Is it time for me to find a new job?

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mwm158
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Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by mwm158 » Tue Dec 31, 2013 5:06 pm

Peace.
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rob
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by rob » Tue Dec 31, 2013 5:13 pm

* Whenever you ask is it time - it almost always is.
* Don't underestimate the politics, laziness and incompetence in non government organisations.
* Sometimes a change of [(scenery) --admin LadyGeek] is still a change for the good - different [(scenery) --admin LadyGeek] is less annoying for a while.
| Rob | Its a dangerous business going out your front door. - J.R.R.Tolkien

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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Dec 31, 2013 5:43 pm

rob wrote:* Whenever you ask is it time - it almost always is.
* Don't underestimate the politics, laziness and incompetence in non government organisations.
* Sometimes a change of [(scenery) --admin LadyGeek] is still a change for the good - different [(scenery) --admin LadyGeek] is less annoying for a while..
+100
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853211
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by 853211 » Tue Dec 31, 2013 5:56 pm

I work for a government contracto and can sympathize with much of what you've written. It takes about ten months to get a new printer up and running. 8 months to have them even plug in our new DB servers!

One of the hardest management lessons I had to learn as a IT development manager was to NOT do the coding myself. It takes time to get a team up to new standards (and some associates never get there) but they need to be the ones doing the work! I was bit big time early on by creating a dependency on myself to solve the problems and my home life suffered as well. You steer the ship, they power it.

I still spend a bit of time each day in our code base to keep all my skills from going away and to see how things are evolving. We do code reviews and some paired programming so I jump in on those to keep a pulse on things but my days of writing hundreds of lines are over, instead I do a bunch of TPS repors :D.

All that said, from a pay standpoint, jumping will do you well. If you want to stay in management, more tenure might be needed (based on your post). I ran into that recently when I was looking for a change.

Interested in relocating? If so, send me a pm with your resume. I can see if there's anything that might match at my company. We're always looking for quality technical candidates.

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Watty
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by Watty » Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:02 pm

It never hurts to see what is available then to decide what you want to do once you know your options.

One thing to watch out for is that if you stay there then your main skill will become dealing with departments like yours so it might be harder to find other types of work ten years from now or you may be so tied into the pension plan that leaving would be too expensive.

Laura
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by Laura » Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:33 pm

You have changed jobs even if you are in the same place. It sounds like you very much enjoy the technical side of the job but do not enjoy the management side of the position. You might look to see if you can find a position that plays to your interests and does not require you to do the things you do not enjoy. I have seen many people "move up" into jobs that make them unhappy because they are no longer doing what caused them to love the job to begin with.

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wingnutty
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by wingnutty » Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:43 pm

I work in govt and am a manager. I get your frustrations, totally understand where you are coming from. I think you need to look around a bit and see what else is out there. It sounds like it might be time for a new challenge.

Texas hold em71
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by Texas hold em71 » Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:50 pm

I know several government employees and almost all of them echo your opinions. Most are so tied into the pension system, they are resigned to tough it out until retirement. Of course, those who have left claim to be thrilled with the change (not sure they would ever admit otherwise.)

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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by bhsince87 » Tue Dec 31, 2013 10:42 pm

Yes. Moving around is almost always a good thing early in your career.
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace." Samuel Adams

surfer1
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by surfer1 » Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:03 pm

Sounds like it's time. Get your profile up on LinkedIn and fill your description with keywords of technologies that you work with. You'll start getting lots of leads from recruiters and such.

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Nuvoletta
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by Nuvoletta » Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:22 am

Laura wrote:You have changed jobs even if you are in the same place. It sounds like you very much enjoy the technical side of the job but do not enjoy the management side of the position. You might look to see if you can find a position that plays to your interests and does not require you to do the things you do not enjoy. I have seen many people "move up" into jobs that make them unhappy because they are no longer doing what caused them to love the job to begin with.

