Original English text:Why I Quit Google to Work for Myself
In the past four years, I worked as a software development engineer at Google. On February 1st, I resigned. Because they refused to buy me a Christmas gift.
Well, in fact, there are deeper reasons.
Start two years
In these two years, I deeply love Google.
When the "annual employee survey" asked whether I expected to remain in Google five years later, the answer was unquestionable.
After five years I will of course still be in Google. I have around the world's best engineers, we use the world's most advanced development tools, we can also enjoy delicious food around the world for free.
My typical day at Google
My recent performance rating is "Strongly Exceeds Expectations." If you continue to maintain this momentum, I will soon be promoted to a higher level of senior software engineers. What a tall title! Later, for my professional career, I can proudly say, "Yes, I'm a senior software engineer. Working at Google. "The people you hear will definitely think I'm pretty good.
My manager assured me that I will be promoted soon. He thinks I have the ability to do advanced work. I only need to prove to the Promotion Committee with the right project.
Does the manager not give you promotion?
No, this has nothing to do with managers, because Google's managers can't promote their direct reports. They do not even have the right to vote.
Instead, the decision to advance is in a small committee of high-level software engineers and managers who haven’t even heard of you before deciding to advance.
To apply for a promotion you need to compile a "promoting data package": Collect written suggestions from teammates, design documents you create and small papers you write to explain why you deserve promotion.
The promotion committee then reviews your data package with a few other people and spends a day deciding who can advance and who cannot.
During my two-year honeymoon with Google, this system sounded great. My destiny is in the hands of a mysterious committee that has never seen me. They will not be partial or political. They will see all my hard work. They will approve me because of my high quality code and savvy engineering decisions.
That is not its true mode of operation
Before I organized my first promotion package, I never thought about the logistical aspects of its operational processes.
In my mind, the promotion committee is such a just organization that stands in the perspective of God. If every day I wholeheartedly choose the correct problem to solve, strive to improve the quality of the code base, and make every effort to help my team perform effectively, then the promotion board will magically know everything and reward me accordingly.
However, the fact is that it does not work this way. It took me two years to figure this out.
Before seeing the truth, my main responsibility is a legacy data pipeline. It has been in maintenance mode for many years. As the load increases, the pipeline bends due to pressure. It often silently dies or produces incorrect output. It takes several days for the fault to be diagnosed because no one has written a document for it since the initial design specification.
I am proud and cordially pampering the pipeline to make it healthy again. I fixed dozens of bugs and wrote automated tests to make sure they don't have problems anymore. I deleted thousands of lines of code that were either dead or completely replaced by modern libraries. I have documented the pipeline so that my teammates can understand structural knowledge at any time.
The problem is that, as I discovered when I was promoted, none of these outcomes are quantifiable. I cannot prove that anything I do has had a positive effect on Google.
The indicator also did not occur
The pipeline recorded few indicators. The indicators do make things look worse. My bug discovery led to an increase in the overall number of bugs. The failure of the pipeline has increased because, in an abnormal situation, it will quickly fail, rather than quietly passing bad data. I drastically reduced the time for developers to fix these glitches, but I didn't set an indicator for tracking developer time.
When my other work is expressed in writing, it is also very impressive. On several occasions, I put my project on hold for weeks or even months to help her teammates because of his risks. This is the right decision for the team, but it's just plain in the promotion package. For the promotion committee, my teammate's project is an important job that requires the assistance of multiple developers. They were able to find ways to let me help them. This is evidence of their leadership quality. I am just an unconscious work squad. Instead, it seems that the work I am responsible for is irrelevant, so that I can be on call, and immediately Can lay down the work at hand.
When I submitted my first promotion package, the final result was as I was concerned about: The promotion board said that I have no evidence that I can handle the technical complexity and that they cannot see my impact on Google.
Refute my ability to the promotion committee
Learn from rejection
Being rejected was a major blow, but I was not discouraged. I think my performance exceeds my level, but the promotion board can't see it. However, this can be solved.
I admit that I was really naive in the first two years. I didn't plan ahead enough to make my work a dead letter. Now that I understand how this process works, I'm ready to record and save more fully as I continue to do the same work.
For example, my team receives a large number of distracting email alerts because of false positives. Previously I only solved these alerts. But now I know that in order for this job to appear in my promotion package, I should first set the indicator so that we have a history of alert frequencies. During the promotion visit, I was able to display an impressive alarm trend chart.
Shortly afterwards, the team assigned me a project that was destined to be promoted. The project relies heavily on machine learning, which has been a hot topic for Google. It can automate tasks that require hundreds of human operators to do manually, so it will have a significant and objective impact on Google. At the same time, I also need to lead a junior developer —— throughout the entire project, which is usually a plus in the eyes of the promotion board.
Holiday gifts and wake-up calls
A few months later, Google ended its long tradition of providing luxury holiday gifts for all employees. Instead, they use gift budgets for purchases (disguised as charity ads) on Chromebooks for poor schoolchildren.
Shortly afterwards, I personally heard the following conversation between the two employees:
Employee A: Actually you still get the gift. Like these cuts will increase the value of Google stocks. You can sell your stock award for any gift you choose.
B staff: This is not, I told my wife I did not buy her Christmas gifts, but she can use the money in our bank account to buy any gift she wants?
Employee A: You and Google are building a business relationship. If you're disappointed that Google didn't prepare a gift like you did for your wife, then you misunderstood this relationship.
and many more. So I established a business relationship with Google.
It took me two and a half years to realize that this might be a little unbelievable, but Google has created a community awareness within the organization.& mdash;—Let's think we're not just employees, we're still Google itself.
