Thursday, June 25, 2009

Take This Job and...

I knew I would get to this point. Maybe it's just a phase. I don't want to work.
I mean, I want to work, but not here, not doing what I'm doing. I'm content to let others take the calls and jump on the work.
I have been looking for another job for at least a year now, and haven't found one. My job search was mainly motivated out of a desire for more $$$; my current employer is pretty weak on the compensation, although it gets my family by.
But now, I have reached a point unforeseen, although I should have seen it coming. There have been a number of issues that I have with my current employer that have finally accrued to the point I am at now:
1. Poor compensation.
2. They never do performance reviews or raises. Never. But they showed no reluctance to implement a company-wide 10% reduction in pay due to the economy.
3. Medical insurance is through the roof expensive ($230 bi-weekly for Aetna Value Select HMO for myself and my wife)
4. The company runs a really tight ship fiscally, which is normally a good thing, except:
   a. We don't have enough developers, so our software lacks the robustness to successfully install and run the first time for many people. We also can't keep a lot of our courses updated because we are too busy making our top selling courses work better.
   b. We don't have enough QA staff even if development could write all that software at once.
   c. As part of the technical support staff, I have to support the half-baked software they release.
   d. We are moving to online-based video courses- but our only server is self-hosted in San Diego. We don't have the money to pay for a service which would colocate our video streams, which means some customers are screwed, especially internationally.
5. My department gets no input into the development of the software; if we are lucky, we get a secondhand QA role.

A big part of the problem is that this is a small company (about 50 employees). Before working here, I had decided I would not work for a publicly-traded company. Now I have to add to that that I will not work for a company of less than 100 employees again.
I and my coworkers have brought all these things up to management; it usually ends up being we don't have the $$$. Or they just don't do that. (?)

The reason I won't work for a publicly-traded corporation is because the demands of the shareholders force the company to think short-term. Now I know that really small companies are afflicted with the same malady, but for a different reason- they have to watch every dollar. I am not against being frugal, but you have to open your wallet sometimes and spend your money to improve your operations. Companies that stay small over the long term aren't making investments necessary to truly succeed. I am not saying you have to become big, but at least shoot for mid-size- get to a place where you have enough of a buffer not only to continue operations but also do more, to get you away from having to think short-term all the time.

Our company started as a simple video training outfit, selling VHS tapes and eventually, DVDs. Then they moved into making training software. Big difference! Software development is an entirely different beast than video production, and much higher cost. I don't think the company understood this, and they have paid the price ever since, trying to do software development without being willing to pay the price for top talent. And then overworking the talent they do have. When I first started working here, I thought the guy who writes our installers was incompetant. Now I know better- he is overworked so much that he merely seems incompetant. He has to handle installers, our contract courses, QA bug/fix cycles, escalations, and more. He is out sick quite a bit (I wonder why?). He deserves better.

Of course now, in June of 2009, nobody has any money. It will likely be another 3-4 years before my company can emerge out of batten-down-the-hatches mode. But I do hope they take that opportunity to really create a world-class operation.

So I guess I am de-motivated. Maybe next week I'll snap out of it. Or the week after that.

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