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Where Should Company Loyalty End? 406

Posted by Cliff
from the stuff-to-think-about dept.
An Anonymous CTO asks: "Currently, I work for a small Internet consulting company. We've been trying to find funding for the past year or so, but to no avail, and future prospects are quite dim, despite a recent drastic change in our approach. Morale is at an all time low, with near-incompetent management decisions having effectively worn down even the most dedicated of us. My position is pivotal, though, and even though the upper crust is pretty much a joke, my coworkers are quite talented, which is the crux of the matter -- if I bail ship, the company will likely either fold or have to transform itself immensely, quite probably at the cost of the jobs of my friends. And yet, I have two upcoming job offers that are both well paying and good career moves, and offers don't last forever. Should I stick things out, or should I bail and move on? When it comes to the workplace, where do loyalties end and responsibilities to oneself begin?"
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Where Should Company Loyalty End?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:28AM (#495207)
    You and your management have reciprocal obligations (ethical and perhaps legal). If management is (a) inept and (b) unsuccessful in raising the capital needed for the business to survive, those two are almost certainly correlated, assuming a receptive business climate, a decent business plan, and half-way intelligent pursuit of funding.

    I had an experience back ~1979 to ~1981 with a startup, and there was no opportunity to raise money because the person who would be the CEO (he had put some up front money in for patent, etc.) was not up to the task of running a real business. But, even at that we got a lot of interest and serious look overs because of neat techno stuff and were told more than once our dumping a couple of real idiots gave the prospective investors a lot of confidence it was possible to work things out. (Then the economy went south for a couple of years...) I suspect that your operation has let too many idiots inside its management, and potential investors can smell that a mile away. Really-it's uncanny how well you can judge people with a little experience, even just on a "walk through and meet the key players" type of visit. You just have to be looking at things from that perspective, and not be seduced by techno whiz-bang stuff. If investors get the notion that you have an entrenched and incompetent management, its all over for you and has been since day one, since they can only require so many changes before too many people get the wind up and things turn really sour and the lawyers get called out. If you have good ideas, good workers, and only a couple of out-of their-league managers to hem in (or castrate), given the recent climate for investing you should have been given a serious look over by someone. Times are tightening.

    VERDICT: move on if you legally can, make things as gentle on friends as you can if you do go. There is no future where you are, and I suspect your question itself is proof of this. (I'm sorry I wasted the two years way back when, especially when I knew at the time that there were personalities that would make investors hesitant, and while a "lateral arabesque" was in progress with our problem person the economy dipped and our opportunity went unfulfilled.)
  • i won't go into details but lets just say that I work for an organization where loyalty is a legal requirement so to speak.

    The military?

  • by Chris Johnson (580) on Friday January 19, 2001 @02:11PM (#495209) Homepage Journal
    The management _needs_ to be competent. This doesn't mean they need to be _nice_, just competent. They could go through personnel with an axe and still be in the right if they are saddled with a lot of genuinely useless people. They could also be way in the wrong if they do this more or less at random, or get in the way a lot.

    That said, their loyalty to their employees is quite another question. That is more to do with _how_ they handle things. So the resulting combinations could be:

    • competent and loyal: can tell good work from bad, will expend _great_ effort to deal with employees who are having problems and for that reason can work with some of the more difficult personalities who might be capable of great things but are also tough to manage
    • incompetent and loyal: expect a lot of guilt, but don't expect the company to actually make money. This is a 'go out of business holding hands' situation. How important is that loyalty to you? Does the person have contacts or is there some other reason you'd want to go down with the ship but not breaking faith with that key person? It may also be possible to use this loyalty to you by trying to offer reality checks- they might be taken, at least temporarily. This isn't the most common situation.
    • competent and disloyal: think corporation. You are a cog in a machine. When you wear out you're discarded. You may be able to get paid well as long as you're around- though there's going to be a limit, don't expect 'reward', expect to be chiseled for every penny and possibly have to fight to be paid, because this type of person is not on your side. They are your enemy but you gotta deal with them. If you can't tolerate continual treachery you might want to bail EVEN THOUGH the company is likely to be reasonably successful: you'll get ulcers because your worst fears are true and you know it. How much are you getting to tolerate this? Also, only certain types of work thrive under this sort of management. Creative work or inventive work gets distorted: think 'microsoft bob' as what happens to it. You can't really do great creative work if you are constantly watching your back: the paranoia will severely limit what you're willing to attempt, because failure is a sign of weakness and signs of weakness will get you 'culled'.
    • incompetent and disloyal: blech. Leave, already: this organisation is doomed. You have to have at least one or the other. If you have both incompetent _and_ disloyal there's a good chance 'criminal' is mixed up in there too, and you could be overlooking embezzling or pricefixing or a whole host of other behaviors that really are no indication of a successful company- they can be like the coat of paint slapped onto the undercarriage of a car to hide the rust. If you stick around with a place that is managed by 'incompetent and disloyal' expect to be surprised by the sudden catastrophic failure of the business, because you're probably not seeing the whole picture- everything is 'spun' to make it look right.

