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Public protest against Amazon
920 points by _zsm0 on Feb 19, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 495 comments

I want to preface this comment with a statement that in no way am I trying to blame the victim here, only to point out what can be learned from this situation.

This is certainly not the first time I've heard of Amazon being a shitty place to work at, and I don't see much reason to doubt the story of a vindictive boss doing everything they can to make an employee miserable after learning that the employee submitted bad feedback against them.

The two lessons I can extract from this post for myself are.

1. Never submit negative feedback via "anonymous" or "confidential" feedback processes at work, especially against a particular person, especially your boss.

It's been covered on HN before how these things are never really anonymous and confidential, and it should be kind of obvious to figure out if you think about it.

2. If you are at your job as part of your Visa process, you are essentially a slave with a slave's rights to match, and you are better off not rocking the boat if you want to complete the process.

Re: Number 2: This is a common pattern in all big American companies. Hire an H1B, make the employee an indentured slave forever. H1B employées born in India and China have to wait 10+ years for a green card to break free from indentured servitude. While you can switch jobs on an H1B, it's risky and if it screws up, your queue position gets reset.

Canada too have similar system called LMIA based Temporary closed work permit for skilled professionals. But the employee's permanent residency is not at the mercy of the employer in this case and it's fast too, in some cases within 4 months !

This is true, I left my previous company because they said I had to wait 1 year to apply for my green card. According to the HR lady this was the policy (there was no policy) and it was always better from an immigration point of view to wait more. Of course this is all bullshit. This was just a dirty strategy to keep people one extra year.

> Canada too have similar system called LMIA based Temporary closed work permit for skilled professionals. But the employee's permanent residency is not at the mercy of the employer in this case and it's fast too, in some cases within 4 months !

I have some experience with how LMIA is not perfect, but I was excited when the administration was openly considering copying it ~18 months ago, because it's hard to imagine anything between H1B and LMIA which is worse than H1B (whether from the perspective of a protectionist, a progressive, or a common liberal).

LMIA seems like a balance. In LMIA, the employer is made to test the local labour market before applying for a visa, rather than an LCA in which the USCIS trusts the employer's word.

The LCA process also forces the employer to test the labor market first. It's all theater, and based on 20 year-old business practices (you have to publish your job ad in a major newspaper and some other places, of which one option is to have it be read out loud by a local radio station!), but it's not like you can skip through that process. How does LMIA compare here?

It has similar rules that can be cheated as well.

However an lmia supported work permit it's the employee's and not employer's, meaning that if you get fired you can still stay in the country and find another job. You do need to apply for the Visa again for the next job but being in Canada already makes it much simpler. Essentially you aren't at your employer mercy.

Also if you work for one year you usually already have enough points for PR, once you apply for a pr you gain the right for a BOWP visa, which is essentially an open work permit that allows you to work for any employer until a final decision in your PR is made.

IANAL but went through all of above and am now a pr

Slight exception in Quebec though. Quebec has its own immigration rules & policies. Quebec do not follow rest of Canada's Express Entry or provincial nomination. In regards to obtaining a skilled work permit in Quebec, its a longer process with Federal + Provincial involvement. ie: LMIA (Federal) + CAQ (Quebec).

In Quebec there are no BOWP. So if you lost your job, you have to move out of Quebec province and get another LMIA work permit. Getting a permanent residency while working and residing in Quebec is not easy as Quebec's immigration system and policies are archaic and downright broken with more importance given to French language than any other employable skills. Recently 18,000 Quebec applications were downright rejected by Quebec in the name of bringing in a new skill based immigration system.

I would suggest anyone looking to move to Quebec in a skilled work permit or applying for residency while residing in Quebec to refrain from it as it will take at least 4 years (CSQ - 2 years + Federal - 2 years ) instead of 6 months in comparison with the rest of Canada. This applies to foreign students who come to study in Quebec too.

Permanent Residency Processing time:


Quebec skilled worker applicants face uncertain future in light of immigration overhaul:


Hiring in the province of Quebec:


I have been through LCA some years back before I called bullshit on H1B and immigrated to Canada for good. For LCA, the advertisement was done on a local newspaper which no one reads and the job was posted on the company pantry notice board with a broad confusing salary range 65K - 130K. It was also posted on the company's career page where no one could find it easily. The employer that I worked for was a top 10. They were just playing the system to bring in cheap H1B workers on chains.

LMIA on the other hand, has advertisement requirements like LCA and a transition plan as well. They are particularly strict on the transition plan including one of which is assisting the worker for permanent residence !


Thanks. That sounds like LCA in terms of testing the labour market, though. What did you mean by "the USCIS trusts the employer's word"?

I've left some scathing feedback in reviews. Frequently spelled out in a way that they could figure out it was me even if it was anonymous. The trick is to not complain about your treatment, but explain why management is taking actions detrimental to the company.

Don't say "boss made me work late and I want to quit". Say "management is overextending the team and it's eroding morale and will likely cause retention issues".

If you come at the king, you best not miss.

I like to whistle Farmer in the Dell sometimes while wandering in hallways.

Re #1: I realize this is the safest option for your own self-preservation, if you don't give negative feedback, how do you expect your work environment to change?

The way I see it, if you're in a bad situation at work, you have two options: try to change it, or leave. If you're going to leave anyway, why not at least try to improve your situation first so you give yourself the best chance of success? And that way, the company has the opportunity to remove or remediate a bad manager.

Basically, my reaction to your #1 is that it helps you avoid getting hurt by the worst possible scenario. But personally, I think it's a better strategy to maximize your chance at a good scenario.

Pro-tip: never expect your work environment to change. The chances of a report overcoming the whims of a shitty manager are very, very small especially in the context of a company that tolerates the shitty manager in the first place.

Generally speaking, the best thing to do is to smile, appear to do reasonably decent work, and begin looking elsewhere.

I second this. You'll almost never convince upper management the smooth-talking buddies they promoted could ever possibly be terrible to their employees.

Well, you could. It sometimes works. The problem is when the manager who manages your shitty manager moves away, and you get a new one. Good managers always get promoted or move away, only the terrible ones stay. The shitty manager will start afresh to get onto you.

They’ll believe it alright, and then laugh about their silly peon’s protest together.

Trying to change things might be an acceptable strategy in other industries, but I don't think it works in technology because the accepted method of achieving worker/workplace fit is to change jobs. This goes not only for bad management but also for raises (even if you like your current job).

Easiest way to improve your situation in software engineering is to just get a better job and move laterally or up.

Depends on the country.

Those that happen to enjoy IT unions can get some help there.

However don't expect the work environment to actually improve afterwards, unless the bad pieces are gone by then, as winning is only half the battle.

If you wait long enough by the river, the bodies of your enemies will float by.

Maybe I've gotten lucky, but patience has worked well for me. If only I could have told my younger self...

Sadly, this is excellent advice.

For that exact reason, cultural changes in the workplace come from the top down, always.

Believing you can change it will virtually never yield any positive results to yourself. Even if you don't get fired, you will be labeled as the one who complains.

If I'm being honest^Wcynical, all you should care about at work is how great people think you are. It helps if you are at least half as good as people think, but it's sadly not a requirement.

>>how do you expect your work environment to change?

By letting them fail. The only way people learn lessons is through failures and disasters.

Let the bad systems fail, that's the best way you can help them.

You need to understand how your boss takes feedback and tailor your comments accordingly. I’ve had some managers I’ve felt free to give candid feedback to and others who just don’t take feedback well so you find another way to force change.

Option 3: Accept it, deal with it best you can, and keep looking. (As the other reply says.)

>>Never submit negative feedback via "anonymous" or "confidential" feedback processes at work

Never give feedback at work, unless positive. This includes things like code review.

The dirty little secret of human relationships is every one wants to be made to feel special, error less and look good. Only thing any kind of feed back, correction or criticism leads to is rivalry/enmity, and it won't end well. The question is not if some thing like that happens, but to what degree.

There are stories going back to the time of Abraham Lincoln, where he refuses to even criticize big mistakes made by generals during the civil war. If that is what some one in the position of Abe Lincoln, in a matter as serious as Civil war did, your code review feedback can wait. Nothing productive ever comes out of these processes.

If you absolutely have to display allegiance to political cartels at work. Wait until a clear leadership superiority is established, Meanwhile use silence and smile as a strategic activity to avoid getting shafted.

There can be no friends at work. In stack ranked systems, with subjective evaluation. You need to follow the Kissinger doctrine. No permanent friends or enemies only allies based on interest that serves you.

Seen too much of this to realize to leave people/systems on their own.

Lincoln did criticize his generals, eventually removing McClellan from command for timidity. He was careful about how he did that though, and how he interacted with the rest of the general staff. But he proved to have a better grasp of strategy than most of them, which he was able to implement once he found Grant.

You're correct he was reluctant to overtly criticize, but the lesson to take away isn't to just not criticize. It's to be diplomatic and patient when trying to effect change. Being a natural leader, brilliant, and with great strategic intuition also helps :-)

> Never give feedback at work, unless positive. This includes things like code review.

> There can be no friends at work.

I think that's a bad advice. I'm sad that this is an experience someone can take from a job and that there are jobs where this applies. Unless you can't lose a job, do disagree on technical reasons and do make friends with good people.

Not every place is so restrictive and full of backstabbers. And if it is, maybe it's worth discovering that and leaving.

>>Unless you can't lose a job, do disagree on technical reasons and do make friends with good people.

This really is the equivalent of marking a giant X on your back and walking in to an arena full of ace snipers.

I have literally seen people being labelled as non-team players and eliminated for arguing against bad technical decisions. In most departments projects are started to gain visibility of high impact work- on which they will later ride to get to rewards and promotions. Disagreeing means telling them they have to eliminate you for their project to happen.

They will get their project eventually. Congratulations, you have now been marked as some that needs to eliminated for them have a good career. And they will deal with you appropriately.

