.

Yeah, makes sense. It's possible no-one felt it was okay to say, "do we just mean 'fallback' or 'plan B'?"

Oooh what's that? Tell me

People like secret words that show they're in a certain group.

Only ddg for PLSWTSTIACG is this post

IMHO there's a difference - alternatives and options are the things that you consider and discuss might offer to the other party within a negotiation, they are a part of it.

BATNA, on the other hand, is outside of that negotiation, it is the thing that you'll actually do if the negotiation fails. This will not always will match your statements during the negotiation about what your options are, it's something purely in your mind to compare with the actual alternatives being negotiated and something which, unlike these alternatives, does not require a negotiated consent of the other party.

Even just knowing the concept gets you halfway there, assuming you have any other options at all. It's a term everybody should know. BATNA BATNA BATNA!

Always be ready to leave the table first.

It doesn’t mean that you will; it doesn’t mean that you should. It means you are prepared. And this can be a huge advantage.

There are still too many managers who don't understand one of their primary responsibilities in a market that favors employees: making sure that their best engineers don't leave. The job market won't always be like this, but you'd think that they would have figured it out by now during the current run. It's been nearly a decade at this point, and the pandemic has tipped things even further in the favor of the people who make the sausage.

To be fair to the managers, from my experience managers themselves have little to say and it is mostly HR that determines rules like compensation. In our case, insanely, salaries are frozen. Nothing that your direct manager can do about it. Except, leave, and get hired the next day.

This is a fair point. It seems like standard policy at lots of places is to not budge significantly on comp unless a Valued Employee is prepared to leave. You then end up with one of the three scenarios:

- the employee leaves anyways, since it's too late to change their mind

- the employee stays, but there's a loss of trust and loyalty

- the employee never planned to leave in the first place, and exploited your broken system

Valued Employees should be rewarded preemptively.

Willing to be there is a study that shows that most of the time the employee will not leave or is bluffing and that financial analysis shows its better to just let it play out. This analysis is probably true in a lot of industries but tends to not work so well in tech. So many tech workers are just mercenary with our jobs that we just ask for what we want and by the time we ask we are already out the door. In tech the business should realize their job is to actively work to keep employees from seeking competing offers especially in the current job market.

There's an exception for every rule. As a manager I've fought HR to get pay rises during pay freezes. And won. Bad managers roll over when presented with obstacles, great ones fight for their team.

The great ones also realize that there are other things employees value and build upon those, along with compensation.

The great ones also just leave themselves, rather than suffering the toxic culture on two fronts.

I think this is an often missed point. The managers are often just as overworked as the employees but have to handle negativity from 2 directions, both their employees and their managers. They are just people and often their hands are tied due to company policy. They are often just cogs in the wheel as much as we are.

Pushy, bossy, extroverted, or "people person" managers do that. The whole thing is stacked against docile introverts, no matter how many reasoned and well thought out arguments they make.

I have been surprised how emotionally unaware many of my managers are. They are engineers who moved to management and seem to think reading a bunch of books on management will make them adept at the social skills needed to read and adapt to individuals and a teams emotional state. Compensation is huge but good software devs are all making enough to where a 20-30% swing in either direction isn't going to make or break us. I would happily take a 20% cut if I loved what I was doing and felt endeared of my manager and our goals.

20-30% ?? What kind of money are you assuming most people make. at anything over 100k a year that is a lot of extra money anything less and it is probably needed. It could simply be used to retire a few years earlier if nothing else. It could pay for vacation. It could pay off a vehicle. It could pay down a mortgage or appraisal gap in this market.

A 20% raise is huge at any income level.

Marginal value of money decreases the more money you have as consumption doesn't really scale up. Easily one should take a nice 500k/year job vs a stressful 600k/year job.

Most people aren't in a position where their choice is a nice 500k/year job versus a stressful 600k/year job thought.

The OP was explicitly talking about people making >>100k. At any rate, 5-600k is a staff/principle swe at a lot of tech companies, or even just a senior in some. Given this forum I am guessing that’s not an insignificant percentage of readers.

Surely in the higher income brackets the tax on it brings down the net considerably?

Except that it isn't.

Assume you are a superstar of some persuasion and you earn $100M/yr. Is a 20% raise a lot of money? It's not! Sure, it's an extra twenty million dollars, but what could you possibly want to buy with that money that you can't already purchase?

