Can't Keep Cow-orkers


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    As I've mentioned here several times, I work at a moving company doing internal software development. As you might expect, this means a very small development team, usually just two of us plus the CIO. Occasionally, that number increases by one whole additional body, but that's not often.

    In the three years I've been in this position, I've gone through five cow-orkers, and it looks like I might need to start searching for a new one soon. Things usually start out good, but then something invariably happens:

    1. This one had been here all of two weeks when I started. Not sure what happened to the previous devs, but that may not be relevant. Anyway, he and I had to dive into the code, no documentation, and unravel it ourselves. We started laying the foundations of Development Standards, bug and feature tracking, etc. Basically, we were working together to make the place better. 12 months go by, and instead of getting stuff finished on time, he's 2 months behind. When my boss asks him whats holding him up, he says he doesn't know how to use a certain stored proc. "Why didn't you ask?" "I dunno." "Do you even want to work here anymore?" "I guess not." Basically, somewhere in his last few months, he lost all enthusiasm for the job here and just checked out. Good bye.
    2. After I'd been here about 9 months, we needed an extra set of hands for a small project. My boss asked me to send the job description out to every developer I know, so I did. Unfortunately, it made it's way to my brother-in-law. My BIL ended up getting the contract. Ok at first, no big deal. Then he met this girl, and things took a turn for the worst. He starts taking more and more time off. "Sick" days. Spontaneous day trips. Not having enough money for gas to get to work. You get the idea. Anyway, we have to cancel his contract as a result.
    3. Next guy, looks great on paper. Phone interview matches up great, and his personality appears to match up with our culture. Only one problem: he lives in another state. Ok, he's willing to foot the bill. Great! So he comes in, and the first two months go perfectly. Then things start. He tries to start changing things outside his scope Repeatedly. He tries to change the architecture to one of our projects without approval. After another month of this, he's dropped like a bad habit.
    4. This guy starts out the same as #3, but the end is different. He starts asking questions. No big deal right? Except these are question that are answered in the specs of the tasks he's given. And he asks the same questions 6 or 7 times. Then, he codes it wrong and severely violates our standards repeatedly. It's like he doesn't learn from his mistakes. Alright, say goodbye to #4.
    5. Here she comes, the one woman I've worked with at this job. As with all the others, things start out great. Then here deliverables start slipping. And I start having to spend more and more time cleaning up her code to make it actually work after she checks it in, because she doesn't actually test it (Do any of these people actually read the Development Standards I give them on their first day?). And so long to her.

    The current guy has actually been here for about a year. He's actually worked with 3, 4, and 5. So far, he's one of the most successful of the bunch. But then warning signs started appearing a month ago:

    • Tardiness. He started showing up later and later each day, without making up the time difference. As far as the company is concerned, he's stealing since he's a salaried employee and he isn't working 40 hours.
    • Not performing unit tests on checked in code. I went to start a pre-release test cycle on an major update we've been working on, only to discover he hasn't done any unit tests in a month!
    • Asking dumb-ass questions. He's started asking me questions he could figure out himself if he bothered to look.

    I'm starting to wonder how much longer he's going to last.



  • If you dunk a good cookie in bad milk you get a bad cookie.
    You can't always blame the cow.



  • @abarker said:

    When my boss asks him whats holding him up, he says he doesn't know how to use a certain stored proc. "Why didn't you ask?" "I dunno." "Do you even want to work here anymore?" "I guess not." Basically, somewhere in his last few months, he lost all enthusiasm for the job here and just checked out. Good bye.

    That sounds familiar. When someone has a foot out the door, that's the behavior that you'll see.



  • @abarker said:

    (Do any of these people actually read the Development Standards I give them on their first day?)

    Have you given each person (except the first who I gathered helped write them) your development standards? Perhaps they're like the Necronomicon in that they rot your brain allowing some kind of eldritch horror from beyond space and time to move in (now if only those knew how to program).

    Or maybe there's some cultural factor that's winning the war with professionalism at your company since it sounds like they start out as professionals and end up acting like interns.

