Horrible culture and politics at work: how should I act?

New ahdhdb
May 15 19 Comments

I have been at a company for a while, mostly as individual contributor/tech lead. I have done a lot of work around architecture, scalability, and generally keeping projects technically on track while minimizing the amount of code that needs to be written.

About a year ago we hired one senior technical director from Cisco with a lot of experience on paper (10yoe more than me). It was immediately clear that this guy was hired to basically take my role in the team as a leader: keep in mind, I kept receiving excellent feedback about my work and performance, even a substantial raise and stock grant.

I didn’t like this new guy, but I decided to stay put and observe him: he basically revealed himself to be a total moron, incapable of even having a technical opinion himself, so completely unable to lead.

I reported this feedback after 6 months to my manager and my skip, and they both brushed me off with “you are too pessimistic, everyone deserves a chance” and in general painted me as a negative person. So, I started leetcoding and I’m at the point where I can send an email to get a couple FAANG onsites (already passed the phone interviews).

In the meantime, it turns out that this guy was tasked to lead a big joint project with a customer-partner, and the other side experienced his incompetency just like I did, so after a couple months they sent an email to my CEO saying “dude, this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s terrible”. Basically, the same feedback I reported 6 months earlier!

As a result, both my manager and my skip frantically met with me asking me to take the reigns of this project while he gets phased out basically. It was so hard to not scream in their face “I told you so! You ruined me and my loyalty of the company instead of listening to the genuine feedback from a guy who has been here a while!”.

I’m so angry that this happened in the first place that I lost confidence in the leadership in our company and basically I’m day dreaming of seeing everything fail, including this project I’ve been tasked to lead.

What should I do?

It’s not obvious that FAANG would offer much higher TC, my TC for my yoe is pretty good (450k 8yoe).

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TOP 19 Comments
  • Google Resumé
    lol @ "my loyalty at the company"

    is that really worth anything these days?
    May 15 2
    • New ahdhdb
      OP
      I probably used the wrong term, by loyalty what I really meant is: "If you're treating me nicely, and showing you respect my work and opinions, as long as you pay me top of the market TC I'll stay and work for your fucked up company". In this case, they violated the "showing you respect my opinions".
      May 15
    • Google Resumé
      Loyalty to a company is formed by relationships to one's political allies. If there is no genuine connection to and respect from one's coworkers, what reciprocation is deserved? Jump when you can, by voting with both feet.
      May 15
  • New AsYK38
    It's not like you can avoid this type of shit by going to fang
    May 15 3
    • Google Awlj82
      This ☝️ and at least in this case you have a relationship which the upper management might see as worth nurturing - ie a reason they should promote you.
      May 15
    • New ahdhdb
      OP
      I cannot avoid it but I very highly doubt that at FAANG a person as incompetent as that guy would have been tasked with such big project. I'm pretty sure that dude would have never ever passed a director interview or even a faang manager interview.
      May 15
    • Microsoft datasc
      You vastly overestimate faangs competence and interview processes. I have personally seen mind bogglingly incompetent senior folks (principal and above) kicked out of Msft for good reason end up at fang companies.
      May 15
  • Microsoft datasc
    Stay. It’s just business, at the end of the day.

    Management sometimes doesn’t know what they’re doing or how to assess people (shocking, I know), and it’s a lazy shortcut to trust the more senior person / more yoe. You don’t have to take it personally (don’t attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence?).

    Now that your feedback has been externally validated your stock should’ve risen significantly in their eyes. And if you pull this project out of the fire that is even more cred, plus they owe you a solid. No real need to throw all that away.

    Leave for other reasons if you must (try something new, challenge yourself, see what else is out there), and with the understanding that there is a good bit of risk since you’re currently set up well.
    May 15 1
    • New ahdhdb
      OP
      I understand your point, but I don't believe it in this case. The thing is, I've been a few years at the company and I've saved many projects and achieved significantly already, and upper management already knew these achievements, so it was a very informed and deliberate choice to replace me with this new guy while they made me regress to a more pure IC role.

      In other words, I don't think my new contributions could ever match what I've already done in the past (I literally built the core product of the company almost from scratch by leading several teams), so there was no point in them assigning such critical project to this other guy when they knew what I achieved inside the company already.

      So, what's likely going to happen is that they're going to replace me on this project with another moron, as soon as they find one to hire.
      May 15
  • Google Awlj82
    Maybe negotiate for a promo at this company if you can, and if you want to get in to management. Otherwise leave. The downside of FAANG is none of your previous experience really matters that much. You’ll have to prove yourself again (albeit probably to avoid situations like the one you encountered).
    May 15 0
  • Cisco Eyeh
    What company ? If you leave let me know I would like to apply ;) . How’s your relationship with your VP ? Setup a one-on-one with him and tell him how you have contributed and explain him that your role has been curtailed.
    May 15 1
    • New ahdhdb
      OP
      The VP would be my skip level (we're a small company), a.k.a. the dipshit who didn't believe me in the first place when I told him and my manager that this guy from Cisco wasn't qualified to lead a team.
      May 15
  • Uber / Eng sign
    Get FANG offers first, you don't seem to have any alternative at the moment but to continue working. Once (if) you get any decent offers, it will much easier to make a decision.
    May 15 0
  • Microsoft datasc
    Interesting. Why, do you think, do they want to do this rather than make you lead? It can’t simply be sheer perverseness. It would appear you and your management chain don’t have the same view of your accomplishments andor potential. I don’t think this new episode is the final straw in that case; there are other things at issue here.
    May 15 2
    • New ahdhdb
      OP
      I was never offered any feedback, as I said. Last performance review, which happened a few months after this guy came in, I got a significant base increase, perf bonus and very generous stock grant.

      My speculation is that, since I've been so early in the company and I know so many things about our systems, they internally see me as a single point of failure and so they want to desperately give away my responsibilities to other key stakeholders. This is fine in theory and a good strategy for a growing company, but while doing so they pushed me out of the team so much that I'm not able to even positively contribute to the technical direction anymore (like in this case), and then they have to pull me back as an emergency move when someone from the outside tells the CEO things are going down.
      May 15
    • Microsoft datasc
      Not to harp on this but people don’t simply start removing key pillars because they’re spofs, they do it if the spof has some disadvantage/weakness/dealbreaker, or is considered a flight risk. And if it is truly a redundancy plan they should diplomatically bring you on-board this idea so you contribute positively. Or so I’d think anyway. But then again I don’t know your situation or your management chain.

      Given the way you describe your situation, it appears you should leave. Good luck.
      May 15
  • Nvidia signale
    One time I worked with a guy who sexted hardcore during team meetings. Fearless.
    May 15 0
  • Okta bKYi68
    A good many managers and people of power spend all their resources hiding there incompetence for a fat paycheck. It’ll happen at any company, including FAANG.

    Use this as leverage, get your offers, and walk if they won’t fix their issues. If you’re a top performer it’s just a minor inconvenience for you
    May 15 0
  • Amazon Northman
    Do both. Interview at FAANG, get some offers, but also take the project on at work just in case. If that 450k is liquid rather than lots of paper, then you have a solid position for 8 YOE, you probably wont beat it by much elsewhere, but may grow in career, breadth or depth in other areas.
    May 15 0