58

I currently work at a company that's experiencing something of a mass exodus. Due to managerial issues, 5 of the best engineers on an 8 person engineering team have either left or put in their two weeks notice over the last month and a half.

I have also had an experience that's irrevocably ruined my faith in this company, and have started the interview process. Due to the rapidly decreasing size of the team, there has never been more pressure on me as an individual contributor. I am having trouble keeping motivation to do any work while I prepare for upcoming job interviews and the situation at the office is rapidly deteriorating due to the departures of the majority of the engineering team.

Does anyone have advice on keeping a positive attitude and getting work done at a company they are simultaneously preparing to leave?

  • 2
    Sorry to hear that, are these new tasks assigned to you going to be remunerated? Is this de-motivation due to the experience you had or the nature of the tasks? – DarkCygnus Jul 9 '18 at 15:33
  • 6
    "Chaos is a ladder", would it be beneficial to your career to "hang tough" and move into a team lead position? – Pete B. Jul 9 '18 at 16:28
  • 4
    Not a bad idea @PeteB, but I'm still relatively junior and I don't think it would be beneficial for me to get into a position like that as it would detract from my coding time. – sfidf12489 Jul 9 '18 at 17:21
  • 5
    Just be a professional. Arrive at work - work diligently - go home. What's the issue? No issue! – Fattie Jul 9 '18 at 21:09
  • 10
    Fattie : burn out is a real thing, and "work diligently" is not something that easy to achieve. My understanding of the question is that the OP ask specifically how to reshape his mind to stay professional. – gazzz0x2z Jul 10 '18 at 9:13
69

It should be easy if you put forth the right mindset. You know that it will be over soon, so nothing should bother you.

Therefore, with all the concerns of corporate BS being gone, you can focus on the work as it is literally the only thing that matters now.

At the risk of sounding grim, many people who have a terminal illness can become very positive because they are fully aware that their condition is temporary.

This should be your mindset. The politics don't matter, the BS doesn't matter, the negativity doesn't matter. Only two things matter to you now. Getting your work done, and getting out.

Think of your work as proof for your interviews.

When they hit you with the "Why should we hire you" question, you can point out that even though you are planning to leave your employer, you are not neglecting your duties, and that you will work hard to your last day there, and from the first day at your new duties.

20

TL;DR: You can improve your motivation by addressing your burnout

Hopefully you will get a new job tomorrow, but in case it takes more than a few days (it may be weeks or longer), you need to also work on fixing your burnout to protect and repair your physical and emotional health. Doing so will help you continue to work to the best of your ability in your current job and will help you to job search more effectively by giving you a physical and emotional boost.

First address your own burnout

You mention that it is a burnout environment and you sound burned out. If so, you first need to address your own burnout. There are great resources on the Internet on dealing with burnout, and I encourage you to check those out, but for starters recognize that you can't keep a sinking ship from sinking by working yourself to death. That means that you can afford to take time to relax, work at a sustainable pace, spend some time getting exercise, spending time with family, thinking about and doing fun things--in fact, you need to to be healthy and effective. The company might not see it that way, but that's too bad.

Set expectations

Do what you need to do, work as hard as you need to to be responsible but no harder (except under genuine emergencies, for a very short duration, and followed by a recovery period). Don't let yourself be bullied into more. This is about setting expectations about how much work you can produce. It should be calibrated so that you can work at that pace indefinitely and still be healthy and happy. It doesn't sound like it is right now. That needs to change. When challenged, state the facts professionally and don't budge, again unless there is a real emergency (a missed deadline is not a real emergency; real emergencies have clear major impacts to health, life, financial status, legal status, etc.).

How this will help

Dealing with your burnout will help in two ways: first it will make you happier and will make it easier for you to continue to work at your current company. Second it will make your job search more effective and help you get out of your situation and into a better one.

NOTE: It takes time to recover from burnout

Depending on the severity, it can take days to months to recover from burnout, so don't expect a quick fix, but the sooner you address the problem the sooner you can solve it, and you can keep it from getting worse; burnout isn't linear, it's exponential.

  • 1
    This answer seems focused, at least partly, on "burnout", but I see no mention of this in the words of OP. Being demotivated might sound like a burnout symptom, but IMO i feel this also might be overly interpreted. – Pac0 Jul 10 '18 at 4:17
  • 2
    I can understand that. I'm taking the burnout cues from the question title and what I feel are hints of burnout in the wording. I can definitely imagine an environment like that leading to burnout. – bob Jul 10 '18 at 13:25
2

Does anyone have advice on keeping a positive attitude and getting work done at a company they are simultaneously preparing to leave?