    I've worked for pretty much all of the above. In some cases I've seen combinations- I worked at a pizza joint when I was younger that contained the extremes- main management was competent and loyal, but at times they had assistant managers who were worse, including one who was incompetent _and_ disloyal (and as a result continually paranoid). I've worked with semicompetent and loyal, and semicompetent and disloyal. The former was when a business was taking on too much- I walked and remained on good terms with the people- the latter was when I bailed out a business by putting a lot of work in, and they ended up replicating the same situation that'd got them in trouble before, setting up one person to entirely depend on and cutting loose all the loyal people who had bailed them out. In that case I walked and keep an element of reserve- waiting for if I need to bail them out again, only my prices have gone up :)

    The spectrum across those two variables should tell you everything you need to know :)

  • by emil (695) on Friday January 19, 2001 @10:23AM (#495210) Homepage

    Karma Repair Kit, Items 1-4

    1. Get enough food to eat, and eat it.
    2. Find a place to sleep where it is quiet, and sleep there.
    3. Reduce intellectual and emotional noise until you reach the silence of yourself, and listen to it.

    -Richard Brautigan

  • My first reaction is "Loyality is for dogs", "To your own self be true", and so on. That seems well covered so lets look at the other side.

    Sit down and find out what the honest chances for the company are. If they are public that is easy, otherwise good luck finding the finiancal information. If there is no way they can get enough funding to stay in buisness longer get a new job. If they won't be able to pay you in a few months, why stay, the ecconomy might turn bad and then you want to be amoung those with a job to keep not those looking for a job.

    Okay, lets assume there is a chance they will find enough money to stay in buisness long enough to make a profit. Then the question is harder. Decide what you want to do. Some people like bing in a key role, others don't. If you don't want to be in your position in good times don't be there, if you want to be there is good times learn to live with the bad.

    The company I work for last ALL the pivitol devolpers a year ago. For six months we were in panic. However because of the massive loss (4 key guys left in the same week) the CEO jump on a plane to fire the managers who were causing problems. Today we seem to have good management in place (Hard to tell when they have only been around for a short time), and in replacing the key people we discovered some critical problems they were glossing over that needed to be fix. Over all we are better off technically without those people just because the egos who made mistakes are gone. (Which isn't their fault, nobody is perfect)

    Notice one thing that happened in my expirence: A bunch of technical people left, which forced the bad managers to "resign for personal reasons". (they were fired as I said above) When a key person leaves it is a sign to management, you could easilly be doing your co-workers who stay a favor by forcing the CEO to notice those under him are are sucking up but not doing their job. If management takes action when you leave to correct the problems, you have done your co-workers a favor. If management takes no action when you leave it proves that you don't want to work there. Looks like a win-win situation to me.

  • ...is that protecting the company isn't necessarily the best answer for those "non-morons."

    If the company is virtually ready to go under, the loss of one person can cause that, and company management is "so competent" that they're not already acting to avert the outcome, this is a real dangerous place to be already.

    The best kind of "loyalty" that is available is liable to be the "loyalty" that results in giving good recommendations to those "non-morons" so that when the company gets seriously injured, the people to which you feel loyal are somewhat buffered.

  • by Svartalf (2997)
    They have little loyalty to you, right?
    Then why should you have loyalty for them?

    As for your friends, you should be doing what I did with my last job change- if you really do like them and feel some sense of loyalty to them, do your level best to find THEM job possibilities, or better yet, try getting them in your current employer.
  • You say that some of your co-workers are quite talented. Have you considered the possibility that they also smell the rotting flesh of the corporation? Plenty of other people will explain why it isn't your job to prop up a failing company. Why not venture on your own... form your own company and invite the talented group to come and join you? I'm sure you don't want to nose dive your current company, but if they are screwed without you, at least you can make something better for you co-workers.

    Besides, then you have the joy of reporting your old business to FuckedCompany.com [fuckedcompany.com].

  • I was there a few months ago.

    I was working at an ISP, doing web programming (after clawing my way up from tech support) - getting paid about half what I was worth, being unhappy, unfulfilled, and unappreciated.

    The parent company (a telco) was taking more and more control of the ISP side of things, making poor decisions, and trying to enforce shirt-and-tie policies in a formerly t-shirt-and-jeans company.

    In short it wasn't pretty.

    None of us in the department (and a couple of other departments) were happy. We'd been happy in the early days, but those days were over.

