What motivates developers – and why I quit my old job

About a year ago I left my 9 to 5 job to pursue my own projects after way too many years stuck working at the same position for the same company. Today I stumbled upon this article that made me realize the true reasons why I quit, you can read it here. It turns out that all 3 points expressed in the article were what I was missing from my experience at the particular company.

  • Autonomy – micromanagement was the root of all evil. If as a manager you keep treating your employees as kindergarten children in time they will eventually start behaving like kindergarten children. Ultimately this killed any signs of team spirit and destroyed employee relations.
  • Mastery – the company culture imposed a slow pace, offered almost no training options (at least not in anything relevant to today’s standards), and experimentation with new technologies was treated by the management as toying around rather than doing useful work – essentially there was no long-term vision.
  • Purpose – developers are ‘creators’ in personality, they are people who gain satisfaction by knowing that their creations are being used. Being tasked to develop things that have no consequence, do not help anyone, are simply being funded as an excuse for the existence of the company in the eyes of its investors and you know beforehand that they will be just filed away as soon as they are completed. This alone is the most demotivating thing anyone can do to a software developer.

The worst part is that once you get comfortable in this culture it takes a long time to realize what is going wrong and how much it affects your way of thinking and your behavior in or outside the office. Like the article says, money was certainly not the issue. I was earning a decent salary, it could have been better but I guess it can always be better so I don’t count this as a factor. If you happen to be reading this and you are stuck in a situation like the one I  described I suggest you leave and never look back. New, better opportunities will come as soon as you exit the door.