How To Demoralize Employees: A DIY Guide for Terrible Companies



  • How to demoralize employees:

    <poo>1. Ensure employees have no usernames, as that might unnecessarily make them feel like human beings instead of replaceable automatons. Instead, their Active Directory accounts should be serial numbered. Similarly, make sure their location in the building is referred to as their "grid location". In general, follow prison/concentration camp naming practices at every opportunity.

    <poo>2. Create a long, involved and unnecessarily complex QA process that takes literally 5+ hours of employee time to go through, even if no bugs are found. Require testing the code in three different environments before it is pushed to prod. Just in case the employee begins to feel that this process is actually useful and necessary, reveal to them that the prod servers are configured entirely differently, and not one of the testing servers matches it.

    <poo>3. Speaking of QA, don't bother going through the checklists for third-party code, even though that third-party code hosts/manipulates far more critical business data than first-party code. While employees are wasting time checking off the 30-point code quality review, happily deploy third-party code which does critical data manipulations in triggers without wrapping them in transactions or correctly using UPDLOCK hints. Remember: the goal of QA isn't quality software, the goal is to assign blame in case something blows up.

    <poo>4. Place your employees in a colorless, featureless cubefarm. Mesh chairs? Hah! Have a second group that does virtually identical work, but their employees get standing desks, tons of space, and windows to a beautiful view. Make sure the cubefarm employees have to visit the standing desk employees frequently. Don't provide any creature comforts-- not even free coffee! If an employee brings in their own coffeemaker, explain that this is "against the rules". This can not be restated enough, even if an employee brings in donuts and coffee for an early morning meeting, under no circumstances should they be allowed to expense it!

    Pictured: Hell

    <poo>5. Under no circumstances should developers be allowed to speak to DBAs or change management as if they were actual human beings. All communication should be through tickets. If a ticket is formatted incorrectly, under no circumstances should the DBA or change management employee just fix it themselves, or contact the ticket's creator to resolve-- they should simply delete the ticket so the developer has to start over from scratch. It also doesn't matter if this blows a schedule. Nothing is more important than getting the ticket correct.

    <poo>6. Speaking of which, use CA Service Desk Manager as your ticketing system. It doesn't matter that it's unusable, cluttered, and plain broken in many fundamental ways. If an employee expects to simply send a URL to link another employee to a ticket, they are foolish and should be punished. Similarly, use PlanView for timecards and generally pick the absolutely worst possible software for all purposes at all times. Also lock the IE version to 8, naturally.

    <poo>7. Employee computers should be locked-down in the stuffiest and dumbest ways possible. Group policy should ensure that valuable productivity features like browser history, or Office Communicator's conversation history are always turned-off. The desktop background should be locked to the company's logo for literally no good reason. Group Policy should dictate Windows Update settings so that, even if an employee installs software they know for sure is insecure (like a copy of Visual Studio from the original DVD image), they are unable to patch their own computer. Also, turn off UAC by policy-- even if employees want the added protection of UAC on their computers, they're not allowed to turn it back on.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Group policy should ensure that productivity features like browser history

    Look on the bright side, Discourse can't vomit all over your browser history like a drunken house guest with a bottle of Ipecac.



  • Rules for constructive Discourse:

    1. make
    2. sure
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    4. list

     

    1. numbering
    2. restarts
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  • 80-85% of that is quite similar to my working environment.

    Also, I strongly feel 'liking' this sends extremely mixed messages.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    My condolences if you're working at a place like that. I wouldn't for a minute longer than I could find another job, although hopefully I'd've seen that during the interview process and told them thanks but TDEMSYR and FOAD.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    if an employee installs software

    Well, there's a problem right there. Group policy should prevent employees from installing anything. Even IT shouldn't be able to install anything that isn't on the approved list (all of which is at least 3 versions out of date, and half of which is EOLd).

    Seriously, that's awful. Is that your cube, or a picture you found? It doesn't look terribly different from mine, but about 1/4 the size. Yuck.



