Unlike others, I actually find this story fairly believable.
When I first joined Apple, straight out of college - a good program, top three in the country - I was abused similarly. I joined a team that was on a project behind schedule.
Our manager was a brusque, no-nonsense sort of dude. But he clearly had anger problems. On the team were 2 senior engineers, me, and a junior engineer that had just completed his internship and was on a work Visa.
As the project got closer to the deadline, and the scope increased, the manager got agitated. In our team meetings, he would start yelling at us. People down the hallways would stare at us with those "looks." In our 1:1s he told us we might not have a job if our product doesn't ship on time (we were competing with another internal team to beat them to the punch.)
The two senior engineers decided they'd had enough and quit the team. The manager told us to work overtime (no overtime pay, but we had to for fear of our job). He promised us that if we did it that we would get a month of vacation on him, and that he could secure it for us.
The product released. After countless nights of overtime we did it. Our manager left, our guarantee of a month of vacation evaporated, and for the next three months, us two junior engineers were left on 24/7 primary/secondary on-call for a critical service. It was a nightmare. Calls at 3 AM, 6 AM, on weekends.
Our manager got a promotion and is fairly high up at Apple now.
Horrible experience. I left for a new company that pays me nearly double.
- Despite the big release and herculean efforts, both of us were paid a fraction of our target bonus. This was the day I decided to move jobs.
- I eventually grew some balls and told Apple to (a) pay me 2.5x during overtime (b) hire SREs for this critical service, or (c) go fuck themselves. They chose (c), which worked alright because our service was pretty stable.
- The primary lesson I learnt is that it doesn't matter if you work hard. Nobody notices, and even if they do you will likely not get anything out of it. Do your job, but don't kill yourself over it. Work-life balance is king.
- Only my first manager at Apple was an asshole. My last manager was a kind and genial person.
This has been my experience as well. Nowadays I work hard only while most of the following are true:
- I'm making top dollar (good salary + equity value is high)
- Work is interesting (something new to learn, or challenging, or both)
- My home life is not going great (there are ups and downs, and working hard during the downs is a pretty decent way of coping)
I absolutely do not work hard if any one of the following is true:
- Project Manager is applying pressure.
- People who do not deliver value have been promoted over me.
- Manager/Technical leadership has repeatedly ignored my advice and leanded the team in hot water (cutting corners to make arbitrary timelines, only to incur high support costs or maintenance costs later)
- Performance Management is not occurring at the company (underperformers are not thrown out, or, worse, promoted).
- Company is not doing well (equity value is down).
- Salary has not kept pace with market (i.e., nothing more than 3-4% raises per year).
- There is an over-reliance on junior people and they start calling the shots, thereby making my hard-won experience useless to the team.
I work for a company belonging to Accenture.
I can only agree. Shareholders get +10%. Employees get nil.
It is expected that we do at least 15 - 25% overtime without compensation. Project manager promises everything the client asks for. Even if they know we cannot in any universe deliver this without massive overtime. At the same time they introduce new mandatory processes to follow costing additional time.
Performance management is a joke. Employee development non existent. Promotion and raises have nothing to do with performance. If managing directors do not like you, you are out of luck as they ultimately decided on your salary, promotion and bonuses.
I am still there because I can only switch jobs after Sept 2021 for private reasons.
After that it is jobhunting season.
If anyone is of the opinion that you do not deserve adequate pay, can be bullied by project managers or others - do yourself a favor and look for another company that does value you.
Large consulting firms seems to operate this way, being basically a pyramid with endless layers of non-programming "Enterprise Architect Solution Expert". I've had folks tell me explicitly when joining these firms post-grad that their goal was not to code in two years.
I was briefly at an Indian subsidiary of EY(those days, the Big 5 weren’t allowed to operate by themselves without partnering with a local chartered accounting firm) because only certain firms could do bank audits and I wanted the experience at one if the Big 5. KPMG was known for its entertainment industry accounts. I picked E&Y for manufacturing and I think I ended up with an international cement conglomerate account. The Big 5 clearly decided who gets what industry. They operate like a cartel. They also had consulting divisions. AA after Enron simply focused solely on consulting and IT.
They are all ‘special’ kinds of hell. Just different flavors. AA/Enron scandal was a big deal and was the only talk for days and days and days.
Slightly dated.. 2018: https://riskmagazine.nl/article/2018-03-19-how-the-big-five-...
[..] Andersen was responsible for checking the accounting of energy company Enron. The energy company went down with great noise because of shoddy accounting. Trouble came for Andersen as they had approved this accounting. After learning the Securities and Exchange Commission had begun an investigation of Enron’s accounting, orders were given at Andersen to destroy thousands of documents and e-mail messages. These illegal acts resulted in a conviction, which made it impossible to act as a public accountant for American stock exchange funds. Andersen decided to hand in its licenses before the SEC would withdraw them.[..]
[..] On appeal for the destruction of the files, Andersen was acquitted and there was no formal objection to the continuation of the audit practice. However, almost all employees had left due to the obscure practices. The practice had changed hands and the name would always be linked to this scandal. The few employees that stayed, worked on litigation arising from past audits, as well as pension issues and few other matters. Also there still is another firm which reminds us of the existence Andersen, namely Accenture. Accenture started off as the consultancy part of Andersen, which split off just in time, before the scandal happened.[..]
