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We may get fired and I don't know what to do (pastebin.com)
81 points by firefoxd on Sept 1, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 114 comments

I really would not talk to upper management. If the guy got moved to a profitable department, it means he has friends there. You're gonna lose, and risk a bad reference which would make it difficult to get a new job.

Remember who put him there, if it was bad choice, it means upper management made a bad decision. In my experience upper management will do anything but admit to a bad decision.

Just silently leave for another job, try to make sure you will get a good/neutral reference. Remember future employers will just think your bad/unskilled if you get a bad reference rather than the fact you got into politics. Larger companies have an automatic no, to bad references and won't accept excuses. Since they assume your a bad person/almost criminal (the only point large corporates will give a bad reference normally) and probably lying. Limiting you to small companies for your next job.

Its nice to think you can be a hero and fix this, but you can only do that if your someone with significant power in the company like a founder, or an early employee who is best buds with senior management. Since HN is full of these types, they can be idealistic.

I've been through situations like this, and this is what I would do now rather then potentially making your life hell.

Situations like this is a massive problem with modern company structure.

You make a good point, but perhaps its not so black-and-white as that. If the OP has no real relationship with more senior management, then it is indeed a risky move to take it there. But we don't have very much information to say what the relationships are. It may very well be possible to bring this up intially in a non-accusatory, informal sort of way.

And, just in case you are around when the shit does hit the fan, then, surely, you would want to have some evidence to show that you pushed to take action to correct the problems you saw. There's no mention even of any documentation of their concerns, which surely should be priority number one. I have seen similar (if less extreme) cases where developers knew about problems that no-one acted on. And guess what? When the impact from the problems became apparent, they took the blame, because they had no evidence to exonerate themselves. If the culture of the upper management is not as bad as you assume, then you will end up looking like the bad guy by keeping quiet.

As a side point - am I incorrect in believing that it is, in fact, Illegal to give a bad reference? I was under the impression that your only recourse was, instead, to decline to provide a reference at all.

Its not illegal, but can get the company legal trouble if they out-right lie. They can however bend the truth, or use difficult to disprove accusations.

Most large companies send a form that refer has to fill in. Rate 1 to 10 on attention to detail for example.

If the person giving the reference does not like you, there are many ways to bend the truth. Mark you down for lateness, when it was in the companies culture for implied flexitime for example.

In the United States it is perfectly legal to give a truthful reference, good or bad. If the truth appears to be debatable, just stick to the facts. If the person inquiring asks for a "deep reference," (someone else who knows the applicant besides you), it is also perfectly legal in the United States to provide that information. (This surprises a lot of job-seekers in the United States, who would like to believe that the law is otherwise, but this is the law. In general, you can say truthful things about current or former employees, including identifying other people who know about them.)

I have been looking up information about employment law (mainly in the United States, but also around the world) as part of a promised update to my FAQ on company hiring procedures


that I will post to my personal website.

Absolute true. But you will only get sued for a bad reference, it simply isn't worth the corporate risk. The corporation gains literally nothing and exposes itself to legal liability. There are reasons HR have strong policies on this -- it is all liability and downside with no upside.

There's damming with faint praise, or the non-commital 'yeah, he worked here between these dates'. Neither one of those says anything bad per se, but they can signal the unwillingness to provide a good reference.

I don't think it's illegal, just doing so opens you up to legal challenges from the person. And you may be 100% provably correct, but no one wants to go through the legal wranglings to deal with it, so the typical corporate response is to just provide the quantifiable facts - dates of employment.

This is true in practice if not in law.

Many large companies will not give a reference at all merely confirming dates worked from and too.

I think it was because someone once sued (successfully) over a bad reference.

I can confirm that the annual training eBay employees are required to take explicitly specifies that you must never give anyone a reference. I find the phenomenon perverse enough that I actually took a screenshot of that point in the training. :/

Giving a bad reference is not illegal in the US, but if I lost money due to a bad reference then I would be taking that person to court where he/she can either better explain their concrete reasons for the bad reference or pay damages. Since the last thing typical FOS people want is to explain their (nonexistent) reasons, they will be paying damages or learn not to give references at all

This is the UK and not the US but bad references will land the employer in deep shit.

90% of the time, it won't. For a start the employee has to have the time and the money to start legal proceedings. A lot won't, especially if your unemployed at the time.

Resign, if you can. This seems to me an organization with a toxic ecosystem that's neither healthy for you or your co-workers.

It's ridiculous that the strategy team isn't aware of these shenanigans and that tells me, the structure of the organization is hopelessly broken (besides the manager they don't want to get rid of).

