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I Lost My Job As A Developer! What Should I Do?

13 March, 2019

A reader of my email newsletter had questions about some issues with a poor performance review that lead to him being moved to another department.

Here was his question:

Hi Man, I just subscribed to your newsletter and can't stop reading it.

I'm a developer and just started with a company in * 3 months ago. I'm facing a lot of stress and trouble and just had the worst feedback from my supervisor....

This my third job after my first two internships. In my first, I was working heavily with JavaScript and when it comes to CSS we were using bootstrap and other frameworks.

My CSS skills weren't that great when I started my new job and it caused me troubles at work as my colleagues and supervisors have started to doubt all my skills as a programmer.

First I was told I can improve myself more then I was told I'm not good at all and I can't give any value to the company even if I got my css skills up.

They gave me a job now as QA tester and I'm quite disappointed and depressed.

How can I over being devalued and feeling worthless? That attitude makes me not wanna do anything at all.

I replied with the following:

That sounds no fun for sure.

I've seen that happen before, I'm wondering if you are in a similar environment?

How many devs are on that team? How large is the company? Are you guys building a new product, mostly maintaining an old one or more of a custom shop where you building lots of stuff for different clients?

I suspect the answers will be 5-20 devs, org of around 50-100 employees, building something new with tight deadlines....

He confirmed exactly what I had suspected.

Business Puberty?

Why did I suspect the environment I had laid out in my response?

I was on a team before that was under those conditions. I did see many people get fired all-of-a-sudden for poor performance, etc.

There was a very toxic attitude of high output (i.e. just getting tasks done as fast as possible).

Whether or not the tasks were done properly, the more "stuff" you got done then the happier the managers were. Yet, there was still lots of "red-tape" and processes to go through in order to get that "stuff" completed.

Is there something inherently wrong with an org of this size?

I would say it's a size where an organization enters into a sort of business puberty.

It's the boundary between a small business with the strategy of being a fast-moving, high-output start-up and a larger slower-moving and thoughtful organization.

You might say it's an identity crisis?

I think our reader has been caught in the middle!

My Advice

Now, it may be true that the reader isn't that great of a programmer. But, maybe he is?

However, this story is more of a reflection of the company than him.

This is his first non-internship job. He should be assigned a mentor. He should be expected to be in a stage in his career where he is still learning some fundamentals and putting them into practice.

For an organization to merely tell him he's not "good enough" means that the company has no idea how to train and nurture their own employees. It's an attitude that employees are mostly disposable rather than teachable.

Because of this, even the senior developers are not going to grow since they don't have mentors, career guidance and planning and even the expectation to grow! They are simply expected to complete all their assigned tasks.

My advice then is to get yourself ready to start looking elsewhere. You aren't even in the same position that you were hired for!

At the time of writing this response, someone wrote a very relevant twitter thread on this exact subject! Good timing!

I think for the reader, this was a case of "[a] misalignment [about the] definition of "good work."

Was he ever told exactly what good work looks like?

Was he given a plan to improve?

Nope.

Again, I'd get started trying to look at getting my foot into the door somewhere else.

I don't like giving that advice. Sometimes it's better to do your best for a few more months, try to learn and grow, etc.

But in this case, the questioner has already been booted out of his dev role 🤷‍♂️.

Resources

Here are some articles I've written that would help if you are facing a similar situation!


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