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Why Developers Get Fired 535

jammag writes "Other coders get canned — but never you, right? From a developer who's now a manager (and who admits to being fired himself) comes the inside story on how the Big Ax might sneak up on you. To prevent it, he recommends some strategic bragging, keeping a CYA (Cover Your ...) folder to document your efforts, and making sure that your talent isn't frittered away so much that even your most mediocre colleagues look good. "
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Why Developers Get Fired

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  • Alex Trebek: "Hmmm, Bob is making over $X. I see he's the most productive, but we could higher two new grads and an intern for the same amount. They'd be at least that productive right?"
    Contestant: "What is the final nail on a project's coffin, Alex?"
    Alex Trebek: "Right you are!"
    Contestant: "I'll stay in the same category and take 'Stupid Managers' for $800."
    Alex Trebek: "The answer is: Half your team has been fired and your manager has moved software modules to be developed in this country."
    Contestant: "What is India?"
    Alex Trebek: "Correct again!"
  • I couldn't get past the 'higher' grads.

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @03:25PM (#29484361)

    Yeah, except it doesn't actually work that way. Here's what happens:

    1. Board level manager's meeting.
    2. [New person] is eager to prove themselves and suggests [bad idea] from [trade magazine].
    3. Nobody else in the meeting has had enough time to read something other than [trade magazine], and so believe [bad idea] is a good idea.
    4. Vote passes unanimously.
    5. Middle management, who has read something other than [trade magazine] tries to politely tell [new person] that [bad idea] won't work.
    6. [new person] ignores cries of pain and suffering, stiffens their resolve to ram [bad idea] down organization's throat, backed by the full power of the board.
    7. Middle management stalls as long as possible, warning everyone of the impending apocalypse.
    7a. Except you and anyone on the lower rungs.
    7b. Those who do find out, bail from the company like rats from a sinking ship.
    8. Costs suddenly rise, due to a sudden vaccum of experienced workers and a drop in efficiency. The effort can no longer be stalled.
    9. A week later, you're asked to fill out some forms and update the knowledge base.
    10. You're so focused on your job, you think nothing of it.
    10a. Alternate: Your manager is kind and says something to you.
    11. Regardless, you're still let go before you can swim to another piece of floatsam.
    12. Upper management cries victory -- everything costs less now!
    13. Middle management develops a drinking habit, but says nothing.
    14. The new people hired in [Country X] think everyone over here is a bunch of idiots and drunks.

    Ta-Da! The end.

  • the key (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 20, 2009 @03:26PM (#29484379)

    the key to not being fired is to have the biggest penis in the company. it solves almost all problems. just whip it out during the next meeting and people will leave you alone. i see it happen all the time. the problem is, i work in the porn industry.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @06:55PM (#29485763)

    Jesus freaking Christ, can't companies do employee evaluations at all?

    Evaluations. What a wonderful tool. I'm a Software Engineer at a large defense contractor. A few years ago on my evaluation, for "Future Position" I put "International Space Station" as a joke. It was there for three years before anyone noticed.

  • Re:Bragging (Score:5, Funny)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Sunday September 20, 2009 @07:36PM (#29485999) Journal

    Why does it seem, that the entirety of American business is set up to fall to pieces if employees take more than a few days vacation?

    Same reason you don't give managers coffee breaks that last more than 15 minutes ...

    Because it takes too long to retrain them.

  • by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @09:11PM (#29486451)

    I couldn't get passed the 'higher' grads.

    Fixed that four you. One good deed deserves another, write? These days highering is at an awl-thyme low.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:35PM (#29486883)

    Had to fire a guy with "too much of an outside life."

    The CEO and a Sr pre-sales engineer were at a VERY LARGE customer's site in Cali working through implementation details. One of my developers had been working on a customization for a few weeks that was supposed to be ready the week before. He handed it over to the Sr. engineer who used it and played with is a few days before flying out. He gets to the client on Monday morning and the custom code - VB - doesn't work in their environment. Not all is lost, we regroup, determine the issue and code for 1.5 days to solve it. Send the resulting code to both QA and the guy at the customer knowing they are 3 hours behind and are in meetings.

    At 4pm, our VB guy leaves. He doesn't have a cell phone. He doesn't go home. At 5pm local time, we get a frantic call from the engineer and CEO for help. They are in front of the customer with the expensive customization and it still doesn't work. See, we're a C/C++ shop with expertise in that, not VB. We did the VB due to this customers' demand, not because we had any skill.

    We never billed the customer for the code. We fired the VB guy. He had gone to church to choir practice. This wasn't the first time we couldn't find him when we needed him, but it was the last.

    If your crap code may not work for an important client - BE AVAILABLE.

  • by Spugglefink ( 1041680 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @01:19AM (#29488033)
    Wow, Don, this is one to print and stick on the refrigerator.
  • by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @09:40AM (#29490441)
    You have attributed intelligence to middle management. Your scenario can not possibly be correct.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21, 2009 @10:44AM (#29491351)

    For my self review at a previous employer (I was employed as a developer), I had no set objectives, so created one. "Wash hands before returning to work". I gave myself a performance rating of 99.44%. Nobody ever noticed it.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford