So there’s a catch-22 in hiring today. There shouldn’t be, but there is.

  • There’s a general view among many in tech that they’re asked to do too much with too little. They’re now underpaid for too much work. And that every job is risky. That they could get laid off anytime, no matter how well they do. Etc.
  • And there’s a general view among many founders and CEOs that turnover will remain perpetually high. That no matter how fairly they try to pay folks, and do their best with work-life balance, and support hybrid and other more flexible environments, that folks will just … leave at higher rates than before. No matter what they do to retain them.

These feed off each other.

I’ve seen this reach a peak recently with many employees asking for there not to be a one-year cliff in stock grants anymore. From the employee’s perspective, it seems like a fair ask given all the uncertainty out there. But from the employer’s perspective, it seems like the loss of the last token incentive to even stay 12 months. It seems to clearly say, “hey, I’m probably out of here before Month 12 anyway, so …”

Who wants to truly invest in someone already planning to leave before they start?  Founders used to presume folks would stay, if given good work, decent pay, and ownership.  Now, they aren’t sure anymore.  They just … don’t know if folks will stay.  No matter what they do.

So if employees feel like jobs are all worse and too hard now, and employers feel like everyone is going to leave in less than a year anyway .. no one truly invests in each other. Not for real.  It’s just natural.

Not really. Not on either side. Employees don’t really invest in deeply learning the company, the culture, and especially the product if they aren’t sure it’s likely to work out.  They sometimes even work 1 or 2 other jobs to maintain optionality.  And the companies? They don’t presume success anymore either. They don’t presume folks will stay. So they wait and see, rather than invest in people.

A net result is everyone asks a bit less from each other.  Now that may feel good to start. There’s often less pressure today, in many cases, than there used to be. Not always, but sometimes. Trust me, many CEOs I talk to feel that today, if they ask too much, folks will just quit. You may not see it. But it’s true. So .. they ask less. But expect less. And invest less.

But I suspect everyone investing less, in the end, means everyone never really achieves what they could have.

If that’s not you, if don’t like that — just ask for more. Ask for more training. Ask for more responsibility. Raise your hand.  Ask if you can be a leader, and take on more.

From most founders, you’ll get a Yes. Not all, but most. And you’ll rise to the top.  If you get a No?  Well, then maybe move on 🙂

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