This is My Manifesto
I have had a now-familiar conversation hundreds of times in my career in the software industry. A sharp, hard-working millennial – a developer, designer, consultant, or support engineer – is completely burned out. She sees no way to change her situation without starting over somewhere else and wants to personally let me know that she’s given her two weeks’ notice. The reasons are the similar to my own when I leave a job (or begin actively interviewing).
There is an over-arching struggle to find meaningful work, the ability to take pride in it, to feel that there is a purpose to what I do, and feel that there is a path toward mastery at something I can say “This is my art”.
“I’ll stand for nothing less, or never stand again.” – Chevelle
I have quit many jobs, with or without two full weeks of notice, been laid off twice, fired once (in college), and was kicked out of the Army – and I’m still early and what is a pretty successful career in technology. Since I’ve never even once written a letter of notice or resignation, I think it is about time I draft one.
More importantly, on behalf of talented Millennials everywhere, I’d like you to know – truly understand – that the two weeks’ notice we give you as a manager typically comes weeks or even months after we crafted our mental first draft, started accepting the relentless prospecting of talent scouts, and gave up on your ability to get out of way in our search for meaningful work, a purpose, and mastery of our craft.
So this is my universal – and truly honest – Two Weeks’ Notice, for every time I didn’t write one, and for the many times in my future I most likely also won’t write one. This is my Two Weeks’ Notice Manifesto, a public statement of what it takes to make me disengage despite my natural brilliance and indefatigable enthusiasm.
You played hardball with my salary when I joined and have given me no path to increase it.
You are painfully arrogant – and ignorant – regarding my value in the open market. It currently increases by 20% per year yet you think I will settle for a 5% raise (or no raise at all).
“Started from the bottom now we here.”
Proactive efforts on my part to establish clear expectations, a career path, and an informal timeline for promotion or salary increases are answered with vague notions of trust, respect, and reputation that have nothing to do with performance or the impact I have.
Most importantly, if I am giving you this notice, I have taken every opportunity available to add more economic value than you expected of me. I have deliberately worked to increase the impact I have on value-add processes, organization-wide efficiency and effectiveness, revenue growth, and actionable metrics. I can now see that I have exhausted my opportunities and my tangible impact on revenue and margin is now waning – removing all leverage and motivation on my part – and it is due to poor strategic decisions outside my control or that of peers.
I’m just tryna stay alive and take care of my people
And they don’t have no award for that […]
Shit don’t come with trophies, ain’t no envelopes to open
I just do it ’cause I’m ‘sposed to – Young Money, Drake
You treat my initial lack of understanding of the “nuance” of your backward, inefficient “processes” as some kind of failure or lack of intelligence on my part.
“A hater’s gonna hate, hate, hate, hate […] I’m just gonna shake it off.” – Taylor Swift
You provided no actual on-boarding, leaving me to my own volition to review artifacts, like some anthropologist, in an effort to mimic current practices.
You have truly valuable constructive criticism you could provide based on the decades of experience you have over me – but you prefer sarcasm, derisive rhetorical questions, and generally insult my intelligence.
You know that you – and the company – are terrible at on-boarding and that I am intelligent enough, educated enough, and experienced enough not to put up with it; so you give me preferential treatment to shut me up rather than investing in everyone. And no, I do not take this as a sign I should stay, it is an indication that you have no plan for the future.
You have a general disbelief regarding the breadth and depth of my knowledge, skills, and experience – attempting to restrict me to the smallest possible scope of responsibilities.
You stomp out creativity and enthusiasm organization-wide but tell me not to “lose that energy”.
You are condescending and use sarcasm and deconstructionism when you do not understand my nomenclature or the vocabulary of my academic and career specialization.
You focus on short-term gains and their related vanity metrics (e.g. Project ROI) rather than the flow of long-term economic value
You have created a psychologically unsafe environment for the information worker, where most employees – the only employees who last – display symptoms of learned helplessness and defeat.
So I’m tearing this and everything else,
between me and what I want to do to pieces.
I’m tearing you and everything else,
between me and you to memory. – Nonpoint
Your “leadership” strips away all possible reward for prudent risk. Any feeling of accomplishment when someone takes real initiative to accomplish something meaningful in a novel way is more than negated by the likelihood of retroactive empowerment, personal insults, or deconstruction-based criticism.
You talk about “baby steps” in internal changes or excuse your inaction due to “lack of executive buy-in” to justify to yourself why you lack the discipline and initiative to change, innovate, or evolve.
“It could have been so much worse, but it should have been better”
– Five Finger Death Punch
You are stuck in old models of business and outdated practices despite the fact you would be a very late adopter of thoroughly proven best practices, no matter how many employees have attempted to convince you.
You fail to challenge me, heaping busy work on me instead.
You see my attempts to improve myself and my peers – in my pursuit of mastery in my craft and love of investment in my tribe – as a distraction that needs to be controlled rather than an opportunity to harness.
You assume my youth (and open-minded millennialism) generally decreases the value of my knowledge – despite the fact that the tech industry and its ever-evolving best demonstrated practices make my youth in advantage when
It’s not you, it’s me.
In light of these problems and a clear and consistent history of leadership anti-patterns, I can see that you will absolutely not change and will definitely make no effort to meaningfully address my concerns in any way. Unfortunately I have outgrown you. I am different and better than I was – smarter, stronger, more passionate and more creative than the day we met. I really do appreciate the rare moments of effort to invest in me as two humans at work, building something together. I have interesting stories tell. Some of my worst days and your worst behavior rank among the most beneficial insights I have gained – of who I will not be, of who I am, of what I will fight for.
It is time for me to move on.
This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name! – Fort Minor