    Lord knows it can be hard to maintain a work ethic if you've stopped caring for some reason (though you bloody well should if you want to call yourself a professional developer).


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    @smallshellscript said:

    Have you given each person (except the first who I gathered helped write them) your development standards?

    Did you bother reading what you quoted?

    As for the rest of your post, my boss and I have been fighting an uphill battle to improve things around here. There's finally an end in sight where the software team will be spun off into a new company. So there is a chance that they have been affected by the corporate culture. The question then is: why do I seem to be immune?


  • sockdevs

    @abarker said:

    The question then is: why do I seem to be immune?

    why do you think you are?


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    Because I keep noticing the shit code and coming up with ways to make things better.

    On the other hand, I have set a deadline. If the new company spinoff hasn't started by my deadline, I'm looking for a new job. I've already got enough stuff from this job to fill half a page on my resume.



  • @abarker said:

    , I'm looking for a new job.

    I think you are starting to catch the same cold your co workers had. did you miss your flu shot?



  • @abarker said:

    Did you bother reading what you quoted?

    Of course not - reading is like listening, a barrier to spewing one's opinions randomly at people whether they like it or not. (Actually I felt that the "humorous" bit was too short otherwise so I went with obliviousness).

    @abarker said:

    why do I seem to be immune?

    If I had to guess, I'd say its the difference between looking and acting like a professional and actually being one. I can distinctly remember the point at which I had the epiphany that, like you mentioned, showing up late and leaving early was stealing from the company (along with several other lovely realizations such as no one owes me a living).

    The fact that you recognize these problems and that you have enough faith in your work and the company's product(s) that you're willing to at least try to stick it out is a mark of what you might call good character. Is it safe to assume that even if you decide to leave, you won't half-ass your work in between your deadline and the day you walk out?


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    @smallshellscript said:

    Is it safe to assume that even if you decide to leave, you won't half-ass your work in between your deadline and the day you walk out?

    Yeah. I've left every job I've had on my terms, and I always try to give 100% until my last day. Anything less seems like a waste of time - mine and the company's.


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    @Monarch said:

    did you miss your flu shot?

    No, I got my shot during my annual physical. It was only the trivalent, though. I guess I should have spring for the quadravalent.



  • What language do you guys use, again? That might be it. :grinning:


  • mod

    Mostly C#, with a helping of JS for web apps. Some of our older stuff is in VB.NET, but that is being rewritten as needed.



  • @abarker said:

    Mostly C#, with a helping of JS for web apps. Some of our older stuff is in VB.NET, but that is being rewritten as needed.

    Oh, that should be sane, then.



  • I only have one question... is your BIL still your BIL? I mean, by the time he left should have been your exBIL... right?



  • Not necessarily. Could be his wife's unmarried brother; no reason (other than collapse of work quality) for him not to get involved with a girl.



  • @HardwareGeek said:

    Could be his wife's unmarried brother

    FIFY, a divorce there wouldn't break the BIL part either.



  • @smallshellscript said:

    Lord knows it can be hard to maintain a work ethic if you've stopped caring for some reason (though you bloody well should if you want to call yourself a professional developer).

    Indeed; the day I stopped caring at my previous job was the day I left. Took me about ten minutes to decide I was done, then another ten to have all their resources returned and all my stuff out the door.



  • Right, but the other way has much more drama!



  • @locallunatic said:

    FIFY, a divorce there wouldn't break the BIL part either.

    Yes, but then the second part of my statement wouldn't be true (in general, assuming a traditional, monogamous marriage).


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    @Eldelshell said:

    I only have one question... is your BIL still your BIL? I mean, by the time he left should have been your exBIL... right?

    No, he's still my BIL. As @HardwareGeek pointed out:

    @HardwareGeek said:

    Could be his wife's unmarried brother

    Anyway, he ended up marrying that girl. Let's just say their relationship is "interesting". Example: they rent a house, but only she, her kids (from a prior marriage) and their kid live there. My BIL and his kids (from a previous marriage) live with his parents.


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