  • It's a contract gig until the end of the year. Still, I don't know if I can make it. It really is killing my soul a tiny bit each day, and talking about depression yesterday certainly didn't help the situation.

    The only thing keeping me going is Wheezy Laugh.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    I once worked at a place that scanned hard drives daily for unauthorized software. Made things entertaining when I downloaded an evaluation version of a component we were thinking of buying, so I didn't have to wait 30 days for the sale to go through. "You must remove unauthorized software xxx from your computer immediately." "Ok, sure, I'll just tell my boss that you are literally making it impossible for me to do my job."

    protip: skpswi.dat. (warning, may be obsolete.)



  • @blakeyrat said:

    It really is killing my soul a tiny bit each day

    I'd joke about you not having one, but I doubt it would help.



  • @HardwareGeek said:

    Well, there's a problem right there. Group policy should prevent employees from installing anything. Even IT shouldn't be able to install anything that isn't on the approved list (all of which is at least 3 versions out of date, and half of which is EOLd).

    ...while at the same time IT gets slammed by auditors and/or regulators for not being fully patched and up to date, for security reasons.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @HardwareGeek said:

    I'd joke about you not having one, but I doubt it would help.

    Help? You must be new here.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    BTW, it turns out if you open multiple tabs on different threads while you're composing a post, the compsition window appears on ALL tabs, and when you click Reply it asks you which thread you want to reply to. What fresh hell is this?



  • It's actually handy if you go off to find something on another thread. But yeah, can also be confusing.



  • And Blakeyrat's Second Law strikes again. Sigh.



  • I ended up with the reply box with different versions of a reply, all of which persisted against the thread in that tab even when I'd submitted the one I actually wanted.



  • @FrostCat said:

    I once worked at a place that scanned hard drives daily for unauthorized software.

    I only went through that sort of thing once, and it was only a once-a-year or something audit: We don't have corporate licenses for A, B and C; do you have valid licenses for them? Yes, A is FOSS, I wrote B, and C is my own personal purchase. Ok, cool; see ya next year.



  • I got moved from a really nice building with a private office to a cube farm. I work from home all the time and the cube farm is several miles closer to home for when I have to go in, but if I were stuck in that office, I'd go crazy, too.

    Still not as bad as @blakeyrat's dystopia. Maybe you can volunteer as tribute and get out of there sooner?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    It was important! Bazinga-ing @HardwareGeek wouldn't have made sense on the other thread!


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @HardwareGeek said:

    FrostCat said:
    I once worked at a place that scanned hard drives daily for unauthorized software.

    I only went through that sort of thing once, and it was only a once-a-year or something audit: We don't have corporate licenses for A, B and C; do you have valid licenses for them? Yes, A is FOSS, I wrote B, and C is my own personal purchase. Ok, cool; see ya next year.

    No, what I'm talking about is an actual full scan of the drive and a list of "what are these 6 unauthorized executables doing on your computer?" I don't know WHAT any C++/etc developers would have to put up with vs java and so on devs.

    ETA: I want to make clear this scan ran something like weekly. Of course, these people were also so paranoid that one day I accidentally typed something like "sudo -scommand" instead of "sudo -s command" and got calls, in short order, by my onsite manager, IT security, and my headhunter, about why I was trying to log in as root. Did you dumbasses read the log of the commandline, which would have showed you what I was trying to do, or did you just panic and freak out? Oh, right, you freaked out, because everyone in IT knew what the command was (I don't remember exactly the name, but it was the company's main line-of-business application.)



  • That cubical size is pretty awful. I would guess 9 or 10 of those would fit inside my cubicle.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @boomzilla said:

    I got moved from a really nice building with a private office to a cube farm. I work from home all the time and the cube farm is several miles closer to home for when I have to go in, but if I were stuck in that office, I'd go crazy, too.