At some point $100k --> $100M the math changes. That point will be different for different people.

You and other people are discussing amounts of money that you could simply walk away from the world buy a yacht and travel the world for your entire life. This adds nothing to the discussion.

A nice yacht, a sports team, your name on a building .. there's always something.

Expenses always rise to meet income.

"Loved what I was doing"

"and felt endeared of my manager"

"our goals"

So 1 and 3 are a little bit more objective, you can determine those on your own.

But #2?

If you're worried about your managers 'EQ' - why do you not contemplate your own?

Do you assume a lack of visceral empathy from your manager means that they 'don't care' - and - even if they didn't care that much, why do you care?

It's nice when my manager says 'Great Work' and it's important to know I'm respected - that's a matter of professionalism, i.e. recognition of competence.

But I do don't care one bit otherwise.

My manager is busy. Putting out fires, dragged into stupid meetings. I would not want his job.

Why would I want to burden him with having worry about 'me'.

Reading this thread I'm a bit dismayed by a lot of emotion just brimming beneath the surface, I think small things have a tendency to collect up on people over time ... but I also don't suspect that staffers realize how much control they have over their disposition towards most of these things things.

I wish more people had experience managing or even with directorships, it can be brutal - those are probably the two, worst jobs in the system, and it's interesting how far the gap in understanding is between front-line contributor, and just one layer up.

I wasn't saying a manager should need to babysit the emotional state of all the team members, but I think they should be generally socially adept. I have had many managers who were unable to engage meaningfully in any way. People who could eagerly analyze my Meyers Briggs type but would be unable to talk about their vacation. My last manager would unintentionally haze new employees when they asked questions in meetings, he just could not express compassion and understanding with his face/tone so he seemed belittling and annoyed with them.

Managers can't control whether or not you love what you do, though. They can do their best to build an environment you enjoy being in, but that's about it. If you're bored or not enjoy the software or whatever else, they can't fix that.

They can control your compensation and make sure if they want to keep you you have at least a monetary reason to stay

This is not quite right and I think this is where we let our egos get away with us. Their responsibility is to maintain a good team, not the best person. In the cost benefit analysis, keeping a couple of pretty good people at the expense of your 'best' person might work out better. And a high maintenance person costs more than money.

I don’t get this type of management at all. The leverage is always in the developers/engineers hand. The company has essentially zero leverage when it comes to negotiating pay with highly in-demand employees. The only reality for the business is what they can feasibly pay you, and it’s likely much much more than what you’re getting now. Pretending like they have leverage in this position assumes the engineer is less informed. It doesn’t compute for me.

When I hire engineers I give them as close to the top dollar as I can and if that’s not enough there’s nothing else I can do. It’s not fun when they walk, but at least I know there was nothing else I could do.

> When I gave my verbal notice, suddenly there was immediate backpedaling and said maybe something could be worked out. I declined because I don't negotiate like that. If you mismanage a negotiation, there is no do-overs just because you overplayed your hand. The trust is broken.

Good for you!

This is something I always tell junior engineers who are looking for ways to negotiate for something (usually pay and/or promotions). Although it's very effective, negotiation by throwing a competing offer on the bosses desk usually starts a fire-drill up the management chain which gets you noticed in a not-so-positive way. It also leaves a lot of bad feelings all around.

The only way to know the price of your labor is to interview and see what the market says.

Companies are happy to have a non-competitive monopoly on your labor where they can unilaterally set the price. I think engineers (or anybody really) should try to get an offer or two every couple of years to anchor the price of their labor. Otherwise you leave yourself with a constant information asymmetry with your employer.

Your manager might be great, but a company wants to pay you as little as possible to get what they want from you. That's the nature of the labor market. And if you don't create a market for your labor then your employer gets to be the only bidder at the auction.

> The only way to know the price of your labor is to interview and see what the market says.

There are other ways to infer your value. Taking longer vacations, especially off season, can illustrate to people what it's like not to have you around. If they don't miss you, it's time to move on. If they do, it's time to remind your boss.

I knew one guy who was a career employee for a Fortune 500 company, he just moved around every five years, but this guy had the ballsiest negotiation tactic I've ever seen. When it was time to discuss a raise, he'd wear a suit to work and take two hour lunches. In one case he didn't even have time to talk to his boss before his boss approached him with a raise.

When the worker has another offer in hand, you've already lost as a hiring manager/org.

