Promotion or demotion?

WTF? A semi-ethical dilemma

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12 Replies - 2592 Views - Last Post: 28 July 2008 - 03:27 AM

#1 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Promotion or demotion?

Posted 26 July 2008 - 07:51 PM

My company has a small boat load of massive contracts coming in before the end of the year and will soon be mass-hiring designers and developers to handle the workload (At the moment, there are two of us).

They have purchased a second building to hold the new staff - a huge old warehouse with stark white walls and no windows whatsoever.

I have worked for them a mere two months, but they want to "promote" me to Manager of Design and Development. This sounds like a good thing, except that it will mean I have to give up coding for a living and spend my days watching other people code. I can't decide if it's really a promotion or an inadvertent demotion.

If it were you - oh, my ultimate gods of code - how would you see it? And would you take the management position or choose to remain a coder?

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#2 no2pencil  Icon User is offline

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Re: Promotion or demotion?

Posted 26 July 2008 - 07:57 PM

View PostBenignDesign, on 26 Jul, 2008 - 10:51 PM, said:

If it were you - oh, my ultimate gods of code - how would you see it? And would you take the management position or choose to remain a coder?

My philosophy, a better title on your resume always gets your more $$$ somewhere else.

I would take the position, & after 3 months start looking elsewhere.

Now if you had substantial time in this place, my answer would, of course, be different.
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#3 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Promotion or demotion?

Posted 26 July 2008 - 09:22 PM

I always consider such massive growth like that a somewhat bad thing. It is good to grow at a healthy clip, but if they are massive hiring for some contracts they got, it also means they could eventually massive cut if they lose those clients.

Now I remember when you mentioned getting the job and it is a bit of a red flag to me that they want to promote you to oversee others so quickly after being hired. Not to say anything of your abilities, I am sure you can handle it fine, but I have been in a couple jobs where they sprung up with increased staff and it has always turned out bad. Either because they downsize quickly like I mentioned, the people they do promote like yourself is thrust into a position that puts too much pressure on yourself and leads to bad decisions which are out of your control, or workplace environment diminishes with more work, less pay, taking crap for unreasonable deadlines and upper management always "Go go go"

I probably would do what no2 said and stick around long enough to see what happens and bail at a chance to do what you like to do. At least you can look around while working and keeping the money coming in. The best way to job search. :)
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#4 BetaWar  Icon User is offline

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Re: Promotion or demotion?

Posted 26 July 2008 - 09:45 PM

If you get a raise with this promotion then it is truly a promotion. Otherwise it can be considered a circular demotion.

Either way I would probably take it, as said above, it will be a good thing to put on a resume to help gain $ when going to a new job.
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#5 RodgerB  Icon User is offline

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Re: Promotion or demotion?

Posted 27 July 2008 - 03:04 AM

If it were me, I wouldn't leave, but I'd stick my nose into the project by accident. My dream job is to own a code farm that I could contribute to, manage, lead and develop for (I'm not the kind of lay back and watch type).

And if I was in your situation, I'd definently do it. I can remember you tweeting about how excited you were that you actually got the job, and I also heard (if I remember correctly, forgive me if I've imagined things :) ), that you are in the middle of a divorce and there are children involved? If so, it's not about what you want it's about the children (thats my morals).

Forgive me if I've presented false information. :)
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#6 Amadeus  Icon User is offline

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Re: Promotion or demotion?

Posted 27 July 2008 - 07:28 AM

You're being faced with a choice that often gets presented to developers who are also good with the big picture - continue to code, or manage the delivery program. Everyone has to make their own choice...it depends on where you want to go. Years ago, I decided to 'take my hands off the keyboard' in my primary job in order to begin managing software delivery teams and programs. I did this because I was working towards a goal. I won't lie...it was a difficult transition, and to this day, I'm always tempted to jump back in. I mitigate these feelings with a consultancy I run outside of my job, where I can happily code away.

Long story short - it's all about what you feel is best for you.
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#7 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Promotion or demotion?

Posted 27 July 2008 - 07:44 AM

Weird choice by your company to hire a lot of people in a short period of time. My favorite quote for this scenario is:

"Adding more manpower to a late project just makes it more late" --Can't think of the guy's name though.
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#8 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Promotion or demotion?

Posted 27 July 2008 - 07:51 AM

First, it is a promotion.

Forgive me, but I'm reminded of the Peter Principle, "In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence." Basically, all things being equal, you will be promoted while you're doing a good job; until you no longer do a good job. :P

The corollary is that you really can't know what you're good at and what you like until you get there. You have an opportunity to try, take it. You don't have to stay, but you may be surprised. If you hate it, you'll ironically be in a better position to change things, either by leaving or negotiating with management.