    I literally quit a job because of that. Well, going from a quiet building with large cubes to a noisy building with many more cubes, about the size of the ones from Blakey's picture, only with glass side panels so "managers" could walk down the aisle and verify everyone looked like they were working--and you weren't allowed to put up anything that would block the glass. And 90% of the people in the building were AR/bill collecters. THAT's a conducive-to-development environment.

    @boomzilla said:

    Still not as bad as @blakeyrat's dystopia.

    QFT



  • There's a full size cubical on the other side of me but I'm not allowed to use it because it's for our remote worker in Yakima to use when he works from this office.

    He never works from this office. He didn't even come here for the company all-hands.

    Since I already have a laptop, I've been tempted to just relocate myself there. But this place is more conductive to slacking without anybody seeing it. I dunno.



  • Squatters rights - possession is 9/10ths of the law, and you can always move if they do come in.



  • I think I like complaining about this cube more than I'd like having a new cube.



  • @FrostCat said:

    I'm talking about is an actual full scan of the drive and a list of "what are these 6 unauthorized executables doing on your computer?

    I get that. That audit was the closest (that I can recall) I've been to the situation you're describing.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @HardwareGeek said:

    I get that. That audit was the closest (that I can recall) I've been to the situation you're describing.

    Just checking.



  • @mott555 said:

    That cubical size is pretty awful. I would guess 9 or 10 of those would fit inside my cubicle.

    My cube, and that of most other non-managers here, is 2 wall panels x 2. As far as I can tell from that picture, it's 1x1.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    That place, too, lowballed me on the hourly rate, which I didn't find out until later, but then again, I was out of work and much younger at the time, so I might have still taken the job. But then they cut my contract from 6 months to 4, 3 3/4 months in, and offered to extend it by another 6 months if I took an unpaid week or two off to learn a minimal amount about Biztalk development, and cut me free after only 4 months of that extension.

    Lest you wonder if that was because they didn't like my work, about a year later they called me to ask me to come back for the same amount of pay. Since I'm a nice person I didn't laugh in their faces or point out that I was currently making almost exactly twice what they paid.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    I think I like complaining about this cube more than I'd like having a new cube.

    The new cube would actually turn out to be a disappointment. It would be, after all, a cube. But the complaining can go on and on with the hope of release from the prison.



  • @FrostCat said:

    No, what I'm talking about is an actual full scan of the drive and a list of "what are these 6 unauthorized executables doing on your computer?"

    I have a customer owned laptop for accessing their network remotely. Since I'm all remote, I'm pretty much never attached to their domain. Even when I am, their Windows Update Server (not the right name, but whatever) would extremely unreliably update my machine. I'd leave it attached to the VPN for hours hoping it would pick up the updates, and it rarely did.

    Eventually, they set me up with an elevated account for running updates directly from MS. Of course, it kept updating IE. And they have some sort of auditing process that went on and phoned home whenever I VPN'd in. So about once a month I'd get an email telling me to downgrade IE. They also made me remove FF and Chrome, the bastards.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @boomzilla said:

    They also made me remove FF and Chrome, the bastards.

    FF has a portableapps version. I have no idea how old it is. See also skpswi.dat, if that still works.



  • I will say in this place's defense:

    <poo>1. They let developers have local admin (which means the GPO stuff, we can override by creating our own startup scripts to reverse the setting back to how we like it. I'm not sure if IT is aware we do that or not, but my Office Communicator logs to my email, as God intended.)

    <poo>2. We have Windows 7 and Outlook 2010. I was half-expecting Windows XP and Lotus Notes.

    <poo>3. They're ok with having alternative browsers installed, at least for developers. Firefox and Chrome are both whitelisted.

    <poo>4. The cafeterias are actually pretty good and not too expensive, considering the employees here are basically a captive audience.

    I've heard from others that they also scan the machine for unauthorized software, but I haven't tried installing (for example) SublimeText myself-- when I actually need it, I'll see what happens.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    my Office Communicator logs to my email,

    I have a script which does the exact opposite.

