Ask HN: Is it just me?

89 points by throwaway-24112 15 days ago

Over my whole career I can see a pattern.

Typically, I work for an employer for around 3 to 5 years. At the start of each employment I make several successful leaps, often designing and building new systems (usually single handedly). I am rewarded with various pay rises, bonuses and promotions. Then around the halfway mark or later, things sour for a variety of different reasons. Typically, I will fall out with someone senior, like my line manager. It's normally over something mundane but definitely technical.

In each cycle I try resolving things in different ways but each time I fail; then I desperately try finding a new role with the knowledge that the whole process might repeat itself.

I can recall the various reasons the fallouts occured, e.g. frustrated by a boss's crony cancelling 3rd party supplier contracts (which I had to grovel to reinstate), having differing views about testing/automation (I am fond of both), how workloads should be spread more fairly, etc. There are many different reasons.

In the more recent cycles I just end up being entirely unproductive at the end.

Is it just me?

zubspace 15 days ago

I've been working more than 11 years at my current small company. There are often times where things do not work the way I want. Bad communication, new strategies I don't like, different opinions on how do something, bad or sloppy code I need to cleanup, crappy processes, etc... etc...

But still, after all those years, I don't feel bad about it. That's life and life is a mess sometimes. There are things you can change and there are things you can't. And most often a change takes quite a lot of effort or leads to nothing.

You need to distance yourself from this mess. This is easier if you first and foremost take care of yourself. Lead a good life, take care of your family, do sports, do something else than think about your job all the time.

And on the job, just try your best and even if things fail, learn from them and carry on. Hope this helps a bit. Stay strong and all the best to you!

  • dilyevsky 15 days ago

    This is easier said than done. How do you “try your best” and also disengage when there are things you don’t think are correct, just, etc. For me personally I haven’t been able to find a foolproof solution unless I’m working a contract with very scoped deliverables

    • rubicon33 15 days ago

      I have found that a life of sports has prepared me well for a life of work. Growing up, I got used to "trying my best" and still losing for various reasons

      - opponent way better than me

      - had a bad day / off my game

      - unlucky for some reason

      What I learned then that has carried into work is that I can try super hard, and still things won't go my way. What I started focusing on in sports was my AVERAGE game. I kept trying to improve my average over months, and years, and that helped me avoid focusing on down days.

      The same applies for work. I give it my best, and I try hard, but there are days, even weeks sometimes, where I struggle to do much of anything. I just accept that I will have powerful weeks too (and I do). Be calm, and move on.

      • dilyevsky 15 days ago

        I played in amateur leagues in college. None of the things you mentioned are same category as “teammates phoning in” or “coach is doing stupid shit” or “you’re polishing the bench while less skilled person is playing bc he’s friends with coach”. Which I’m guessing is what OP referring to. Sure when you’re a kid you just want to do good and have fun. When you start taking on more leadership roles things like above become harder to ignore.

    • pixelat3d 15 days ago

      How do you handle different opinions from yours and disagreements in general?

      This seems like you're asking a question about basic social skills, and it's only tangentially related to development. I'm not saying that to dunk on you, but it seems like maybe you're framing the entire issue incorrectly?

      • dilyevsky 14 days ago

        that's not my point. tp says "just accept the mess and go on with your life, but do your best". I'm saying this is an oxymoron.

        • pixelat3d 14 days ago

          I think you may be proving the point I was attempting to make ;)

          You do your best within the constraints you're given, which is what is being said in your example. You are welcome to make your arguments for or against a decision (as far as office politics allow), but just as there is a breaking point for you being told to do something you feel is "incorrect," there is a breaking point where you become "the guy who always gives them a hard time."

          Soft skills are important as technical when you're working with others. You have to pick and choose your battles. Don't confuse a platitude with a literal decree. Does that make more sense?

          • dilyevsky 14 days ago

            Ok now you're turning this into a semantic argument. My view is you either did your best or you didn't because there were things (perhaps outside your control) that prevented you or whatever it may be, and hey - that's OK, but I just don't go around lying to myself or whoever else that I did the best I could when that happens.

    • zubspace 15 days ago

      Concentrate on the stuff you can do well. I'm sure everyone has some traits or some skills he can rely on. Practice those skills, improve them, be open to new ideas.

      The thing is, even if I know or see things I don't like, often it is actually quite hard to figure out a way to improve the situation, a way which works for everyone in the team. Those things take time. You can try to improve those things, but be prepared for a bumpy road. Going in full head on can be painful, things can get personal or you'll do or say things you could regret. Sometimes it's better to wait it out, sometimes it's better to take it slow. And sometimes it's better to just leave it and concentrate on the stuff you can do well.

      I don't want to sound like a know-it-all and possibly there are companies which are hopelessly lost. But there are always things to learn and to improve on a personal level. And I'm sure you'll feel better, if you don't try to fight every upward battle.