Part of being a professional is the ability to "get the work done" despite the feelings and personal aspects one may have.

Sometimes tasks are not the most enjoyable, or a sour situation happens like it did to you. However, I encourage you not to be let down by this recent situation. The best you can do is to work it out, put a smile on your face, carry on doing your work the best you can, and focus on getting an offer so you can hand your notice period as soon as possible.

Try not to put much thought to that experience, and instead think of any of the other positive aspects your job has, or well on the many other nice things in life besides this experience at work (your friends, partner, hobbies, etc.).

You should focus on getting that new offer, as the faster you move on the faster you will be able to process this experience and regain your motivation on your work.

  • The fastest way to move on is to leave (2 weeks notice, cause professionalism) and make finding a job the new job. – RandomUs1r Jul 9 '18 at 20:27
  • @RandomUs1r remember that even though you have a Notice Period, you can be terminated right there. So the fact that you have 2 weeks may be irrelevant to the fact that Boss decides to terminate you the moment you hand the notice. – DarkCygnus Jul 9 '18 at 20:29
  • That's what I'd call an "immediate" resignation. – RandomUs1r Jul 9 '18 at 21:21
2

Assuming that you will find another job and your time at this one is guaranteed to be limited:

Find an interesting topic and develop your skills in it while doing your work to the best of your ability WITHOUT worrying about deadlines too much. (ex. how's your unit testing?)

  • I was paid to learn Java once. I mean I was made redundant and spent all of my notice period totally focussed on working really hard to do what was best for the company. – bye Jul 10 '18 at 14:44
0

When I was in this situation before, I got my motivation from making the handover. Parts of my handover required preparation of documentation, and others the training of new staff or recording videos explaining a future hire how to do things. Also everytime i needed to complain, I would add that as a potential problem or issue to avoid for a future job holder. Since I had full control on that task, I was pretty happy moving forward with mixing my everyday tasks with my handover.

TL;DR: focus on the handover and write what is currently wrong on your job as a "potential pitfall", without pointing fingers.

  • 5
    I don't see where OP mentioned he is doing handover work. As far as we know, OP hasn't even quit or handed his Notice, so I don't know how focusing on this "handover" will work. Mind clarifying? – DarkCygnus Jul 9 '18 at 20:04
  • 1
    I assumed that since s/he is "preparing to leave", some handover would be done. – JoaoBotelho Jul 10 '18 at 11:45
0

Burnout

I wouldn't focus on the burnout, sometimes we get too much into our own heads about being burnt out.

Really take the time out, i.e. leave the office, go for a coffee, etc. to focus on the things that bring you happiness: are you in a relationship, do you have pets, are you exercising. For all of those things, if you are aren't appreciating them or relying on them enough, acknowledge that and maybe reconnect with those things a bit more.

Also, anticipate the moment when you can announce your resignation, and be prepared to leave. Have the things you are working on documented and your transition tasks ready, not only will it feel like you are "doing work" (because...you are) but you are also working towards leaving, which I think should be a good feeling.

Interviewing under duress

Also, focus on the process of getting ready for the interviewing process. Don't want to sugarcoat it, it can be a serious slog. Preparation is crucial, and you have to be in a good mood, when talking on phone screens, no one likes a "low energy" candidate. So, you really need to compartmentalize the stuff happening at work.

Some strategies:

  1. Think of it as a side project, and that each call, interview is a little adventure.
  2. Enjoy the madness that it is, we all know the interview process is broken, at the worst, you'll have some excellent stories about bombing-out
  3. It is a good market for devs, if you are competent you will find a job, trust that your prep will get you over the line.

Office Space

As far as the office itself, that's a more difficult story. I think trying to adopt the "it is just a job" 9-5 routine is way easier said than done. So I wouldn't bother, especially, if you are at all personally invested in your performance as a individual, it is hard to just turn it all off. Instead, I would focus on small wins, small wins in your code, small wins with your managers, and recognize that the losses you experience are also very, very small, and in six months should be mostly forgotten.

Finally, as far as the experience that "ruined your faith," you can't let it eat you up too much. Not every company is like that, though every company has its problems, accept that you are in potentially a unique situation (though not unique enough) and put it aside, until you can be in better headspace to manage it. Sometimes, you can't juggle all the things.

Best of luck and study hard.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.