This happens in all people structures. People are the same everywhere, in all times. Don't be in the delusion that some companies are special enough that it won't happen there.

If some one is in a position of power. Any debate, disagreement or criticism is a bad move to make against them.

I've been doing it for over a decade. I've only experienced a bad reaction to criticism twice. Either I'm really lucky or your experience is really bad. Either way, I know I'm not staying in a place where you can't exchange constructive criticism, because alternatives really exist. This sounds like trying to explain an abusive relationship - what you're experiencing is unhealthy, there are better places, unless you're going to go homeless, maybe you should try?

>your code review feedback can wait. Nothing productive ever comes out of these processes

Then the errors get merged and I'm liable.

Of course if you are the person signing off on a piece of code, then your work is code review.

But other wise, unless some one is doing 'rm -rf /', there is no real reason to go criticize some one's work on a company wide visible text wall.

Sure there is. Maintainability in the future, non-obvious edge cases, potential security issues, etc. Either you keep each other accountable for stuff like that or end up with a monster system which you can't realistically work on.

"criticize some one's work on a company wide visible text wall" is a depressing way to look at it. Try "collectively learning about better approaches on a company-wide visible text wall". You'll need to convince people that it's one and not the other.

All your arguments are valid, in ideal scenarios. In an ideal scenario any comment or feedback should be taken in the right spirit and acted upon.

But in these days of stack ranking and subjective evaluations. You giving a lot of feedback can be considered of lack of ability to write good code on the part of that person(after-all if they could write good code, why would it get so much criticism?). Then the next thing that happens- Which is that your CR comments being used as a proof to downrank them in the stack. Your colleague will and right so think you are actively criticizing them to ensure you get promoted over them.

Enmity and rivalry begins from there. Then they could raid your CR wall and do the same to you. Then all kinds of backstabbing and self-promotion activities start.

Before you know it you would have made a few enemies within the team.

> Which is that your CR comments being used as a proof to downrank them in the stack

Then you have a management problem, not a cr problem. Don't miss the forest for the trees... It's on management to communicate that cr is constructive, doesn't contribute to reviews, and isn't a game.

Not every workplace is as sociopathic. And I would rather emulate people who have ethical limits rather then those who seek power regarless of how much they lie or cause harm .

Every workplace is made up of Human structures, and humans act as humans.

I'm only suggesting you shield yourself from problems, not create the problems yourself.

Getting yourself immunity isn't exactly wrong.

> Never give feedback at work, unless positive. This includes things like code review.

This rule is creating problems. It actively makes relationships and work itself worst. It creates leads to passive aggressive environment where everyone is insecure and in doubt and problems wont get solved.

> There can be no friends at work.

Same here.

> No permanent friends or enemies only allies based on interest that serves you.

Same here too. I am glad I worked in mutually cooperative environment where people took my interests into account and did not based all their actions on their own interest.

Do you have any good resources how to give feedback in work/relationships?

Robert Greene's books: The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, The 50th Law, and The Laws of Human Nature.

Stealing the Corner office by Brendan Reid

Assorted works of Niccolo Machiavelli and Balatazar Gracian.

It will be hard to impossible to make transition even after reading these books, but at least you can detect and avoid problems at work. Or at best set up a firewall around you.

Lastly expecting goodness from people is wrong. The fact of the matter is people are bad and do what is good in their interests even if it hurts the whole world, be prepared, be ready and have means to take care of yourself.

I'm afraid I disagree with your last statement. It is possible that perhaps I've just been so fortunate that all the people I've ever come across are mostly similar in what they want from life. It seems to be the same all over the world: general well being, safety and security of their family and their future.

People disagree on priorities and not everyone's incentives are the same but I've never felt that by default people are bad. I'm no scientist (or sage) and just an average human. So, this is just how I see things and not based on expert scientific inquiry. Make of it what you will.

> The fact of the matter is people are bad and do what is good in their interests even if it hurts the whole world, be prepared, be ready and have means to take care of yourself.

Nope, people are not bad. People are neutral, equally capable of good or evil. Just don't assume anyone except your mother loves you unconditionally and you should be fine :)

> expecting goodness from people is wrong. The fact of the matter is people are bad

Oh for goodness sake! This is just silliness. Either you have watched too many gangster movies or you are a sociopath

I'm only suggesting you wear a seat belt when you drive. You seem to be suggesting I'm a sociopath for wearing a seatbelt and not trust fellow car drivers on the road.

You need to understand how department wide politics work. There are fixed budgets when it comes to giving raises, bonuses and RSUs. The person who negotiates and deals better wins. That means lesser for everyone. Note how even without wanting to harm you, they actually have. Then come the second rounds of power play. One way to negotiate is to prove they are better, second way to prove it is you are not. Setting team mates up for failure happens all the time, even without one realizing it. Plenty of other things happen. Actively building a bad case for other people. It might not be overt, but leave a bad CR comment or two, keep doing it actively. Make it a point to drop a bad comment or feedback for the person you might want to harm. Then over a time you tend to build a case against them mentally in the mind of your manager. These tactics are super common. Wrong people get promoted, and right people get shafted all the time.

In almost every company- promotions, raises and RSUs require building a case(like a promotion packet), which is basically a pile of documentation. That can only be done over time, its chiseling away at a rock wanting to make it into a statue. Part of that is also making sure other people's statue isn't as good as yours. As a part of building that documentation, you need your name plastered to important things in a positive way. Appreciation emails, feed backs, positive CR text walls etc. This is why so much ceremony goes in most companies when it comes to rewards and promotions. Basically quotas are fixed, and you manager needs to build a case for you. Building that requires negotiating and dealing with them to build you a better promotion packet. Almost anybody can be made to look good or bad, regardless of their efforts. Given stack ranked systems, somebody always has to take the fall for the person who negotiates better.

These things are not even new. The world of Politics(regardless of the system(Democracy/Monarchy/Republic)) has had this for 1000s of years now.

Regarding number 2. I absolutely agree and we need to change the visa system to prevent the routine abuse that happens to people because of it.

Though I don't know how we can change it to prevent that.

We maybe need to consider a change to the order and timing of how rights are granted towards citizenship first, because when you become a citizen in any first world country you get a LOT of benefits, more than we realise, and it is all or nothing.

The problem at present is the west has convoluted and arcane immigration rules (https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/award-winning-aussie-bar... for example of westerner in another western country) and two dramatically different buckets - limbo/slave to employer or full, no questions asked rights. There needs to be a less dichotomous, more gradual attainment of citizenship, and a set of intermediary steps, where the potential citizen has some of the rights of a citizen, but not all, and they increase over time towards full citizenship.

Call your house representative and two senators in Congress, and write them each a letter about the abuse. Let them know you value your coworkers and that they should be able to enjoy the same labor rights that you do.

Spot on an industry-wide blacklist is yours!

In order for an industry-wide blacklist to exist, large numbers of people would need to have access to it. This large number of people at many different, competing organisations would have no reason to trust each other to keep a secret.

The existence of such a list, the details of its construction, and the possible Social Justice implications of this would attract so many eyeballs and so much advertising revenue, that it would be hard for any online news publication to resist reporting evidence of it.

Unless those news publications are put on the same list, losing access to latest stuff and their relevance. See what is known about Hollywood, internal Google blacklists, Apple preventing newspapers access to latest gadgets as a retaliation for bad reviews, "gatekeepers" in other "mature" industries etc. Seems like it's a defect in human nature, or a really bad heuristics, emergent with increased organizational size and a buffer shielding an individual bureaucrat from fully comprehending that as a moral choice with serious consequences to somebody else.

It's a seller's market, there's very little teeth to a threat like yours :)

Don't let these people make you afraid to use your power as a citizen and as a valuable employee.

I’ve always heard of blacklists but I seriously doubt their existence. Who would trust such a thing? It also sounds illegal as shit so I assume you can’t do this for profit.

It's like when you get MBA - you get a free network with it. Now you are inclined to trust your MBA circle due to shared history. Imagine the same with companies; there is a limited number of spots at the top, most people know each other or heard of each other, share common interests, club memberships etc. They are inclined to trust their own, insiders, or see benefit in it, than some random outsiders, i.e. in-group preference and benevolence. Then when an outsider is "put on a blacklist", i.e. some insider holds a bad opinion of an outsider, the whole group might be affected.

My impression of blacklists is that they're much more systematic and pervasive than that. If you're an individual contributor, I think it'd be really hard to become so infamous that your manager's manager is complaining about you to his peers during a golf game and they remember you.

Also, if you're writing your Representative about some kind of abuse or malfeasance, you could always use and assumed name (and say you're doing so to avoid retaliation).

You've managed to describe the function of a blacklist, but have not provided evidence that one exists.

I have a pretty lucky experience with amazon (Sr. SDE at AWS for 3 years) but I completely agree, I’m sure my boss won’t be vindictive if I live a bad connections feedback but I won’t take my chances, also in my previous company I was on a L1 visa which also marries you to the employer, I had bad bosses and great bosses there but I treaded like on thin ice there, trying to stay positive, avoid rocking the boat, as soon as I got my green card and was allowed to switch I moved to AWS. This sounds to me like a bad boss situation and maybe also bad choices situation. In any case I don’t know the details, I hope he sees justice and find happiness, but he’s painting a picture that is totally different than what I experience. It’s a huge company, all I can say it’s nothing like what I experience. Had my doubts, read the NYT article, asked a friend, he swore to me he has no clue where it came from, maybe AWS is much better than retail... but I’m sure anywhere in any big companies you’ll see cases like this. Hope it’s resolved and justice prevails. No one should suffer like this.

^That profile was created a few hours ago. I've often seen this happen when people create profiles to defend this employer on social media.

> If you are at your job as part of your Visa process, you are essentially a slave with a slave's rights to match, and you are better off not rocking the boat if you want to complete the process.

No, you are not.