    The first wake-up call was when out department manager (a web designer, and a damn good one) was deposed, in favor of the newly hired project manager, and her "mentor", who was in sales. He left a few weeks later.

    Second wakeup call was when the founder of the ISP (who sold out to the telco, and regretted his decision to do it for years afterwards) left to become a project manager at a competing web design house. This was the most laid-back, cool guy you could imagine - and a big slap-in-the-face to those of us who were still there.

    At that point, those of us in the department were already starting to put out some feelers (Monster, Techies, etc...) to see what the market was like.

    Still though - even though we were unhappy - we felt kind of weird about leaving - the department was very small as it was - the loss of our former manager increased our workloads quite a bit - it was almost unimaginable what another one of us leaving would do to the workloads of the remaining few.

    Then, the senior designer left - to the same company as our former manager. 4 remained.

    At that point, I had to assess my priorities. I was having a hard time going into work every day - and a harder time staying there once I got there - the atmosphere was becoming more and more opressive - management expecting 4 people to do the same work as 6 in the same timeframe - corporate snootiness clashing against geekish laid-backness, etc...

    I laid out my own priorities this way:

    My family (fiancee, mom & dad, etc...) comes first.

    Myself comes second.

    My friends come third.

    My job comes last.

    For me, It was a no-brainer. The company wasn't doing me, or my friends any good. My family wanted me to be happy, and I wasn't. I wanted my family to be happy - my fiancee in particular, and I couldn't do that on the salary I was making.

    So, I left. It was actually fairly easy and quick to find a job in a better area of the country, for a MUCH better salary, and working for a MUCH better company.

    The other 3 members of our former team are still there - two negotiated for higher salaries in return for a one-year contract (AKA - no matter how bad it gets, they're stuck there for a year) - one is simply biding his time until he finishes college this summer - at which point he plans on leaving.

    I get messages every day from them - and things aren't getting better - they're getting worse. One at least regrets signing the contract that binds him for a year.

    The moral of the story is that you've got to decide what's right for you, given your priorities. The job market is fairly good right now - a company isn't doing you any favors by keeping you employed - you're doing them a favor by continuing to work there.

    There are bigger, better fish in the sea - maybe if you leave, it'll be a slap-in-the-face to your friends, who are probably in the same boat as you are.

    Man - I just realized how long this post is - sorry 'bout that!
  • by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomaiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:30AM (#495234) Homepage
    Your problem is familiar to me, as I've run into it before. I take personal pride in my work and I'd like to know that it's contributing to the long-term prosperity of a group of people. I'm presently in a position where this is very much the case. In my previous position, this turned out to be very much not the case. Using that criterion, I'd say take one of the other offers.

    You also listed loyalty to your co-workers as a criterion. You work with a group of very talented people. If I were you, I'd tell them to start looking for work elsewhere, and then jump ship. Even if they have kids and debts, if they're talented, they'll find better prospects someplace else.

    Despite talk of a recession, the high tech job market is still good. Companies are still struggling to fill positions. The implication is that there's no reason to stick with a job that sucks. Obviously if the economic picture changes, then this implication could no longer be true; but right now, your best option is to jump ship. Life is too short for relationships that suck, and that includes jobs that suck.

    ObJectBridge [sourceforge.net] (GPL'd Java ODMG) needs volunteers.

  • Sorry, but a job is, in essence, a contract, and loyalty is a two way street.

    When you are hired (and paid) to do a job, the compensation you receive is for the job done, not to make you feel loyalty to the company.

    If it's okay for a company to lay off employees, etc. in order to protect their future (and bottom line), it is equally okay for an employee to look out for his/her own interests, as well. To argue otherwise is disingenous.

    If the company has a bad business plan, or bad management, all the employee loyalty in the world isn't going to make all that much difference, and said company probably should fail.

    And ultimately, you cannot be responsible for anyone but you. If leaving a company causes problems for other employees, it should be something you consider, but it should not get in the way of what is best for you.

  • by Kris_J (10111)
    You'd be surprised how many of them are currently agonising over exactly the same options. I leave at the end of the month, but I was pushed. I know of two others leaving this month, another finding finance for a business and a further one actively looking through on-line job sites -- and that's just what I know about.
  • by PureFiction (10256) on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:17AM (#495238)
    At one time companies were loyal to their employees. They valued their contributions, saw them as more them numbers and assets, and life was good. Employees were loyal to their employers in return. It was a mututally benificial relationship

    Things have changed, and loyalty was lost in the cold cogs of business and profit.

    Today, the only one you should be loyal to is yourself. Businesses that cannot create an environment conducive to employee needs are not fit to be in business.