Laura
There are so many good posts here that I could have quoted 10 of them…this one hit closest for me. As an engineer, I see this a LOT -- moving up into management and losing touch with the technical aspects we enjoy. Some do fine with it, some never really look back and figure out what they miss. Sounds to me like you are being appropriately introspective and figuring out what you do and don't like doing. Unfortunately, I also agree with some of the posters who pointed out this isn't just a governmental organization issue -- managing is managing and people are people, especially groups of people. Some organizations have figured out that they need to provide a technical, non-managerial ladder to provide career growth options and retain top talent, but most haven't and are structured so one can only grow by managing. Can't hurt to look, but try to check into your vesting options (if it were 5 years, for instance, might be worth sticking it out a bit longer). Keep us posted!

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GerryL
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by GerryL » Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:24 am

You may want to reconsider your move into a management role. The problems may be a result of no actual development or support of management skills (my company used to be like that). And/or you may truly be happier as an individual contributor with no management responsibilities. How does your organization regard employees who ask to back out of the management track? And is there a reasonable individual contributor track?

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mwm158
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by mwm158 » Wed Jan 01, 2014 1:41 am

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mathwhiz
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by mathwhiz » Wed Jan 01, 2014 2:44 am

DOD is a huge organization. Go to usajobs.gov. Go to DOD contractors. Start applying and interviewing for jobs. It never hurts to test the market and see what you are worth. Stop complaining about things and start doing something about it.

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mwm158
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by mwm158 » Wed Jan 01, 2014 3:42 am

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tphp99
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by tphp99 » Wed Jan 01, 2014 6:40 am

It's about control. Sounds like you feel the lack of control in your current situation. As you move up in management from a technical position, you'll have to learn to let go of the technical stuff.

I was in your shoes, felt the same way and someone told me: "you can lead by navigating but you're not allowed to drive." Twenty years and a career change later, I'm still grappling with these emotions. You can't do everything, you need to delegate and get the most out of your people. Some of us have a tougher time with managing people vs doing the task ourselves. And it sucks to have that type A personality.

If you're working towards a management position, you might want to concentrate on your management skills instead of doing your subordinates' work on the weekends. That might fix your current job and you may not need to move on as it sounds like you're a valued asset already. Why take a chance, go somewhere else and become dead wood over there?

Good luck, be happy that you're one of the good guys where your are now.

yosef
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by yosef » Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:52 am

Putting aside the question of whether you should change employers, are you sure you really want to be managing people, or are you simply looking to that path to increase your earnings? It sounds like you're a coder, and in my experience the intersection of people with the desire and aptitude to both write code and manage people is pretty small. If management isn't what you're looking for, you should find a company that provides a solid individual contributor career path, as opposed to one where going into management is the only way up.

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linuxology
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by linuxology » Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:57 am

mwm158 wrote:
mathwhiz wrote:DOD is a huge organization. Go to usajobs.gov. Go to DOD contractors. Start applying and interviewing for jobs. It never hurts to test the market and see what you are worth. Stop complaining about things and start doing something about it.
I can easily go elsewhere in the DoD, but the point is, it wont be better unless I get away from government. There's no incentive at all to do well, and that includes the contractors. That's why I'm surrounded by these people. I will stop complaining, I am just tired and irritated. Time to move on.
I am in a so very similar situation, but the team is not quite as large. It sounds like you have a passion for the technical side. It is difficult to do both and you will typically fail in some aspects. Too bad you can't reduce the team size and take their salary, but this is not possible in the government sector. I agree the private sector is better to be in as one is quite limited in government whether contractor or GS (remember: exception to every rule). The private sector is not afraid of the termination practice like the government sector. You should have a good taste if you want to stay technical or go management. I find myself still wanting to hang on to the tech side thus not making a decision to move totally to management (though like you my team leans on me technically) Moving elsewhere will present a growing opportunity for yourself. Are you staying because you are the man and the SME? It feels good to have importance but remember you are also a single point of failure which is not helping the program long term. Are you setting the organization for future success with tech documents and the like. i ask because super techs do not typically understand the importance of documentation. Sometimes the best way to get something accomplished is to let a small task slip that someone else is responsible for. You need to delegate and get this team on board or take necessary steps to get accountability going. Without accountability in the program it will ultimately fall on your shoulders. Stay strong and let us know your path as I am in a similar situation.

