Quitting Can Be Good

Reflections on a four year run in the corporate world.

A little over a month ago marked my last day at a job I had held onto for four years, but the process of quitting started long before I submitted my resignation. Without delving deep into the murky details and painting a ‘woe is me!’ picture or detailing horrific experiences of bad bosses, I’ll highlight the meandering that led to the ultimate decision that made me say, “I quit.”. If you’re expecting this to be a juicy narrative stop reading and move along because this is simply a spiel centered around my perspective that I accumulated while working in the corporate world.

The company I worked for is irrelevant and even my title is irrelevant as you’ll come to see if you make it to the end of my illiterate musings. I hope anyone in a corporate position can relate and realize your potential to do better.

  1. Management turned into sacks of potatoes

How? Let me explain. The company I worked for had this thing, a really counter-intuitive thing that I only understood towards the end of my stint there and that was management’s fear of anyone rocking the boat. Companies like the one I worked for bind their management to key performance indicators (KPIs) which are put in place to ensure that shareholder promises are delivered. Pretty reasonable right? Yes, unfortunately for the managers all it means is that they’ll get sweet bonuses so they can put down payments on their new-model pickup trucks if they meet these KPIs. The downside to the emphasis on KPIs is that it turns these managers into new-model pickup driving sacks of potatoes. Not just truck driving potato sacks either, these sacks of potatoes have a computer strapped to them that converts the KPI spreadsheet to mass e-mails at a rate of ten reminder e-mails a day which include the metrics for the month, quarter, and year to ensure their pickup dreams stay alive. If you haven’t figured it out, what I’m trying to say is that management was useless. Management died due to this which brings me back to the point on fear; what kept these potato sacks from rotting, what was their sustenance? Fear. Everything must be in steady working order and if you start rocking the boat to try and bring about positive change, these sacks of potatoes throw their weight around to get you back in line and it really reduces your worth as an individual. It’s sad and is why I left.

2. Potato sack culture reduced productivity

Everything slowly started becoming pointless. I eventually resorted to writing scripts that increased my productivity in private and keeping them to myself for fear of waking the potato sack from it’s slumber and feeling its wrath. Asking a question when the manager would ask, “Is everything clear, does anyone have any questions?” would also bring about its wrath. Anything that wasn’t contributing to their bottom line (not the companies bottom line, unfortunately) had to be corrected. This led to an extreme reduction in productivity as everything was process driven and more time was spent on bureaucracy rather than actually doing the job I was hired to do. It was pointless and became especially pointless when I was disciplined for trying to be productive. That’s why I left.

3. I was put on a performance improvement plan for rocking the boat

With this potato sack culture in place I one day got reprimanded for vocalizing my ideas and getting my department, excluding the potato sack, to agree in realizing this great idea. I was told I was out of line for thinking. My performance improvement plan put me on a performance improvement plan to go back to the performance mediocrity plan that was set in stone. This affected my raise and imposed unreasonable performance metrics for the next raise that didn’t happen. That’s why I decided to leave.

4. Unreasonable expectations

Soon after this “performance improvement plan” that I was put on to keep me on the tightrope of mediocrity, the potato sack thought it a brilliant idea to list anything contrary to their ways an entry ticket to the highway. Really stupid things, for example; specific steps on how to click through an irrelevant menu must be followed and you are not allowed to do it the more efficient way or you’ll negatively affect your raise. I graduated college with an Engineering degree, and working towards a Masters in Engineering and my metrics for a potential raise are dependent on how I click through a ten step menu. That’s why I quit.

5. No raises

The company was ran into the ground by this culture and a plethora of other events that I can write for hours about. I didn’t care, I wanted my raise so I dumbed-down and followed the unreasonable expectations to the best of my abilities to ensure a successful year end review and guess what? The year end review never happened. What did happen was that the VP of the company brought us into a room and said in a very emotional way that company made no money that year so no one was getting raises. Additionally, we could have gotten raises but they were doing the nice thing and not firing anyone to budget for those raises. We were lucky to still have a job. Management still got their raises and bought new trucks. Cool. That’s why I left.

6. Vacation was stolen

Oracle had a hiccup and lost over 40 hours of my vacation. Their response, “Oops, sorry. Nothing we can do”. That’s why I quit.

7. Lied about tuition reimbursement

They lied and decided not provide me the tuition reimbursement I was due for graduate school this year. That’s why I quit.

8. Old computers, deal with it

Computers were ten years old and could not keep up with the productivity standards of today. They refused to upgrade the computers and were okay with the continuing decrease in productivity due to aging hardware since it kept the budget tight. As an Engineer this was simply unacceptable, especially since the four year old computer I have at home has three times the computing power than the machine I used for 3 years at work. After year 3 they finally got tired of me whining about it and gave me a 2009 MacBook Pro in 2016 which I had to fix in order to bring it into working order since our IT department didn’t know how to work on Macs. Unacceptable and that is why I quit.

Some questions might arise from the readers like, “Why didn’t you fight this?”, and my answer is, “I did”. Nothing happened. Eventually I got reduced to looking at my job as a way to make ends meet and nothing more. I finally decided to quit and it was one of the best feelings ever. Ridding myself of the ridiculousness of that company and the Nuclear world, I haven’t felt this good in a long long time. I’m currently unemployed and focused on graduating and looking for my next adventure.

I hope the takeaway for reader is this: If you notice any of these things happening at your job, leave. It wont get better and it’s not worth fighting for. It is worth it, however, to find a company that will value your tenacity for positive change so please please please pursue that and I guarantee you wont regret it.

I wrote this as a response to people who have asked me, “Why did you quit your job as an Engineer in the Nuclear industry?!”. Now anytime I get asked, I can point them to this and get to the more fascinating topic of why the Nuclear industry is doomed in the United States.