In my experience, management isn't the sort of thing that's easy to fix or, IMO, worth fixing in the longer run. If you're not a founder/investor or in other way have a horse in this race, you literally have no incentive (besides immediate salary) to waste precious time off your life in a hierarchy that isn't going anywhere and is utterly clueless.

Resigning may give you better options later on than getting fired. It's going to be tough depending on how well you can function on reserves, but if I were you, I would be tiding up my resume immediately and sending out feelers elsewhere.

It's a big ocean out there.

> "... you literally have no incentive (besides immediate salary) ... Resigning may give you better options later on than getting fired. It's going to be tough depending on how well you can function on reserves ..."

The OP mentioned London and the timescales indicate he's been in the company a while. Therefore, I'd encourage him to check his contract and employment law as 'being fired' isn't a trivial undertaking for the employer (there can be negotiation and comp agreements). I definitely agree with the sentiment to refresh his CV and be prepared to leave but not if it's going to cause financial hardship.

Once he understands his position, I'd try bypassing the manager and feeling out the higher ups about what they do and do not know about this 'secret' project. If it turns out that there's tacit support from above I'd consider that a big warning sign.

In UK law being fired for you bosses misdemeanors is a non starter the op is not liable.

If the company looks like its going to make people redundant as a result of this project going bad don't resign as you will miss out on any possible redundancy.

> you literally have no incentive (besides immediate salary) to waste precious time off your life in a hierarchy that isn't going anywhere and is utterly clueless.

I beg to differ. It sounds like the whole department is at risk. If I was in the position I wouldn't want to just quit and leave everyone else - who I work with on a daily basis - to face the consequences. I would try speaking to upper management and seeing how that goes. At the very least let them know about the PMs regime to rewrite everything - "What, you didn't know this was happening?". I would actually speak to them rather than just emails. If they don't seem bothered, and nothing happens, then get out. But at least you know that you tried, and don't have to feel guilty about leaving.

It sounds noble, but lets face it, he is not on a battlefield with dying comrades or something. Colleagues are not your family, they are in charge of their own lives and they can leave too if they want to. Would you want someone to come work a job he now hates just so that you wouldn't feel bad about him leaving? Grow up.

Just start looking for a new job and leave as soon as you can. A company that makes these kinds of choices in terms of job filling cannot be worth your time.

Depending on how dysfunctional things are, doing what you propose could blow-up in the guy's face. I think it is a fine thing to do, but make sure you've got job offers in hand before you do it.

I agree with this because it seems to be essentially one bad apple that is screwing everything up. If the team was working okay before under the previous PM and lead developer then there's no reason to think all hope is lost. At least not yet.

Yet this bad apple sunk one department and then got transferred to a highly profitable one. It sounds to me that he is very well connected or otherwise good at office politics. Taking him on would likely end in defeat. I would suggest to get out of there.

He doesn't need to "take him on". He needs to gather information to decide whether or not he needs to leave. If one jumps to conclusions and passive aggressively resigns every time one encounters dysfunction in an organization then one will never be able to work on a team larger than 3 or 4 people.

You can either resign silently, or step up and go talk honestly with higher management with the risk of getting fired. In any case, you shouldn't continue working like that.

Finding a new job is easier than you think it'll be. Living in such a stressful environment is not worth it. The only thin you'll regret is not doing something about it.

Finding a new job is easier than you think it'll be.

Maybe he is older than 35?

Is it that much harder to find a job when you turn 35?

I mean, a lot of my older colleagues have had a hard time finding jobs, but most of them are not very passionate about what they do. They want to work right next to their own front door, they don't want to sacrifice any pay or holiday credit, and they prefer not to learn new things and stick to the familiar. (I know of a few exceptions, and I'm not claiming this is true for all >35yo employees)

I wonder: if you keep learning new things, continue to be passionate about your field etc, is it that much harder to find a new job just because you're older?

You can't convince an adult to work himself to death to enrich someone else. At least, not that easily.

The problem can also be understood as a lack of demand for experience. Noone realistically needs any experience beyond a few side projects to get started. With abundant open source software, many people's roles are reduced to an assembly line worker who knows how to operte the tool in hand.

>>an assembly line worker who knows how to operte the tool in hand.

This is one problem imho, that stands in the way of more mature developers landing jobs and of juniors advancing. There is a trend to use 3rd party libraries as rad tools even when they don't fully fill the needs, and a tendency to use 3rd party tools to prevent your coders from really needing to code.