    Get the hell out of there and let a functional businesses which will value and utilize your skills benifit. Your on a sinking ship. Get out while the getting is good.

  • When it's all said and done, you're the one who has to live with your decision.

    So it doesn't really matter what our opinion is; what matters is yours.

    If you think you should leave, you should probably leave; but do you really think you should, or are you just unhappy about something specific?

    -
  • Linux [microsoft.com] BeOS [microsoft.com] FreeBSD [microsoft.com] MacOS X [microsoft.com] QNX [microsoft.com]
    SUB-20000 USER ID FOR FREE!
  • The company you're in is flawed from the start. A consulting company, by it's very nature, shouldn't require funding to remain in business. I too work for a consulting firm, but one with a business model requiring it to make a profit and pay for itself. There's nothing magical about consulting, and consulting firms rarely grow large (which is probably why your company is having such a hard time finding funding). The fact that your company is focusing on securing VC capital rather so that they can maintain a flashy image, rather than pursuing CUSTOMERS who will actually pay the bills, tells me that the management of the company is clueless about what running a company really means.

    Ask yourself this: Do you think they would hesitate for a moment to drag you down with them, until they ran out of funding, despite the damage it could do to your career? If the answer is no, then they don't have any loyalty to you. And if they're not loyal to you, why are you worried about them?

    Bail now and save yourself. Or better yet, try to get all the programmers to join you and form your own consulting firm, founded on a PROFIT based business model. The firm I work for started when 5 programmers left a situation similar to yours. They hired an MBA and an accountant to handle the business, and a sales guy to promote them. That was 4 years ago...we've now got 40 employees and are clearing 12mil a year in sales (without a DIME of funding).
  • > Everything else (family, friends, job, hobbies) should come far behind.

    You have it totally backwards. If you must indulge your fantasies, don't put them above family and friends - that would qualify as an addiction. I would refer you to Alcoholics Anonymous, except they share the same silly fantasy. I guess you're stuck...

  • My uncle used to talk just the way you do. He recently committed suicide. Your fanatic behavior is most likely symptomatic of mental illness. I wish you well in dealing with it.
  • I think you're neglecting one important fact: corporations are owned by *someone*, wheither by a small group of founders or by a large board of directors. Either way, those who own corporations end up funding the payroll and are effectively the bosses of these companies. And, of course, like most people in a capitalistic society, they're in it for the money.

    It seems your worries about this "trend" in capitalism is a basic worry about the growth of the gap between the haves (the bosses) and the have nots (the employees), especially the "trend" of the "haves" using their positions of wealth to protect and acquire new wealth, such as influencing government policy, damn all others. Basic, naked greed.

    Thus the "perils" of an capitalistic society. Well, more specific, American society. Political power comes either from the polling booth (sheer numbers of citizens for a certain cause), or, fail that, from the amount of wealth and influence one can use directly on those running the government (through both legal, quasi-legal, and illegal means.) And since most people don't have a large thong of followers, the other option is the more realistic one.

    My two dull, dirty pennies.

    George Lee

  • They are not doing you a favor by employing you.

    Bail after giving your buddies at the company plenty of warning. If you do things right, you might even be able to bring them with you.

  • by Evro (18923) <evandhoffman@@@gmail...com> on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:42AM (#495256) Homepage Journal
    Your kids should take priority over your friends (or their kids). Also, the company you described sounded doomed anyway (barring a miracle, of course; low morale is not a great motivator). If the company folds and the job offers are no longer there, then what are you going to do?

    __________________________________________________ ___

  • Phew! I'm a quarter of the way down the page, and I find the first person to say "Stick it out".

    I have to agree. You cannot really change the top management above you, but you can influence those those in the team below you.

    Apart from, it seems, the top managements apparent incompetance (sp?) possibly simply being unable to find funding (In an economic climate, which has made this significantly harder to do, especially when without a concrete plan for profitability)

    If everyone bailed out of a company at the slightest indication of a storm ahead, then there would be no successful companies. In my mind nearly all e-companies have gone through that "make or break" phase, some coming out on top and others dissapearing into obscurity.
  • heh. Once, on changing jobs, I managed to get three job offers. I politely declined two of them by saying that I was accepting another offer, but that if it didn't work out perhaps I could give them a call? Even the company I was leaving asked if there was a chance I might come back in the future.

    Currently, I still receive "recruitment-spam" from having put myself on job-search lists over a year ago. This isn't the same thing. But I think we can assume that, for this CTO, there isn't a problem in being able to find a new job.