AC paid AA 15% of its profits every year. But AC was growing far faster than AA, so AA started growing another consulting arm, which was against the contract.
AC partners claimed contractual breach, and as part of the separation settlement had to change their name and distance themselves from the brand.
This was lucky given what happened with AA’s reputation later.
(Source: I worked there in that time period)
The AC project (which ran about 93-97) went kinda rogue, the bank management lost control of the situation. The AC project managers kept bringing in more AC consultants and told the bank management not to worry, everything was good. They were heavily customizing a non-y2k version of the vendor's software, and the vendor warned project management that they were customizing this in ways that would prevent future support and patches, but AC project management covered this up.
Eventually the vendor contacted the bank CEO directly and said "what are you going to do about the y2k issue, we are concerned". CEO: "What y2k issue?"
The bank had to go live with what they had, fire and blacklist AC and burn tens of millions of $$ to re-start the project to deliver exactly the same thing, but using a y2k-compliant version as a starting point, and removing as much customization as possible so they could take future vendor patches.
Not that Accenture doesn't have enough scandals on their own. So they are by far not the clean guys in this tale.
I remember the German "Berateraffäre" just to state one example.
Is this still a thing as a developer in the western world?
If any of my managers proposed this, I would laugh, then say "ah wait, you're serious?", and then laugh some more.
> Exempt employees stand in contrast to non-exempt employees, which are paid minimum wage and overtime above the standard 40-hour workweek.
Wow if I had heard this in a random bar discussion I would called it complete and utter bullshit. The more I read HN the more it feels like being a worker in the US is like riding a horse through the wild west; anything can happen.
In my country the overtime pay is mandatory by law and it is also constrained to be a minimum of 75% more than the normal wage.
Btw it is also mandatory to enjoy your (minimum of) 23 days of holidays per year; no exchanging for other perks or money, like some comment mentions above.
But for any rolling period of x timeunits (don't want to be too specific obviously) I have a specific amount of hours of overtime that the company doesn't need to compensate in free time. In my case this is ~20% of my regular time in ever rolling period.
But up to a maximum amount of overtime hours per year. This max amount is short of 10% of my yearly hours.
So in the end I have to accept about 10% overtime just already compensated with my contract.
Overall, workers are given a lot more protection than what I feel there is in the US, and that percolates into the common culture and the expectations. Then we get surprised when seeing what happens in other places :-) (both ways)
This is false. First, the relevant rule that is kind of like that is the “salary basis” rule, which doesn't apply to all exempt employees; for instance, it does not apply to “Computer professionals who are paid on an hourly basis at a rate not less than $27.63 per hour.”
Second, even for exempt employees subject to the salary basis test, they can be subject to workplace conduct rules requiring a set schedule and be subject to disciplinary dock for failing to comply with that conduct rule. The structure of the dock needs to make sense as a disciplinary dock and not be a de facto shift to non-salary pay, but there is absolutely no rule in US federal labor law that “an exempt employee chooses their own hours”.
This department of labor letter seems to state otherwise
> This department of labor letter seems to state otherwise
That letter doesn't deal with even the question of what effects the status of exempt employees, since it deals with rules applicable to, and I quote from the letter itself, “salaried non-exempt employees.”
Even so, while it finds the specific conduct being addressed was prohibited, it articulates a rule similar to the one I discuss for exempt employees subject to the salary basis test, stating that, “an employer may take a disciplinary deduction from an employee’s salary for willful
absences or tardiness or for infractions of major work rules.”
The term for this is “at will employment” and in most started it is the default law.
Meaning that your employment can be terminated by the employer for any reason or no reason at all, without notice.
As in, security coming to your desk and escorting you through the door.
Look it up.
Of course that only applies to people working on employment contracts, not those who got seduced by "B2B" :|
That said, the abuse of the exemption system is arguably a pandemic in the US.
Overtime laws generally allow taking the hours worked back as PTO. The only thing is that usually there are limits to avoid running everyone ragged with no end.
The worse part? As a CS grad, I knew how to do better, but: nobody with the power to change things understood how or why what I was suggesting was better(!).
I've long thought about this afterward, and concluded it's that 'my world' (which includes a lot of experience, and facility with Math) required me to study a lot and learn a lot; and these 'coders' simply did not have the background to understand what I was trying to teach them. I would have had to fill in several semesters in order to get my points across. Yes, I left. (And yes I tried simplifying - but that only goes so far.)
I'll precise I'm not being sarcastic, genuinely curious. My math background could be better and I'm planning on improving that, but it would be for personal satisfaction as it's not hurting my work (legal tech). But maybe it is, you don't know what you don't know.
I'm self taught, and for many years didn't know about algorithms, big-O notation, and similar. You can do a lot of stuff without that knowledge, but there are definitely some areas that require it.
I dunno - I worked hard, especially early in my career and people noticing lead to four new jobs, two of which included substantial pay/benefit raises. Then again more than a bit of that hard work was on cross-organizational teams; I wasn't acting solely in my direct organizational unit.