    • themitigating 15 days ago

      I agree. I find it very hard to be motivated in situations where I don't think things are being done correctly. Of now that I've grown up I realize that's completely arrogant the problem is that realization doesn't help.

      • iceburgcrm 15 days ago

        In time you will realize there is no correctly just different ways with different tradeoffs.

    • yuppie_scum 15 days ago

      And in our field a lot of times the “wrong” decision can have tangible negative consequences for work-life balance or general enjoyability of work for one team or another. It can be frustrating to see it play out in slow motion.

  • nickkell 15 days ago

    This is great advice. I’ve also been struggling with “letting go” when things don’t go my way. People need to find a way to be at peace, whilst simultaneously striving for improvement.

anonreeeeplor 15 days ago

I understand this entirely.

I usually stay around 3 to 3 1/2 years. Not the worst tenure but not the best.

I now prioritize positive feelings, emotions and energy above all.

My goal in all meetings and all interactions is to keep positive emotions high.

What took me a long time to learn as an analytical and technical minded person is that there is a way to be optimistic and positive without being fake or insincere.

I have learned to try to set a positive tone first thing on every call by saying something optimistic and positive.

I also now motivate, encourage and bump people up (often, in a semi joking way).

I spent my career running over people in my way like a freight train. Now i emphasize on making sure the atmosphere is right.

When I was an engineer I felt that logic was the only thing that mattered. In fact( my experience, is that logical discussions and arguments are actually energy draining and viewed as negative by most people.

You could be completely correct on some point, on anything, but if the temperature of the conversation is not jovial or convivial it will be perceived as negativity and that association will stick to you.

Look how Bill Clinton and Warren Buffet enter most conversations. They always keep things light.

If you are a dry, logical, analytical robot - People will find a way to hate you eventually.

  • drBonkers 15 days ago

    How did you learn what to say to start calls and meetings with a positive tone without coming off as if you weren’t taking things seriously enough?

    • saulpw 15 days ago

      I spend 5 minutes at the start of calls asking how people are doing, getting a read on their emotional state. As the saying goes, everyone is coming from somewhere else and going to somewhere else and is only here with you for a few moments between the two. So I like to try to find what they've been up to 1) since we last chatted, 2) recently, and 3) immediately before our current meeting. And you can ask about their plans for tonight or this weekend (though usually that makes more sense at the end of the call).

      It's nice to share these things, it builds connections between people, you and/or they may be more empathetic for when things are going slower than you'd like, and to the OP comment, it starts the meeting with a non-negative tone. Even if they say negative things, you can listen and empathize, and it can become a positive thing for you both. Sometimes people say "I don't want to talk about it" and then you can demonstrate lightness by saying "that's okay, [I understand]" and waiting a beat--sometimes they start talking about it anyway.

      I also make sure to have a couple of small things I could share if they reflect the question back to me, or if it doesn't seem like they want to talk. These are little things from my immediate life--the lunch I just had with a friend, or interesting thing I saw on my walk, or something I'm excited about, or an idle question I've been pondering.

    • theGnuMe 15 days ago

      Always start off with a joke.

  • terminal_d 14 days ago

    What most people don't get is that Michael Scott was a Genius.

comboy 15 days ago

Sounds like you may need to improve your social skills. Good employer should understand than nobody is amazing at everything, but such is the world today that marketing wins everywhere (on personal level too).

Or you think you are better than you are, not possible to tell from the post (but I'd say unlikely given some introspection that went into making it).

  • serjester 15 days ago

    As the old saying goes - "If someone's a prick, they're a prick. But if everyone's a prick, you're probably the prick". I hope this doesn't come off harsh but I would strongly encourage the OP to look inward.

    Did you actively build a relationship with your boss? Did you actively solicit feedback from all the stakeholders in a given project? Did you ask earnest questions to try to understand people you disagreed with?

    When I was younger, I thought anyone that disagreed with me was incompetent. This had upsides since I pushed through projects others thought were impossible. But you alienate a lot of people in the process. More importantly people start rooting for you to fail. This is fine a very narrow set of situations but as a whole you're far better off taking the same effort to understand the people around you.

    My hypothetical question to the OP is have you ever had a falling out with anyone that you felt truly understood you and wanted the best for you? I haven't.

    • neweroldguy 15 days ago

      It’s tough because at scale you can always find some poor schmuck that’s a perfectly decent sort and has run into pricks over and over. “Maybe it’s me?” the poor fucker opines. And well-meaning folks like you or me will suggest the “asshole rule” — if everyone’s an asshole, you’re the asshole — and we’ll be right in general but not in this one unfortunate case.

      But you just can’t tell which is which from where we’re sitting.

      So, OP… probably you’re the asshole, but maybe not.