MassInvestor
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by MassInvestor » Wed Jan 01, 2014 5:32 pm

Perhaps you could move to a part of government where your work isn't a matter of life or death for its users. You could get used to delegating more tasks without worrying about the implications.

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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by THY4373 » Wed Jan 01, 2014 5:49 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
rob wrote:* Whenever you ask is it time - it almost always is.
* Don't underestimate the politics, laziness and incompetence in non government organisations.
* Sometimes a change of [(scenery) --admin LadyGeek] is still a change for the good - different [(scenery) --admin LadyGeek] is less annoying for a while.
+100
I agree on the politics and incompetence. However, having worked in the Federal Government, then with it (as a contractor), and finally in the private sector, I will say that there is more dead weight in the Federal Government than any other organization I have ever worked with or for (at least State, DoD, Treasury and Justice which are the agencies I have experience with) pretty much everybody I know in the federal space be they civil servant, foreign servant, special agent or federal contractor tells me the exact same thing. There is just a core of folks who seem to do very little in federal service. And I am not an anti-government crusader, Dad was a life long public servant. That said the good and the best in government are every bit as good as their private sector counterparts in my experience.

To OP I agree with others if you feel it might be time to look around it probably is. That doesn't mean you have to leave but it is good to check your options. The grass may not be greener on the other side but it doesn't hurt to walk over there and check it out. I will also add OP that I jumped from the Civil Service to federal contracting to the private sector and I don't regret the moves for a minute. I loved my job in the government but I got many more opportunities and remuneration outside the government.

I'll also add that I tried management (in private sector) but went back to technical leadership role and don't regret it. Basically in my organization you can rise to the level below AVP whether you are a manager or a technical person. This seems a more common practice in the private sector than it does in the public sector. There are even a couple (exceptional technical folks) who are AVP types with no reports.

dailybagel
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by dailybagel » Wed Jan 01, 2014 9:09 pm

Can you try to lead a small team, whose members you have chosen? It sounds like if you could choose 4 people with energy, taken, or at least potential, you could lead/train them better.

If you'd like to PM me a resume, feel free. I work for a company that hires strong software developers. The mission may not be life-or-death, but we have good people on staff, good morale, and a nice workplace.

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mwm158
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by mwm158 » Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:20 pm

Peace.
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Draak
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by Draak » Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:02 am

Start firing the incompetent & lazy workers. The hard workers will appreciate it. You might be able to frighten the unmotivated but capable ones into contributing more. It sounds like you could fire 2-3 without adverse impact to anyone's workload. Select who your are terminating with care and appropriate cause. I have not worked in government, so don't know the process there. Depending on the company it's been everything from I have the ability to fire on the spot to having to 'go through the process' which can be 6 months plus. I have been very successful at coaching intelligent ones out, because they know I will fire people if necessary, so they'll work hard at finding something else. That is a win-win.

The team members that are frustrating you don't have any reason to work hard or well, because if they don't do it, clearly they know you will & they won't look bad.

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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by Barefootgirl » Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:35 am

Here's one opinion from someone with more years than you and has walked that path much longer than you.

Move around, test new environments. From what you've written, you are talented and motivated. This is an unbeatable combination.

It's too early in your career to be bound by handcuffs - wait until you've made big $$ In the private sector and they've burned you out and consider you too old at 40+, then go back to the public sector (because it will be much easier to return since you are a former public employee) where you can play the whole lion in winter routine for the last few years of your career and pick up some nice compensation benefits before you sail off into the wild blue yond.