So hard work can pay off if you are doing it somewhere it is visible by others. Getting involved in working groups outside of your company, even if you have to do it after hours, is a great way to network and help others notice your work ethic.
I see far too many people who burrow into their current organization and then just bitch about it without doing something about it. If people can't see you they won't be able to recognize your work.
This isn't directed at you but just a general observation - if you don't like your current organization, get proactive and do something about it. I have little sympathy for people who just complain without doing anything.
This is a common problem. It doesn't work to do great work and expect others to notice. You've got to promote yourself and your work. Nobody is going to do it for you.
I've seen too many people become embittered waiting for someone else.
Without much experience in the industry, I would say that both perspectives are important:
The person most invested in your success is you, so leverage that and promote yourself.
But you absolutely deserve management and teammates who celebrate your accomplishments and help you get rewarded for them.
Discrimination and prejudice also affect this—it’s probably hard to advocate for yourself if your management just doesn’t believe you’re capable for some reason—but I’ve generally found solace in the synthesis of both attitudes.
Fight for yourself, but find people who fight with you. Maybe put it like this: if you yourself were a people manager, wouldn’t you want to advocate for your reports?
His biggest criticism was that 20 months earlier, I skipped him and addressed his bosses boss for some bureaucratic thing. I find that argument reasonable but it showed me that he was not aware of the full context. Either I never explained it to him or he forgot. The context is: At that time I was in a special two week task-force team where his bosses boss was officially involved as Scrum Master. As such he was officially responsible for impediments. The impediment was: We either get this bureaucracy thing out of the way today or I'm unable to participate in the task-force anymore. Given the urgency and him being our Scrum Master, I found skipping levels the right thing to do.
> The primary lesson I learnt is that it doesn't matter if you work hard
Be careful about getting jaded and cynical. This is far from a universal truth in the tech industry. I've hired a few ex-FAANG who had burned out and become cynical on work altogether. We had to let them go because their negativity was dragging everyone down.
A similar thing can happen to people who go through difficult divorces. If they let themselves become cynical, they start believing that marriage is a doomed institution and that all members of their ex-spouse's gender are equally terrible people and such. It can become very counterproductive to moving on.
Every one of them: as soon as I started, the foundational person of the team quit, you know the guy or gal who burned themselves out building the process. Fixing all the cruft and actually trying to unfuck everything but leaving scant documentation because the mountain of technical debt rivaled the heights of K2?
As a result I had to “drink from the water hose” constantly. And this is something I am absolutely sick of doing, and no team should tolerate it.
It’s happened so often I’m beginning to wonder a) how I can assess if the team is bleeding talent (I’ve had companies straight up lie about things like attrition and retention) or b) if I just have some kind of gravitational pull for companies that are running people out the door.
Nothing wrong with asking the average tenure of people on the team imo, that is something you can frame in a way less likely to make them lie.
I've only ever heard that phrase as 'drinking from the fire hose', I didn't know that even a water/garden hose was considered too much.
I think I need to find a better ... career (?)
Well run startups can still compete by making smart, focused decisions.
I think it makes sense to have an on-call rota. Some people do it for a week or so. Cycle it through the team.
There needs to be someone knowledgeable to call in case of issues.
> There needs to be someone knowledgeable to call in case of issues
"Thank you for calling. Our normal business hours are ..." works for the rest of the business world, there's no reason it can't work for you. You can always sell 24h tech support for more money, or make products that don't break in the middle of the night by not relying on systems and designs that are likely to fail spectacularly in the middle of the night.
Lots of products need uptime guarantees.
But I bet the people working on those don’t say their employer unexpectedly “roped me into a production support on-call”.
If a role isn’t advertised as having responsibility outside regular office hours, bait and switching people into regularly working outside 9-5 type hours should not be allowed. And “not allowed” with serious enough financial teeth that companies right up to FAANG size would care, or at least that employees leaving/fired from bait and switching employment hours would end up feeling satisfied with their payouts.
If you need uptime guarantees, hire people letting them know up front so they can choose to accept or reject that work. You don’t (or at least shouldn’t) get to drop that responsibility on people who never signed up for it in the first place.
I think the only one with a formal release process was the quarterly release outfit, and even that was due to single-client risk.
I've worked at 3 startups (5th employee, 16th employee, 2nd employee).
The first one had 80 hour weeks and burned me out after a year. The company had enough capital to stay in business, but never went anywhere, and my shares were washed out in subsequent funding rounds.
The second had 40 hour weeks and I worked there for six years. A fair-to-middling exit to Broadcom.
The third one had 40 hour weeks and I worked there for 3 years. A great exit to Google.
Sounds to me like you've malloc'd all of memory.
Yes I've worked for a startup. Yes I did long hours. Yes I learned that's not sustainable and not a good way to make things work.
So, no, I won't do it again.
I've worked in several startups, and occasional death marches are unavoidable. They don't work month in and month out. But enduring that kind of life for just salary is nuts.
Maybe in some cases you can hope for the acquired startup to be the pet project of the acquirer’s founder/CEO?