    @blakeyrat said:

    We have Windows 7 and Outlook 2010

    Our company has just migrated most of the company from XP in the last 3/4 months but still on Office 2003, so we're a little behind that. I've had Win 7 with Office 2010 for a year because I needed to "test" it with our app before it rolled out, but it's certainly not the norm unfortunately.

    @blakeyrat said:

    Firefox and Chrome are both whitelisted.

    Firefox is fine here, Chrome is against some (possibly made up) policy so I had it removed from my machine, despite being given local admin access specifically to be allowed to install my own software. I now use the portable version.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    I've heard from others that they also scan the machine for unauthorized software, but I haven't tried installing (for example) SublimeText myself-- when I actually need it, I'll see what happens.

    If you really want to know, just create a randomly-named executable with demonstrably trivial effects and see if they flag you.



  • I don't care that much. Until I need a piece of third-party software, there's no point. I might very well go my entire contract (will I will NOT be renewing BTW) without ever needing anything but Excel, SSMS, and VS.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    I might very well go my entire contract (will I will NOT be renewing BTW) without ever needing anything but Excel, SSDS, and VS.

    SSDSTFY


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Fair enough, and it's why I said "if you really want to know."



  • Wow! That cubicle looks awful! I'm really sorry @blakeyrat.

    And what's up with IT messing around with your PC? That shit is for secretaries. They should at best install barebones Windows and give you the access to their network share with software to set it up how you like.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    There's a full size cubical on the other side of me but I'm not allowed to use it because it's for our remote worker in Yakima to use when he works from this office.

    He never works from this office. He didn't even come here for the company all-hands.

    Since I already have a laptop, I've been tempted to just relocate myself there. But this place is more conductive to slacking without anybody seeing it. I dunno.

    We have a saying at my employer: "Its better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission." I have a fancy executive-level chair because I just went into an office and wheeled it over to my cube. There are other, better examples, but none that wouldn't take too long...oh, I got commit rights and became a "programmer" because I asked a programmer friend of mine to give me a source control account. His boss came over and said "so, Jimmy gave you an account, eh?". "Yeah". "Cool, welcome to the team."


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @stinerman said:

    We have a saying at my employer: "Its better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission."

    That works right up until you get escorted out of the buiding.

    I have a fancy executive-level chair because I just went into an office and wheeled it over to my cube.

    When I took my current job in a small company, I took one look at the 20 year old broken-down sad sack of a chair I was supposed to be inheriting and asked for a new one. I got taken over to Office Depot right next door and told to pick out something that wasn't too expensive. I got a really nice bright red sort of Star Trek thing.



  • @FrostCat said:

    That works right up until you get escorted out of the buiding.

    You would think, but so far no one has been escorted. It was a small business-type atmosphere until we got bought out about a year ago. Now not as much, but no one from "corporate" is usually in the office so day-to-day stuff is still the same. We're still in "just get it done" mode, but they're beating that out of us ever so slowly.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @stinerman said:

    You would think, but so far no one has been escorted. It was a small business-type atmosphere until we got bought out about a year ago. Now not as much, but no one from "corporate" is usually in the office so day-to-day stuff is still the same. We're still in "just get it done" mode, but they're beating that out of us ever so slowly.

    Well, like I said, it works until it doesn't. Be glad it hasn't hit that level yet.

    The company I work for was bought out a year before I got there. It took them about 3 years to start integrating us into their systems, which was interesting. In the last year or so they're trying to fit us into their way of doing things, which is a bit annoying because the two product lines we have are so different. One is an on-site environment--you buy the software and install it on your own server; the other is SaaS, and the development cultures aren't very similar. For example obviously you don't need a kickass desktop if you're doing your work on a server...but that means our devs who work on the on-site product have deeply-underpowered PCs. Mine's about 3.5 years old, and I'm about ready to drop in a new Core i5 or something to replace the Pentium it's got now.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Oh, my reminiscing made me forget my point: hopefully your new parent company won't change things up too much, but they probably will. Find out what they're like day to day, and if it's something you don't like the looks of, start looking for a new job before they force your company into their mold.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Place your employees in a colorless, featureless cubefarm

    To each his own, I guess. I'd kill for some goddamned cubicles, but no, everything nowadays has to be open-space, and here not only do people keep strolling and talking around you, they're also working on entirely different projects and you have no friggin' idea what they are talking about.