Best, BFG
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Professor Emeritus
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by Professor Emeritus » Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:48 am

DW had some of the same frustrations over a 29 year Federal career. However she still managed to develop and implement the largest and most successful software system of its type in the world.
I would suggest first exploring what "next level" positions are available in the federal service while also looking outside. A 100% increase in pay is not unusual for those willing to leave the federal government.

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prudent
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by prudent » Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:50 am

mwm158 wrote:I would much rather be leading a group of 10 competent engineers than this group of 35.
I understand completely. People don't understand how vast the range of skill can be in coding. One great programmer can outproduce 5 "competent" ones. I've seen it time and time again.

I think it's time to look for another gig. Barefootgirl's advice seems sound to me.

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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by snowman » Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:38 am

Yes, it is time to move on. You will do well no matter where you go. Eventually, you will find your place, and you will know when you do.

I never worked for the government, but your statements about "dead wood" ring true for private companies too. At my last one, I was on the finance/negotiations side of business, and was allowed to hire my people. We were the best performing team, bar none, with fewest members. I resisted many calls from other managers to "hire" their people - all underachievers that were in danger of losing their job. Eventually, politics won, and I started getting more and more "lifers" - incompetent, lazy people tied to their pensions. It had the domino effect - my best people started to leave in disgust, as they had to do not only their own work, but also help lifers who, BTW, made much more money than them. The final straw for me was a big promotion - we merged with another company, I was promoted again and got even more people, many of them incompetent. The amount of money some of them made was absurd! I left in disgust too, and started my own consulting company.

I stayed in touch with "my" best people over the years. They are doing very well, for the most part. It was a good move on their part. It was a good move for me too. The beginnings were very, very hard; most people would give up I presume. I went from high salary plus bonus, 401k, outstanding benefits package, and pension, to essentially nothing. But I stuck with it, and now I would not trade it for anything! I found my place.

My point is this: when you are young and ambitious, you want to prove to the world how good you are, and you want to be rewarded for that work. As you move through life, you will realize that many people around you don't share the same values. You also realize that some of the laziest people around you make more money than you do - it's just the way it is. Your unhappiness at work will transfer to your family life, no matter how much money you make. You then realize money is not everything, and you start your search for happiness. Some people find it, some don't. Many give up in the process, and essentially become "lifers". Don't be one of those people! Keep looking - eventually, you will find the place you like.

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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by Barefootgirl » Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:50 am

I don't want to drag this off topic, but snowman knows what he's talking about.

Not only will you discover that there are lazy people around who make more than you, but you might also one day share a similar experience to the one I had around age 30.

I was sitting in a meeting, a whole conference room table full of suits and gray hair. Me, the only woman and by far, the youngest person in the room.

Suddenly, after listening to these people for awhile, it hit me that in spite of myself (younger, not from the Ivy league, blue collar up bringing, female etc) , was more knowledgeable than half the people in the room and there was no longer a reason for me to hang back, give them space to rant or wave their stupid flags or whatever. I stood up and took charge. It was a defining moment.

Defining moments bring growth.

BFG
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mwm158
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by mwm158 » Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:49 pm

Peace.
Last edited by mwm158 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Clearly_Irrational
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by Clearly_Irrational » Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:29 pm

You really only have two choices:

1) Decide that you're not happy in your current environment and change jobs

2) Decide that you're not happy with the way your current situation is playing out and commit to figuring out how to work the system you have, warts and all.

As a Director your job is to figure out how to get results with the tools at hand, you will never have a perfect set of employees, as much budget as you would like, the perfect environment, lack of politics, etc. etc. Despite feeling powerless at times because you can't do everything you want when you want it, nevertheless you still have considerable power to effect change. Blaming your staff for everything is often a sign that you're doing an ineffective job of management. Assuming you decide to stay you need to sit down and come up with a turnaround plan, but you need to realize that changing an organization like this can take years of persistent effort. Still, it's actually a rare situation that an employee can't be rehabilitated and put in a useful role of some sort given enough effort and a commitment to understanding their limitations and motivations.

