I'm being headhunted

I’m being headhunted.

Not the cannibalistic type, of course. This is the “executive recruiter” type. This is a result of having my website, and having my resume available through my website. The recruiter is running out of Vancouver, but is hiring for a position (with another company) here in Calgary.

The position? Manager of Software Development. The role? Bring together a team of 13 developers, establish standards, guide their professional development, and be the sole guiding light that sends them through their waking day.

Or something like that.

The offer came in like this:

“Hi, Geoff. We are currently conducting a search with [Company Name Removed] for an outstanding person to serve as Manager, Software Development with [Different Company Name Removed] in Calgary. I have attached a profile of the position; I’d be grateful for any suggestions, and would appreciate your help in sharing this with potential candidates.”

I know what you’re thinking — this guy was looking for other people than myself. I thought the same thing when I first read it. But then I thought that this might be the political way to approach someone who’s happy at their job and might not want to leave.

This time, I’m not one of those people.

In short, I’m really unhappy about working at Critical Mass. I’m unhappy because there is little here to be happy about. I’m here mostly because of the people that I work with. I couldn’t care less about the actual projects I have (I could certainly hate them a lot more), I feel that the salary I make isn’t sufficient for the responsibilities I’ve been given (and wasn’t adjusted for cost of living this year, which still has me ticked off), people aren’t being suitably recognized for the hard work they put in (see the above note about salary), and the morale around here has been so abysmally bad that it’s really hard to be amiable.

Did I mention that my floor must have at least a 30% turnover rate in staff since the beginning of the year? The company as a whole is not even 20%, but we’ve gone through a lot of people up here. A lot of experience, knowledge, and spirit went with them. And management has said that they won’t do anything until we het 20% company-wide. It’s going to be too late for us if we wait that long.

The worst part is that management seems to want to turn a blind eye to it all. Our “owners” (whoever they are) want to hold us to a 35% profit margin. News flash, morons! You won’t be able to do that if you’re constantly turning people over! You lose time to starting new people up. And around here, time is money. Let alone the fact that morale sucks, so people really don’t feel the need to work overtime. How can we “work smarter, not faster/longer/harder” when we’re not given the ability to do that? You tell us one thing, then tie our hands to an anvil and expect us to skip rope.

Before I get too far in, I need to state, for the record, that I have the honour of working with a great team. Because I work with a great team, I suspect my job is a little easier. It could very easily have been a total nightmare. Not only do I get along with all the people on my team, I can trust them, too, which is the key point. Without that trust, I’d spend forever managing them.

Now let’s talk about the projects. I’ve been working on Mercedes-Benz for almost three and a half years. Three and a half years of the same crap. Three and a half years of the client complaining about not being at the top of their industry, but unwilling to take the risks to get there. Three and a half years of a maintenance project that constantly redefines the rules by which we try to work, thus causing what I can only describe as the largest single pile of virtual duct tape on the Internet. There are days that I’m amazed the site even works.

Now that’s just the tedious part. (I’ll ignore the near-constant call for a redesign, which the client will probably never agree to.) Let’s get to the good stuff. Like a new project coming around the corner to promote the newly-redesigned SLK-Class. (A nice car, by the way.) Our process is simple: Business Brief comes from the client and Account Manager. From that, we create Business Requirements to make sure the objectives are met. Functional Requirements (for the Designers and Developers) come from the Business Requirements. Then we get the design, the code, the testing scripts, etc., and get down to work. That’s what should have happened with this project. That’s what I should have seen.

Imagine my annoyance (bordering on disgust) when I see a nearly-complete design concept long before I’ve even seen a brief (which, I might add, I still haven’t seen). And it’s not just a what-if — I was asked functionality and implementation questions. There was even a decision on the technology solution! Last I checked, that was my job.

Naturally, I tried to restrain myself. I didn’t want to totally lose it. (Though I felt like it.) I tried to talk it through, and make it clear that I didn’t want to commit to anything until we’d done the requirements pass. I point out all the things that should be addressed before a final decision is made. I think I’m making progress.

Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids…

That’s when the creative director told me that all the things that we in Web Development (mostly Randall and myself) have been trying to tell designers have, in fact, been falling on deaf ears. They simply chose not to listen to our thoughts, concerns, advice, worries, and ideas.

What the hell am I doing here if the things I thought I was supposed to be doing aren’t even being put to use?!

Yesterday, I had the joy of sitting through a meeting to plan out this project. We had all the bravado of concept plans, designs, content, even a schedule (albeit rough). What didn’t we have? Requirements. Of any kind. But we’re doing them — after the fact. When they can’t make a difference at all. My input? Useless.

Oh, and I’m mocked from our Account Manager in New York about how I’m gonna smack him upside the head with a baseball bat the next time I see him, and how the second rule in the Critical Mass handbook is “don’t dictate to Sowrey”.

Pardon fucking me?!

I don’t need this shit. I really don’t. I don’t need to sit here, bust my ass all day trying to figure out the right course of action so the developers have less to worry about, only to have people mock the fact that I’m trying to stand up for a process that we defined — with the client in the SAME ROOM — back in January as being “Right”.

So yeah, I’ve been headhunted. I’d be foolish not to follow up on it. But I’m not getting my hopes up. Some of the skills they want (VAX/VMS, of all things) are more than a tad rusty. I haven’t used them in nearly a decade! I’m hoping that my soft skills as a manager will play more in my favour than the need for hard skills (which I can gain back, if necessary).

Even then, I don’t know if I would still leave. Why? Despite the things that really piss me off around here, I still have it good. Breakfast every morning. Annual parties. Great co-workers. Leeway that took years to develop. Casual work environment. A desk so messy you could hide a family of immigrants under it, but no-one cares. And constant rubber chicken attacks (long story; don’t ask). The other company would have to come up large to make me truly consider it.

Maybe things will get better around here. Maybe they’ll realize that we are losing people too quickly and changes are needed. Maybe the negative environment will be fixed before it’s too late. Maybe the tools I need to build a team more effectively here will be provided. Maybe the raises that countless people around here deserve will be given out. Maybe I’ll get my wish that the process be properly followed so we don’t miss problems.

And while I’m dreaming, I’d like a pony…