      • strawdude 15 days ago

        i've worked in the office and in the non-office environment. i have problem working with the office people - i can't trust them when they say - "it works" or "i will do it".

        i'm in a cycle. i quit software eng job hating everything, everbody, and software engineering (which i very like). i go to work away from computers. my happines goes up, my optimism goes up, making software makes me happy. then i say to myself: i am good working with people. if i can do it here then i can do it in an IT company. The IT company turnouts as an unorganized mess with dumb people pretending to be experts.

  • kodyo 15 days ago

    Or maybe his social skills are just fine and it's the corporations he's worked for that are pathological.

    • manmal 15 days ago

      The problems OP listed didn’t strike me as unusually pathological. There’s probably some rationale behind each of those decisions. Certainly not the kind engineers like to hear, but political and budgeting reasons.

wccrawford 15 days ago

I think it's definitely possible to end up in your situation through no fault of your own. But if it were me, I'd definitely look into seeing if there was a way I could have fewer conflicts and avoid that situation.

That said...

The most reliable way to get raises in our industry is to move jobs every 3-5 years. And since you're doing that anyhow, I'm not sure there's anything to fix here. You get to be yourself, and you get the raises.

Also, you're self-aware enough to ask if it's you or not, without an obvious bias towards it not being you. That makes me think you're doing pretty good.

  • kaiuhl 15 days ago

    Also, you're self-aware enough to ask if it's you or not, without an obvious bias towards it not being you. That makes me think you're doing pretty good.

    Empathy and a desire to be a better human are underappreciated values in this industry. I’ve made this a pillar of interviewing at companies I’ve worked at over the years; it’s better to hire kind people with a capacity for growth and skills in the right direction than to hire folks with all the necessary skills and experience at the time of hire but with poor social skills or a lot of dogma.

    • strawdude 15 days ago

      what if a candidate is scared that your company will be bad? how can i tell if your company has kind people?

serial_dev 15 days ago

No, it's not just you.

My career is following a similar trajectory, except it is 2-3 years instead of 3-5 , so from my point of view, you are doing pretty well.

I'm not sure if there is anything wrong with you or me. When I look back, I believe that at each employer I learned many important lessons, I didn't repeat the same mistakes over and over again, and I built important work relationships.

So far (7 years in), the market didn't punish me for the lack of blind royalty on my side. Almost every time, I switch with a significant pay raise that I could not even dream of if I stayed. When I switch, I try something new while at the same time, I build on top of what I learned at previous companies, so I become useful for the new company pretty quickly.

I dunno... It's the circle of life?

(my career is not perfect and I know I need to improve a lot, I'm just saying that from my POV, it's normal, it's not necessarily bad for your career, and I regret nothing)

atian 15 days ago

> Typically, I work for an employer for around 3 to 5 years. […] Then around the halfway mark or later, things sour for a variety of different reasons. Typically, I will fall out with someone senior, like my line manager. It's normally over something mundane but definitely technical.

This is a red herring. The fact you’ve carried it out this far to the 3-5 mark is extraordinary. Most people move every two years just to overcome this effect.

  • echelon 15 days ago

    > Most people move every two years

    In SF. In Atlanta we have 90+% retention at a five year mark.

    • dilyevsky 15 days ago

      The whole point of staying in sfba rat race (at least to me) is getting exposed to a lot of different things working with a lot of different people/companies

      • echelon 15 days ago

        I got to have a lot of internal transfers to further my learning.

        I got to build active-active systems that handled user sessions and core business APIs to the tune of 80,000+ queries per second. Caching layers, hand-optimized replication, eventual consistency algorithms, etc. Outages would cost millions of dollars an hour.

        I worked on one of the teams responsible for building a migration path from on-prem to cloud, getting workloads from bespoke containerization onto k8s, securing clusters, and developing automation around CI/CD.

        I joined an ML team to build product, did various frontend work, maintained important developer platform pieces... It's hard to enumerate it all.

        You can have a full tour of tech inside most big companies. And you can continue getting promoted and working up the comp ladder.

        • dilyevsky 15 days ago

          That’s same thing that OP is doing except without associated pay raise bc you’re trapped within one company. A lot of people move projects every 2 years at faangs. I don’t see much difference between that and switching companies entirely personally

          • echelon 15 days ago

            If you know more of a company's stack, you're worth more to them [1].

            I was getting $400-$500k total comp in Atlanta. None of us were seeing a compelling reason to leave, at least anecdotally in our limited sample size observations.

            In any case, I left to pursue my own startup ambitions. I added one to the count.

            [1] Granted, some problems require fresh blood, new ideas, killing internal weirdware, questioning assumptions, new domain experts, new leadership, etc.

    • nielsole 15 days ago

      That's less attrition than I would expect from retirement alone (falsely assuming age was equally distributed) 90%+ doesn't seem plausible

      • echelon 15 days ago

        It's factual.

        If I had to guess, most folks at my last office were between the ages of 20 and 45. We only saw one retirement during my tenure. A few folks left to a local startup and did far worse than when our company IPO'd and 100x'd our options. I could name everyone that left and count them on my fingers.

