the codist - programmerthink

Life is Too Short to Work For Stupid People

Published: 01/10/2013

After reading an article on The Worst Employer in the Country I couldn't help but wonder why people would work there.

Of course I've worked for some boneheaded employers as well. Sometimes you can't tell until you've been there for a while. These days you can read comments on sites like Glassdoor and at least get a sense of what it will be like.

If you hate to go to work and feel miserable while you are there then somehow you have to go elsewhere. Sometimes it's hard to quit but sanity requires being somewhere other than an asylum. Some people are able to accommodate any amount of craziness or outright stupidity, but I've never been all that good at it. I like challenges but you do have to have some hope of ever having a good day.

So here's a few signs which I have experienced personally of being in a place you should consider departing from.

  1. The CEO comes in every single day with a new plan that contradicts the previous day. You can't help but give up on this job, there is no way to ever win. I lasted 5 months.
  2. I worked for a couple months and then discovered the other programmer had never checked in any code in 10 months. When I complained our boss said "he never checks in anything until it's perfect". Same place.
  3. My job interview consisted of two interviewers taking turns telling me horror stories of the place to see if I would run away. I didn't, got the job, met some good people but eventually the insanity of management drove most of us away. My one friend who is still there says the stupidity has ramped up 10x since then.
  4. The new CIO says there will be no layoffs. They start two weeks later, including many experienced people and myself. Then he flies everyone left to Florida for 3 days of bonding time having fun. Then lays them all off.
  5. A customer with a killer product but inept management runs up a huge consulting bill to us, then offered the company to our management as payment. Our management says no to a $600,000,000 market, we want our cash. We get nothing in the end and soon we get a new CIO, as in #4.
  6. Quality is not important for years until the company is almost in ruins because customers couldn't play their game. Instead they spent all their energy on new features no one could use. I thought it would be fun fixing everything when I joined. That makes me the real stupid one.
  7. I point out to the healthcare CTO that all of the production passwords are in a plain text file everyone has access to and hear "we trust our employees".
  8. The consulting firm's salesman tells me "my job is to lie to customers and yours is make me look good".
  9. One my first day the head project manager calls me aside and says from now on "your my boy" and wants me to spy on the rest of the company for him.
  10. The new company CTO (not the #4 guy) tells us we will all be millionaires in the next year. 8 months later we are out of business.

Fortunately I am now working for a decent company that despite some challenges has a relaxed environment and reasonable management. Even the CTO is a reasonable guy, so my bad streak might be over.

We work to make a living, but it's not worth it if the job becomes a prison, asylum or torture chamber. Sure, not everything will ever be perfect, but if you hate going to work it's not worth going there. I worked for myself early in my career (one startup and a little consulting firm, biggest was 13 people) and it was fun but if you can find the right place working for others can be good too.

I'm sure the amount of insanity and stupidity all of us have experienced would make some mighty good stories, and maybe help some of the insane and stupid people running those companies learn something.

Then again, if the CEO puts fingerprint scanners at all the doors rigged to email everyone when you are 5 seconds late, it's time to head for the exits.

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