That's taking the premise way too far. Slaves were owned as property. You are not property of a corporation just because your job is connected to a visa. You don't have slaves rights (almost entirely non-existent human rights, specifically). You chose to immigrate, there is a system involved in that, you knew that ahead of time, you chose to go forward regardless. You did not become a slave in the process, you did not sign on for 'slaves rights' in the process, you did not abdicate your freedom. Your employer may not dispose of your life as it sees fit. You are free to leave and go back to where you came from if you do not like the system, just as you were free to never sign on in the first place. You are not a slave at all in any manner. That's not an argument in favor of the backwards US immigration system, it's an argument that very, very clearly you are not a slave just because your job and visa are bound together. Immigration to N country is not a human right, it's a privilege (which is why I - and a billion other people - can't freely immigrate to Norway tomorrow and begin enjoying the associated perks).

Came here to say this.

I've been on H1B. It's not a perfect system, but making 6 digit salaries in Silicon Valley was infinitely better than picking cotton in Mississippi in 1840 where you could be murdered by your boss/owner at a whim.

Try to control your self pity, people!

That's an odd analogy knowing USA went into a bloody civil war to fix that.

You're comparing a broken system with an older and even more broken system that we already fixed and trying to find merit in current broken system by that comparison. Of course it's better to be alive than being squashed by a dinosaur. But how's that relevant?

It's relevant if someone just claimed that being alive was the same as being squashed by a dinosaur, to stick with your metaphor.

Or plainly: Someone said that H1B was the same as slavery. I called it bullshit.

Ok, that makes sense.

I suppose indentured servitude is a more apt metaphor.

It's not. You're free to leave as an H1B at any time, it's just that you have to leave the country also (or find a new job really fast). It sucks for employees, and it has negative effects on the job market, so there are many good reasons to kill it with fire - but no, it's not indentured servitude, and people who choose this, choose it of their own free will, and can withdraw that decision (and be back to where they were when they made it) at any moment.

Source: was an H1B (and L1 before that).

Of course it's not literally slavery or indentured servitude, but it does share some common elements that are useful for our analysis. In particular, they both involve voluntary commiting yourself to restrictive labor in exchange for coming to the US.

I partially understand your point, but I don't think "free" is necessarily a better description than "slave".

One is always free in a literal sense to choose between available options (e.g. a slave may choose to escape, an employee to quit). However, ability of a second party to attach consequences to those options (e.g. corporal punishment or death, deportation away from one's family, removal of healthcare from sick loved ones, etc.) amounts to restricting the freedom of the individual.

I don't accept that legal freedom equates to practical freedom, e.g. you have the legal right to quit your job therefore in a practical sense you are completely "free" to quit your job. If your employer can attach extremely negative consequences to quitting, then your freedom has been severely limited.

I also have trouble with arguments that the choice to immigrate was made of free will, therefore all consequences are one's own responsibility. It's not legal nor ethical to allow people to "freely choose" to sign themselves into slavery.

Anyway, this is obviously a contentious and charged issue, but I hope this helps communicate a different perspective.

>If you are at your job as part of your Visa process, you are essentially a slave with a slave's rights to match, and you are better off not rocking the boat if you want to complete the process.

This is why it is critical for people with citizenship to advocate for their coworkers with visas, both within the context of their workplace and outside. Pressure your congressional representatives to pursue comprehensive immigration reform. Have a conversation with HR about visa-blind recruitment and retention policies.

I had a manager that took over from a previous person when I was working remote. There were a few issues, but the one that stands out is they flew me down to London for a week, set me up in a hotel, and had me take taxis back and fourth to the office and expense food etc.

After returning home, he rejected my expenses because of variance of costs of the taxis, despite me pointing out that I was using the stipulated vendor and the difference in cost was between me leaving the office at rush hour and me leaving the office around 9-10pm.

Not only did he reject the taxi expenses, but the hotel, the flights, the food, etc. The guy was obviously a class act in his 50s, rejecting the expenses of a fairly underpaid 25 year old employee living in Scotland.

Super illegal but ultimatly I quit, because life is too short to work for horrible people.

I worked for a similarly horrible person many years ago.

I was doing on call support for a bunch of Linux machines. Literally it was him and me left because the moment I started the other two engineers bailed. One went to work packing salad because it was a better job (big warning!) and the other one had a breakdown.

So didn't get paid properly, argued mileage down to the mile, the clients and him constantly gave me verbal abuse over and over and I ended up working until 10pm some nights with my 9 month pregant wife at home on her own and virtually immobile due to a back problem.

So I get home one night after a tirade of abuse for the day and sent him an email saying "Fuck you I quit". Get a call about an hour later and he's drunk shouting abuse down the phone. This suddenly turns into undying love and care for me after the abuse wasn't working and he realised I couldn't be brow beat into coming back again. Then there's a thud which I assume was him falling off his chair. Never spoke to him again but the company folded about a year later.

So I sit down and I'm about £2000 down then on salary and expenses that were missing. I had £250 in the bank, £400 rent due a week later, wife about to have a baby and an empty fridge. So fuck it. I sold all the stock I still had of the company on ebay (back when you had to take photos and get them developed and scanned and futz with cheques which was hard work), broke even and scraped a first pay cheque at a job just before my credit card melted into a puddle.

It took 10 years to get out of the hole and back to normality. NEVER put up with this for a second. If anyone treats you like this RUIN THEM before they ruin you, your life, your relationships and everyone else they go near. I don't usually advocate this attitude but the damage and destruction that type of person leaves is immense.

Stories like this are important.

Because sometimes the situation is bad for your boss too, the company is in financial straits, miscommunication, {insert other extenuating circumstances}.

... but sometimes your boss really is just an asshole, liar, alcoholic, and/or a sociopath.

Never assume the later off the bat, but never completely discount the possibility either. Because it'll probably happen at least once in an average career.

A good boss does not mistreat employees simply because the company asks them to, just like a good engineer does not implement backdoors simply because the company asks them to. If there's no way to do your job ethically, quit. Don't harm others so you can keep collecting a paycheck.

So the difference doesn't really matter. You have a bad boss; take care of yourself first and don't let them push you around.

Who cares if the boss has substance abuse issues or Cluster B personality disorders? These considerations don't put bread on the table!

Point taken, but either way, it's so not my problem. Maybe in the former case I'll refrain from aiming a flamethrower back behind me as I run as fast as possible out of there!

> Because sometimes the situation is bad for your boss too, the company is in financial straits, miscommunication, {insert other extenuating circumstances}.

So? That's the boss's problem to deal with. You owe the company absolutely nothing beyond your contracted hours in exchange for your contracted salary.

I say this as an employer.

You owe common decency to other human beings trying to act decently.

If your boss happens to be a cog in a broken machine, treating them like it's their fault isn't fair to them or you.

Of course, you can always quit (and usually should). But failing to determine root cause and mis-blaming your boss is about as useful as screaming at the gate attendant when your flight gets a weather delay.

You only owe it to them so long as they do it to you.

And someone who by choice decides to be (or remains) a cog in the broken machine, specifically at the point where it requires being nasty to someone, is fully responsible for that action and its consequences.

They are either dishonest or an a##hole then.

Couldn't you have taken him to small claims court?

Court takes time. Court takes money, or at the least incurs opportunity costs. And court takes emotional reserves. People in dire straits don't necessarily have enough of any of those things, and that is why people like the described get away with shit.

(Labor advocacy programs help balance the scales a little, if only because your advocate is predisposed to believe you and help you navigate the options available to you. But they're fairly thin on the ground in the UK and the US.)

Exactly. In this circumstance at the lowest I had £12 to buy a week of food. I had to cash advance the rent from my credit card and the £12 was what was left. I also had to maintain a perfect appearance and state of mind and hide all this from my new employer for the 4 weeks until I got paid.

Didn't have the cash or energy to start it off and after 5 years I didn't want to go back to that bit of my life and kick it all off again. Plus he folded the company after a bit so chance I'd get anything were near zero.

I'm glad things worked out for you eventually. That super sucks to go through.

It is one of the reasons I am so very suspicious of folks who diminish the value of labor protections. Most of us end up downrange of some shady stuff at least once.

So mission accomplished from his point of view: "This person is weak, let's just add some adversities to their life, they would quit; my cousin can't wait to join us."

Same thing happened to my wife. A newly promoted VP transferred her out of a great position she loved to work on a special project he invented to make department look innovative, under promise of a promotion once complete. Instead as soon as the project was done he hired a new manager into another newly created position above my wife, only supervising her. He proceeded to have the manager take all her responsibilities and make her life hell until she quit. Manager was told she would get a director position for doing it, instead they did the same to her a few months later until she quit too. VP promoted to SVP.

Yeah, it's fun :( Sociopathy seems to be the norm these days.

Anyway, nothing beats that one German bank that told all employees of a branch on Friday that on Monday they are working at a location 80 miles away and are required to be there as usually.

Even in the US something like that would trigger labor law protections (generally it would be treated as a constructive layoff, triggering unemployment benefits and any contractually or legally obligated severance benefits), so this story seems more like a fable than something that actually happened. Do you have any more details about this?

EDIT: Europe generally has stronger labor laws than the US, so if something wouldn't pass muster in the US, it almost certainly wouldn't pass muster in the EU.

And what happened? My understanding of German labor laws is that, for any reasonably sized German company, there would be a workers council that would have to approve work level changes like this. Did that happen?

> Sociopathy seems to be the norm these days

What else would you expect from a society that worships profit above all other gods?

Well yeah, but who cares? I went on to much bigger and better things and he's probably still just a twat. :)

He might still be taking advantage of and hurting people though, just like there's people like him making life harder for someone with a disabled child and many other "horror stories", the worst of which will never come to light. Please don't get me wrong, I don't blame you at all for not picking that fight, at age 25 in a situation I know nothing about. But that situation is over, other situations aren't, future situations are incoming, be it with that person or others. When someone throws someone else out of the window, I don't shrug just because the victim happened to land on their feet. The other didn't plan for that, they didn't care. I cannot fully get over that.