        We collectively maintained a spreadsheet of Atlanta hiring dates and frequently compared our seniority against our colleagues based in SF. Most of us were in the top 5%, according to an internal employee registry API that could tell you your seniority rank.

  • vultour 15 days ago

    This really depends on the company, in my experience people in corporate jobs tend to stay for a very long time.

    • hnews_account_1 15 days ago

      In most companies the people who stick around will turn out to be the mediocre workers. Which is fine. Not everywhere needs to be staffed with the second coming of von Neumann’s. But the pattern is generally that competent people will leave unless you pay them enough to put up with shit. There is no shortage of companies in big metropolitan areas that will pay you better. In smaller areas, sure this pattern breaks and good workers may stay on to hold onto their job.

    • mumblemumble 15 days ago

      I think there might be a survivor bias at play here.

      What I saw when I worked at a big corporation was that there was an accumulation of people who stuck around, but there was also a constant churn of people who hated the culture and didn't last. I haven't counted, but I would guess that a decent majority of the colleagues I had over the course of my time here came from the latter group, even if most the people at any one time came from the former.

kodyo 15 days ago

This is my experience. I've come around to thinking it's a "trough of disillusionment" thing combined with the nature of hierarchical organizations.

Try reading "Developer Hegemony" by Erik Dietrich. I'm not sure about his remedies yet, but he presents a good model for idealistic types to understand corporate pathology.

sys_64738 15 days ago

Conflict occurs but are they always hills worth dying on? That's what you need to evaluate when it arises. If you can't live with a decision then OK but don't rail against it once made. That's not your place and won't be accepted behavior. Jumping to new positions requires you to prove yourself again. Eventually that gets old and you lose interest. Being a cog in the machine is OK as you get older IMO.

mvkel 15 days ago

Typically when lines of communication break down, it's because trust has eroded.

Based on your example, is it possible that it takes 3-5 years for the business to understand the limit of your capability? You get early wins but eventually every convo becomes a debate. It kills energy, and neither of you wants to be around each other anymore.

They can't fire you without lots of effort because you're probably fulfilling your duties, but it's no longer "fun" to work with each other.

Can this be mitigated? Certainly. More open minds on either side. When was the last time you lost an argument, accepted the decision, and moved on?

UncleEntity 15 days ago

I used to get a little crazy and quit jobs over stupid things.


Becoming (mostly, I’m a veteran so there’s places to go) homeless, living way below poverty level driving a cab for nine years, getting evicted at the start of the pandemic because I living day to day on cabbie pay, almost becoming homeless again (doubt my parents would have taken me in without the pandemic) and being able, through unemployment benefits, to climb myself back to where I was when I last rage quit my job in ‘09 I realize the little stuff doesn’t matter all that much…water off a duck’s back as they say.

  • collaborative 15 days ago

    Spot on. It also took me a change for the worse to appreciate having a normal job

  • yuppie_scum 15 days ago

    Would love to read a book or blog about your experience some day.

dilyevsky 15 days ago

> At the start of each employment I make several successful leaps, often designing and building new systems (usually single handedly).

That’s your problem. Once you’ve gone above and beyond a few times too many they will move the goalpost and you will eventually become unable to keep up. Also things like will set in eventually.

The name of the game is “managing expectations”.

smetj 15 days ago

Its because in the beginning there is a lot of low hanging fruit. Its easy to make a difference. Added value is so obvious, you do not have to explain. (Probably the reason they hired you) Then, when the easy and obvious work is done, the discussions and frictions start about what work is actually valuable ...Navigating those waters also requires a skill which is not technical. There is nothing wrong choosing for work where its easy to make a difference.

svilen_dobrev 15 days ago

3-to-5y is a lot. my period is 2~ years. 10+ times. Plus once or twice i managed 4 years, but in 2x2y 90% different projects.

Once you feel things go sour, don't prolong the agony.. That kills.

  • gwd 15 days ago

    And here I am, working on the same project since 2005.

geocrasher 15 days ago

I left another comment, but something else occurred to me: You need the New Employee Perspective. It's that same perspective you get when you're the New Employee. Everything is fresh, cool, and awesome. You do great work. Everyone loves you. Then you start noticing things you don't like. You get jaded. "Things were better 2 years ago" kind of thinking.

You leave, somebody else comes in, and they have the New Employee Perspective. Everything to them is fresh, cool, and awesome.

So why can't that New Employee be you? It's just a matter of perspective.

theGnuMe 15 days ago

There is "a you" component. But this is not a unique situation, it happens to a lot of folks all the time, however, everyone is different so any advice here would be general. It probably makes more sense to think of a framework you can apply to reason about the conflicts you've had. For that a career coach or even a therapist could help. These folks are well trained in helping you figure it out.

In the end, you are the only person you can control so it only makes sense to focus on you and what you can do about it.

