The End of Everything
It’s the middle of December and I have my annual performance review with Satan.
I’ve prepared a long list of accomplishments to present, and I’d shared the document with him two days prior, to give him a chance to look everything over.
We start off the meeting and I ask him how he thinks I’ve been doing on average. He’s got a printout of the spreadsheet listing out of all the crap I’ve done.
Terrific. I started out with lofty expectations for you, especially considering the recommendation from Namager that we hire you. And you’ve jumped over what was already a high bar. But we will need to raise the bar for next year.
Yep, the bar is always rising, I get it.
I was looking over the spreadsheet and it’s an enormous amount of work. Sometimes I don’t realize how much we’re all doing but when you lay it all out end-to-end, it’s hard to absorb it all.
I know. My guess is that I’m doing the work of three people at a normal company.
So how are you doing?
Do you have any feedback for me?
I value 360 feedback.
The last time I had feedback for you we had to be separated, remember? <We share an uncomfortable laugh.>
OK. Let’s talk about goals for next year.
Before we do that, I want to talk about the bonus.
Yes, the bonus. 20% of salary after 6 months.
I don’t remember anything about that.
No worries, it seems like forever since I interviewed for this place and you made the commitment. Half a lifetime. <Here I furnish a printed email, addressed from him to me, with the agreement in writing. He reads it.>
I can’t give you this bonus.
We don’t have the funds.
Sure we do. Think about all of the money we’ve saved simply not hiring a support rep over the last two months. Where was that money going to come from?
We need that money to hire people down the road.
I understand you’re trying to be careful, financially. But this was a promise. My expectation is that it will be fulfilled.
I will not be granting this bonus. It’s not possible. I shouldn’t have made this commitment in the first place.
Fine. But I want you to know that I’m extremely unhappy about this. Extremely. Do you know what that means?
You’ll be rewarded in the future when the company takes off.
Barely. I only have a .5% stake, and that will be further diluted when we get another round of funding.
I can work on granting additional stock options.
Although I appreciate options, what I appreciate more is people sticking with their promises.
There’s no need to get upset. I will do what I can. Now let’s talk about goals for next year.
Not today. I’m extremely unhappy about this. I sacrificed my entire life for the past six months to wholly dedicate myself to Hell. I haven’t seen either of my parents in half a year. I’m forgetting my wife’s name. I don’t do anything but work.
I must remind you that you signed up for this. Startup culture is demanding. There were no secrets going into this.
Except the secret that you promised me a bonus that you weren’t planning on delivering.
I’ll talk to the CFO and see what we can do.
The next day I get a pre-paid $250 Visa credit card from the company, courtesy of Satan. Apparently this was what they could rustle up to compensate me for the approximately 700 hours of overtime I’d put in over the past five and a half months. Thirty cents an hour of pre-tax pay.
When he gave it to me I think he expected that I’d be grateful. Instead I informed him I would no longer be working more than forty hours a week.
That’s fine as long as you can get all of your work done.
You know that’s not possible. Take a look at the spreadsheet of the stuff I’ve been working on again. Balls are going to get dropped.
Hey, at least I’m telling you what to expect and I’ll follow through with my commitments. Unlike you.
What’s with the constant attitude? Seriously? It’s really unprofessional.
Right, I get it. It’s OK for you to be unprofessional and not for me.
When have I ever been unprofessional?
You know what, Satan? I’ve decided there’s no point to talking to you anymore. I want to report to Namager and just be an engineering resource moving forward. Can we do that?
No. We need someone to manage the support side of things.
You might need someone to do more than that pretty soon.
Is that a threat? Are you threatening me?
I haven’t decided yet. But like I said yesterday, I’m really unhappy with you right now. I don’t know what else to say.
That night I tell my wife about these exchanges and she says: You’re that unhappy — just leave. Schedule some time on his calendar and give him your resignation. Stop being a baby and make your decision.
I punted the meeting with Satan to January 3rd because things were tolerably slower in the office between Christmas and New Year’s — meaning: I was only putting in 40 hours a week or so. This is mostly because our bank client had off work so I no longer had any support tasks to do.
We are sync’ing up on a skype call instead of in person, because we’re both working from home. As far as he knows, the purpose of this meeting is to finally discuss my goals and objectives for the next year.
So what are your big plans for 2012 on the support and operations side of things?
Actually, Satan, we need to talk about something else first. I’m leaving the company. Consider this my two weeks notice.
Are you sure about this?
Yes. Please talk to Namager and let me know where you want me to focus my time over the next few days.
What if I’m able to get that bonus to go through?
So wait, now that I’m quitting you’re going to give me the money you should have already given me?
What’s it going to be? Yes or No?
It’s a no. This isn’t a game to me. No now, no forever.
You’re making a poor career choice. I’ll let everyone I know in the startup world that you are unreliable.
Go ahead. It’s not true and it doesn’t matter to me. You don’t have as much power as you think.
I’m going to leave poor linkedin feedback on you.
Right back at you.
You can’t just leave. We need you. It’s like you’re killing my baby. You are driving a stake through my newborn child’s heart. (Note: Not. Making. This. Up. Satan should have majored in drama instead of business.)
You’ll be fine. I might consider contracting in the evenings to get you over the hump while you hire someone new.
What would be your rate?
That’s absurd, we won’t pay that.
I don’t see why not. You’ll have freed up a ton of money since you’ll be out from under my salary.
Not a chance.
Your loss, I don’t need the money.
If you don’t need the money, why are you hung up on the bonus?
Issues of integrity and trust. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll get back to work. I’m sure you have plenty to talk about with the rest of the executive team.
Would you consider staying just until we find someone new?
No. I need to move on as soon as possible. All the best, Satan.
Isn’t using passive-aggressive sarcastic comments a fun way to end serious conversations? I’d like to take a moment to thank my parents for this awesome technique.