Architects know they're going to hand off to code monkeys, so they force designs to fit existing 3rd party libraries and any complexity gets pushed to the design side, not the implementation side. Why hire and pay extra for experience when a grad can do it?

If you're low or mid talent you're competing with fresh graduates and self-learners. It gets harder, because you'll want more pay and work less free overtime.

For high talent or a unique skillset, it's not a problem and you effectively set your own salary. This is where you want to be.

It's an interesting problem. All the cream of the crop 20 somethings now will be 35 one day. Even people like mark zuckerberg will be 35! But I guess the question is relative value.

In baseball or basketball, a younger age does make a difference (since performance is proportional to athleticism). Veterans are still highly regarded for leadership, and sometimes pure skill (setup man, utility infielder, 3-point shooter); Though they're called on less and usually earn less then their heyday. Would we ever see something similar in the code business?! I don't know. In the case of coding, experience goes up, but perhaps desire to not work like crazy goes down (family, done it before, etc).

Maybe we should pay even higher salaries to bright youngins with huge signing bonuses? And let them know that their expected prime is 21-34. And they should manage their money wisely and open a carwash or burgerking or two.... :P

It is an interesting (made up) problem. Older developers exit for hiring paying management roles. At large companies, average developer age is constantly going up.

The market (US) has 2.2% unemployment and every single software company I have ever worked for is CONSTANTLY scouting for people, nonstop, the entire time I have worked there. Keeping standards high is exceptionally challenging... "Good news, this one can do FizzBuzz!"

Age isn't even considered, we just need freaking people and are competing with 5+ other companies to get them. There is a reason we pay recruiters 20k+ per freaking hire.

Age discrimination is a real problem in our industry. It is definitely harder to fund a job when older, given equal candidates at different ages.

They are only equal if the older person changed industry. Else they should have significant experience which is worth its weight in gold. If you have 3 years experience and are 35 and competing against a 21 year old with the same experience, and he will work for half what you do -- he gets the job.

But people with a decade plus experience are not even close to comparable to fresh faced wonders.

This is where it gets tricky: as the older worker moves up the value chain, they become more experienced, more specialized, and more "known." This actually makes it more difficult for them to get a job, since it is then more difficult to find a "right fit." Compare to the generic fresh faced new grad: they can go anywhere, and are also unknown quantities, so you just hire them and hope for the best.

Senior hires are more difficult to make than junior hires, and what is worse: someone who is "old" cannot go back to being junior even if they wanted (e.g. career switch) since our minds seem to be biased (right or wrong) into associating age with expertise. They don't even have a chance at working at the 21 yro salary.

There is also a pyramid to worry about: many companies are much fatter at the entry level and this narrows at each level as employees are lost or weeded out. Now, if you are 40, you have to compete further up that pyramid, meaning fewer spots available, meaning...life is much more complicated. It doesn't really make sense though: where do all those extra young programmers go when they are old? Our industry is killing itself through in its thirst for young blood, since it actually discourages people from entering our field.

If you are in London, contracting is big here and many 40+ folks prefer contracting. This way you are also usually less involved in politics.

> Is it that much harder to find a job when you turn 35? In technology, yes.

The dynamics behind hiring and age are not about passion or salary or any of that. No one ever asks candidates whether they study outside of work or are passionate about their jobs. New employees are usually paid more than existing. It is strictly about power and control. The only question that managers are asking themselves is "will this person help or hinder my stature and quest for power within the company." Yes, it seems shortsighted, but most people would give too much credit to those doing the hiring. People over 35 are undesirable because that is the point where experience and political savvy begins to threaten the legitimacy of the org structure rather than to reinforce it. Companies rapidly devolve into simple, dumb classical political systems once the money starts flowing. The only thing that's confusing is why people seem to think companies exist to reward experience and innovation. If someone is hired on at a company, the only reason is because someone at that company thinks that the person will help them politically to gain more power and thus compensation, product be damned.

... yes, of course we ask EXACTLY those questions. What the hell are you talking about? Those are two of the primary questions I ask everyone I interview (300+ interviews over last 15 years).

I don't know what nightmarish company you are reference, but it isn't the norm for the industry, most programmers get the hire/pass call (or at least veto power) by other programmers.

As for ageism, I really don't see it that much. It is mostly programmers getting annoyed by the "soft cap" around 135k-185k and switching to management to make more in the late 30s and 40s. Luckily, the cap is starting to go away, positions in the 200k+ are becoming far more common.

EDIT: This is only a reflection of experience in the US.