In my experience these types of Conflicts typically arise when there is a lack of clear communication and expectations. So one way to move forward is to become curious and non-judgmental. Ask questions and be genuinely curious. You mention one instance where it was a "mundane issue related to technology". The outcome here was you changed jobs. So, now the question is.. was it worth it? Was that a positive, negative or neutral outcome?

If it was negative or say neutral.. How would you approach that situation today? Or how could you have approached that situation differently? Perhaps resulting in a more positive outcome for both parties?

gandalfgeek 15 days ago

Eng mgr at a FANG, was IC previously. The following is assuming the senior folks (managers or senior ICs) around you are acting in good faith. If you actually have toxic senior people, that's a whole different scenario.

Managers have to balance two priorities, which are sometimes competing: promoting engineering excellence on their teams, and delivering value for the business. The most common example of a conflict between the two is taking on tech debt to release something earlier.

If you disagree with a leadership decision, try to get more background on the thinking behind it. Good managers will be more than happy to get into it in detail. There are always tradeoffs to be made, and the inputs are not always purely technical. There often are business and organizational constraints too.

This is often a barrier that ICs have to break through to get to more senior levels (even they choose to stay on the IC track): making sound engineering decisions, but also being able to understand the business and make appropriate tradeoffs.

  • shallichange 15 days ago

    Same boat but in big financial institution. How do you handle missed deadlines committed by higher ranks depending on your team’s delivery? In one word: failure? Hard to just “accept and move on” when the failure is not acknowledged and managed and plans are not changed in the company. I find myself trapped in that situation, and it follows me home. It sucks

  • yuppie_scum 15 days ago

    This is it. Most of my employment conflict/disillusionment has come from the “do it now” vs “do it right” dilemma. And sadly in my field of DevOps/SRE, “do it right” is really what we are striving for so it can get pretty disheartening to start getting shot down for feature work over and over again.

eleventhborn 15 days ago

I have a similar-ish pattern. I'm in my fifth company now. Shortest tenure: 2 years, longest: 4 years and 11 months. But average is close to 4 years.

Here's my analysis of my own behavior:

- First few months, imposter syndrome. I feel everyone else is smarter than me, the struggle keeps me going. I wake up with a purpose.

- The next few months, I crack the work culture, the codebase and it gives me a sense of victory and the 'kudos's and the 'good job's keeps me going.

- The next few years, I stagnate - Maybe due to burnout, fatigue. Maybe now I get to know I can't be replaced that easily, I slack. But I'll feel that I can always get back to being insecure (a good stress?) if I want to.

- Then at some point, I get bored beyond redemption. If it is not boredom, it will be FOMO.

- There will be a promise of uplevel if I stay a few more years, but I always never want to.

- I quit and find a new job at the same level. Maybe subconsiously I don't want to take a leadership role and chicken out?

Will Larson's blog post called 'A forty-year career' is worth a read.

karmakaze 15 days ago

> Typically, I will fall out with someone senior, like my line manager. It's normally over something mundane but definitely technical.

This is the most telling part. If it's mundane, I don't think it matters (for them) that the issue was technical. As mentioned in another comment, this likely leads to a loss of trust or respect. This can be both ways not just on one side.

There's a few ways to handle this: 1. accept the pattern and move on, 2. find ways to communicate better to reach some sort of agreement or compromise, 3. learn to "disagree and commit". One thing to realize is that as you report to your manager, they ultimately have the final say regardless of how technically 'wrong' it could be.

I too have had critical disagreements with senior technical or management. In some cases, I could let it go and work for a year or more before leaving out of boredom. Other times, if disagreements or lack of understanding recur, I may be on my way sooner. I've never regretted leaving and finding new opportunities. One thing that's worth trying is different sizes of companies and different stages of growth. Finding good large companies may be more rare as they're typically more conservative and move more slowly.

I didn't answer the question though. Is it just you? Maybe yes or only partly. But it also doesn't matter. It's also great that you can be so involved after 3-5 years, but realize that this is a double-edged sword. At the end of the day, it's a job that pays the bills for most people at the company. Take pride in your work but maybe not get too possessive about it, learn to let go like a child growing up and grow other parts of the system, there's always more. One thing that helps with the too much single-handed development is pair programming, alternating typing and navigating roles. If that doesn't work out, that's fine too--stick with what works.

jstx1 15 days ago

What do you mean fall out with someone? Like a serious personal disagreement? That's the part that sticks out, and if it keeps happening everywhere, then yes, it's probably you.

If you mean switching jobs every 3-5 years, that part seems very normal, you might even be on the longer side of tenures these days.

readme 15 days ago

Is it just you that you make enemies every 3-5 years? No, it takes 2 to have an enemy.

We live in a society of conflict avoiders.

