It’s Fall in the United States, and here in Wisconsin, the leaves are changing color and falling from the trees. The air is drier and colder, and it’s almost hockey season. It’s also the end of the month, so here’s the September issue.
In this issue, you’ll explore how to tell if you’re being pushed out of your role, how to make your writing and teaching more inclusive through the words and phrases you choose, and how to add notes to your Git repository.
With all the talk about “quiet quitting,” I’d like to talk about “quiet firing.”
“Quiet quitting” is where someone decides they’re no longer going to work those extra long hours and take on additional responsibilities. Despite what you may hear, quiet quitting isn’t slacking off or coasting, although it may appear that way to your boss if you’re usually a go-getter who’s dialing it back.
I’ve heard the term “quiet firing” a few times, and it’s absolutely something that happens to people. It’s where the manager or employer changes the work environment to encourage an employee to resign. Rather than fire someone, you make things uncomfortable or miserable for an employee, so they leave on their own. Some people call this “managing people out.”
It’s worth pointing out that I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the Internet, but “quiet firing” sounds a lot like constructive dismissal, which is where the employer creates a hostile work environment, causing someone to resign. You should talk to an employment lawyer if you can prove constructive dismissal.
Legal issues aside, here are some things I’d watch out for to see if your manager is trying to manage you out.
One of the first warning signs is If you find yourself with less work to do or work that isn’t important. As you grow in your role, you’re supposed to get more responsibilities and more projects to work on. If new high-profile projects come up and you ask for them, and your manager assigns them elsewhere, it’s time for you to have an honest conversation, especially if you also notice that your manager is delegating some of the things you work on to others, or asking others to help you out. Sometimes you’re not a good fit for a project, and sometimes it’s just a slow period, but if you notice a pattern where everyone else is working on things that will progress their career and you’re not, you should be concerned.
Some managers are micromanagers; they need to control the projects they’ve delegated. But if your manager has mostly let you do your own thing but is suddenly very interested in your project, this could be a sign that they are concerned about the project and your ability to deliver. But it could also be a way for them to nudge you out of the organization. Losing autonomy over your work can hurt; after all, they hired you for your experience, and now your manager is telling you how to do your work or questioning your decisions. This is one of the oldest ways to push someone out.
However, don’t confuse “being micromanaged” with “being held accountable to deliver on your commitments.” If you’re truly not meeting goals and deadlines, or your quality isn’t where it should be, your manager may absolutely lean into your work. They’re responsible for your output, and your work reflects on them.
If you find yourself disconnected from others on your team and in the organization, or you learn about things that affect your role from others second-hand, you should be concerned. Doubly so if you’re no longer getting pulled into meetings or email threads about the things you work on, but you’re still expected to do the work and are accountable for its results. Managers use this common tactic to push someone out; the manager wants you to feel like you’re not part of the team anymore or your input isn’t required.
It feels good to get positive feedback on your work. Unfortunately, one way managers and companies try to manage people out is by minimizing their efforts and ignoring accomplishments. If you’re working hard and putting out quality work, but your manager isn’t highlighting it to the rest of the company or giving you positive feedback directly, this could signal that they don’t value your work. If you’re only getting criticism, that’s another sign that something’s wrong.
Any of these situations by itself isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm. However, If you notice several of these things happening to you, you will want to do some deeper explanation.
It’s also possible that your manager could be a micromanager, oblivious to the work you do, or a lousy communicator. Or they just lack experience. But a bad or inexperienced manager can affect your career progression. Unfortunately, “maybe they’re just a bad manager” is often a good cover for them when they’re questioned about managing someone out.
Your manager is the person who supports and advocates for promotions, raises, discretionary bonuses, and even the projects you work on. If they’re not helping you, it might be time for a change.
I live in the United States Midwest, a mostly rural part of the country. It’s common here for men and women to address a group of people with “you guys.” regardless of the group’s composition. When I started teaching full-time, my teaching mentor challenged me to break down as many barriers to learning as I could, and the first challenge for me was to change the language I used when addressing my class. She argued that using “you guys” when referring to a class made of of mostly men could make those women, who might already feel they don’t feel like they belong in a programming class, feel even more unwelcome.
It dawned on me that there were many phrases and words I grew up hearing and using that, now, are considered offensive, derogatory, or worse. It’s easy to brush this off as “the younger generation is soft” or “everyone’s too sensitive,” but the reality is that language evolves as society evolves, and more importantly, if you’re creating content to teach, changing the words you use to make your learners more comfortable will result in them learning what you’re trying to teach, rather than feeling left out, singled out, or worse.
Instead of “you guys,” I use “y’all,” “folks,” or “friends” when addressing groups of people. It took a bit of effort, but I foundd that it was worth it if it makes other people feel welcome in my classes. Now I don’t even think about it. I’ve even adopted “friends” as my salutation when I join a Zoom call at work.
There are a lot of resources you can use to ensure the words you use are sending the right message, but I find the OpenGates Checklist to be a fantastic resource because it not only provides suggestions but also references so you can learn more about the suggestions it makes. In some cases, the suggested alternatives offer more clarity, which is helpful if you’re writing for a more global audience.
Consider adding this checklist to your publication process. Choosing different words is a small act of kindness that can have a significant impact on people’s learning experiences. You’ll be surprised at how small word changes can affect your audience. And some people will really appreciate your efforts to create a safe and welcoming environment for them.
Did you know that Git lets you store notes on objects in the repository?
The git notes command lets you add and manage notes.
The Git documentation suggests that notes are a good way to add additional context to a commit that wasn’t available when you made the commit. If you amend a commit, you’ll change the hash associated with that commit, which could cause some headaches for you and the rest of the people using the repository. Using
git notes doesn’t alter the commit hash at all, but you’ll still see the note added to the commit log when you make the changes.
Git stores the notes in a separate branch, so there are some issues with merging them. But I encourage you to explore this feature if you need to add additional metadata to your repository. One interesting case I’ve seen is people using notes to provide review feedback on a commit.
As you head into October, here are a couple of questions for you to think about:
Looking back on your career, can you identify a time when you may have been managed out of an organization? What were the signs you saw? How would you react differently next time you encountered those signs?
What’s one wording change you’ll commit to practicing over the next three months?
As always, thank you for reading. And if you’re a subscriber, thank you for allowing me to share my writing with you each month. Please share this with a friend so they can subscribe too.
Until next month...