I think the advantage is supposed to be that you won't come in one day and hear your boss say "Guess what? We're broke."
Sure... but you may still come in and find "this project has been nixed". Upside is that you may still have a 'job' in the bigger company, but everything you worked on may be thrown away, you may lose whatever political power your project had, etc. Certainly there's an 'immediate safety net' issue of "you may have a paycheck next week", but doesn't address any of the emotional stuff that goes along with "we'll have a scrappy startup mentality!"
I had been in something similar - not quite a 'startup in a large company' situation, but similar. And... we hit a "hey, this project is being shut down, and there's no other budget in the company for this team". So.. the company itself was still going OK - everyone else kept rolling along - but a handful of us were effectively cut adrift for a bit. Some were able to be assigned to other internal teams, some weren't.
At some point around March we learnt post-factum that the project, mostly staffed by contract workers (aka "B2B"), nearly lost pretty much all of non-managerial staff, because parent company of the group (a german corp) made decision to cancel all B2B contracts.
Our project barely survived because of some fast talking, and by becoming "important enough" the fact that canceling the contracts would leave them with no "doers" on it was the main reason we didn't get "sorry, you're fired" email.
Imho it's frequently used to falsely motivate junior/inexperienced into working crazy hours that they might get some financial or other rewards like a startup.
I knew of one company, a pair programming shop doing the sort of financial software where bugs could get very expensive. To maximize quality, they had firm rules about all code requiring a pair, and that barring emergencies, everybody had to go home on time. It worked; they had very low bug rates.
They told me about a new employee they had, somebody who'd come from a company where performative overwork was valued. He'd stay until the wee hours, coding up a storm, expecting people to be impressed. In the morning, they'd thank him for his enthusiasm, revert the commit, and do the work again with proper pairing, testing, etc. I never heard what happened to the guy, but I imagine he pretty quickly unlearned his bad habits. That or he quit and went somewhere he could feed his heroism addiction.
In contrast, I remember a long-ago 6-month contract a major online auction company starting with e and ending with Bay. I was on some internal mailing list where I'd get promotion announcements. Every fucking one of them included a dramatic story about how the person had egregiously overworked themselves. The code was of course a giant fucking mess. It was simultaneously the result of tired idiots who never cleaned up and also the cause of so many bugs and schedule issues that people had to dramatically overwork themselves to hit arbitrary managerial deadlines.
It was a valuable lesson to me, the coding version of the Allegory of Long Spoons: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_long_spoons
Ever since I've done my best to work at places where sanity is rewarded and drama discouraged. And to bend things in that direction as I'm able.
I think this close, but a little off. Work hard only on what matters. Join the high visibility projects and work hard on the important parts. "Nobody notices" -> that's up to you. Document and demo your achievements every few weeks.
Work only the good jobs. If it's not good, switch teams ASAP. Never, ever wait for "things to improve". So many times after I switched jobs, I said to myself "Man, why didn't I leave sooner?"
I agree with this but you have to understand that it's very difficult and frightening for an inexperienced new grad or someone on a green card to do. These groups are also unfortunately the most exploited.
At least in large companies it can be pretty hard to actually find the good teams among all of the noise. I've tried to keep my eyes open for them but haven't had any luck yet.
As with most things in life, there are places where it matters and places where it doesn't matter. If someone's a junior employee working in a big company, it's likely that they don't have the necessary experience to figure out whether hard work matters in their position. That's an important risk to be aware of. But the opposite advice, avoiding hard work, is also risky. (And not a good habit to cultivate in the long term of course.) If you're not sure which position you're in, and you don't trust your more experienced coworkers to tell you honestly without punishing you for asking, then putting in some amount of hard work with the goal of finding out is a pretty good start.
So in some cases you want to fast track your advancement in a direction that you like and this possible through this method, and you actually can work hard, so in this case take the chance if you want to. But that kind of situation is quite rare, I think.
Also certainly do not appear to be working too lightly. But also do not appear to be working extremely hard if it is not the case.
And remember, the (perceived) results are more important than actually working hard. It can be very unfair sometimes, because e.g. if you have to maintain and add features in a legacy codebase, (poor, but that's common) higher-ups may be uninterested with your difficulties caused by the spaghettis of your predecessors, but well life is just unfair I guess :P
I think it really depends on the person. It's a very common problem for people to procrastinate or drag their feet on the parts of their job that they don't particularly like. (Just like most students drag their feet doing homework they don't like.) But no job (or school program) is ever 100% fun stuff, and being able to delay gratification and get the unpleasant parts done is a super important life skill that not everyone has. For a lot of people, maybe most HN readers, this is basic stuff that they nailed in high school and never had a problem with after that. But I'm not sure that's the majority experience.
Exactly this. Unless your manager has a history of giving raises and/or promotions to YOU for doing your JOB then do not assume, ever, that they will give you anything for overworking to chase a carrot on a stick.
That said if they have a history of recognizing and appreciating your work, and compensating you for extra effort, then by all means feel free to put some sweat into the work. That's a good relationship.