What's he going to do if he gets laid off? He can either take control or let someone else decide on whether he will continue to have a job or not.

Why would the op be "fired" in this case being made redundant and "fired" are quite different in law.

An anonymous tip in a brown paper envelope from a "friend" to a senior manager is one traditional way of whistle blowing.

It's company size and politics dependent.

I've seen people at small companies, where the boss wanted to save money on redundancy payments, instead start firing people for violating policies that had gone ignored for years.

I don't know about you, but I violate corporate policies on a daily basis; I see it as something everyone has to do to be able to accomplish their jobs.

Firing people with out going through the formal proceeding is an aggravating factor at an ET - ET members are small c conservatives and they dont take kindly to employers taking the Micky on procedures.

for non UK people - ET/employment tribunals are the equivalent in the US of labor Courts

If you're not willing and able to stand up and speak up, you're just as unprofessional and incompetent as those you are blaming.

I'm sorry I'm so blunt, but I'm getting so tired of developers whining as if they are victims. We are not poor exploited coal miners, we are well paid, sought after professionals. Start acting like it.

I've never believed in the argument that silence is as bad as active complicity, but I think it's particularly untrue here. The impression I came away with was the the most likely outcome of challenging this decision is a quick dismissal for failing to follow instructions.

Finding a new job is certainly a reasonable option, but expecting someone to mar their work history by being fired over a fight they can't win isn't productive.

You're assuming that there is an equitable distribution of power, authority and responsibility, or that management is interested in mutual understanding and cooperation. That is often not the case. In fact, my experience is that management typically view employees essentially as either potential competition for their jobs or else inferiors to be treated as such.

Who is going to pay you for the risk of confrontation? Like others already said, its not your job to oversee the management. As a team member priority number one is to keep the peace. The best you can do it to give small hints here and there by asking for justification/vision/mission statement that makes sense. If management don't catch on the hints, there is nothing else you can do.

I am surprised this person has so much vision over the state of the business, if there is nothing else that can explain the situation you have to leave.

> its not your job to oversee the management. As a team member priority number one is to keep the peace.

I strenuously disagree; employees should have the right, if not the obligation, to keep their direct management honest [0]. It forestalls situations that turn into HN horror stories. If you feel like doing so would put your employment in jeopardy, all you can do is take orders, right ?

[0] by "keep them honest" I don't mean to imply that management lies to employees; it's a figure of speech in American English that AFAIK means to make sure the other party knows that you're watching out for any foul play.

I've heard this before, but there is only so much you can do. You can't be constantly calling your manager on his bullshit. What kind of relationship are you going to have this way?

I agree with you to the extent that you can give hints and ask the manager one or two tough questions. Once the OP raised the issue with the lost money and the case was dismissed, that's all you can do.

Some managers are passive-aggressive, they will exploit the peace and just sit and wait to be confronted about everything. And any confrontation labels you abrasive or without respect for authority and that puts you into a losing situation. You must know what kind of person you are dealing with. A bad manager is a bad manager. Best option is to leave asap, if you have a bad manager you will never advance your career.

> You can't be constantly calling your manager on his bullshit. What kind of relationship are you going to have this way?

No relationship, since if I find I _have_ to call my manager on bullshit repeatedly, why would I waste my time in that position ?

> A bad manager is a bad manager. Best option is to leave asap, if you have a bad manager you will never advance your career.

ah yeah you came to the same conclusion as me :) I thought you were saying, one should just tough it out upon finding oneself reporting to a bullshitty manager.

> You can't be constantly calling your manager on his bullshit.

That's the secret - pick your battles. You only have so much political and social capital, but it is rarely zero. Definitely use it if it might save the company.

That's not fair. For one, not every developer has their linkedin inmail overflowing with job offers. This is more about how strongly one feels about their opinion/conviction. It's a soul-searching type of choice. Example: I personally refuse to to put my name on a decision for something that I strongly believe will be an _embarrassing_ failure and clear sign of incompetence. This happened to me twice. The first time it got escalated above my boss and they were not pleased with me at all. Emails had sentences in all caps at some points, but I got my way. It's unclear if I was actually right or not but nothing bad happened when production went live so there was nothing to blame me with. We kept on working together. The 2nd time I did this in a different job & company, I was ultimately terminated. I did find out 7 months later that I was right and the project failed at least in small part due to ignoring my advice. I don't regret any of this, but I can't tell someone else what kind of risks to take.

I don't think not standing up and speaking up necessarily means someone is just as unprofessional and incompetent. This is more a matter of courage than professionalism or competency.