As an individual, it's great you let it slide, and I think forgiveness is really important mental hygiene, it's something you do for yourself more than for someone else, IMO... but as a member of a society that ideally would be somewhat just and decent, we shouldn't forgive something that hasn't even been repented of and is still ongoing. Disarm, explain, forgive, that'd be my preferred approach. Not fail to disarm, fall on deaf ears, forgive.

Yeah, I am actually upset I didn't take one such person down when I had all cards in my hand, but I still believed in innate "goodness" of all humans; now that person is doing damage at a higher position at one of FANGs; who knows how many people were destroyed on their ascending path? The usual argument about stopping one that would allow another horrible person to rise, so it's futile, has some merit though; I've been shocked multiple times when I helped some desperate person only to observe horrible behavior of that person once their problems went away.

Forgiveness can't be dispensed automatically; it has to be deserved/earned by real actions/intentions. I think because mainstream culture was "meek", it allowed sociopaths to hack it and pervert it, pushing victims to always forgive while laughing at them and making their lives more and more miserable. I think in middle ages required penance was quite brutal by our contemporary soft standards.

So much this.

Well amazon hires a ton of H1Bs. When they let go, they have to go to back to their country unless they can find another company to sponsor their H1B.

So people go to extreme lengths and managers can get away with anything.

I’m super grateful for Microsoft to help me with my green card. However my life there was miserable and my manager frequently asked us to work weekends. Pagerduty was hell and I once came home at 5am from work.

F that.

I’m glad I wasn’t born in India. My Indian x-colleagues didn’t have that freedom simply due to where they were born.

I imagine Amazon is a worse slaveshop.

Yea you can feel this when you work on a team mostly of H1B. Most of them don't speak up and just say yes to whatever project management gives them. Ofcourse upper management loves this, they take all the credit and become the face of the project and if it fails they simply blame it on h1b/contractors ect.

I've seen this many many times in all company sizes over last 15 yrs. I would steer clear of teams where most ppl are h1b indians.

Ex Indian h1b here. Here are some of the things I experienced that finally ended up with me throwing away everything and come back to India.

1. Was working on a project without issues. Ex manager forced me to go back to India 3 times over a 9 month period. Every time my ex manager tells me to go back, I get ready packing and then he tells me stay for 3 more months. On the 3rd time, I said I am resigning. Now my manager doesn't want me to go to India. I got another job and went to resign. Manager indirectly threatens me that I won't get service letter (which is required for green card). I was afraid and ended up staying. It turns out my manager was lying to the customer also. Everytime, he will tell me to get ready to go back and then tell the customer that I have to go back due to visa issues. Customer had still some work for me, so they ask for 3 more months and this repeated 2 times. Each time, I would be under incredible stress. It was like telling someone waiting in jail for their death sentence that they will be hung 2 weeks from now, then a few days later tell them it was extended.

2. Came to India for my marriage. Forced me to cancel my honeymoon and work from India for 1 month for another customer while lying to the original customer that I extended my vacation. I spend one whole day in my room sad and angry. I still want to beat up the manager who made me do this even though this happened over 2 years ago.

3. Asked me to work for a temporary customer in another state. I didn't want to, but agreed since I was afraid and worked for around 5-7 weeks while staying in hotel. This was before marriage. After marriage, again asked me to work for this customer for 1 month. My wife is completely dependent on me because she cannot drive in US. I said I cannot go because my wife is alone. Lead told me to ask my wife to stay in hotel for 1 month with me. I didn't want to because she already spend 3 weeks in a hotel with me instead of honeymoon. Thankfully manager agreed and sent someone else.

4. Forced me to relocate to another state. I didn't want to. After a lot of pressure, I sort of agreed and asked to at least adjust my salary for the rent increase. The customer was paying $20+ per hour more if I was working from the new state, so I expected at least a little bit of raise. Manager lied to me saying he will take care of it. I didn't trust him because there were many stories from my ex colleagues of being treated like a donkey with a carrot tied to their front. Sent him an email asking him to reply. He didn't. At one point, he said "I will snip you". He had said a similar line once before - "I will cut you". At that time, I didn't even understand he was threatening me, I was wondering why is he talking about circumcising me. This time I understood it was a threat. Got everything ready for move and told him I am ready for the move, and as expected he said HR didn't approve the raise which is a lie.

5. Moving expenses was about $3500. Getting that refunded was another big battle. Thankfully, my manager helped me in this and got the money after about 1.5 months.

6. Got RFE for visa extension. Employer waited till the last moment to submit the response to USCIS. I couldn't drive because license duration is tied to visa. Asked my manager and immigration team multiple times to speed up. No. They submitted the response only 5 days before the last day. So couldn't drive for 3 months. Since I was in a new state, I had no friends to help me either. Employer did pay for my Uber for these 3 months, but still I hated every moment of it, especially because of a few bad experiences with Uber drivers. Thankfully, I had sent my wife back to India before all this happened, otherwise I don't know how I would have managed.

Even though my visa got extended for another 3 years, I threw away everything and came back to India.

One more point I forgot to add. They delayed my green card till the last moment. I am not saying I am entitled to it, but they should tell me if they won't do it. I ask my manager and he would say we will start the process next month for sure. It continued for about 13 months. Finally they started. But by now green card applications as well visas from Indians were getting a lot of scrutiny from USCIS. Mine got denied and went for appeal and got approved finally. Took over 10 months just for the whole thing and got approved just 30 days before visa expiry. Applied for visa extension as soon as possible, got RFE on that also and spent another 4 months in uncertainty.

Really? Name and shame that manager - that shouldn’t be happening at Microsoft

I was recently offered a job by a software company, work from home, paid monthly. I presently work in metal fabrication.

Not only was their offer $30,000 below my current income, their deal was I front cash for expenses and submit claims monthly.

Is this standard in the software world?

Because from my perspective there’s only one possible answer to paying expenses out of pocket and having to claim them back: No.

Echoing the HP employee, submitting claims monthly for remote work expenses (phone/internet bills, office supplies, travel) is normal. Ive worked as an apps engineer at a couple BigCos with same policies and the process never bothered me, I submit my claims as soon as a trip ends or when I get the bills.

The thing I would press is to get paid fairly, and bi-weekly. I’ve never had a salaried job that was paid monthly.

Google let's you choose. But yes common practice.

A huge benefit of fronting the costs is getting points on the spend, it adds up quickly

I'm currently a software dev getting paid monthly, and fronting around 3 grand this month. It happens.

Isn’t this why you have a corporate card?

> I’ve never had a salaried job that was paid monthly.

Interesting. I'm Dutch and I've never heard of a permanent job that was not paid monthly. If someone told me they were not paid monthly, I would assume they are a temp with variable hours.

Bi-weekly, or every 2 weeks, is norm in US as far as I know. It's easier for everyone in my opinion, except maybe employers that want to take advantage of their employees.

It's just a cultural convention, nothing more. Monthly seems to be the norm in Europe, bi-weekly in US and Canada. I've done both, and there's no practical difference.

It’s always beneficial to have your money faster. No reason employer should get to hold on to it longer and get interest and liquidity. In the extreme case, at least you’re not working a whole month before finding out employer has no money to pay you. And while you may legally be entitled to it, who knows how long the legal system delivers it to you.

> Is this standard in the software world?

This is standard in every world. Corporate credit cards are usually reserved for senior executives or people who travel/entertain a lot (e.g. sales reps). Cash advances aren't a thing outside of small companies.

Huh? Google made it super easy to get a GCard, you just request it on a web form and it arrived a few days later. It was pretty common for L4 engineers (that's the level below senior) to have them.

I am also a former Google employee. I also had a GCard, and it is exactly as easy to get one as described.

Google is the exception here, IMO. Every other employer I have had has generally required the employee to front the cash for expenses, and used something like Expensify to get reimbursed. There are some exceptions, such as hotels or airfare, which I've booked through corporate booking systems; these only let you see "approved" flights/hotels, and once booked, is charged direct to the company.

Same story at Amazon but most people I know prefer to use their own cards to churn points.

FB is similar, especially in remote offices.

Same at Cisco.

And corporate credit cards aren't blank checks. Employees will generally have to pay back any spend on their corporate card that is not approved as an expense.

It may prevent the employee from holding the bag if the company goes bust. But some "corporate cards" are issued by banks in a way that makes the cardholder jointly liable.

I had an AmEx @ Deloitte as an intern

I had one at Bank of America as an intern, too. Booked first class transcon tickets on it, no less.

I work for a small (<20 employees) software company. Every single employee has a company AmEx card they can use for any expense.

It's actually quite unusual to make employees anything except for incidental expenses (like meals) up front. Generally, making employees pay big-ticket expenses (including travel) and seek reimbursement is a legal and accounting nightmare, so it's something that a well-run business tries to avoid. (In some states, it's even illegal to require employees pay for necessary business expenses.)

The exception tends to be law and accounting firms, which issue cards to their employees for business use. The employee "pays" up front using the cards, but the card is connected to the employer's expensing system and the funds are deposited to the employee's account the payday following his submission of the expense report.

My employer wanted us to pay upfront and then claim. I was an Indian h1b. One time, they forced me to relocate to another state even though I didn't want to. "I will snip you" was my ex-manager's words when I refused. My moving expenses was about $3500k. I paid everything from my pocket. When I tried to claim, finance team refused to pay and agreed only after a lot of escalations. I finally got the money after about 1.5 months. This plus many other bad experiences made me literally throw away everything and come back to India.

At lockheed we were given unlimted limit cards for certain roles.

You would rack up your tab, submit your expense report and then they would issue you a check with which it was your responsibility to pay the tab.

One guy racked up like $50,000 on his card, got the check and then quit and never paid off the card...