    For me, if you execute correctly, you can really leave many options open.
  • by GC (19160) <giles@coochey.net> on Saturday January 20, 2001 @01:45AM (#495259)
    The three soldiers returning home from war were hungry. When they saw the village ahead their spirits lifted - they were sure the villagers would give them a meal. But when they got there, they found the doors locked and the windows closed. After many years of war, the villagers were short of food, and hoarded what they had.
    Undetered, the soldiers boiled a pot of water and carefully placed three stones into it. The amazed villagers came out to watch.
    "This is stone soup." the soldiers explained. "Is that all you put in it?" asked the villagers. "Absolutely - although some say it tastes even better with a few carrots..." a villager ran off, returning in no time with a basket of carrots from his hoard.
    A couple of minutes later, the villagers again asked "Is that it?"
    "Well," said the soldiers, "a couple of potatoes give it body." Off ran another villager.
    Over the next hour, the soldiers listed more ingredients that would enhance the soup: beef, leeks, salt, and herbs. Each time a different villager would run off to raid their personal stores.
    Eventually they had produced a large pot of steaming soup. The soldiers removed the stones, and they sat down with the entire village to enjoy the first squire meal any of them had eaten in months.

    From "The Pragmatic Programmer", Hunt & Thomas.

    Worth thinking about...
  • Is that the company was already doomed, whether Larry left or not. Larry staying on board might have prolonged things a wee bit, or made the decline seem 'smoother', but if the company wasn't doing well enough to replace larry, it was doomed anyway.
  • by _Spirit (23983) on Friday January 19, 2001 @12:20PM (#495267) Journal
    I used to work for a company as CTO. It was a startup (not dotcom but in the IS field) founded by two ppl I know. One worked in the company, the other was a "silent" partner. We were doing great, work was pouring in, we were hiring like crazy. We were even starting to make a profit. Our only problem was funding. We needed to make some big investments in real estate and hard/software, and to compensate for some losses we made when we just started.

    My boss was working on that and making good progress when disaster struck: my boss had a bad accident.
    After this the "silent" partner stepped in and ... (can you say PHB ?). He managed to blow any chance of funding out of the water. He offended clients and prospective investors with amazing cluelesness.

    I was in the spot you are in today.

    The Logistics manager and I might have been able to straighten things out or at least keep things running for a while, till our boss had recovered from his injuries. (At the time we effectively ran day to day operations) I felt I owed it to my boss to be loyal because he had been good for me, giving me the opportunity to do a high level job which no other company would have given anyone with my resume at that time. In the meantime the silent partner was making this awful hard. He wouldn't listen to any of our suggestions, make very bad mistakes, he wouldn't even listen to our boss when he went to visit him in the hospital.

    Finally I got together with the logistics manager (a close friend of mine) and we talked long and hard about this. We had a good relationship with the ppl in accounting so we were aware of the financial situation (This made our course of action much easier, because we knew what we were up against). We decided that:

    - Our original boss deserved our loyalty.
    - Our new boss did not
    - Some things in our company were going wrong but they were fixable. I.e. the company could survive. (this was crucial, we were going to put in a lot energy and sweat, we needed to know this)
    - The new boss had to take his shares and stay home. (This guy could lose clients just by picking up the phone and striking up a "pleasant conversation")

    Once we figured this out we put together a rescue plan for the company and a realistic scenario of what would happen if we wouldn't start fixing things. We put it on our new bosses desk. I then had to leave the country for two weeks (a long overdue vacation)

    When I got back our plan was in the same place on our new bosses desk as before I left. He hadn't spoken about the plan to our logistics manager. I had one final talk with my old boss and left. The company went down two weeks later with quite a lot of money down the drain.

    My feelings now:
    I hate what happened to a good idea, and a nice company to work for. I hate that my old boss ended up well in debt.
    I never regretted leaving, because there was nothing we could have done without the support from our new boss.
  • These days you can't afford to be loyal to the company, because when push comes to shove, they WON'T be loyal to you. Remember, the company's mission is to maximize profit. If your job comes in the way of that, they they must cut you. There is no loyalty from a nameless entity like a corporation.

    If you stick around feeling the company will be loyal to you, you are SADLY mistaken.

    Look out for your own interests, try to find your friends jobs at other places. If they are as talented as you say, they should have no trouble getting a better job in the tech market - companies are hungry for people.

    In short, leave now, before you are forced to. If you are concerned about friends, send them to your recruiter buddies/monster.com/dice.com
  • by Pengo (28814) on Friday January 19, 2001 @10:25AM (#495270) Journal
    Grammar was correct as well. Could not of been Taco.


    --------------------
    Would you like a Python based alternative to PHP/ASP/JSP?
  • you gave me a good laugh!
  • by scotpurl (28825) on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:53AM (#495272)
    Warn the good folks there that you're going to bail -- then do it. Make sure you get their email addresses, and tell them that you'd like to keep them in mind when you land your next job.