Not necessarily. You're at a disadvantage because you've suddenly lost the total leverage you once (thought you) had. It's still possible for the org to redeem itself. The issue is, no org takes the opportunity.

Part of the issue is that businesses have become so greedy people no longer even want to waste their time negotiating with them. Once I have an offer in hand, I can ask you for some things like a raise, reduced hours, etc. The general response will always be no. At that point I can tell you I have a competing offer in hand and you can then, when you realize you lost leverage too late, attempt to recover the situation. The issue at this point is that you've lost all my trust and I can see indirect retaliation as a reasonable followup should I choose to stay and relinquish my leverage. So it's almost always in my best interest to leave at that point and yes, you "lost."

Alternatively I could have leverage, or maybe I don't, but perhaps when I ask for a promotion or raise you don't immediately discard the discussion or tossed some canned "budgets are tight" argument when margins are visibly fat. You listen and evaluate (and not slowly) and make a decision not based on being cheap but based on actual value. Suddenly, I have a familiar devil I already know and a better setup than I did before. Suddenly you became competitive. No only did you take me seriously and perform an objective evaluation, you followed through with it. You just earned loyalty points which are hard to come by. I expect in the future if I come with another reasonable request, you'll evaluate and attempt to meet it fairly. I suddenly like you.

Now, if I have an offer in hand and I already know you cannot match it because I understand the financials very well and... you really can't afford it, then yes unfortunately you probably did lose. You may be able to compete by making other sacrifices that are less financial in nature but if the offer is significantly higher, unfortunately there's little way I'll stay. Early in my career from my first position I tripled my salary in my first move. My first employer was genuinely great but I knew they couldn't ever reasonably meet that offer so I didn't really even try to negotiate, I just gave them more notice than normal.

>You just earned loyalty points which are hard to come by.

Employers probably love when you give them "loyalty points" because they can be substituted for their more tangible "dollar points".

Based on my reading of the story the employer bought loyalty points with dollar points. How did they obtain them in your reading?

I don't think it matters how they're obtained. What is the value/meaning of a loyalty point if it can't be substituted with a dollar point? Either they only come in to play when you have an offer for exactly the same dollar value (after transfer costs), as a tie breaker of sorts, or they are eventually going to be valued at some dollar amount. i.e. this new employer is offering an additional $10 (after transfer costs) but I'm more loyal to my current employer.

^^^^ yes! Your worker already has one foot out the door and has seen the greener grass outside the door. Is it really greener? Probably not but will be to them!

Ah, the green pasture. It always looks green until one steps on it.

> Ah, the green pasture. It always looks green until one steps on it.

The grass doesn't change color when you step on it, but you might discover that it's just astroturf.

The greenest pastures are the most fertilized, so watch your step.

Employers make the mistake of seeing employees as a cost center instead of as revenue generators.

I recently finished a leadership class and the primary focus was on treating employees as people / human. This perspective makes it possible to make decisions that make for happy employees which, in turn, makes for more productive employees.

Employers that focus solely on cost are missing the forest for the trees; it's extremely short sighted.

I now work for a DAO in which decisions are made by "the community" (those with tokens have voting power). Not having a traditional leadership structure has been so liberating. Everything is fully transparent.

> When I gave my verbal notice, suddenly there was immediate backpedaling and said maybe something could be worked out. I declined because I don't negotiate like that. If you mismanage a negotiation, there is no do-overs just because you overplayed your hand. The trust is broken.

Agreed. That's like trying to take your money back once you see a river card that doesn't help you in poker.

Just doesn't work like that. Negotiate in good faith or accept the potential consequences.

Every time I leave a job, there's suddenly the money I was asking for available. If someone was asking for a raise and you couldn't give it to them, and then they turn in their notice, and then there's onus to retain them at their original ask, the only thing to say is "congrats, we definitely regret not making things work for you here".

Some people take "If you don't have time to do something right, you have time to do it over." as a task list.

"People don't leave companies, they leave managers."

I hear this all the time, but I've actually never left a manager. I've liked all of my managers. It's usually either some external force like a compelling opportunity or something with the org that is beyond my manager's control.

That saying really isn’t true. I know plenty of people that liked their manager but still left companies. There are plenty of reasons people leave companies that have nothing to do with their manager.

i’d say it was at least half true —i’ve definitely left both companies and managers!

I agree.

