A severely underpaid programmer worked on my team. I didn’t know he was underpaid until he came to me in disgust and said, “I just got a raise. I was earning $35,000 per year. Now I’m going to be making $55,000. Those $%@& should have been paying me more for years.” Joe had finally gotten mad enough to tell his boss he was looking for a new job. His boss looked at what it would cost to replace him, and gave him the money he deserved. After calming down, Joe decided it was enough. He stayed for years longer.
Joe forced the issue when he went to his boss and said, “I’ve got more seniority than Jim and Bob. I’m a better programmer. I just found out they are making $50,000 a year. I feel you are taking advantage of me. You need to make it right.”
When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
The prelude to quitting is to let your boss and his boss know you have issues. Don’t threaten to quit. Tell them the facts. For instance, “I’ve been putting in 60 hours a week for 3 months on this project. The requirements keep changing AFTER I get my part done. You talk about a bonus, but I have seen nothing after 3 months and I am getting no overtime pay. You need to make this right, and you need to do it quickly, or you will have more open rebellion and some of us will quit.”
If you want to feel really good when you quit, give your boss a list of your complaints 2 or 3 months before you start looking for a job. If he resolves the problems, decide whether he has done enough. You may have to give him a second list after complimenting him for the improvements so far. If he has had time to fix the problems and didn’t, and you are quitting, you’ll know his desperate promises are lies as he tries to get you to stay. It is sweet and just revenge to leave when you played the prelude right.
Something to do today
Even if you are not planning to leave, make a list of things your boss and his boss really ought to fix. Give it to them both and ask them how they plan to fix things.
Later: How to quit – the dirty deed
The old boy network
Exploit the old boys
The money question