    Loyalty is a good thing. It's part of who you are. It's part of a strong code of ethics. And sine it's part of the ethics, you know when unethical behaviour by management (sinking the company) perfectly justifies ethical behaviour by you (e.g., bailing, and now!).
  • ...but most of all, remember that your labor is a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder.

  • by Shotgun (30919) on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:24AM (#495277)
    I see companies all the the time starting programs to make work more social. Here this:

    Work is not a place to make friends.

    It may happen that you'll make friends with coworkers, and that's nice, but should not be expected. Work is not a social club. If you don't believe me, spend half of tomorrow playing board games with your 'friends' and see how long it is before your boss tells you the same thing.

    If these people are friends, they'll be your friends after you work elsewhere. If the only thing making them friends is the coincidence that you are forced together by a mutual need to put bread on the table, I would rather classify them as aquaintances.

    I left IBM for various reasons, but I still have friends there. One in particular is afraid to leave because everyone likes her there. She is underpaid and overworked. She can easily do much better elsewhere, but she doesn't want to lose her "friends". It's dumb and I've told her so.

  • by michaela (31955) on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:22AM (#495278) Homepage
    1. Do what's best for you. Take care of yourself because everything else stems from that.
    2. Take care of your family.
    3. Help your friends.
    4. Save the world.

    --

  • by JoeWalsh (32530) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:42AM (#495280)
    When it comes to the workplace, where do loyalties end and responsibilities to oneself begin?"

    Companies, just like people, only deserve the loyalty that they've earned. If they've earned your loyalty (for example, through treating you better than you would be treated elsewhere), then take that into consideration. But if not, then there's no reason to be loyal to them. Look for a better job and leave as soon as you land one.
  • If the talented people are having a fulfilling experience working for the company stay.

    If they aren't, then if your company is worse than average they'll probably end up in a better situation.
  • I was in a similar boat some years ago, finally deciding to jump ship from a small startup in the midwest run under a clueless tyrant (hi Dave!) for an opportunity on the west coast. I felt bad at the time -- I was sure that if/when I left, Bad Things would happen to the company I was leaving, and they'd surely fold in a month.

    Four years later, they've had the balls to stay in business. The nerve!

    My point: you can't predict what's going to happen to your current employer or your friends, and honestly, it's not your responsibility. Surprisingly few of my former coworkers have left (despite various abuses(!) and lousy, lousy management), and yeah, I felt guilty for about two weeks. By leaving, you might be showing others "the way" out of a bad situation, or you might simply be feeling worse about this job than your friends are. Either way, you owe it to *no one but yourself* to get out of there, get on with life, get a better job, and basically advance your own career. Don't be an ass about it: make a graceful exit, recommend your friends to the recruiters at your next job, and go.
  • Just like in a marriage - by the time you decide you need couselling it's too late.
  • by slickwillie (34689) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:45AM (#495285)
    I agree - bail now.

    When it comes to the workplace, where do loyalties end and responsibilities to oneself begin?

    How much loyalty does your company have in you? My bet is they would sack your ass in a hearbeat.
  • Loyalty ends with happiness. If you're unhappy and don't expect to be challenged in a positive way, bail now, and suggest your co-workers do the same. Those who think they can achieve success will achieve it or fail, but in either case they'll learn something about themselves, business, and technology - and learning something will only make them more valuable. If they're as talented as you say, they won't be any worse off anyway. They may even thank you for the experience.

    so says ctimes2Landers.
    Ctimes2 :)
  • I'm not trying to tell you how to run your life, just some simple advice. It does neither you nor your friends a favor staying on a sinking ship. If your friends are talented, they should be able to find work also. You may also wish to talk to your friends about finding other jobs also, before you hand in your two-wek notice.

    As far as the jobs are concerned, besides being good money, are they in a field that you are interested in? Do you believe in the company direction?

  • Note that the poster didn't mention anything about company loyalty; that's only in the headline.

    From reading the actual question, it looks like the querent is much more concerned about a different kind of loyalty, loyalty to his employees and colleagues. Good bosses know that they have a responsiblity towards the people they hire and lead; bad ones leave at five o'clock and say "it's the company's problem."

    This guy sounds like a good boss, one who is trying to balance two apparently contradictory things, his own self-interest and his concern for the people he works with. Other posters have suggested many ways that he can get some of both; hopefully one of the compromises will fit his situation. Your notion that he should give not at moment's thought to people who depend on him is sad; I can only hope that your future bosses treat you with more respect and concern than you advocate here. And I hope you never manage people until you learn the difference.

    ---

    And what, by the way, is wrong with serving bagels? What makes those people so worthy of your contempt? I have friends who work service jobs and like it a lot. They don't think they're saving the world or anything, but they can make people's lives a bit better by doing their jobs with skill and spirit. And it's not like they're stealing, selling smack, or doing marketing; selling bagels is a positive-sum game.