Also depends a lot on corporate culture. I was told at a company point blank "stop bringing <problem x> up". So I did (left shortly after).

Leaving shortly after -- good for you! Being told to stop bringing up a problem (that really is a problem) is for me, an indicator that the foundations of an organization is rotting, and the end is near.

An incompetent manager is moved to the most profitable division? This indicates that the individual is highly connected in the company.

Brush up your CV, get the heck out or request a division transfer.

Sad truth. :(

So the project manager and lead developer are hiding the work of multiple employees (division?) from from upper management? Many employees are getting payed for months of work to recreate a product--work that upper management would probably disagree with if asked. In what company is that even allowed? I can understand keeping something secret from other divisions or a small group focusing on something for a period of time but sounds very fishy and something that should be brought to the attention of your boss's boss or someone higher. Between work that may be worthless and losses, your project manager is effectively spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in an unauthorized manner.

"Many employees are getting payed for months of work to recreate a product--work that upper management would probably disagree with if asked. In what company is that even allowed?"

Yes, I was wondering about that as well. And the significant loss in revenue - in my experience that usually leads to lots of questions.

The office isn't overlooking the London wheel by any chance :-)

Yes, I agree 100%. Someone is getting fired, but I seriously doubt they would let the whole team go.

That's not how firing usually works. You cut the head off the snake, and put on a new head - not throw away the whole snake.

Without trying to make this sound trivial, have you simply considered ignoring both individuals?

You have a senior in the team that has a fair idea of what needs to be done. You know the problems. You know that working on this side project, in secret, is wrong; so why not agree at every meeting, discussion, etc that you will work on it, and then simply do whatever needs to be done.

It is risky, as the manager will then likely try to fire you; but that's going to be difficult to sell:

- At every point you've followed directions given in verbal conversations - If there's stuff in email, you simply agree to that as well - said manager is then documenting their own failure - You are delivering what the strategic parts of the business believe are the right thing - He'll justify trying to fire you... by revealing his secret project - All hell will break loose, and at the end of the day if you were demonstrably protecting revenue and following the overall strategic intent of the organistion, you'll just be treated as a dilligent cog in the machine.

Directly raising it or confronting the issue is likely to make you appear argumentative or a "trouble maker". It doesn't matter if you are right, once it gets past a certain point, non-experts have no clue what's going on and rely on relationships, tone of conversation, and the amount of trust they feel.

However, if you look harmless - nay, even too stupid to have done the wrong thing(!), you can likely let it wash over you and the team.

Alternatively, just all take your sick leave at one time, due to "stress caused by long hours working on SECRET PROJECT NAME", cc HR. :P

Then Success goes to the manager and lead and failure goes to the team for not doing what they were told and agreed to do in writing. You are handing them a scapegoat.

If it is as bad as you say, send an earnest letter to whoever owns the company. If that's the founder, shareholders, whoever has the owners equity in the company. Better yet, if possible, find them in person and address them that way if you have the confidence/acumen.

Get your resume sorted but don't touch the linkedin as it will show you might be thinking of jumping ship. It sounds like you enjoy the project and would rather solve the issue than leave. A project being developed in secret is completely f'ed (and could be illegal depending on your company structure) and they would have to be mental for reprimanding you for bringing transparency to it.

I think he should go to the PM's boss and to request an in-person meeting to raise the issue. Depending on how big the company is, the CEO may be way too high up to have any clue about the people he's talking about; he needs to get a read on the situation based on the PM's boss' reaction to figure out his next move.

Psst: you can easily disable LinkedIn's profile update notifications.


I would likely have gone over his head to higher management some time ago. The only reason not to is job security, but I swear to you it's better to go out having done the right thing.

I agree.

Go see senior management, and tell them what kind of unholy clusterfuck is occurring inside their top area.

Be very careful with this approach. You've no idea what those above know or do not know and if handled badly, it could blow up in your face.

I would do that only if/when you've resigned to leaving or being let go. I've seen it turn out both ways - things get cleaned up, and the whistleblower is effectively pushed out. If you end up staying and treated well for raising the alarm, great. If not, you may be let go within days or sounding the alarm - be prepared.

It seems a lot of people think you can sort things out by speaking with higher managment but it looks like the organization is broken, not just the new manager otherwise he wouldn't be in a position to brake a second department.

There is a communication problem too. Why isn't anybody talking about thoses site going down ? Why is it so formal/difficult to talk about problems with other managers and other departments ?