Dont know what ever happened to him.

My employer issues corporate Visas to any employee expected to incur >$500/year in expenses. Which means most of us have cards, at least in the US. We still have to complete expense reports, but we don’t pay anything out of pocket.

This is how it has always worked for me. When I was more junior and didn't have a corporate card, I had a person who booked all my travel on the company account. At worst, I might have to cover a few incidentals like food or taxis.

This is the way it should be done. No employee should carry the burden of loading up their own credit or paying for big ticket items up front no matter how trustworthy the company.

Sony Computer Entertainment does this, but then they don't pay back for 6-9 months, forcing your personal credit to be their credit cushion. One of the reasons I quit.

When/where did you work? Corporate cards are normal at SIE, even engineers on my team have them. I don't dispute your experience, just curious.

Edit: As an addition, the expense isn't paid by the employee. Costs over $2000 need justification above your boss, but your immediate boss can approve up to $2000 no issues.

Worked in Santa Monica Studio, and was sent to Tokyo several times. Each trip was in the $8K range, as each trip was for weeks at a time. Their slow payback was killing me.

I don't understand, if it's a corporate Visa, there's nothing to pay back - the bill goes to accounting, not the employee.

I have a corporate Amex card, and even though its a "Corporate" card, given to me by my employer, it is in my name and I am legally responsible for it. My company will reimburse me for my expenses if approved by my manager. I have always thought this was a liability and weird, but everybody else at the company (a 500 company) thinks it's normal. So any expenses not approved at the end of the month are my responsibility. Anybody else have similar experiences?

What major expenses do you have in a WFH software position? Other than one-time office set up?

Sorry, neglected to include important details.

Approximately one week a month on-site at client(s) location. So, flights, food, accommodation.

I expected company payment card. If everything turns to shit one month the employee, in this sort of situation, could be left holding a fairly hefty bag.

In my experience, the norm is minor expenses are, well, expensed. Dinner, taxis, whatever. The big ones that require planning, sometimes HR just take care of - i.e. booking your flights and hotel for you. That being said it isn't unheard of for that to be something you "expense" as well. If they fuck you, sue them. They probably won't though.

Side note: if you're in a situation where you're loading up a credit card with business expenses that are later reimbursed, you may consider looking into a credit card that offers rewards like airline miles. It's essentially a "free reward no fee ATM." I always volunteer to grab the company lunch tab for this reason.

A company who values inclusion and diversity should understand that people who are unable to float a monthly expense buffer are very often those same demographics that have been marginalized by those working in the software industry.

Getting credit card points while you know your employer is almost certainly going to reimburse you is a nice benefit, but the industry should definitely seek to improve by making this optional. Especially for prohibitively large large expenses (flights, lodging) default to paying these upfront.

Well put.

Thank you for your thoughtful response.

Are you actually paying cash? Assuming you're using a credit card, and assuming your company isn't looking to defraud you, using a card with decent cash back makes it a nonissue and "fronting the cash" for expenses is just a way for you to get a kickback from your credit card company for using them as a payment processor for work expenses. (And kind of a net positive relative to if you had a company credit card where the company claims any kickbacks.)

I do not possess a credit card for ideological reasons.

I do have two debit cards, one Visa and one MasterCard, for redundancy.

I see what you are saying and it makes sense. I’m just ideologically opposed to the use of consumer credit for regular / recurring / general living expenses.

If you're ideologically opposed to consumer credit because of the cycles of debt it incurs just pay off your credit card in full every month (which is what I do). No interest will be paid.

I do not have the self control to make that work.

I bet I’m not alone.

Submitting claims monthly is fairly standard, at least in my experience. At HP, they gave us a corporate AMEX card but I was responsible for paying it while I waited for the outsourced^2 HR operations to cut me a check.

Definitely need more pay not less to work remotely. Also, biweekly is better than monthly as another here stated. As for expenses, can’t talk much on that but it’s best if you get them paid up fast or if they are fairly typical in terms of the amount each time, ask for a payment up front to cover the bulk and make up the difference later. Employee does not mean you cannot make demands. Make all the demands you want and if they say no then you can say no too. It’s a 2 way street.

Yes. Fronting your expenses and then getting reimbursed after is pretty normal practice. Every employer I've had has done this with the exception of certain major purchases like airfare where the company has just purchased it for me directly, but some employers I had to front large costs like that as well.

Unfortunately, yes

Software engineer pay at tech companies in the US tends to be $150k for junior engineers to $300k+ for senior engineers.

Both of those numbers are possible, but much higher than average by my estimation. Glassdoor says average ~$111k for software engineering as a whole[0]. A more realistic expectation for a 'good' compensation package would be ~$80-95k for junior engineer and ~$180-250k for senior. Obviously there are many factors to account for, and both those numbers can vary widely, but the ones you gave are not what one should be expecting outside of a very select few 'elite' companies, and even then they are on the high end.

[0] https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/software-engineer-salary-...

At least for big tech companies, Glassdoor has notoriously low numbers. Last I checked, levels.fyi was closer to the truth.

May I ask (in good faith) how you know what the real "truth" is? I would totally believe Glassdoor is a bit low. Levels.fyi, which I didn't know about but just checked, seems really high. I believe both are based on real data points, but is there any reason to believe either is a better reflection of the actual numbers? (My relatively poorly-informed speculation is that Glassdoor is using old/irrelevant statistical data while levels.fyi is suffering from some pretty extreme selection bias being a comparatively obscure site relying on self-reporting.)

Glass door either only shows base salaries or is completely out of touch with tech companies.

Sure, the lone "web developer" at a small nonprofit might make $80k, but at a FAANG? Please.

FAANG is 5 companies. Granted they have a lot of employees, but they do not make up a significant portion of all developers in the US.

> they do not make up a significant portion of all developers in the US

I'm not sure that's true, but I will admit that most of my friends work at FAANGs (outside the bay area). So let me add that I know at least one senior engineer at a non-FAANG tech company that left a $300k job for a "significant pay bump".

Frankly, no large tech company could survive if it didn't pay competitively with other large tech companies.

I fully agree that pay is less in small, non-tech companies in rural areas, but I would be surprised if such businesses hire the majority of developers. Big tech hires a LOT of engineers.

All numbers from statista.com

Alphabet - 98,000 (2018) Facebook - 35,000 (2018) Apple - 123,000 (2018) Netflix - 5,500 (2017) Amazon - 647,500 (2018)

Total - ~909,000

That is total number of employees worldwide. so lets conservatively take off a third. Also Reasonably only a third of those employees (probably a lot less at amazon) are actually developers. That gives us ~200,000. The Bureau of Labor statics says there are 1,200,000 software developers in the US in 2016.

FAANG does make up a lot more software development jobs than I thought, I would have to say a significant portion. Very interesting.

Microsoft hires junior engineers out of college at ~$80k in Seattle. FAANG might be a bit higher, especially with COL in the Bay Area, but plenty of people get hired by the big companies in that range.

They don't get bonuses or RSUs??

That's not true at all. That's bay area large companies. The rest of the country is nowhere near those numbers.

I know a handful developers in this pay range and only one of them is in the bay area.

No, this is false. The top paid junior engineers might be paid $150k in base salary PLUS bonuses and stock/other compensation. Same goes for the 300k+ for senior engineers.

Why would you think bonuses don't count as pay? All financial compensation is pay.

Too late now, but the way to deal with it would have been first to go to HR, and then to your state's Dept of Labor if HR did not remedy it.

Gonna disagree. Do not go to HR. HR is there for the company, not for you. They will seek whatever is the fastest, easiest way to resolve things for the company — which probably is not firing a manager.

In case it's not clear, I have not had helpful experiences with HR.

"You'll pay it or see me in (small claims) court."

Wait you didn't contact authorities and/or sue them?

What does his or your age have to do with anything?

Just sounds like a penny wise pound foolish story to me.

What 25 year old has the resources to take on even a 100-person corporation, much less a megacorp?

At 27 I took on a multi-million dollar, VC-backed property management startup that was trying to defraud me on my rent and rental deposit. It’s amazing what some legal research and a few hours of spare time can do.

This. At a similar age, I sued Citibank and won. You can used forced arbitration to your advantage.

The salient part of that story was the unfair reimbursement policy. My point was that it would have been unfair regardless of the age of the manager or age of the employee.

Where did I suggest that anyone "take on" the company?

Welcome to life in practically any large US corporation. Most employees will never complain to HR, they may need some routine services that HR provides and that’s the extent of their interaction. But there are a few who do complain. If these are peer-related complaints, HR will work with the employees managers to resolve the issue. But let’s say someone has a problem with their manager. Maybe no one else has complained about him before, or if so the complaints appear to be isolated incidents. Let’s say he has a lot of positive feedback from his peers, manager, and other subordinates.

Now you, the complainant, are the problem. And oh boy you have some special life circumstances - yikes, you are like a loaded bomb dropped in the lap of HR. They are not in any position of power, they can’t set the policy for your department (rightfully - they are not in the know), so your boss holds all the cards. HR won’t dig to the bottom of anything, and a manager is more important that a developer. At best it’s he-said-she-said and ignored, at worst you are shown the door after some minimal make nice by the company to avoid future liability.

I think it takes a strong top-down initiative to avoid cultural issues like this at an organization. At some place as large as Amazon there are bound to be isolated incidents but to all indications this behavior is, if not encouraged (in some cases it appears to be), not actively discouraged and is hence tacitly approved of at Amazon. I’ve seen what it takes to get a bad manager moved or fired by their subordinates - it requires an outright coup. Rarely does such a thing happen and it’s not guaranteed to succeed. Whereas, a conscientious and capable manager can walk in and straighten something like this out in fairly short order, with minimal drama.

> Welcome to life in practically any large US corporation

This is a common refrain, especially on HN. But it is a bit misplaced:

Small companies are just as bad and often worse.