Conflict is human. You can decide whether it’s worth it for you to stand up for what you think is right. Some people don’t and sadly that’s what organizations prefer.

salawat 15 days ago

2.5 to 3y is my normal stint. Generally speaking, I tend to end up getting to know a place well enough to realize some cultural quirk which I'll be powerless to correct will render what I set out to do in the first place infeasible/impossible. This will generally be coupled with having enough data to start to see the fray points of those around me, generally leading to "time for a context switch". Either that or a personal life event matures and ends up throwing a wrench In things. It is not just you, friend.

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drmpeg 15 days ago

The phrase for this is "hero to zero".

gwnywg 14 days ago

I have very similar experience, to the point where I believe the only place where I would be really happy can only be place which I own (currently out of my reach). So since I can't be in my perfect place I had to make concious step to admit that I'm contracted software engineer and that I have to find ways to get along with people, which means taking compromises, learning to be more humble and finding ways to stay motivated.. Sure, there are days I'm not at my best but instead of despearing and feeling depressed about it I make myself to move out of that emotional state by applying some tricks I gathered along the way. I can't be 100% productive all the time, I try to be 70%-80% productive most of the time. And when I feel it's the time to move I do it without looking back, my mental wellbeing is more important than building the picture of super stable engineer. 5 years is already long in terms of current standards.

AmericanChopper 15 days ago

If this inevitably happens, then it most certainly is you. Stupid stuff happens all the time at every workplace, whether or not that makes your relationship with your employer untenable is up to you. You need to remember that you’re getting paid to do what your management wants you to do. If they want you to do something that you consider to be stupid, and if they choose not to listen to your advice about why it’s stupid, then it’s still your job to do it. If raising your concerns with management is causing your workplace relationships to sour, then it’s likely your communication/interpersonal skills that are lacking.

If you find the decisions from management to be completely intolerable, then that’s fine too. But it does mean that you have to find a new job. Finding a new job and then resigning because you didn’t agree with the direction the company is going in is also completely reasonable, and can be done completely amicably. But if you’re finding this happens every 18 months, then you perhaps also need to consider whether you might be too dogmatic about your technical opinions.

metaloha 15 days ago

I've become a professional short-termer over the past 30+ years. I don't think I've stayed with a company longer than 2 years for at least the past 20 or so.

I come in, handle some successful projects (occasionally unsuccessful, such is life) in whatever role (it varies from senior developer to product owner to staff developer to tech evangelist, etc.), then find a reason to move on. I've noticed that the types of companies I work for tend to be grouped - I'll work in legal tech for 2 or 3 companies in a row, then fin tech for a couple, then marketing, then oil & gas for another couplefew, etc. My remuneration has consistently grown as well over that time - I haven't taken a lower-paying position for at least 10 or 15 years now, and only one change that didn't increase what I take home.

I actually didn't realize I was doing this until I started my year off recently and looked back on my career. I still don't know if it's strange or not, but it worked for me.

JohnFen 15 days ago

I typically follow a 3-5 year pattern, too. Not because things sour or I have problems with anyone, but because I get bored with the project.

manibatra 15 days ago

Not evolving with the needs of the business? Start ups in the very early stages are a different beast. As they grow and try to find product market fit it becomes more of a business problem than a technical one. So understanding the needs of the business first helps. And with that comes the knowledge what technical things are ok to be left broken.

jussy 15 days ago

The trough of disillusionment. I suggest you get a coach, if you've never made a way through it before.

Additionally and anecdotally as you've said, around that time is when promotion is offered often without the difficulty level/growth opportunity changing in role responsibility.

Lastly, it's a team sport.

Markoff 15 days ago

I am familiar with different cycle, not sure what's the exact term for it in English - you start working somewhere, there are (easily) understandable requirements and let's say there is 5 of them.

Over time they add more and more requirements to achieve same result making your work more and more difficult instead of making it easier over time, so after 2 years you are away from 5 simple requirements now with 15 requirements, some of them difficult to comprehend, making you waste more nad more time to achieve same result as in the beginning.

When I see e-mail about changes and improvements I am always horrified, because in 99% situations it means new useless unhelpful steps wasting more of my time.

rocqua 15 days ago

How come you are designing those systems single handedly? Might you be setting people against you at this early stage? That could be by outshining them, but more likely might be by ignoring their advice, and in general not including them?

If that is the problem, try including others in the process. Build a team, and be mindful of buldozing through people who have 'wrong' objections. Not saying to avoid it completely, but consider long term effects before doing it. And getting a few good people who enjoy working with you makes things much easier.

Just a theory ofcourse. And the suggested solution requires a bit of consideration of office politics.

yieldcrv 15 days ago

what you described to me sounds like a recurring theme of you being opinionated when you arent hired to do that

just take a cue from the “quiet quitting” crowd, which is a weird way of saying to just do the job as described for 8 hours a day and go home

iJohnDoe 15 days ago

A guess. You might start acing a certain way or make certain demands on your boss, colleagues, or employer after you feel you have contributed something important. You might feel justified in doing this because you feel like you have contributed more than others.