It's unfortunate, but a few (even just one or two) guys can brake an organization when they are at the top.

Agreed. The natural first response is to play politics (not always bad) and escalate via some other back channel, but often times direct confrontation in the right setting is more effective.

Your job is not to make the company more profitable. It is to make money for yourself. You're a technician. Do the work, tick the boxes, while finding better employment and building your skillset.

I wouldn't rock the boat under the reasoning that you gain nothing by doing such, except, maybe, a tiny chance at promotion. Moving jobs will likely net you a higher paycheck.

I'd have to agree with most of the comments on here from what you describe. Considering your last sentence, you are in London where there are no shortage of tech jobs. Brush up your resume and send it out. Good luck!

Now that things are so bad, the best thing to do is to keep higher ups and other peers(yours and your managers's) in the organization, a quick update on what's going on in your group. Make sure to have some good metrics/data collected to have the case strong.

Remember: When concerned about loyalty, Your loyalty is not just to the manager, but to the organization.

To get into the mindset of the managers, consider skimming James Collins' book "Good to Great". One point to take away is that any leaders in your organisation will appreciate the brutal facts.

Make sure you have documented what issues and risks you have expressed to the PM and Lead Developer - maybe actually in whatever tool you are using, or at least in email. Make a record that team's morale is decreasing.

You and each of your team members should directly be telling the PM and Lead Developer that you are worried with specific risks or issues.

Take the registers to somebody with more authority in your organisation. Come in with a few recommendations. Present the facts and tell them you think there's a problem, and ask if they agree or not. If they do agree, make sure to get what the next action will be.

Just my immediate thoughts. Good luck.

This is super idealistic. In reality in small/medium companies people are connected and group together, and protect their friends. Most likely the pm is friends with the senior manager.

Also, in reality many employees do not have the insight or ability to identify critical issues they think they have.

Honestly it sounds like I used to work for that company. If it's not the same one then the situation sounds damn near identical.

The company I was at was too big to suddenly change direction and fire those people who were incompetent and the problem was that the issues the company had did not come from the bottom, they came from the top.

Going to upper management in my case was not going to change anything on the ground for me immediately and if I did not see change in a month I was going to lose my mind.

In the end I chose to resign because I needed change for myself one way or another and at least my resignation guaranteed that change for me.

And like another commenter said here - getting a new programming job (especially in London!) is not that hard.

Good luck :)

A day job isn't supposed to be this political and stressful. Get the hell out of there.

Story of my life! Except the system was our bread winner and the redesign was no secrecy. We knew something was wrong but we all wanted to see the company succeed so we kept going way after the project was late and over budget. In the end we failed and everyone competent left.

My advice will be that you leave if you can. If that is not an option then work up the courage to tell some higher ups what's going on. You will burn bridges with the manager but you will save yourself and the rest of your team from the pain of coming to work every morning knowing they are partly responsible for something bad that is about to happen.

The weather in London is not ugly right now.

Just for the record.

There are two schools of thought at work, and you need to decide which one is for you:

1) You're paid to do a job, in a hierarchical management structure each tier must delegate and trust the tier below it. It's not your job to criticise your manager, it's the job of your managers manager, at the end of the day none of the developers are at fault for simply being told what to do.

2) You're personally and emotionally committed, you know you shouldn't do it but you want to take on the problems of the team, and by proxy, the problems of the company. If that's the case then voice your concerns because it'll stress the fuck out of you otherwise. Don't voice them to your manager, voice them to your managers manager. Don't get all emotional when voicing your concerns just lay out the facts calmly and impartially and go with whatever they say.

My opinion on this is that if you've taken the time to submit to HN, then you're Option 2 and it's going to eat at you. Even if you leave like many people have suggested you're going to feel bad for your team. Voice your concerns and then try to emotionally distance yourself from the company (unless they get the hint and fire the idiot manager). Then start looking for another job and advise the same to your colleagues.

Lot's of people here are saying to look for a job first, if you voice your concerns now, in the UK, it's unlikely they'll just fire you without any notice or any severance pay. If you're in London and half decent, you'll find employment pretty quickly.

Best of luck ;)

> When we talk with the manager he thinks that it's not a big deal and once the tool is complete we will not have this kind of problem any more

The idea that "the current system is rubbish, but the new system will be perfect" is common, and it is dangerous nonsense. Every large system has flaws, and throwing it away and starting over is the worst way to address them. Refactor if you can. Add the ability to refactor if you can't.

Go over your managers head. Go to the person who is in charge of your manager, and tell them what's going on. Inform them that your manager's messing this up with a secret side project.