All you have to do is look around at the average small company where nepotism is the default (doesn't matter how good you are, the owner's son will be the next CEO) and where many owners see staff as personal servants.

Some of the things I've seen in the past year with friends & acquaintances who work at small companies:

- An office admin being told to arrange the owner's wedding (without pay).

- A nail salon worker being told to go pick up the owner's dry cleaning since there weren't any customers in at the moment.

- The owner of a small hotel telling staff they were all working on Saturday to cater a party at her house. (If you say no, you are fired.)

- A company owner taking $40,000 out of the company bank account to pay for his family vacation to Croatia and then missing payroll that month. It ended up being two weeks late.

Many small business owners treat their business (and by extension their staff) as their personal fief and property.

Plus, the people who own and run small businesses aren't going to listen to ideas for feedback and improvement any more than big company managers. They always fall back on -- well, I've succeeded so far doing it my way.

> They always fall back on -- well, I've succeeded so far doing it my way.

Put more simply: "My way or the highway".

I wonder if there are probing questions you can subtly ask to ferret out these kinds of managers/workplaces so you can avoid during interviews or early on the job?

> Welcome to life in practically any large US corporation.

This. Which is why I do my best to avoid working for (or doing business with) large corporations. They're simply toxic.

Only: Small ones are even worse (see other comments). With big ones you have at least "something": Colleagues and "a lot of money blowing in at the front". HR is not your friend. OP makes a lot of mistakes. Life is hard. Big companies are a good / reasonable choice: The money. With smaller companies there is less money and more problems, usually, EXCEPT they are directly dealing with big corps (e.g.), which puts you back into big-corp-exposure. You have to go where the money is.

> Small ones are even worse

This has not been my personal experience at all. I've worked for huge companies and tiny ones, and the only real difference I've seen is that the working conditions tend to be far superior in the tiny ones.

Compensation between the two tends to be comparable as well (ignoring startups -- I'm not talking about them here, as they're a unique beast). I don't think that large companies have an edge on that score (actually, I think the opposite is true, but not by a enough to matter much). As an example, I left a megacorporation to work at my current job, a truly tiny company. My total compensation at my current job is about $5,000/yr less than at the megacorp -- not nearly enough of a difference to matter.

I mentioned further up thread, there's a book about this topic written by an HR person called "Corporate Confidential" which basically reinforces all this. It's a fascinating read.

If you have a problem with your manager, wouldn't the person to speak to be their manager rather than HR?

Might work, but that's a very high-stakes maneuver that could backfire possibly even worse than through HR because now you have two people with the power to make your life hell and potentially no record in HR about the situation (potentially losing first strike opportunities - now your manager or manager's manager can begin to record problems caused by you before you can record problems by them). And also IME it is basically impossible to read how your manager's manager feels about your manager

Realistically if you have a bad manager your only 100% safe option is to switch companies. Switching teams internally can work depending on the place, but it does carry risk, especially if you're on a visa

Amazon employee here, though I do not speak for the company.

At any big company, your management chain is the #1 influence on the quality of your culture. My experience at Amazon has been extremely positive, but then my org head is a great guy, so it's all been in line with my expectations. I've also left critical feedback through the Amazon Connect survey for my immediate manager and not suffered for it. That manager, as far as I can tell, made no effort to deanonymize the feedback, and addressed the issue fairly in a team meeting.

So, YMMV, but I would certainly encourage skilled devs, artists and designers to come help us make great games. :-)

That's always been the argument to people who are on the fence about Amazon: "I've heard some bad things, but haven't seen it in my department". Amazon, and the people that work on the "good" teams never seem to be terribly concerned about horrific reports, and I frequently wonder why that is. In companies I've worked for, had I heard about people crying at their desk and being forced to choose between their child's health and their job I'd want to know how the company is putting a stop to it. It seems that everyone believes that the people complaining are doing so for attention, but from the outside it seems like there's been a lot of reports that are credible - and this is the white collar stuff, not even warehouse worker things.

Its hard to know: Is everyone indoctrinated? Are they addicted to the paychecks? Is the sense that there are bad things happening but its being handled properly?

That's because Amazon doesn't work like a cohesive monolithic organization. Two teams that seat next to each other may have complete different cultures and ways of working.

By design, Amazon is an aggregator of many small "startups" with different budgets, different issues, different approaches to solving problems.

The connecting tissues are the leadership principles, the infrastructure, the resources, the mobility and the top-down strategic guidance on how and when to tackle different opportunites.

This is also probably the reason why many Amazon acquisitions like Twitch thrive under them. They get integrated into the Amazon ecosystem and get all the efficiencies from the larger machine but they don't get consumed into a strategic vacuum. They're left to figure out all the potential synergies and paths to move forward themselves. They don't need high C-level leadership to help them figure and execute on all the internal collaboration opportunities and increased efficiency. They just do it because the system allows them to do it.

All the data and mechanisms are there. Most impactful innitiatives start with a six-pager that almost anybody can write, and they exist mostly just to unlock budgets. That's basically what Amazon leaderships does: "Someone is saying that we should throw money and resources into this? Should we? Will this make the company stronger? Will this generate more synergies and opportunities?... Yes or no? ...Move on"

So it's not that people don't care. It simply feels too foreign, too abstracted from your own personal reality and day to day. It's almost feels like if those claims were coming from a completey different company that happens to have the same name.

This is a decent argument from an employee perspective, which is that its so silo'd that its basically different companies. While I find it pretty horrifying when awful things happen in places with the same external name as is on my resume, I could see how people could go "not me" - thats pretty close to how the workforce works outside of amazon too.

The leadership principles in and of themselves strike me as something that is likely to lead to a toxic culture.

For reference: https://www.amazon.jobs/en/principles

What about them leads to a toxic work place?

There's very much in the 14 principles about optimizing for results and very little about leading or cultivating people. Obviously, this can be interpreted in very many ways, but the impression I get from the people that work there or have worked there is that it becomes a win-at-all costs environment and that the upper tiers of management are political hell.

Exactly. I work at a very similar place on the East Coast -- very startup like culture unified by leadership principles. I had one so-so experience, followed by an absolutely horrible experience, followed by two terrific experiences. For the bad experience, I worked weeks on end, lots of times throughout the night trying to deliever, in many cases, unreasonable feature requests all while trying to maintain production systems. Sometimes dysfunction happens. You live in an imperfect world with imperfect people. In the end, sticking through and using the horrible experience to learn and grow ended up paying off long term.

Bezos has corporate principles that led to his success. Many people respect that. I personally do no -- I lose respect for any man who cheats on his wife, no matter the reason, but I digress that what he does do in the business world has worked with immeasurable success.

(My final random point -- I find it kind of ironic that a man who stresses so much that his leadership team have skilled writing and memos instead of powerpoints let his security team autogenerate a security bulletin about a serious docker CVE. I mean it's very obvious to me that this was written by a bot https://aws.amazon.com/security/security-bulletins/AWS-2019-... -- I think it's a tad tacky to be using a bot to generate your security bulletins)

I lose respect for any man who cheats on his wife, no matter the reason...

That's some sanctimonious bullshit.

There is zero public information indicating any cheating. We know that there was a trial separation. We don't know what agreements there were. We do know that the divorce is being presented as being amiable.

My attitude is that if his soon to be ex wife is not upset, then random strangers like yourself have zero business being upset on her behalf. You aren't part of or privy to his relationships or agreements. It is none of your business.

Unless you have non-public information indicating that he violated any agreement with MacKezie, the best information available to you is information in places like https://www.tmz.com/2019/01/09/jeff-bezos-lauren-sanchez-div... - which indicates that the relationship began after both couples separated, and was known by both ex partners.

Which would indicate that this isn't cheating. No matter how much it offends your sensibilities.

I thought Bezos admitted to cheating in his medium post.

If you mean the "No thank you, Mr Pecker" one, then it doesn't look to me as if he does any such thing.

(He certainly implicitly admits that he is in a relationship with Ms Sanchez. But, at least in my book, that's only cheating if it happened before his "trial separation" with his wife, and I don't see that he's admitted that it did.)

Read it again. What Bezos said there is in line with the TMZ article. Yes, he had the relationship. There is no indication that he broke any agreements with his ex-wife.

> In the end, sticking through and using the horrible experience to learn and grow ended up paying off long term.

I totally agree that being disciplined and challenging oneself to grow is really important. Still, I wouldn’t want suggest someone to stay in a bad place if it’s actually a detriment to their health or quality of life. It’s really hard to find a balance for me personally, and I don’t feel I can give concrete advice on the matter to others.

That's because the people who have bad experiences are the ones who actually have something to say. No one is going to write a medium blog post about how their last year was completely average, their boss had pros and cons, and that the most controversial event of the year was when the company switched kuerig cup brands.

Edit: Also don't forget that Amazon is a fucking huge company; they literally have more employees than the population of Wyoming. We aren't surprised when someone in Wyoming has a crappy job experience, so we really shouldn't be surprised when someone in Amazon has one either.

There are a couple reasons. First, Amazon has hundreds of businesses and almost 700,000 employees globally now. Every business has different culture and managers. You are not going to find a consistent good/bad/indifferent experience here, because it's highly varied. I can guarantee you a seasonal worker in a fulfillment center has a vastly different day to day experience from a software development engineer in Seattle.

The second reason is that people tend to write about negative experiences more often. You see this all the time in Internet forums where people complain about products they bought. There could be millions of happy customers of a product, but the few thousand that got a defective one or had a bad experience with customer support will loudly and vocally scream about it on the Internet, which at first glance, seeing hundreds or thousands of reports of a terrible product, might seem bad, but the millions of people who used the product and had no problems with it are not going to write about it.

Disclaimer: I've worked at Amazon for a few years now, and I've had 3 decent managers and one terrible one. The good thing about Amazon is that it is relatively frictionless to switch teams.

