-I’ve been a Rick, stayed at a company for nine years, knew where the bodies were buried because I buried most of them myself and became more disenchanted year after year which caused my attitude to get worse and worse. They wouldn’t fire me but they also wouldn’t promote me and give me raises - causing a horrible cycle.
I woke up one day 8 years later in 2008 and making only 10,000 more than I had made in 1999 as the raises were abysmal and the bonuses got cut realizing that I wasn’t competitive.
9 years, four companies, and a lot of humbly studying and learning from people a lot younger than I am, I’m finally in a position that I want to be in as the software developer lead for the company.
I saw myself becoming the bottleneck and working crazy hours for the first 5 or 6 months. I had to put a stop to it. I sat down with my manager, hired three more people. I now insist that everyone be responsible for making sure their work gets all the way to production, everyone does there own devops work, documentation is part of the “definition of done”. I let them solve their own problems even if I know I could solve it faster.
I’m training the team not to be dependent on me.
When it comes to meetings, each developer is responsible for chasing detailed requirements when there are gaps.
My responsibility is to hire, train, and to mentor. I will do the most critical pieces of the architecture that is a base for everything else. I also enforce a 40-45 hour work week. If you want to learn on your own that’s fine but no one should put in crazy hours. We don’t want to set that expectation.
There's a lot I could say about my experience, but it boils down to a combination of bad practices/behavior on both sides (that I learned from immensely), broader circumstances, as well as a bad fit between me and my direct superior(s) or the nature of the company. I think the latter is often underestimated.
I believe that the 'true' story of bad employee/employer is often a lot more like a romantic relationship than we care to admit. And while my impression is that Rick was more at fault in this situation, I'd say that just like a romantic relationship, the best lessons to draw from these events are not the blame-game ones.
(of course, maybe that says more about my romantic entanglements than about work hierarchies...)
EDIT: tangentially related, but I just realized that one of the few ways in which I feel I can say I've 'matured' on my path to 'adulthood', is having experienced multiple sides of, in essence, the same situations. It makes empathy and productive solutions so much easier, even if not always in the moment.
This kerfuffle is a good reminder for me to keep an eye out for these types of lessons and to avoid reflexively looking for someone or something to blame.
At the time there were maybe half a dozen people in the country that even worked in this particular niche. If I left the company it would likely go down, and the CEO kept telling me how many people would lose work if I left. And the pressure and responsibility kept growing and growing. And the sales people, who made up half of the staff, kept getting more and more antagonistic, as I couldn't meet their constantly larger expectations, which were often technically impossible (like sci-fi movie level). This situation lasted for over a year, culminating in a huge blowout between the CEO and I when I left.
I became a Rick real fast. I still feel like shit for being a Rick, and it's taken years for me to move that experience out of my "work baggage".
I also feel like I've been a little like Rick before (though in a non-developer role). I learned a lot from that experience and, like you, have matured as a result.
I want everyone to come from the job with a mixture of doing grunt work - Yet Another Enterprise CRUD app — and learning something new cool and useful. I don’t want anyone stuck on the same app forever.
I have tried and tried hard to stop people being dependent on me, writing detailed specs and documentations, generously sharing them with the team - not once but multiple times. The end result being people ask me either to do the stuff because "I am the expert" or resend the document link for them to study.
This is the most frustrating thing. If you can't even save the link or search your mailbox then I no longer WANT to help you. Figure it out.