My rule of thumb whenever starting a new job is - Work hard for the first year, but almost never overtime. Do my job, and do it well, but don't kill myself. If manager recognizes the good work, and gives me a raise, I'll talk to them about incentive based objectives, and that I'm willing to work over time if there's a reward structure. Or, that I'm happy to continue at my 9-5 pace if that's working for them. Point is - always wait for them to make the first move. If they don't, either accept the 9-5 work for the pay, or move on to another employer that does value incentive based (bonus) salaries.
This is the most important lesson I learned working at the fruit company. That and never have a long commute.
I now work at a place that's ten minutes door-to-door in the morning and fifteen in the afternoon. I took a pay cut to achieve that (I live in East Bay), but maybe the new wfh culture post-COVID will open up more possibilities.
Anyway, point being that I've decided that my job is second to my happiness.
This depends a lot on the situation/company. It is definitely true that in many cases it doesn't make sense to work hard. However there are situations where hard work is rewarded. Those are just probably quite rare situations after all.
What I learned people that spend all their time working don't have time for the social engineering needed to get ahead. Also a lot of people that focus heavily on social engineering make bank on passing dirt on their coworkers to upper management.
This. And the intrinsic metric does not necessarily align to the company's until much further down the road or sometimes not at all. Hard lesson for me to learn after a score at the same company and the health insurance stays the same regardless.
If you're the type that doesn't want to work very hard and just there for a paycheck, then you are probably more suited for working at MegaCorp.
Getting these out of wack makes for unhappy working conditions.
In the end the team was meet with a hostile takeover; everyone was merged into another team working on something similar with new management. Meet the new boss same as the old boss. A good number of people ended up leaving the company shortly after that.
One more thing, you can also include me as another data point for getting pay doubled after leaving Apple.
I say that because I work for Amazon, and my work environment is pretty bad by my standards (my team cuts a lot of corners, we are given unrealistic deadlines by upper management, our on-call is paged at least 10 times a week, we have a huge backlog of tickets and bugs that we can never prioritize, and it is overall a very stressful environment.) I guess it can always be worse...
I worked for Apple before Jobs died. He'd frequently have several teams working on the exact same thing, in secret, and then pick the team that met his goals the best. Sometimes the "losers" would be merged into the "winning" team, but never treated well by the winners.
Probably a very common abusive management style at high levels in many industries.
I'm often astonished by the inefficiency of project delivery, particularly in large companies.
Teams spending months building sub-systems from scratch, where there is an off the shelf(sometimes open source) tool that will do the same job and better.
Man years of work going into chasing trends like "serverless" or "microservices" for no real reason, when a monolith running on a server, could be delivered in a fraction of the time and probably do a better job than what ended up being built.
I'm convinced that paying two teams to work on the same project would often cost less than paying for the huge teams and cost overruns I've seen.
Don't get too cocky against someone that has a more humane view of what's valuable to be human. Get a grip that reality has very many shades of grey.
Then the "zero knowledge" psychopathic management style doesn't seem so smart.
No knowledge is going to be acquired that way.
It's a manager who has decided understanding the nature of the work is beneath him, when he can deploy someone else's money to wind up some insects that will run around doing the work for him and watch them struggle against each other. Literally zero knowledge, before, during and after.
When whatever result appears they will not analyze the meaning of what happened beyond punishing some insects and rewarding others.
Or until they accidentally burnt down the office building. You're right, doesn't seem so smart
Running two teams against each other just screams of waste/bad management in my opinion.
What could be ways to avoid such things
How did this work out at Apple? When you were there
How does someone even get the human and financial capital to run projects like this? I guess your first attempt with the first founding team has to ‘hit.’
Otherwise, how can you afford to triple headcount, management, etc?
Jobs was a notorious jerk   , so it's not surprising that similar behavior is what gets promoted.
Pancreatic cancer eats sugar for-fucking-breakfast.  He was eating nothing but fruit, and even though fructose release is regulated in its binding with fiber, its still sugar.
If Jobs had eaten nothing but bacon, steak, and eggs, we might still have him around. I forgot what folder my bookmarks are in, but there's scant - but compelling - evidence to support that a sugarless diet high in protein and fat quite literally starves pancreatic cancer.
Maybe he didn’t want to be around..
As the saying goes, in software development, we can control speed, cost and quality, but only two at the same time.
And no one is afraid of "losing" and worried about problems that might cause? (Eg getting fired, even if managers say won't happen)
Capitalism is based on the idea of transplanting the survival of the fittest paradigm into the economy and that’s exactly how I’d expect it to look in practice. Especially as progress accelerates and massive wins become both scarcer and more impactful at the same time.
It also sets people against each other, creates better-than-you mental heirarchies between equal workers where non are necessary, and is essentially friendly fire in the workplace. I've never seen this end well.
Capitalism isn't just economic natural selection either, it favors those with capital, and especially the most of it, and is easily exploitable by them to tip the playing field in their favor against their competition and those below them. Your analogy is bad in both cases; natural selection means one side dies, which is not what's being described here, and is not good for one side anyway, and capitalism is not as good as cooperation anyway. The latter is far more efficient.
