What prompted the great escape?

The deed is done. I’ve made my decision. But, what made me look elsewhere?

When I break it down, there are three main issues that led me to look for a new job:

  • No psychological safety
  • No growth mindset
  • Too many narcissists

The first two are at the heart of successful teams and the crux of Culture Code and Creativity Inc. You don’t need to know the terms to feel their effects, and notice when they’re missing.

Psychological safety refers to how comfortable you are with the people you work with. Do you feel comfortable speaking up without fear of ridicule? If you make a mistake will the blame thrower be set to annihilate on you? Do you feel your opinion matters and your voice is heard? If you ask for help, will it be giving without judging?

Growth mindset is learning from your mistakes. It’s about trying new things, failing fast, and not repeating a broken process. Are you able to grow and find the “adjacent possible?” If this is your third deployment and you once again forget to run a set of scripts, what does that tell you?

Finally, the tech industry is full of narcissists. Being confident and self-assured is a good thing. Striking out and going against the grain is how new products and ideas develop. But, when it runs rampant and turns into entitlement and bullying, that’s when the problems start.

It may take awhile for the narcissist to reveal their true nature as they are the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They talk over others. They hoard knowledge. They dismiss ideas that aren’t their own. They jump to the whiteboard or steer meetings to topics they know so they can control the narrative.

This created a void for me. People were only interested in working on their own ideas and agendas. It was about being right, not doing the right thing. The environment wasn’t hostile, but it wasn’t comfortable. It wasn’t productive. Information wasn’t shared. Getting help is an exercise in stroking egos. Work becomes emotionally draining. People latch onto their ideas to get recognized. It’s about being recognized for making a lot of noise, not producing solid results.

Since our merger, the first two pillars have eroded away while the third is on the rise. Narcissistic personalities bullied their way to the top. They took over projects and ran them right into the ground. They were too busy patting themselves on the back to hear any feedback. They knew best and others didn’t get the “big picture.”

The managers who understood and promoted a growth mindset left the company. Without them, there was no psychological safety. That led to the spiral we have today, a company that can’t recognize it’s mistakes, and employees who no longer point them out.

Decisions are made in a vacuum. People say yes without thinking things through. No one looks at cause and effect. People aren’t personally invested in their projects. Teams aren’t concerned about the success of other teams. People start looking for scapegoats rather than improving. More work is invested in setting up the long excuse than doing it correctly.

I didn’t want to admit to seeing the signs. It took longer than it should to accept the reality and look for alternatives. There was the hope it would be better after the next meeting or once we passed a deadline.

Unfortunately, situations don’t change unless people want them to change. They need to see an issue for what it is. Without the first two pillars, it can’t happen. That’s where we are today, and that’s what has driven me to look elsewhere.

It not just what a company offers, it’s what it’s lacking. When you start making decisions like an HOA, it’s time to move on.

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