The raises and promotions are rewards for those contributions. The paycheck you received are compensation for those contributions. No one else owes you any more than that and it doesn’t entitle you to dictate how things are done outside of your responsibilities.

The above is my guess from reading between the lines.

geocrasher 15 days ago

Is it you? Considering that the pattern repeats, the answer is probably "yes". You're having a hard time transitioning from being The New Hotness to Just Another Worker. Your ego gets bruised, you make a bigger deal about your opinion than it warrants, and you burn a bridge or two.

You're not doing it on purpose, but the fact that you're asking about it shows humility, which is a good thing. Always be in a position of service for people. Try to be less ego driven, and more service driven.

And don't give up!

muxator 15 days ago

> At the start of each employment I make several successful leaps, often designing and building new systems (usually single handedly).

Maybe you are very good at building something alone. Working in a team, however, is more about communication and clarity than mere technical achievement.

In a sense, this includes many technical aspects, tho: if an experienced newcomer would arrive in your team when you are 6 month in a new system you are designing, would he be able to blend in?

strawdude 15 days ago

i have a 6 months cycle. i am in some sort of a limbo. i can't get a job in a organized company, i get jobs in a mess companies. in a mess company people behave like they run around blindfolded and hit walls from time to time, communicatiin is shit. i cant break the cycle. i have no hope there is something better

bitwize 15 days ago

It's called office politics, corporate bullshit, whatever you want to call it. Dealing with it, or turning it to your benefit, is the most important skill you can cultivate in the corporate world -- even more so than your actual job. Kiss the right asses and you'll be on the fast track to senior level, management, or beyond.

Existenceblinks 15 days ago

It sucks and it's worse when that happens even before landing into a job. What if you think React should be ended already, it's a clear lose engineering wise. Yet industry can't get of out "hiring reasons", so the CTO's decision is already bad for me before any further conflict.

  • manmal 15 days ago

    This is taken out of context, but why would one think React should be ended? Experience has shown that every JS framework will be phased out eventually, so why not ride on each wave as long as the available developers pool is the deepest?

    • Existenceblinks 15 days ago

      Because we believe in technology advancement. When a better tech has shown up, we should ditch the inferior ones. Well, this is very normal thing to do, most of industry does this. Riding horse may be a good sport, but we already moved on.

      • manmal 15 days ago

        Sounds like an approach that will always have _you_ pay the early adopter tax.

fleddr 15 days ago

Found the problem: you design and build greenfield systems/applications, usually single handedly.

hellfish 15 days ago

Maybe the reason for fallout is because the honeymoon phase has already gone by, and you want something different but haven't come to terms with that yet?

You shouldn't put pressure on yourself to make something work if you're getting disillusioned. Better to go somewhere better

aristofun 15 days ago

Nothing lasts forever. Entropy tends to increase. This is the most general rule.

There’s no point digging deep for details of your specific nuances - they have nothing to do with someone else’s even if look similar on the surface

bradwood 15 days ago

Pick your battles. Some stuff is worth getting into an argument about. For, most of it however, it's worth clearly articulating your position but not necessarily falling out over.

fncivivue7 15 days ago

Pretty normal.

I joined a larger (tech) company a few years ago, best thing I've ever done. Instead of jumping companies I just jump teams.

Need to be productive to get the team switches but that's not too hard.

c7b 15 days ago

I guess a therapist would ask 'What do you think?'.

octodog 15 days ago

Is a fallout over testing automation really so severe that you have to quit your job? It should be possible to disagree without burning bridges.

the_cat_kittles 15 days ago

it sounds like you want to be in charge- you could try starting your own thing and see if thats better

joshxyz 13 days ago

its like the peter principle for me but i got tired of being employeee thats why i am trying to be a founder now.

it is tougher but a lot more things are in my control.

djaouen 15 days ago

You only rise to the level to which you are willing to kiss ass.

lowbloodsugar 15 days ago

Autism? I speak from personal experience.

Pearse 15 days ago

I am currently reading non violent communication after seeing a suggestion for it on here.

I think communication is an underrated skill set. Mostly because it's so easy to feel like you are good at it when you are really not.

I think a lot of us are in the Dunning Kruger phase of communicating.. I know I was up untill a few years ago and I've been in my job (as a 3d artist) for nearly 10 years.

  • JADev62096 15 days ago

    The "non-violent communication" style feels so unnatural though. When people talk to me using it, I feel uneasy and suspicious.

incomingpain 15 days ago

>Typically, I will fall out with someone senior, like my line manager. It's normally over something mundane but definitely technical.

This happened 1 time for me. Worked at a place and things were great for years, tons of growth. We had an insider at our competitor who leaked infos my boss took advantage of. She got 'laid off' and then hired by us. She was inside sales, but she acted like she was our manager.