I'd also be tempted to go back to your original project. If your new manager's taught you anything, it's that it is OK to work secretly on stuff without reporting to management. See if you can get the whole team to revolt.

This being an post complaining about weather in London, English law can be assumed to apply. First of all consult a local solicitor in employment law. Collect all your reviews and e-mails about your job performance in the last years. The solicitor can tell you what your risks are as losing a job can be a big financial problem. This will cost you a 100 to 300 GBP which is worth it. (have a look around see if a trade union can help you for much less)

Then document what is going on with the secret project and if possible show where your boss has lied on paper/e-mail. Then either schedule a meeting with your bosses boss and ask internal legal council to be present if it is in your company do this personally and make sure the meeting is on short notice and preferably early in the day.

If possible have a basic recovery plan available but do not give it unless asked for it. You should show concern for the business not look like you want your bosses job.

During this period of course look for new opportunities elsewere as, if your current boss stays your boss work is not going to be any fun. Even if they can't fire you now.

Fuck 'em. Get a new job. Capitalism at work baby. Hire a crappy manager, capitalism means the company will lose skilled employees and go under.

Find a new job, now. You can probably get a raise. Finding a job while you already have one is easier than when unemployed. Posts like the "HN Who is Hiring" can help, although more US-focused.

Decide if you should tell management about these issues (politely) on your way out. I'd be inclined to just leave quietly, though.

While its personally satisfying to be a "hero", it will just get you fired.

I worked for a company whose CEO fired his outside accounting firm and replaced them with his wife, this in a company that grossed 5-10M per year. Super fishy, especially amid rumors that sales were off 20%.

I asked him directly if he was hiding something that was material to our deal (we came in through an acquisition). I was promptly fired, or in legal speak "laid off due to business reasons".

I'll never forget the comically bad exit interview, which ended in me being tackled by one of the managers in an attempt to obtain my cell phone.

So unless you want to be a martyr, just quit. Agree also that management put that bozo there, nothing you can do about it except leave.

It sounds like you're invested in the company/team and/or the project or this would be a no-brainer (leave). You could try confronting the lousy manager as a group (if you really do all agree), and if that fails go over his/her head. Then you've done the right thing by everyone. Maybe there are even some good ideas in the new design that could be moved to the existing design to help the idiot save face (at least offer a lifeline). Confronting the manager first means he/she can't claim he/she was ambushed, no-one ever said anything, and so forth.

Don't resign just yet, find a new job first ;). Shouldn't be too hard!

Start looking for a new job (or, if you feel up to the challenge, starting your own company). Once you feel comfortable that you can leave and start something else, you will also feel comfortable going to management and explaining the situation (make sure you have plenty of hard evidence). Then you'll be able to decide whether you stay and try to work with management to rearrange things in a way that's better both for the business and for yourself, or you move on to one of the other options you've already secured.

Leave. It's not your problem. You're not curing cancer (I assume) and your job means nothing to the universe, it's merely a way for you to gain energy until entropy wins and kills you. If you're old, then you'll have to focus and try harder than your younger colleagues, and you should start this very minute.

Seriously, the vast majority of our jobs mean nothing. There are other, less stupid places to work. The vast majority of our employers won't exist in 100 years. So be happy and leave.


It sounds like the company is on its way to tanking. It might not have hit the tipping point yet, but if the senior leadership made a mistake at putting their worst manager on the best team, well ...

... My point is that, if you step up and lose your job, you got out while it is still good. If you don't step up, eventually, the company will collapse and now you are out of options.

If you don't feel secure about it, perhaps you might want to start being open to looking for other opportunities.

>> Since the beginning of the year 2013 my department have lost more than 50% of its earnings and keeps losing at an alarming rate. Discussing with my team mates it is obvious what is going wrong: We have an incompetent project manager and lead developer and they are the only ones who seem to not notice that there is even a problem.

The PM and the lead haven't noticed but certainly their boss. Wait and see. I don't think it's you who will be fired.

Why are people telling you to leave? If you confront the situation the worst is you'll get fired, get workers comp and what not. If you leave you get nothing.

The logic goes like this:

1. If you're going to do something that might get you fired, get another job lined up before you do it.

2. The leverage "threaten to resign" only works once; if you don't follow through it won't be credible again; and it marks you as having one foot out the door, making it less appealing to invest in training you or give you new responsibilities.

