From bad jobs to new beginnings: Techies take a chance

What good can come from a nightmare job? You might find the motivation to walk away and find a new, better opportunity

Started from the bottom
Started from the bottom

When is a bad job too horrible? When you have to get out to save health, sanity, and soul. For those who walk away, the possibilities are promising: Potential stressors are mostly unknown, and compared to the old post, the new job has to be more manageable.

Behold the beauty of new beginnings.

Published in the anonymous InfoWorld Off the Record blog, here are real-life stories from IT pros who said “enough” to stressful job situations and moved on.

IT pros, if you have an on-the-job experience to submit about managing IT, developing apps, supporting users, a humbling moment, or a time when something went very right, send your story to offtherecord@infoworld.com. If we publish it we’ll keep you anonymous -- and send you a $50 American Express gift cheque.

The overly watchful eye of micromanagement
The overly watchful eye of micromanagement

Already treated like an unwanted stepchild, one company under the corporate umbrella gets a new boss. Head Honcho never visits the office location, micromanages from the corporate office, gives the employees a weekly task list, and grills them in detail about their every move -- hardly an ideal combination of traits.

As the weeks wear on, employees learn to expect constant emails, calls, and texts; shifting expectations; and the boss’s continual grumpiness, with no relief in sight.

As it turns out, the IT pro's first face-to-face meeting with the big boss is also the last. Our hero is given a pink slip, but it’s a relief. And the new job couldn't be more different -- it’s a place where the employees are trusted to take care of their duties, and the boss even hands out compliments. Who knew an IT job could be so good?

Ready, set, wait! And wait …
Credit: Thinkstock
Ready, set, wait! And wait …

It's like a bad miniseries, with each episode worse than the one before, only the drama is a lingering upgrade project, and the role of the CEO keeps getting recast.

CEO I kicks off the production with a run-of-the-mill assignment: Upgrade the company's IT infrastructure. He approves the three-part plan, and phase one is almost complete, exactly when the exec bows out.

Enter CEO II, but don't pay too much attention. He's kind of the understudy and merely holds down the fort until the new star steps in.

It's back to the beginning with CEO III, who asks why the company's tech is so archaic. Our IT pro fills out the details and gets approval for the second phase -- but not the third due to funding. It's progress, right?

The curtain call arrives with CEO IV, who agrees that completing the tech upgrade is a priority, but the funds weren’t yet available -- again. Yep, it’s the final act and high time to leave.

Improvements blocked by management wall
Credit: iStockphoto
Improvements blocked by management wall

The warning signs are there on the very first day: an IT staff too busy to provide the new employee orientation, and glaring problems with the IT infrastructure.

As time goes on, the techie determines the company's two fundamental problems: The underlying systems are a mess, with new emergencies popping up every day, and the senior execs hold unrealistic expectations of the tech crew. They pile on assignment after assigment, complete with unreasonable timelines -- and in the process, drive out top employees.

The IT pro makes a critical decision: Ignore the execs’ requests and address the critical issues head-on. After two years, the infrastructure is stabilized. But the senior managers do not acknowledge the need for long-term change and continue to squeeze the IT department.

A techie can't do much when management won't give an inch. Eventually, the exit door swings open, and the beleaguered techie follows in the steps of other senior employees.

money cut
Extreme cost-cutting

One company has a brilliant plan for new IT staff: Bring them on in a temp-for-hire basis, give them the job of three people, and work them until they burn out. Sure, it's bad for staff, but at least it's good to the bean counters.

An IT pro enters the fray, only to face another wrinkle from the IT director: The tech support staff is in charge of the server and networking equipment, whether or not they've been trained, because it’s “good to learn new skills” and “help the team out.”

One day, the network goes down. The IT pro tries to figure it out and eventually calls the senior network admin who grudgingly offer ideas over the phone. Luckily, the IT pro discovers a connection problem, switches the UPS, and everything is back to normal.

But enough is enough, and the IT pro resigns. Understatement of the year: The money you save now will eventually cost you later.

Management style: Chaos and confusion
Credit: Thinkstock
Management style: Chaos and confusion

Sometimes you have to quit hoping the bosses will get a reality check and instead give yourself one -- by leaving for good.

In search of a new challenge, an IT pro lands a developer job in health care. Then the other shoe drops: The department is a mess, with bumbling, ineffective managers at the helm. They manage to push out the IT team manager, and not long after, an experienced developer packs up. That leaves the two remaining tech staffers do the work of many.

The bosses continue their rudderless strategies and conflicting goals. They talk and talk, with no solutions to lingering questions and barely any understanding of the issues. They mismanage funds and take for granted employee time and workloads.

When the IT pro resigns, he's called in for an exit interview and describes his reasons for leaving. The bosses still don’t see a problem and even ask for a reference to fill the position. Yes, they are that clueless.

Something’s rotten in the state of the company
Credit: Thinkstock
Something’s rotten in the state of the company

A takeover brings new managers on board at a manufacturing company. Saving money is the new priority -- and plant managers are told to do whatever it takes to make it happen. Their solution: Hire subpar employees and poorly paid IT site admins.

The corporate IT team goes to a plant to help with tech maintenance. The site’s admins had left -- one had been caught reselling computer equipment and the other rumored to have had a breakdown -- and replaced with one lone, overworked admin.

Routine maintenance comes to a halt when the IT staff discover a PC put in use by the shipping staff to run an internal porn mailing list. Despite the severity of the offense, the offending employees aren't immediately fired; instead, to save hassle, they're let go in the next round of layoffs.

The company's downsizing eventually catches up to the IT pro. When the techie lands a new job, it seems like paradise compared to the toxic environment of the last firm.

Going fast, going nowhere
Credit: Shutterstock
Going fast, going nowhere

Into the first project at a company, an IT project manager is alarmed at the budget and time overruns. A little research reveals shocking news: a culture of poor practices and a financial sinkhole. Not even the CTO knows about it, and despite their cost-saving efforts, it’s not enough. The project is doomed.

The company further descends into chaos and announces it will close soon, but it needs a few people to stay on and finish out the lingering projects. The handful of remaining employees make headway, but the CTO and CEO sabotage their progress with more bad deals. On top of it all, the invoices aren't getting paid.

The final straw lands when the IT pro confronts the CEO and demands the lowdown. The CEO confesses to shady accounting practices, unpaid debt, and maybe borderline fraud.

The IT pro has heard more than enough. He cuts a deal for his earnings, then gets the hell out of Dodge to open his own company, carrying more than a few lessons in what not to do.

What's your story?
Credit: Shutterstock
What's your story?

Share your true IT tale of personal blunders, coping with poor managers, communicating with users, resolving tech problems, or other memorable experiences from the tech job.

Send your submission to offtherecord@infoworld.com. If we publish your story -- anonymously, of course -- you’ll receive a $50 American Express gift cheque.

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