So you’ve been working as a software engineer/developer/analyst/architect/whatevs in the “real world” for a while now, and you start feeling uneasy somehow in the organisation you work for. It happens to all of us from time to time. It’s fact.
Most times we engineer types (and those that are I’s and T’s on the Myers Briggs personality scale) tend to focus on the thinking and less on the environment – the environment is a distraction from the good work we’re doing.
But, sometimes the environment is what gets you, and if you’d paid some more attention, you could navigate the waters a little more effectively, and perhaps escaped before the gauntlet dropped.
The following list was inspired by stories from associates and friends who ended up being in these situations, either involved or as mute witnesses. It’s written for humour, but like most anecdotes there’s a grain of truth in each.
The boss of your software product company refers to R&D as the most expensive department.
If you’re in a company where the income streams are directly derived from software produced, this is a sign the boss has lost touch of vision and become a bean counter.
Honestly, R&D produces your only product – be nice bitch! How do you like the sight of my most-expensive back?
The free fruit disappears
Fruit is cheap, when it goes, people are not far behind. You should go, on your terms.
You’re in a startup-like environment – that’s why you joined – and the emails from the top keep getting more corporatey and removed.
They’re on track to be “like a real business”, and this is the beginning of the end to the startup culture you were attracted to in the first place.
Some organisations, notably government, promote people to their level of incompetence.
If you’re stuck under that guy and he stops moving up, try to transfer departments, or jobs.
You get asked to work at half pay for “a few months” until VC funding is injected
The end is near.
The company has ‘volunteered’ staff for depositions, to show they are co-operating with the discovery process
No one ‘volunteers’ staff for legal exercises. Time to go.
You ask what the company policy is with regard to salary reviews and get told your office is on a shoestring budget
This is code for we won’t have money for anything else, either. Time to move on.
One day you turn up to work and no senior managers can be found.. and this continues for more than three days
The rats jump ship first. Make sure you strip your workstation of memory and CPUs on the way out.
You turn up to work and police have locked the doors closed with thick chains
Too late. (But on the plus side, if the chains were forged in the heart of a dying star, look for a big blue police box.)
You get tasked to go to a client site to analyse a XYZ migration when you have no meaningful experience in that technology
..and get told to read one of those ‘teach yourself XYZ in 24 hours’ books on the flight down.
Staff require company resources to build software
..and you are told that staff are compensated (part of the salary) to provide their own hardware.
You ask for professional development
..and are told it can’t cost the company any money – or be done during normal business hours.
The main feedback from your technical lead is “code smell”, but you never get more details. It all “just smells”.
Sure great programmers are half engineers,half artists – on the slip side of this half the time they should be able to articulate engineering concepts when talking shop. This is one of those times.
Management asks for weekend work to meet a critical demo deadline. You do it; then they later let slip there was no demo
They lied. To your face. No.
This last one was related to a friend doing a management course, and he mentioned it for group discussion in a class. The lecturer was dumbfounded at how this shows a complete lack of respect from management for the workers, and commented it was danger sign. Unbeknownst to him a month after this incident half the company was made redundant, and the senior engineers had all left within the following six months. All departures were connected with discontent sown on that weekend.