Any guidelines? What to think about
In addition, for each experiment you need: a defined time window, up front criteria by which to judge the results, optionally form solution ideas together, give all teams the same amount of time and opportunity, after the experiment is finished each team presents their solution in a fact based manner in perspective of the criteria. After this the teams rotate and see what they can improve on their original solution with the remarks and information from the other tracks. After this decide together or with an informed captain which solution to continue. After this there should be no hard feelings, no personal consequences. Each team should be treated equally because they all contributed to the end goal. This is what will give you a fair competition and help create team safety.
This can be done on all kind of levels, between one day for something small and two/four weeks for the bigger challenges. Making it bigger than this will incur a lot of stakes/vested interest.
> After this the teams rotate and see what they can improve on their original solution
I'd disagree, internal competition (like it or not, and yes it doesn't sound fun and often doesn't feel great or fair) can be a very effective motivating strategy. And management is used to using this with sales teams, everyone in sales is always competing with each other. It's never fair, they'll have unequal markets, for example, but the competition is incredibly motivating. When I was in sales long ago, the drive to be the best and regarded as such was even more motivating than just getting more commissions. It's dog eat dog but for better or worse it works.
I often hear that about capitalism, but then the caricatural opposite is the survival of the unfit. It is quite visible when swathes of our economy that are not put on any kind of competitiveness (the DMV) end up dropping standards beyond bottom.
We need a balance in between, and we are living in this balance: We are not on either extreme side of this spectrum, the reality is more mild than all-or-nothing, and the non-fittest can still work for a less performing company and be happy with their life. It is just the temptation of big corporations with big incentives that makes some engineers too eager to work for a bad company.
Time to market trumps everything.
It’s a tough spot to be. Do you roll over and do the job your being yelled at to do even though you know any concessions are BS? Or like the senior folks, do you walk? It’s a really hard choice.
Does Apple not have manager feedback mechanisms?
But what I read in this article was beyond the pale. I never felt like anybody adjacent to any of my roles might have cause to fear for their physical safety. Reviews were used as political tools and occasional sources of psychological abuse, sure, but people still got marched out quickly if they stopped acting like empathetic human beings towards their peers.
So yes, this does happen. Typically to visa workers who are easily exploitable due to their precarious status in the country.
This is the key point about this experience to me. The fact was that without the visa situation, the author would have had many more choices. Unfortunately, it seems like the lack of viable alternatives was taken advantage of to the hilt (and presumably the author wasn't the first or last employee so affected).
I mean Andy Rubin and Amit Singhal worked at Google when they did their career ending stuff.
Yes, but while I believe it happened just like that, it's too beyond the pale to be representative of Apple at large.
Looks like a particularly, close knit toxic team + gaslighting above levels about the new recruit.
Same way if a told you some politician was sexually assaulting his pages, you woulnd't assume this is representative of congressmen and pages in general...
I don't have recorded minutes of their interactions or other such hard proof.
My manager left me out of the first review cycle, but at the end of the second review cycle I did leave a review of the manager. By this time he had left our team though. I don't think it did anything as he continued to rise through the ranks.
Sometimes it’s down to a particular manager, but sometimes it can just be the consequences of a bad decision taken further up the food chain. This can leave a team in a no-win situation where even a good team lead can end up in a mess with no good options. I was at one employer where this happened and the team lead in question fell on his sword and quit rather than beat his team to death. I ended up taking on some of his responsibilities and team members and got some additional resources to deal with the re-org, so it worked out well for the team members and the company. It also gave me my first taste of management. It cost the guy his job though, which was grossly unfair. Not many mangers would have the guts and integrity to do something like that, and even if they did there’s no guarantee it would actually benefit the team. They could just be replaced by a tyrant.
The only answer is to be open and honest about what you think and principled in your own actions. Call out bad behaviour where you see it and say when you see mistakes being made. If you aren’t prepared to do so, why should anyone else? Too many people silently tie the line and keep quiet and then wonder why these things spiral out of control and end in disaster. It’s because nobody said anything or did anything about it. We have to be prepared to take responsibility for calling out what’s happening around us and what we do about it as employees. It’s not somebody else’s problem, it’s our problem. Don’t be afraid of losing your job, it may well happen but jobs come and go. Having principles carries a cost, but one I think is worth paying.
In-fact you don't get your bonus if you don't attend these workshops and score in these tests. HR regularly queries all low-level employees about their work/life balance and other other work-place issues and regularly sends feedback to senior management. Actually senior management even regularly has meetings with entry-level employees with team leads and management sent away from the room to obtain proper assessment.
But then this is a German company and not a US one. I will never work for a US MNC in my life after the bad experience I had early in my career.
That might also be, for better and worse, why Microsoft folks have such long tenure at the company. Its honestly a great place to work compared to these shit shows.
Have been fortunate that the instances I was involved in directly, I was prepared, had extensive documentation, and my position (and my colleagues) were more valuable than the perpetrators, so they were swiftly shown the door.
At the end of the day it's the same at every large company. HR protects the business, not the employee. They don't protect the victim, they protect the more valuable resource.