Except imagine the worst tech manager you've ever had and she was worse. She knew less than nothing about tech, she was at best a sales person who took other people's orders and attached a price tag. but this wasnt the big problem. She was constantly talking to my team, getting them to say something stupid and the going to the boss to get them in trouble. It got to the point 2 people on my team refused to speak to her. Would never even say hello to her because they learnt 9/10 times she was intending to snitch on them.

One day the team just realized the pattern and after she talked to them, they set an alarm on their phone. Right as the alarm went off, our boss came walking in. This was the day they turned to maliciously harming her. I decided to simply be uninvolved. I made it clear to my boss she's not my manager and i dont answer to her. That if he wants me to report to her, make it clear now as I was planning to quit on the spot.

Her toxicity mainly toward the junior techs really wrecked that place. demotivated everyone. This was the downfall of that job.

The story continues. Many months later she came one day to come after me. I was standing up talking to the junior most guy. He had a pretty severe issue and I was helping him.

She straight up went to the boss and said I was looking out the window while my coworker was sinking. Which she never came to talk to us, perhaps there was many points it would look this way from a distance.

My boss then demands monday morning I come in, there will be a company meeting with everyone and I had to beg to keep my job. I explain I was working on my own project while helping $junior. The junior guy interjects immediately, confirms I was helping him. That the claim I was looking out the window was a lie.

So I end up fired, begging for my job wasnt good enough. 1 other junior guy, the one most often targetted by her quit as well. I got a new job and I met someone who had worked with her at the job she was leaking infos on. He had completely forgotten about her but she did exactly the same snitch shit at that place.

about a year later. I get sued for 1.1 million $. I never had a non-compete. I had learnt about those the job before that job. His assertion a barely above minimum wage worker with no ownership in the business was a 'fiduciary employee' and so I'm not allowed to steal his clients. He lost something like 50% of his clients and none of them were at my new employer. Obviously he didnt get beyond discovery.

matai_kolila 15 days ago

No relationship ends successfully, nothing wrong with spending 3-5 years at an org, learning what you can, then moving on.

Knowing this, maybe it’s worth resetting your goals at the next role to take i to account how this cycle tends to go. Set “end” criteria for when you should move on and reevaluate those goals regularly.

  • cookie_monsta 15 days ago

    > No relationship ends successfully

    I guess once again it depends on how you define success. I am still friends with some ex bosses and even ex partners. It does require a level of maturity for both parties to accept that just because circumstance threw you together it's quite possible to reach the point where it's best for everybody to part ways.

    An enemy is the worst thing to have. If you can put aside the ego-driven temptation to burn bridges you'll end up with more tranquility, less regret and maybe even a better network of contacts.

  • mojoe 15 days ago

    >99% of my work relationships have ended "successfully" in the sense that even though we don't communicate anymore we still have mutual respect and would work with each other again, so I'm not sure what you mean by "no relationship ends successfully"

  • dilyevsky 15 days ago

    > No relationship ends successfully

    Uhh pretty sure that’s furthest thing from the truth. I had lots of managers that I’d absolutely work with again and companies that I’d definitely consider going back to. Then there are ones that I’d never work with if I can. Sometimes (a lot of times?) work stream just peters out…

  • JohnFen 15 days ago

    > No relationship ends successfully

    I disagree. I was recently hired at a company that I worked for years ago. I left because I tired of the project, but left on very good terms. Good enough that both the company and myself are looking forward to another run together.

    That was a relationship that ended successfully.

    • matai_kolila 15 days ago

      I meant with the company as a whole, not an individual.

      By ending your relationship with the company, you're declaring that relationship necessarily deficient in some way. My advice is to define those deficiencies deliberately, rather than in an ad hoc way.

      • JohnFen 15 days ago

        > I meant with the company as a whole, not an individual.

        As did I.

        I don't disagree, technically, but calling the relationship "deficient" has implications that aren't necessarily true. For instance, leaving a position because of a change in your personal circumstances isn't leaving because the relationship is "deficient" in any sense other than your needs have changed in a way the company cannot accommodate. It isn't because there is anything wrong with you, the company, or your relationship with the company.

        • matai_kolila 14 days ago

          If you meant the company as a whole, why was your counterexample about an individual relationship?

          I think you meant an individual, however what you demonstrated was that your relationship with that person hadn't ended, which actually reinforces my point.

          Your implications aren't my implications, and none of them are what I said.

spicyramen_ 15 days ago

I have spent 4 years in this role, we have built the same system 3 times and only first and second versions are successful. (Generates most of the revenue for our PA) the last product was not engineering driven but product management driven and failed. We are launching a 4th product with new product management and engineering and everything looked promising, everybody was very excited as we will put in practice all the learnings and failures, then suddenly new eng manager comes with 0 background and makes decisions that will set us back again 4 years. I'm going to leave because is hard to stay in a company where the experts are not listened. I guess some new manager come and want to shake the boat making the decisions just because or plans just because...this is normal. I have learn to live with this pattern