Honestly, given your description of the situation you may want to reconsider whether management is right for you. It sounds like you might be much happier as a technical architect or senior coder.

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prudent
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by prudent » Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:36 pm

mwm158 wrote:We had a group of 4 engineers working on a project for 2 years now, and thing was still buggy as could be, and every time they fixed one big they created 2 others. I was so sick of it, I rewrote the entire thing from scratch in one weekend. It works flawlessly. The amount of time, effort, and energy wasted dealing with this thing was just absurd.
Now that is a compelling story that ought to get you in the door for some interviews. Try to get some contacts at places who are looking for people so you can get your name in the door without having to go through the HR-keyword search mill. Do you participate in any professional orgs in your area where you can do some networking?

snowman
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by snowman » Thu Jan 09, 2014 3:29 pm

Before you decide where to go, you need to properly assess your personality type and your goals in life. Otherwise, you are just bouncing around without a purpose. Some people value steady paycheck above all and get used to any environment. Some will find satisfaction in trying to affect organizational change. Some will try to start their own company. Some will stay and suffer in order to reach their financial goals. It just depends.

Not knowing much about you, I would guess a large government organization is not the right place for you. Probably the same for large corporation. I would look into smaller companies - they generally cannot afford to support much deadwood. You will also have bigger impact on the success of the company. Talk to your peers, friends, industry people. There must be better companies out there that will value your experience; your job is to find them.

Think about what makes you happy. Hopefully it's not money, or you are going down the wrong track. Where do you want to live? Mountains? Ocean? With whom do you want to share your life? What kind of memories do you want to create for when you are old? Look for increased level of happiness in your life, not net worth. There is a place waiting for your contribution; don't be afraid to look for it.

Thinking back, going my own way was the right decision for me. "My people", as I call them, all thought I was nuts, but they did say "if anyone can do it, you are the guy to do it". One guy went to a small company in the same industry; he moved up nicely and is happy there. He hired 3 of "our" people later on. Another one bounced around for 2-3 years until he found his place; he is still there. Another one made lateral move to another large company with somewhat better environment; she is still there, much happier than our old place. The guy I hired shortly before I left is still at the old place - he likes it there... He tells me all deadwood is still there, with the exception of people that already retired and are now collecting their coveted pension.

As you can see, everyone is different. You've got plenty accomplishments, don't be shy. On the other hand, nobody likes jerks that badmouth people and organizations. Be nice to other people and treat them with respect. Keep looking for happiness in your life until you find it. It may be a place, a person, a career. Only you can answer that question to yourself. The rest, including the money, will follow.

federal dinosaur
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by federal dinosaur » Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:35 pm

I had to respond to reply from Draak in this thread....... "Start firing the incompetent & lazy workers." Sad to say (in my experience as a fed), that won't happen. There are motivated, talented individuals working for the federal government. There are also those who ride on the backs of those same motivated/talented employees to the benefit of no one. Least of all, the organization or mission.

I learned how to stay motivated in federal employment. I learned to accept those things that I knew I could not change. But my motivation allowed me to go ahead and ask the question about possibly finding/trying to find a better way, even if the answer was always.... "but we've always done it this way". I have worked with many federal employees who have gone through the same frustrations as you. Some of them stayed with their fed jobs and found ways to reduce the stress of things that could not be changed (or people/organizations that will not change!) Some of the best federal employees are lost to private industry because of the frustrations that you have clearly identified. They departed federal employment and found more challenging jobs in the private sector.

Don't be in a hurry to make a change. Consider your options carefully. I wish you well.

lutus
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Re: Is it time for me to find a new job?

Post by lutus » Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:35 pm

I have a couple friends who have worked two or more branches of the armed forces as civilian engineers. There were noticeable differences in the organizational structures.

Also, you might just need to work on a different project. There will be losers and winners wherever you work, public or private.

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