If any manager behaved like the article described, I don't see how the team would get anything done, plus their MSFT poll score would quickly get them into trouble.
It’s agonizing how much broken US immigration policy plays a large role in forcing talented people who have decided to join our country to feel like this isn’t an option for them. We owe them much better.
I agree that this is not an impossible scenario. But I also have a strong feeling that it's not a particularly likely one either.
I could be wrong and just lucky tho.
FWIW my wife worked at Apple in a non-engineering role for almost a decade about ten years ago, and I can completely see how this kind of dysfunction could happen in that company. Pressure cooker environment.
1. Being able to reveal something new and surprising leads to a flurry of good press. Failing that, constant rumors about what they are working on is like free advertising.
2. Keeping something a secret until it is shipping gives competitors less time to react/plan.
3. Preventing your employees from publicly discussing what they are doing may make it harder to know whom to poach, and harder for folks who want to leave to sell themselves.
4. It is useful as a cultural tool: it brings employees together in sharing a secret, creating an in-group/out-group dynamic; it gives product launches a kind of mystery, makes them something special for employees to watch together and celebrate together.
5. It helps Apple keep control of the framing of a product and the narrative around its launch.
I can't help but notice that some of these are the same reasons why cults are often so secretive.
The company had been really successful. That makes it easy to trust the leadership and believe they know best.
If you’re changing the world and doing the best work of your life, maybe that’s worth making sacrifices for (overtime or whatever).
On the bright side, I’m not sure there’s any equivalent of the malevolent, sexually abusive stuff we see in cults. Hard to complain about being a well-paid engineer with good benefits, etc.
Another funny thing I remember from that experience is that they gave new hires t-shirt which says "Journey is the reward". So it's not "Money is the reward" but some mythical "journey". Apple is so full of shit.
I really hope you will go public about this experience and share it, Apple aren’t the “virtuous” company as they pretend to be.
I'm not sure you understand that Apple could bury this person's career and numerous companies only need one phone call to let this person go. Please understand that you're creating an attack vector that is too great for this person to reveal.
I'll refrain from the sarcasm. Although...it's very appealing.
Is exApple-anon (OG comment that I responded to protect the obvious attack vector) the same as limono (HN submission)?
Do you have evidence of this? I hope you certainly don't believe that they are the same person in a 100,000 person organization. This would be terribly assumptive.
I don't believe limono's questions were malicious but I wanted to make it clear why the questions were inappropriate.
That was almost as bad as my previous 15-year stint with Apple where I started with my dream job and ended up 15 years later in the same organization being told "You should be thinking about your career" by a new director (who was actually a professionally trained diplomat) because they were going to stop shipping the software I worked on for 15 years. They don't just do layoffs because of the liability. I watched other competent senior engineers and managers be treated the same. They removed all of my areas of responsibility and then claimed that I wasn't doing anything, but still forced everyone to show up every day (instead of working remotely, as we had been doing). For the first time, we had daily standup meetings where the manager would just call in to make sure we were present. In that case, they had told us that we were going to be "guinea pigs" for the new Apple spaceship building. Not once did anyone ask me about my opinions regarding the new work environment. They had me in a shared "office" with other perturbed individuals who only wanted to complain about the situation. I was surrounded by glass walls, put at a "desk" with a glossy monitor with windows (no blinds!) behind me so I couldn't even work once the sun started reflecting off of my monitor. One engineer (who now had to commute every day from Carmel to Cupertino) grabbed a patio table's umbrella and propped it up against the window because of the lack of curtains/blinds. I had to watch people drink beer on the patio in the bezel of my monitor because of the reflection. Directly to my left was a black globe security camera always in my peripheral vision, annoying me. I started calling sick because of this crap, and my sick days were maxed out and weren't accruing anyway, so why not. Eventually I just had to leave, like everyone else. All of this after working HARD for 15 years and even winning an Emmy award with my work. And when I came back to Apple for that contract for the online store, that was even worse and the job was all based on lies from the manager.
Let's just say that I do not display my 10-year glass trophy from Apple or the Emmy award, they mean nothing to me and are in a cabinet somewhere. I just sit and laugh at stories about engineers running into the glass walls/doors in the new building, so much so that they started putting sticky notes on the walls/doors so they wouldn't run into them. So that's what became of me being a "guinea pig" for the spaceship building. Then I switched back to PC/Windows/Linux as my primary platform, just like it had been 15 years earlier. Never again, Apple.
I suspect there is more to this individual’s story, but IS&T is truly horrible. It’s full of fiefdoms built on tier 1 consultants (H1-Bs who are treated horribly).
Apple Retail and IS&T clash horribly, projects run over by years and tens of millions of dollars. Seating is beyond inadequate. There is very little very that is redeeming about IS&T, especially when compared to the other organizations within Apple (Apps, iOS, macOS, coreOS, hell, even iCloud).
Buzzfeed News has an excerpt  from Alex Kantrowitz's book Always Day One , which contains interviews with former employees that describes the dynamic.
I doubt he will care, reflected at how he manages PR when accused of international labor abuses.
Provided the article is now deleted, it seems someone cared, though in a different way :/.