That conversation made me realize that I'm not Google. I am just a migrant worker who provides services to Google in exchange for money.
So if there is a business relationship between Google and me that can serve the interests of all parties, why do I spend time on all these tasks that are in the interest of Google rather than my own? If the promotion committee does not reward bug fixes and team support, why do I have to do these things?
Most effective for promotion
The veto that I promoted for the first time taught me a wrong lesson. I think I can continue doing the same work, but there are things I can do to make the promotion committee see my results. However, in fact, I should do the opposite: figure out what the promotion committee wants and then do it exclusively.
I adopted a new strategy. Before I begin any task, I will ask myself whether this helps promotion. If the answer is no, then I will not do it.
My code quality standards from "" can maintain this level in the next 5 years? ” changed to “ whether it can continue until I was promoted? ”. I don't submit or fix any bugs unless they threaten the release of my project. I tried to shirk all responsibility for maintenance work. I stopped volunteering for campus recruitment. I reduced to zero from one or two interviews per week.
Then my project was cancelled
The priority was shifted. The management handed over my project to our sister team in India. In exchange, the team provided us with one of their projects. This is an undocumented system based on a deprecated infrastructure, but it is still a key part of the product. The work assigned to me was to clean up the system from the sister team's code and move it to a new framework while ensuring that it could run in a production environment and reach its performance targets.
As far as promotion is concerned, my efforts in the past few months have been overshadowed. Because I did not publish anything for the cancelled project, I spent two months worthless on the project. And I still have to spend a few weeks to speed up the system that I inherited, and I will certainly spend a lot of time trying to keep the system operational.
What else can I say?
This is the third time in six months. My manager has rearranged me on the middle of a project. Each time, he assured me that this was not related to the quality of my work, but rather to changes in senior management strategies or team personnel.
At this point, I came back to think of things from the top. Do not think about my manager, his manager, or even ignore the so-called promotion committee. What happens if I simply reduce the other side to Google? What happened between our "business relationship"?
Yes, Google keeps telling me that unless I see a project completed, it cannot judge my work. However, I was unable to complete any project because Google interrupted midway and assigned me to a new project.
The whole process is ridiculous.
Google Promotion Board Book Publishing
My career is determined by a mobile, anonymous committee, who will decide my career in an hour. An administrative decision that I protested against invalidated the progress I had made so many months in my career.
The worst thing is that I am not proud of my job. What I ask myself is no longer: “How can I solve this challenging problem? ” instead: "How can I make this problem seem challenging from a promotion perspective?" ” I hate this.
Even if I got promoted, then what? The mainstream idea is that every promotion will be harder than the previous one. In order to continue to advance my career, I need a project that is more extensive and involves more collaborative teams. But this means that the project may fail because there will be more factors beyond my control, which can waste months or even years.
What are the other options?
About this time, I discovered Indie Hackers.
This is an online community for small software business founders. Emphasis: Small. The goal of these founders is not to become Zuckerberg second, but to earn some money from some modest and profitable businesses.
I have always been very interested in starting my own software company, but I only know the path to entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley. I originally thought that becoming a software founder meant spending most of my time financing, and the rest of the time I had to worry about attracting millions of new users.
Indie Hackers gives a seductive option. Most members use their own savings to build businesses or use them as amateurs outside of full-time work. They do not need to respond to investors, and certainly they do not have to prove themselves to the Anonymous Committee.
The disadvantages are also there. On the one hand, income is not stable, and on the other hand, it faces more catastrophic risks. If I make a mistake on Google and cause the company to lose $10 million, I don't have to bear any consequences. I need to do a post-mortem analysis and everyone will be happy with this learning opportunity. But for most founders, a $10 million mistake will mean bankruptcy and several lifetime debts.
The idea of being a founder of Indie Hackers was lingering in my mind and it made me dream. Because regardless of whether the business has achieved great success or failed for many years, it is under its own control. At Google, I don't think I can control the project myself, let alone career growth and team orientation.
I tried to think for a few months and finally resolved. I want to be an independent hacker.
One last thing before resigning
I still have unfinished business on Google. After spending three years in promotion, I didn't want to leave without making a difference. It only takes a few months for me to apply for a promotion again, so I decided to give myself one last chance.
Tragically, my project was canceled six weeks after the conclusion of the achievement statistics. It was cancelled again.
In fact, my entire team was canceled. This is very common at Google, and it also has a euphemistic title: defragmentation. The management handed over our team's project to our sister team in India. Both my teammates and I must start from different areas.
Anyway, I have applied for promotion. A few weeks later, my manager showed me the result. My performance rating is "Superb", which is the highest score and only gives about 5% of the staff in each period. The promotion committee pointed out that in the past six months, I clearly demonstrated a high standard of work. And this is not exactly the months I worked hard for the most effective promotion.
However, they think that the six-month tracking record is not long enough, so he …… wish me the better next time.
My manager told me that if I do six months of high-quality work, my chances of promotion are great. I can't say I wasn't tempted, but until that time, the encouragement that has given me in the past two years has been "“the chance of promotion is great after six months."
So now it's time to leave.
So what's next?
When I told others that I left Google, they thought I must have some brilliant ideas. Only fools will quit the Google software engineer job.
Is it true that I am not a fool?
My plan is to try several different projects in a few months to see if there is any appeal to people's minds, such as:
Google is a great place to work where I learned many valuable skills and skills. Resignation is a difficult decision because I have more things to learn, but I can always find an employer like Google. I will not always have such freedom to obey my own company and establish my own company. I do not know how far I can go and look forward to my results.
Translation of:Code Network– Xiaofeng