    When I used to work in a factory, I was proud of making useful stuff. These days I design and build software; I'm still proud to be making making useful stuff. If you're not proud of what you're doing and why you're doing it, perhaps you should look elsewhere.
  • by Nile (53479) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:59AM (#495305) Homepage
    I'm in a similar position. I work for a small consulting company that recently took a turn for the worse and am now faced with the prospect of giving up my "seniority" as employee #3 to take a job at another company.


    I've received offers from clients that there is a job available for me should I want to take it. I haven't updated my resume in 5 years and have never sent it out to anyone...but if you work in the right field, people will come looking for you.


    If I take this job it would be the second I've gotten without a single interview. In my first job I was recruited by a member of my study group from grad school.


    I think actually working with someone for a month (either as a consultant or a partner on educational/open source projects) is a much better indicator of future performance than any 1 or 2 days of interviewing.

  • by volpe (58112) on Friday January 19, 2001 @12:01PM (#495307)
    >Grammar was correct as well. Could not of been Taco.

    You mean, "Could not HAVE been Taco", right?
  • by Milican (58140) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:42AM (#495308) Journal
    Well your loyalty to your friends and your company is admirable. However, you probably have a family to think of as well and they should be at the top of your list when making these decisions. You should draw a mental line in the sand. When the company crosses that. Give your two weeks.. you may wanna give your friends a little advanced notice, but be careful with this. No need to follow the Titanic down and start drawing unemployment because you missed good oportunities. Thats my two cents.

    JOhn
  • Not to mention, if the company really is in a position where your presence means life or death, as you implied, your friends' jobs' days are numbered, anyway. Don't sacrifice a good carreer move on your part for the sake of a battle you cannot win.
  • Simple! Take the job offer at the new company and bring your friends' business cards with them. Part of the facts of life is that sometimes companies don't work out. If you truly believe your coworkers are talented, they should have no trouble getting jobs as well. But don't let management hold you back just because you think you have an obligation to support your friends who are as employable as you are.

    -Ted
  • by iceT (68610) on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:38AM (#495324)
    ...that you all seem to love to hate, maybe I can toss a different opinion into the mix, rather than all the 'bail, they're idiots' advice that seems to be common...

    Have you discussed your dissatisfaction with your management? Have you come up with any ideas that might help the company get over this 'hump'?

    Everyone seems to think that Managers are these 'super-people' that can conquer any problem, if they only put their mind to it... when in reality, they are just guys/gals like anyone else, trying to leverage their experience and ideas to keep a company moving... there is no 'magic forumla' to running a company. It is also a lot easier to find fault, than provide solutions.... The most important thing is that, without a doubt, everything these people do is with the purist of intentions: keep/grow the business. They may not make the same choices you would, but their heart is usually in the right place...

    As for what to do, rather than discuss this with a VERY large group of STRANGERS, discuss it with your management. See what kind of people they REALLY are. See if they really want to make things good/better. Then make your decision.

  • I'm taking a course on the history of China and Japan at my high school, and have an interesting contribution.

    In Japan, company loyalty is tremendous. People tend to value whatever organization they are in (family, company, country) over themselves, and as a result, things work out much better. I watched a video where an executive who works an 18 hour day, 6 days a week, comes home and says "I don't get overtime pay, I just want to make things work for the company."

    The reason why company loyalty is so tremendous, besides the obvious group mentality, is because the company provides <i>everything</i>. You are chosen by a corporation when you go to a university based on how good the university is, and are usually assured (and even expected to have) lifetime emplyoment at that particular corporation. In return, you get gigantic bonuses, the company takes your suggestions seriously (I think it's something like 95% of employee suggestions at Honda are adopted into company policy), your boss doesn't have a seperate office and only makes 3 times as much as the guy in the mailroom, there are no cubicles, and the company provides for your house and family. There are planned outings for employees, morning exercise, and great benefits.

    But, like I said, you are expected to devote yourself completely to the company. The overwhelming majority of Japanese voluntarily return their vacation time.

    Anyway, just an interesting fact. Little relevance here. Main message: Just because you don't like where you work and have no loyalty to it, doesn't mean that doesn't exist anywhere in the world.

    - Adam
  • Besides, he wanted me to stick with a non-preemptive psudo multi tasking, non threaded implementaion in C. C....C for christ sakes. Pfffft. I told him, Look, Steve, I'll write your new kernel in Java or I won't write it.

    We know this is a joke and all, and the whole kernel in Java thing really makes that clear, but I just have to point out one really important oft overlooked fact about MacOS.