You can imagine a company of that size has a huge number of teams, some where everything is just dandy, some with terrible issues like yours and the author's.
But is there something corporate-wide about Apple that makes you think what you went through was common, or the opposite (ie that you were unlucky)?
You can ask the same about all the large techs.
One thing which Steve Jobs did do was go to great length to assemble highly qualified teams for missions that were clearly stated and understood and which all involved agreed were worthwhile even if there might be quibbles over details. The Apple that rescued itself from near death with colorful and fun designs and then released a BSD derived OS was very different from the modern Apple where contributors joust for top status without much if any existential threat.
One of the reasons, I suspect, is that for all his flaws, Jobs was not particularly fond of flattery and imitation, and he did not want to surround himself with mini-mes. I can think of only one member of senior management who could have been described as having somewhat Jobs-like tendencies, and even he was not that close a resemblance.
Jobs was highly empathetic, it’s why he was able to understand the customer so well and why he was famous for saying “the customer doesn’t know what they want”.
Understanding someone’s emotional state does not mean you need to coddle them.
Sometimes the emotional state of the recipient is just a function of how grown up they are.
Perhaps you don't owe Steve Jobs et. al. better, but you owe this community better if you're posting here. Much better.
You're actually more than welcome to delete the account, aren't you guys supposed to allow that anyway under GDPR (for Europeans at least)?
That sounds like behavior I've seen in banks - more the "competing with other teams" than straight job threats.
It's baffling. If I'm a company, the idea of having more than one team doing the same thing in order to try to beat the other down strikes me as not just counter-productive, but expensive and evidence of a broken hierarchy and culture.
Depends... If you have the resources, multiple team can achieve the same result in many ways, one possibly being vastly superior than others. If you look at large companies like IBM or Oracle, this internal innovation is often stifled by "we have whale clients X Y and Z, ask them what they want and implement that".
That said though, it can lead to duplication of efforts and pretty much the same result done twice (once for the finished product, and once for the almost finished product by team B). If you're apple with billions of dollars that you don't know what to do with, this is a viable and useful strategy (also employed by Amazon AFAIK).
In fact, I would wager that not a single VP or higher at any major tech co isn’t a self-serving, backstabbing asshole. You simply don’t get into those types of positions on merit alone. You need to play the game.
That type of environment, where it’s almost impossible to do good work because you constantly need to be watching your own back is so unappealing to me that I can’t fathom why anyone with self worth would work at a FAANG. Perhaps it’s because they don’t know yet, but Blind exists, and it’s more horror stories than not.
Not having to deal with office politics and deranged managers is worth a hell of a pay cut imo.
One problem was that he worked with a lot of H1-B coworkers. So management would push, and they feared for their ability to stay in the country, and when he got there, people would just just suck it up. His first day, calls at 1am 2am 3am. He left.
So a year later they cajoled and talked him into another job. He was given assurances and when he got there, basically the same culture slapped him in the face again. sigh.
What this intentional? I worked at a company that similarly had three projects that were "competing" with each other, unofficially. It was more like three different teams working on a spellchecker, all with different upper engineering management VPs or directors vying for more influence in the organization. Many other teams standing by were not choosing what project to integrate with because we didn't know which would be completed first (or if they made a choice, it was because VP / director told them they had to).
In any case, it seemed silly, and worse, it revealed a lack of vision or leadership in upper management to just choose one of these projects instead of having multiple people working on the same thing, which would inevitably lead to two projects being canned and some number of engineers feeling demoralized and quitting.
This is what Microsoft did, and later admitted it was bad for the products and users and teams.
Is there any research on the topic? Or in-depth post on Microsoft's strategy at the time?
Can't comment much on Apple. But as a Muslim I've seen this in quite a few places. Both in India and the US.
It's not even that much a company thing as much as it is a personal thing. Some people are just bigoted and don't like you. In fact the very sight of your existence disturbs them very deeply. And yeah, if you are better than them, it just makes the problem more worse. It's like they have to now deal with the realization deep down that they inferior to the person they hate.
Mostly Muslims just move on, because we have bills to pay, and families to support. Over long periods of time, it's not really possible to fight these political battles every time you have bigots around you.
I've also known cases when things are proven beyond doubt and the HR is likely to take action on the bigot, they start citing excuses like 'mental health' and 'personal preferences'.
You can't win this, there are going to be these kind of people anywhere you go. You just leave them to their state, and move on.
I've even gotten cold stares for using the office budgets for books, Why do people like you have to read books and get better than us?
Many times it's subtle, but some people are just living through bigotry day in and out. They just can't stand you. And it becomes visible easily.
I've read lots of workplace complaints and talked with lots of different people about their workspace experiences and this persons description rings hollow in many places. You are crazy if you think a publicly traded company the size of Apple would tolerate religious discrimination or anything like what is described in this post.
I hope Tim Cook sees this and takes swift action to make things right with you, hold others accountable, and ensure processes are changed to prevent this from ever recurring.
Is Apple known for having high salaries? I was under the impression (possibly wrongly, I've never worked for Apple) that they underpay their engineers, relying on the engineers' desire to work for them because of their brand.