As a former employee, it’s more that there’s only so much you can do in that situation. I didn’t have any ability to impact the situation other than advocating for good practices, helping people I know manage their careers, and giving truthful feedback for managers (being able to since I wasn’t in a “bad” team).

I didn’t want to paint an unrepresentive picture for people that might prevent them from pursuing legitimately good opportunities. Ultimately, this rubs some people the wrong way because they feel it’s the same as covering up issues. I definitely saw a lot of incredulity that I, and others could even have a good experience.

If it’s my truthful experience at Amazon that it was generally a good job and I didn’t see much of any of this stuff personally, what would you have me do?

You’re talking about an organization that built market dominance on the backbreaking labor and suffering of underpaid warehouse workers.

It’s just not in the corporate DNA to care. The fish rots from the head.

I'm not familiar with this. Is there some reports on workplace injuries or something of that nature or is this hyperbole?

I heard reports of people crying at their desks at Amazon, but I never witnessed that. They cried in the bathrooms.

Definitely addicted to paychecks. Easy to look the other way when making twice what you could in any other line of work.

Ex-Amazon employee here, and I definitely do not speak for the company.

Amazon, more than any other company that I know of, has a ton of ex employees whose opinion either amounts to "Amazon was horrible" or "I thought Amazon was great for a long time, then it went south and in retrospect can't believe I put up with it for so long." So despite your current positive opinion, there is a good chance that you will some day be singing a very different song.

I am personally glad I worked there, because it was a fascinating experience. But I wouldn't want to work there again, nor would I recommend it to a friend.

As someone who had a very positive experience at Amazon, but knew people who did not, agreed. In a way, it's better not to think of Amazon as a single company, but as hundreds of startups under an umbrella organization. You cannot generalize from a single one of those organizations. It is impossible, IMHO, for a company to have as many employees as Amazon and maintain a normalized employee experience.

Really the poisonous thing that stands out for me is the Visa experience. Amazon (now) has a pretty liberal internal transfer system that I have seen work really well for a lot of people. But a truly vindictive and sufficiently interpersonally skilled manager can still pin down an employee with what happened to the OP. In such a case, a citizen can walk away and find another company that's a better fit for them. But when they're in H1B land, it is so much harder. It would be so much better for the industry if the system were much more flexible.

I am also an Amazon employee (and also do not speak for the company), and I agree with this assessment. My manager has told me and my teammates on multiple occasions to take care of family stuff first, to make sure we're working sustainably (i.e., not super late all the time) and so on. I also have scored some questions low on the same survey and not suffered retribution.

I don't want to claim that anyone's experience isn't valid, just that it doesn't match mine.

The thing is, your manager is from a decent background as a human, they probably aren't going to do otherwise no matter where they work!

At any reasonably sized company individual managers are going to have a lot of control over their subordinates, and their underlings aren't going to have any say pretty much at all. What are they going to do, complain to HR? HR at any large company isn't in the business of keeping people employed, it's in the business of keeping the company safe. If you rock the boat, you are now the problem. It's no wonder that all of the negative comments about Amazon boil down to either "this job was absolute shit" - bad manager from the start - or "this job was amazing and then turned to shit" - either the good manager quit/was fired by their superior for not being shit/was promoted and their replacement was garbage, or they were a sociopath that slowly turned up the heat so the proverbial frogs wouldn't notice the boil until they were cooked.

Remember, your boss is ultimately not your friend, certainly not in a professional setting. An individual contributor/manager relationship fundamentally must be adversarial, because one side holds all the power, and even if the manager breaks trust the worst thing that will happen is the IC's replacement will be less productive for a few months.

When managers have this much power over their reports and there's no way for someone to fight back against their manager, it's no wonder that shitty managers are so common. It's a situation ripe for abuse.

While my manager is of course my manager first, we are also friends. It helps that we'd be good friends naturally due to shared interests and age.

As someone who worked for Amazon for a long time, I agree with you -- most managers I worked for took anonymous negative feedback well, making changes at the team level.

Import Caveat to your last point: If you make games for Amazon, you give up your ability to make them in your spare time. Amazon has pretty aggressive game development policies around side projects.

Former Amazon employee here, my experience was terrible. (see my other comment).

While it is great you are happy and defend your company, your experience might not match others.

I think that's the point the parent post is trying to make

As an org head in a tech organization experiences I try to find managers/supervisors like this and actually move them out of the organization.

I know that you direct management and peers can be one of the greatest influences for good or bad for the broader team. A person like the Manager in this situation is a clearly going to create more problems for other team members in the future.

That’s fantastc! Seriously, it’s good that you feel great about the work you do and have a management team that allows you to breathe easy, is supportive, and helps you out put the best work possible.

BUT, and I truly believe this in the depths of my soul, everyone is as evil as their most sociopathic executive.

Everyone is contributing to the same bottom line, some people just sell out for less.

Whose more evil, the hitman that won’t kill for under 1 million or the hitman that will do it for minimum wage?

I used to think big tech companies like Amazon and Google would be different, however now I see they are just becoming like any older traditional corporation with a HR department functioning like the stasi and the ability to oppress through mass policies and hiring contracts.

We are lucky as developers to have a fairly easy way of life but I still follow my Grandpa's advice from years working in the shipyards of Glasgow:

* Never be loyal to a company unless its your own

* When things are good, think about leaving

* Keep your mouth shut and don't gossip

"* When things are good, think about leaving" => Wait what? So what do you do when things are bad?

Likely - leave when things are still good. Meaning look for early signs. Some people stay and hope for the good old days - they almost never arrive.

Not be there.

ABL (Always Be Leaving)


I think you should keep in mind that company culture, values, as well as operational dynamics are not scale-free. The size of a company matters, immensely. But in a market driven economy, you can jump ship and seek greener pastures, especially if you're skilled and operate in a high demand industry.

I agree with many of the comments here about how ymmv based on your management chain. My experience at Amazon has been very positive, but I do want to call out some major issues with the Amazon Connections tool reference in this post.

This tool is pitched to employees as an anonymous way to provide feedback about their team via daily questions. The reality is anything but.

* Responses are not anonymous, they are viewable by anyone on the Connections team, and individual responses are shared with managers in many cases. The Connections team will deny this because it is technically against their policy, but I have seen Connections case managers share information with managers many times.

* Feedback results are not viewable by employees, only managers (this is in contrast to the yearly tech survey, which anyone can view). This leads to data being conveniently left out, or entire orgs simply not reviewing the data.

* The questions are incredibly poorly constructed and there have been multiple internal tickets about propaganda and insensitive questions. A few examples off the top of my head are "Did you know that Amazon was voted the best company to work for 5 years in a row by xyz organization? (Yes/No)" and something to the effect of "How do you feel working with foreigners?" (The wording was significantly more sensitive, but this was the undertone and caused a massive uproar internally.)

These issues have been brought up repeatedly internally and in almost two years, nothing has been done. The Connections team has essentially disabled all feedback channels surrounding the tool. If anything comes of this, I hope a serious look is taken at how the Amazon Connections program is implemented.

FWIW I have heard that org leaders can manually insert questions, deny some default questions, and generally tailor the Connections to the types of things they want tactical feedback on. I contracted for a different Amazon team and saw plenty of Connection. They were often bland, “How many hours a week do you spend in meetings?” “True/False: when I begin a project goals are outlined clearly” “When was the last time you sought direct customer feedback for a decision?” Etc. nothing like what you mentioned.

This kind of retribution is pretty normal from the companies I've worked it, it's clumsy that it ended up in writing here and a bit more vicious than usual with a child involved. Normally it's done offline in private conversations or simply as something that's understood between like minded managers with passing comments.

One manager I had was pretty candid about it, he said he couldn't find another job and was looking to retire so he was going to give me a bad performance review despite actually being the top performer so he wouldn't be affected. He was otherwise very apologetic that his hand was forced.

> One manager I had was pretty candid about it, he said he couldn't find another job and was looking to retire so he was going to give me a bad performance review despite actually being the top performer so he wouldn't be affected.

How would he be affected by giving you a well-deserved good performance review? I don't understand.

>One manager I had was pretty candid about it, he said he couldn't find another job and was looking to retire so he was going to give me a bad performance review despite actually being the top performer so he wouldn't be affected. He was otherwise very apologetic that his hand was forced.

I must be dense because I don't understand this. Your manager couldn't find another job, was instead looking to retire, and gave you a bad performance review?

Yep, the tl;dr is that at the time my manager's manager didn't appreciate me being transparent on mistakes our department made with other depts. So in an effort to make me quit, aside from other things, he wrote a review for my direct manager and required him to say it was his review. If he didn't he would be fired.

Pretty normal stuff at a certain level with insecure managers. Not exactly the same, but Steve Jobs wrote about how they relocated him into an empty building at Apple to make him quit. I was relocated too in fact.

The red flags I look for now:

- clearly not as smart as their peers in their own or other depts, they're likely struggling and will act irrationally

- very ambitious, but risk averse

- tells people what their title is whether they asked or not

- been at the company their whole career and just went along with the flow

There's likely some others, but I'm careful around those folks, they're just trouble.

Ambitious and risk-averse aren't traits I see in the same person very often

That seems like something you bring up with him to discuss if there's a way to avoid it; and then tape the whole discussion.

This is just how many managers are, the best approach is to just recognize them and avoid them as best you can.

It could be argued the best thing to do is gang up on them, record and post your conversations with them, and tirelessly work to undermine them.

Otherwise we're all complicit in allowing bad actors to get away with their behaviour.

In California you are not legally allowed to audio record someone in private without their consent. They must know that they are being recorded for it to be used as evidence in court.

This reminded me of a comment I read some years ago.

Here it is:

You seem obsessed with laws, as if they possess value and worth in and of themselves, when really they are a very high latency sidechannel of society and power.


It's probably a bit too sharp a response to your comment, but it certainly get's the point across.