    And the only two people who kinda-sorta do what I do and are having conversations on topics I could possibly benefit from are very fond of speaking to each other in Russian. Christ.

    @blakeyrat said:

    not even free coffee!

    Man, I know that feel. Back in Poland, we had a good coffee machine - you'd pour in beans, and you could actually fill a mug if you so wanted. Here it's a (thanks Gods, free) vending machine spewing instant crap in teeny-tiny cups, and the one time I tried the "brewed coffee" option, I got a cup of water with a few bits of ground coffee floating in it. Not just "bad coffee", but literally a cup of dirty water.

    And yet, we still drink that crap, because caffeine is pretty much as necessary for devs as sunlight and water. Some give up and frequent a cafeteria, but I'd blow half my salary if I were to get my drugs there.


    Filed under: arguably with the sunlight



  • They've had a year, but all the management is the same people we've always had, so there are differences and there aren't. We lost a lot of people who didn't like the writing on the wall. As for me, they pay me well for what I do, but what I do isn't what I want to do. For awhile there I was practically another dev. Now? Your title says QA, you do QA. Nothing else! There will be no deviations from policy!



  • Someone at my company actually went around and put up signs at every empty desk stating that you had to acquire permission to use them.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @stinerman said:

    They've had a year, but all the management is the same people we've always had, so there are differences and there aren't. We lost a lot of people who didn't like the writing on the wall. As for me, they pay me well for what I do, but what I do isn't what I want to do. For awhile there I was practically another dev. Now? Your title says QA, you do QA. Nothing else! There will be no deviations from policy!

    My point was that at my company--and I gather that with big companies who move slowly, not that mine is--it took at least 2-3 years from acquisition for things to start changing, so I am really just giving you a long lead time head's up: watch for changes coming, and if you don't like the way they look, prepare to leave before things get intolerable. However old you are, you're too young to stay in a shitty job, but you probably already know that.

    Your last bit about policy is sort of what I am talking about.



  • @chubertdev said:

    Someone at my company actually went around and put up signs at every empty desk stating that you had to acquire permission to use them.

    Ugh. Here vacant cubes are more-or-less up for grabs, unless someone is visiting from another site for an extended stay, in which case someone will put up a sign "Reserved for $name from $date1 - $date2". Probably need to get your manager's approval for a permanent move, so you phone extension and stuff can get transferred, but AFAICT, no big deal.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @HardwareGeek said:

    Ugh. Here vacant cubes are more-or-less up for grabs, unless [...]

    Of course they are: that's one step removed from hoteling. Do they do that there?



  • @FrostCat said:

    My point was that at my company--and I gather that with big companies who move slowly, not that mine is--it took at least 2-3 years from acquisition for things to start changing,

    Depends on the company. I used to work for a mid-size company that was fairly well-known for laptop graphics chips. It was a pretty fun company to work for, and company meetings were always nicely catered.

    We got bought by Intel. When the deal closed, there was a meeting about what was happening. The meeting had bottled water (and maybe cookies; it was a long time ago), and that was the last time I ever saw anything fancier than pitchers of iced tap water at a meeting. The project I was working on was code-named Predator; that was renamed the next day to something I don't remember, because we can't have anything that suggests being predatory. It was cancelled entirely shortly thereafter; it was an attempt to leapfrog a generation ahead of the competition (quadrupling bus throughput instead of just doubling it), but that didn't fit Intel's plans because it didn't help sell processors (despite rumors that it was this project that convinced Intel's BoD we had technology they wanted).

    All that is to say that even big behemoth companies can move faster than you might expect.


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