3. Even if you use leverage other than threatening to resign, moving jobs is guaranteed to get you away from your toxic boss, whereas trying to fix things isn't guaranteed to work. And at the same time you can probably learn some new technologies and get a salary bump. Once you've got another job lined up, you might as well take it.

4. Telling everyone what you really think in leaving e-mails / exit interviews never changes anything in the company, but might make you enemies or get you a bad reference. Why bother? Instead give them some bullshit about how it's a great company and you just felt it was time for a change.

Of course, if you can confront the situation in a way that doesn't risk getting you fired, the above logic doesn't apply.

Don't threaten to resign. Make your argument, back it up with data and evidence, let managers the space to do the job they are supposed to do. If then they don't fix the problem, then just leave.

There is only downside for threatening to leave, it scuppers your future in the company. As michaelt notes, don't bluff, have the next step lined up. At that point, there's no value in threatening to leave. Just hand in your notice, if they realise your value they tend to counter-offer anyway. But be sure leaving is the right thing for you.

By leave, I suspect people mean get a new job then leave. Getting fired means a possible period of unemployment, and that may well be a problem.

If you talk to higher management, make sure the project neglect and subsequent loss of income is forefront in your concern. If the problem person has friends in higher management, you may be screwed one way or the other, but if you keep it about the finances of the company you stand a much better chance of being heard and even appreciated. Otherwise, I'd say update your resume and quietly start looking elsewhere.

Secret projects are a recipe for layoffs. Years ago I worked for a manager who wanted a few of us to work on a wildly impractical project. The main business wasn't getting accomplished, and the parent company that was funding the venture dissolved the company. One of the programmers there became a principal at a Silicon Valley VC firm--he doesn't mention his stint at the failed venture.

Have any of you discussed this with the new incompetent PM? That seems like a natural first thing to do, before going over his head.

So I have this crazy idea that since I'm young and in IT, I should never try to protect my job. Just make a stink of it, lose your job (that sucks anyways), and find another one. If you do that often enough, you'll be the one always proposing changes, that's called a leader and it's the kind of people that get promoted.

No, you'll be the person with a long resume who finds it hard to get a job!

Just quit. Tomorrow. Life is too short to waste time on crap corporate politics and the culture of failure.

Frankly, it's probably not worth the time it would take to do a brain dump to upper management, HR or any potentially interested party. I wouldn't volunteer anything unless someone who seemed genuinely interested asked.

First, find another job, then talk to upper management. The negative consequence of talking to upper management is that it would be difficult for you to work with the incompetent project manager in the future. Oh well.

Help your coworkers find other jobs too. They might even follow you to your new company if you play your cards right.

my 2cents

either a) you do not care anymore about the success company and only care about job security

b) you do care about the success of your company

if a) is the case, quite now! you are part of the problem. you are blaming them but are at the same time not willing to take the consequences of doing the right thing.


b) speak up, all the time, to anyone, not just with your peers, but also to anyone else. call this "to change the dance" you are changing how you behave, to other have to react. they will be pissed, they will blame you. they might fire you (good for you, then) or they will change their dance.

there is no alternative, everything else will just go downhill.

recommended reading: http://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Systems-Unlocking-Mysteries-Org...

buy it, read it, understand what is currently happening and what your role in it is.

Just name the damn company and sooner or later the upper bosses will find out.

How about anonymously linking this post in an e-mail to the upper management?

You grew personally attached - don't do that. Your co-workers are not your friends and you don't have a stake in that company. It is normal to change your job.

You're in London, come join us, we're after some shit hot talent!

Reply and I'll provide details if you're interested!

Stop being a lamb. Speak up or find a new job.

Leave. Now.

If all of you agree, you can write a letter together that points out the problems and toxicity of the situation. Then you all sign the letter in alphabetical order and send it to the CEO of the company.

If that fails, you can resign.

send it anonymously

Be sure you're right, then go ahead.

Going ahead means talking to higher management, laying out your concerns ("I'm worried this may be the case" not "This is the case, absolutely, and you must act now!") then asking if they think you're right.

I would also style this as a question of management theory, not the individual in question. "I believe Dan is using the STFU management technique and it's not a fit for our unique situation..."

That, I'd say, is the best answer so far. Do not confront anybody, just ask questions (to enlighten yourself), and let the upper management know about the secrets (because they obviously aren't secrets, your manager isn't allowed to have secrets, so you can freely talk about them).

Be as friendly as you can be, and talk about policies, not people. They may actually not know about your division's problems, and correct the situation.

Also, look for another job. It is possible that your manager has friends up there, and won't be fired. That means your team will, one way or the other.

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