I do sympathize, dealing with people is a drag. However, even if you get to always to do what you like in computers, without terms like "Manager" in the title, you're often being underpaid.
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#9 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: Promotion or demotion?

Posted 27 July 2008 - 05:38 PM

Thanks for the input, fellas. Quite honestly, I was hoping to hear more "Stick to the code" than "Take the promotion"... but you can't always get what you want, eh?

My biggest issue in this dilemma is that I have spent several years of my life in management positions and I have always hated them. Code, however, I can get lost in and forget about everything else around me. While I may not be the same caliber as many of you, I am not too bad at what I do. I LOVE what I do. And I am psychotically anal about how it is done.

To look at the work of someone who works "beneath" me and see crap, I'll only be able to fake a smile for so long before I just start telling people their work is crap.

As I said before, there are only 2 coders at the moment. The second coder has a nasty habit of being perpetually negative about everything, constantly rolling his eyes at people and being rude to clients. Hence, he is kept in his little closet, away from the public and the rest of the staff. Don't get me wrong, he's a nice enough guy, he just hates people and has zero tolerance for anyone who needs things explained in layman's terms.

So, the bosses are presented with two options. They have 2 coders. They know we know our stuff. They need someone to manage their upcoming code farm of misery and want a current employee to step up to the plate. Which leaves them with limited options. I don't know that it says that much about me as it does about the other coder. It's more like I am merely the lesser of two evils. "Hmmm... who do we promote? The new chick or the guy who might go postal?"

I dunno. I guess the bottom line is that I want to get paid a lot of money because I am good at what I do, not because I am good at watching other people do what I wish I was doing.

This post has been edited by BenignDesign: 27 July 2008 - 05:39 PM

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#10 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Promotion or demotion?

Posted 27 July 2008 - 05:47 PM

You could just take the position and code in your free time. Sure you won't be doing it in your job, but at least you won't have to stop coding at all. Maybe even code on your lunch breaks or whatever.

Sounds like you have made up your mind though in that you are passionate about wanting to be a coder. If you find yourself dreaming of code, stay out the management position. It is better to be happy than to make a lot of money and be miserable. We are all striving for the balance of happiness and making a bunch of money.

Good luck. :)
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#11 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Promotion or demotion?

Posted 27 July 2008 - 06:32 PM

View PostBenignDesign, on 27 Jul, 2008 - 08:38 PM, said:

Thanks for the input, fellas. Quite honestly, I was hoping to hear more "Stick to the code" than "Take the promotion"... but you can't always get what you want, eh?

My biggest issue in this dilemma is that I have spent several years of my life in management positions and I have always hated them.


You've answered you own question. You know you don't like managing people and you've done that before ( which I didn't know ). Personally, I far prefer coding to cat herding. I would try to stick to coding.

Or, you could pitch something like this: "Look, I'm good at what I do and want to keep doing it. Let's be clear on what you're looking for. If you just want a manager, get some generic suit type. If you want a project lead that will still do design work and simply oversee projects assigned to other people, we can talk."

Seriously, you know more about what need to be done than anyone. If you think you can get away with it, dictate your terms.
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#12 OliveOyl3471  Icon User is offline

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Re: Promotion or demotion?

Posted 27 July 2008 - 11:12 PM

View PostBenignDesign, on 27 Jul, 2008 - 07:38 PM, said:

Thanks for the input, fellas. Quite honestly, I was hoping to hear more "Stick to the code" than "Take the promotion"... but you can't always get what you want, eh?

I dunno. I guess the bottom line is that I want to get paid a lot of money because I am good at what I do, not because I am good at watching other people do what I wish I was doing.


You can't always get what you want, but sometimes you can.

It sounds like you don't want the promotion. I wouldn't take a job I knew I'd hate, if I wasn't being forced to do so. Like Martyr said, It is better to be happy than to make a lot of money and be miserable.

It's not often a person is lucky enough to find a job they love.
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#13 Programmist  Icon User is offline

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Re: Promotion or demotion?

Posted 28 July 2008 - 03:27 AM

If this promotion was not mentioned in your original contract, then I would treat this as an opportunity to negotiate terms. Since I would not enjoy going into a non-coding management position, I would add that to the negotiations, along with the other things (salary, vacation package, etc). I've worked for companies before that have management "tracks" that allow good developers to continue contributing while managing. So, why not have your cake and eat it too?

Also, if you notice someone in your group churning out crap code, don't keep silent until you can't stand it and then become negative. That is not a good strategy and will not earn you and respect as a leader. Consider peer code reviews. A lot of companies are skipping this very helpful step because of time constraints, but, with guidance, it can be very constructive.
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