> I declined because I don't negotiate like that. If you mismanage a negotiation, there is no do-overs just because you overplayed your hand. The trust is broken.

Not that it would be likely to happen, but you could also have doubled down. Now you'll need a 3 day work week and an additional 10% pay bump. There is some potential value in keeping emotion and irrelevant sentiment (like "trust") out of the equation.

I'm in the same situation but I don't really know what to do. I've been trying to extricate myself from a lot of stuff but the way things are structured it doesn't seem like I'm going to be able to just focus on one role. It looks like a lot of openings are offering a fair amount more than my current salary as well. The only thing holding me back at the moment is that I really like the people I work with.

You'll still like them after you leave. It's often nice to have a network of people you no longer work with.

Maybe by leaving you'll indirectly be helping them get the push they need to start look for something better themselves.

I know I dragged my feet but eventually enough people left that I was like, "Alright I have to find something new" and I ended up with a much better role and compensation as well, and probably should have left earlier. And I also like the people at the new place too, and keep in touch (somewhat) with my old coworkers.

In the same boat, I think this is something that's going on everywhere because of the market. I love the people but I'm spread so thin something is eventually going to explode.

I've basically given myself another year

Who’s to say you won’t like the people at your next job?

>> I really like the people I work with.

Quality of life can be a considerable part of compensation, imo.

This happens virtually everywhere. I hate it. This is such a common experience with any sort of providers as well. I called up my ISP because the internet speed was worse than what I was paying for. They "fixed" it. So far so good, but there were times when they did not want to do this, they tried to "rationalize" it away using bullshit pseudo-technical sentences thinking that they are talking to someone who knows nothing about computers and networking. Anyways, I told them that I am going to switch to another ISP, and after that they fixed it. I finally got what I am paying them for. Imagine how many people are not... without knowing about it!

Plus what you said specifically happened to my mother. Her employer knows that my mother is one of the best she has as an employee. My mother asked her employer for a higher salary, she refused, but after my mother said that she will be looking for other jobs because the work is too much for too little, she immediately was willing to negotiate a higher price.

> I declined because I don't negotiate like that. If you mismanage a negotiation, there is no do-overs just because you overplayed your hand. The trust is broken.

As a freelancer, this is a pretty standard scenario where you need to have somewhere to go when you tell an old (even cherished) client about your latest price rise. If the current employer needs extra time to think it over, even by a bluff call, it's nothing personal to me.

Not that I am a hardened business person, far from it - I just have a blasted view that there are no real friendships in business that trump the 'bottom line'. If I had had a different experience in my working life, I would have welcomed it! Contracts exist because trust in business is too risky a strategy.

While I can understand your sentiment, I don't think you handled that negotiation very well.

Playing chicken by drawing hard lines in the sand is not negotiating - they were actually willing to budge, you were not.

Again, it's entirely your prerogative, just understand that this is not going to lead to optimal outcomes.

Finally, you mentioned something like '4 day work week' - in most situations today, it's completely off the table. If it's common in your company and you fit the policy, then sure, you can ask.

But if '4 day work week' is not policy at your company, then what you are really asking if for the company to change it's policy and open it up to everyone.

I'm sure you concede that you're not the only one possibly deserving such a flexible opportunity.

So your demand extends much broader than just yourself, and the consequences of giving this flex to one person, would mean an immediate negotiation with large numbers of other employees, which can be disruptive.

Of course, maybe they should have the policy, but it's definitely reasonable that they don't as well.

And finally, this assumes that they didn't have such a policy in place.

Consider what would have happened were you to have contemplated a counter offer from the company. There's probably an outcome in there that's pretty good for both sides, an when that happens it's a broader win for everyone.

Reading the comments here is quite fascinating. I have handed in my notice too for similar reasons.

I took this job with a pay cut so that I can do more coding as my previous experience was mostly support.

But after two years I haven't done that much coding.

Currently I wear too many hats too, and very little experience in any one them.

Ah, the old "take this job and shove it" gambit. Interesting. Let's see what the boss's next move is... Ah, the old "search in vain for a replacement and complain that this generation doesn't want to work" gambit. Interesting... Not.

Similar thing with me. Starting at a new job in February. Left because the title did not reflect my work. There was not much room for negotiation and I had a scouted offer on the table with better comp and more interesting work.

Is it just the title? Is it a problem that some people don't see you in that title?

As the old tech bro addage goes: Alpha as fuck

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