The point isn't to take things to court.

The point is to take things public.

The court of public opinion is a hugely effective weapon, if you have the documented evidence to back it up.

And if they threaten you about wiretapping laws or whatever, well that just makes the company look even worse in the court of public opinion.

If you will notice, nobody at Uber was stupid enough to threaten Susan Fowler for documenting the stuff that happened to her.

I had an horrible experience with a terrible manager about 10 years ago. We didn't get along at all, and he tried to throw me under the bus for a project that he mismanaged. He basically wrote lies about me on my performance review.

I fought it via HR. The HR rep couldn't care less about it, but I kept persisting, and I had my coworkers vouch for me that what our manager said was false. He ended up rescinding the entire performance review, and I changed teams and left the company shortly afterwards.

But I was lucky. I was well-liked by my peers because they knew I worked hard, and they were willing to go to bat for me against our manager. And my manager was utterly stupid because he wrote lies that could be refuted by my teammates. It was basically the perfect conditions in my favor. Had I not had those favorable conditions, I'm pretty sure HR would have done nothing to help me, and I would have gotten fired. Even if managers write lies about you, it's very very difficult to fight back.

Have heard many Amazon stories around review being used by managers as a revenge tool. A true incident - a friend of mine and his coworker (same level) didn't get along. Their manager left and this coworker was made the manager since he had longer tenure. My friend received a PIP in 2 months flat and ended up leaving the company rather than put up a fight.

A similar thing happened to me outside of Amazon. When the person I didn't get along with was made my manager I immediately went outside my reporting chain to find a place to transfer (though I considered quitting on the spot)

It didn't really work out though. New team was better but my past followed me and I let the whole experience get me down.

Word of advice, never work for Amazon. Out of the FANGs, it is quite easily the sleaziest place to work. As someone who worked there, I can believe OPs side of the story. At this point, most of the people who tolerate working there are indentured Indian H1-B employees because they’re stuck in the Green card queue. Even amongst them, the good ones left for greener pastures a long time ago!

Which team? Before I joined I spoke with a few friends who work there (after reading the NYT article and comments like yours) and got positive feedback. I work here for the past 3 years and so far touch wood nothing even near this. Pretty happy all in all. It’s like people talk about a different company. I’m at AWS, Sr SDE, any teams the above warning is more applicable to? Asking for myself in case I want to switch a teams to know what to avoid but also since we are hiring, I’d like others to know if it’s a specific team / department to avoid... Also, all of us in “good teams” should take ownership and figure out how to systematically fix the issues others obviously experience in other teams. If it’s a specific branch or department, I’d like to see all amazon employees protest to eradicate any toxic bosses / culture in these teams. I just have no way in knowing which ones are, it’s a huge company

Since you mentioned you want to protest, are you going to join Oleg? Seems like a good starting point.

I’m not located in Seattle, but if I was there, and got the details, and was convinced Oleg is right I’d try to mobilize some like minded people, make sure there is no clause forbidding me to do so as I like to have a job, maybe give my boss a heads up (maybe he would even join) and I’d be happy to join his protest. But I believe this should start internally, it will look better to leadership if some of us for example write a one pager on this amazon good bad discrepancy and that the fact many teams are happy doesn’t cover the fact there are apparently some toxic ones. I love my job and I hate the fact the same company can cause others have the opposite experience, it hurts them but also much to lesser extent, hurts all of us at Amazon. Ego hurt, can intimidate candidates, lost prestige. Small problems but still should make us all concerned and driven for action to fix it.

> make sure there is no clause forbidding me to do so as I like to have a job

You realize that any retribution would be a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, right? You can't sign away your right to protest, unless you work for the government as a critical employee (read: firefighters, police).

> At this point, most of the people who tolerate working there are indentured Indian H1-B employees because they’re stuck in the Green card queue

I used to think so myself, and mentioned that to various people including friends and acquaintances who worked for Amazon. All of them told me that they really liked it there and don't know why I had this perception. I haven't met a single person, friend or not, who would validate my view.

I still don't know how prevalent bad working conditions at Amazon are, but the data points I gathered point against the blanket statement you made.

Disclaimer: I currently work at Amazon as an SDM (I do not speak for the company). I've also worked a lot of other places. In my experience, bad managers can happen anywhere.

I'm not going to take sides since all we have is a story told by an ex-employee who has every reason to be spiteful toward his former employer. The other side of this story is one we'll likely never hear.

I do want to comment on the visa aspect of this (sounds like he's on an EB3). I have worked with and managed visa-holding engineers who've been passed over for promotions or otherwise discriminated against because of their visa status (not at Amazon). Certain kinds of promotions can run the risk of a visa holder getting their visa rejected. Many things a company might do to improve the circumstances of a regular employee runs the risk of triggering a visa re-evaluation. More often than not the company will play it safe so the employee doesn't run the risk of getting deported. That can involve denying them promotions or "unofficially" giving it to them (all the responsibility but no title). It's systemic discrimination, and the worst part is it has the "best interests" of the visa holder at heart.

Personally, I tried to counter this kind of discrimination by making the employee aware of the situation and the risk, then asking what they would like me to do. Usually, though, my influence is limited and I get blocked by HR and legal.

If this story didn't happen to a visa holder, it would be a simple story of "just go somewhere else," but I can understand how helpless these people must feel.

WTF? Why it can't be simple "just go somewhere else"? Well, just go to some other country.

I'm not saying it's easy, but why bang your head against the wall. Go somewhere else, and, if you really want, come back another time, through a different company or on different terms.

Imagine being in their shoes. Are you prepared to move to the other side of the globe on a moment’s notice if you’re unemployed? Do you have the funds to do that, such as moving your precious items, and breaking your lease? If you have a family, are you prepared for the impact it will have on them (this guy’s child has health care concerns)? What would you be prepared to put up with in order to avoid that?

Also, many just think of the US as home despite not being a citizen. Many who worked for me went to college here on a study visa. This is the only home they’ve known their adult life. They wouldn’t know the first thing about how to live if they went back to their native country.

Take a look at green card priority dates sometime, and consider how many people it takes to push them there.


American citizenship is an extremely valuable commodity in the developing world.

My recommendation is to NEVER leave negative feedback on an employee survey. The BEST outcome I've seen from them is incredibly painful meetings that only seem to make the matter worse.

My speculation on this is two fold. The first is that putting things in those surveys is a "permanent record" or at least "yearly review" issue for your manager. So you are (justly or not) harming them, and they will tend to respond to being harmed. The other is that, if you think about it... if your manager is not a person who you can talk to about a problem in a non-anonymous way... doing it anonymously is not likely to help, it's probably better to just quietly leave.

This guy I know, we can call him Jim, left a large tech company and was honest in his exit interview about why he was leaving, and it was mostly his manager. He was later asked to apply for a job with a different team after his manager left the company years (and promotions) later. HR blocked the hire because he was "disgruntled" in his exit interview. As far as I know, they did nothing to recognize or fix the problem. But they held it against him because his feedback was negative. Unfortunately, a company that views employees as the enemy will find it a self-fulfilling prophecy. They kill the incentive to try help fix problems, and create a situation where you like it or you leave.

"I'm leaving because your company is too good."

It's the inverse of the ubiquitous "why do you want to work for us?" interview question. "Because you give money to your employees and I require money for food and housing" is somehow never what they're looking for.

"I am only leaving so that I can experience the joy of joining your perfect company again."

"I'm applying for a new position here, because after working elsewhere for several years I've determined your company wasn't that great after all."

> My recommendation is to NEVER leave negative feedback on an employee survey.

Even better, game the system and give them glowing reviews.

For example I had noticed the feedback "anonymous" surveys they were sending had a location field as in employee's country, city, town, etc. Well, in a distributed team it's pretty clear who is who based on that location. So I just gave them glowing and happy reviews.

Same when leaving a company. Nice and happy feedback like "I'd love to work here more, but the tech landscape is so exciting and varied and I'd like to gain experience in other areas..."

So much, this.

HR works for the company not for you. never forget. You can extrapolate all other rules from this basic rule.

Yep, couldn't agree more despite the down votes on my previous post. The picture that we like to paint about how companies work is far from the reality, you have play by the real unwritten rules.

It's funny how you guys take some kind of pride in maneuvering what to an outsider obviously sounds like a dystopian-style bureaucratic nightmare of unevenly applied laws and insider-connections.

Rather than fight to change or improve this system, you gloat about knowing how to survive in it. So strange.

This is how you fight to change systems when you're ultimately powerless to do so directly, by subverting the system. The only real power we have is to collectively agree to make the data/system useless.

"anonymous survey"

Right. Just like you don't trash-talk about about your ex. No good will come of it.

I'm of the mind that only good comes of it. It's very therapeutic and who cares what they think anymore. Besides, that's one of the few things that no one faults you for - it's almost expected. I highly recommend it.

When your date starts trash-talking their ex, they'll do it to you, too.

When a prospective employee trash-talks their former employer, they'll do it to you, too.

No hire.

Strongly disagree, and I've got hiring evidence on my side (former subordinates going to work for friends, and said subordinates didn't know of the relationship) after airing some pretty reasonable grievances when I hired then and when they worked with me.

Of course, there's a scale. "I don't like their tech decisions"--yeah, that's an eyebrow raise, unless there's some real meat there. But I'm never going to judge somebody poorly for saying plainly that they felt disrespected or mistreated at a job, because it's happened to me too.

It doesn't matter if their grievances are legitimate or not (and you have no way to tell if they are). It's bad form to trash talk one's former employer or ex.

It's not just me. You will often talk yourself out of getting hired and many will not pursue a relationship with you if you indulge in it. There is nothing to gain by engaging in it.

It's not just you. Virtually every article I've read on interview tips gives this same advice. Speaking negatively about your former employer always reflects negatively on you.

If they do it in front of you they will do it to you - Dr Phil

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