    Until, say system7.0 it wasn't considered a good idea to write any mac program in C. Why? Because the macOS and it's toolbox (ROM based) were all intended for use by Pascal programmers. I think this means a good deal of MacOS was written in Pascal... and then assembly of course, the latter being a mainstay of any OS in those pre-portability days.

    -Daniel

  • Well... Companies don't have much loyalty to their employees either, bear that in mind.

    I'm kind of surprised that almost every reply has been "leave", or some other form thereof. So in that respect, I agree with you.

    Leaving may not necessarily be a bad choice, but it can't be as simplistic as "you get a better offer somewhere else, jump ship".

    Of course, this person obviously doesn't appear to be doing that, so I don't see a problem. Incompetitant Management is a good reason to leave a company, as I'm facing that problem myself. Thanks to Management's amazing skill, I figure this place will be bankrupt in six months.

    Of course, we have a laser printer for every three employees now, because Management wanted faster printing. This being despite that the one printer we had before sat idle nearly all day, and has not had more then two jobs queued up at once in about nine months.

    If he is dealing with Management like I have to contend with, I can understand his wanting to leave. People like that don't deserve loyalty.
  • by Tridus (79566) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:50AM (#495346) Homepage
    Nobody here can answer a question like that.

    First of all, the real question isn't loyalty to the company. From the way you write it, it sounds like loyalty to those non-moronic co-workers, some of which may even be friends? Your not sounding worried about the company itself, you sound worried about them. Those are people. Thats an admirable trait.

    Some questions you can ask yourself would include things like:

    - Can I take some of them with me, and get them out of here into a better place?

    - If I stay, am I just prolonging the inevitable, or can I actually save this place?

    - Can they find better jobs easily if I leave, or are they going to be more or less fucked?

    - How much do I really care about what happens to them?

    My *advice* would be to sit down and quietly think about it (or pace, or whatever you do that helps you think). If you can take several of them with you, you could be doing them a huge favor, as well as yourself at the same time. If not, will your staying really make a difference, or will it just make it take that much longer for the incompetitant management to drive the company straight into the ground?

    As I said, nobody can really answer this question for you, because it depends too much on what kind of person you are. Some people would do anything to protect their friends, others arent. Look at if you care. If you do care, look at how much good you can do in each situation, and try to pick the best one that you can live with doing.

    Hopefully some of the posts in this thread get you thinking, maybe that will help you find the answers your looking for.

    Good luck!
  • by highcaffeine (83298) on Friday January 19, 2001 @10:37AM (#495348)
    Not that I disagree with you personally, I have to take issue with two of your comments.

    First, you make mention of how "everyone seems to think that managers are these 'super-people'..." (emphasis not mine). While I definitely cannot speak for everyone, as you seem to be able to, I know I can speak for myself and many of the people I work with and have worked with in that past, when I say that this is hardly true. I know that managers are just 'regular people', and far more often than not, they are the ones who don't have the knowledge to actually do the work, but do have the belief that they can tell others how the work is to be done.

    Only once in my entire career have I known a manager who truly understood the work/projects he was managing. Unfortunely, he was not one of my managers, but a friend's. He was an excellent programmer who had filled a managerial position on the project he was working on after the previous manager was promoted to higher levels. After a year he couldn't take dealing with management above him anymore and left for a startup company. Instead of being replaced by one of the other programmers who were equally skilled, a non-programmer was sent over to manage the project. Within two months, all but one member of the staff on the project had left the company in disgust. My friend has tried to weather the new manager as best as he can, but is now pursuing offers from other companies. He will be the last of the pre-new-manager staff to leave, causing a 100% turnover in under six months.

    What triggered the ridiculous turnover was what I have begun to realize is typical of many managers who have no true understanding of what they're really managing. Promises were constantly made to other departments and higher level management with no consulting of his staff, ridiculous deadlines were constantly imposed, staff members were constantly being shuffled around in the project to meet each new far-fetched promise being made, and despite their efforts, staff members were never allowed to participate in any of the discussions that led to new promises and deadlines.

    The new manager didn't care at all about how much damage he was doing to morale, how disillusioned his employees were becoming with all the changes in direction and having no input into anything, nor did he listen when his employees were trying to tell him things were not working out very well. His sole concern was looking good to other managers and the higher levels by committing to anything they asked him for.

    Along the same vein, I also have to take issue with another point you make about managers: "without a doubt, everything these people do is with the purist of intentions". With the experiences my friends and I have had, this made me laugh out loud.

    I have yet to meet a single manager myself whose intentions were not riddled with self-promotion, ego, blind ambition, and a total lack of respect for the fact that he/she is screwed without the blood, sweat and tears of his/her employees -- or a combination thereof.

    There are most certainly good managers out there, and even some outstanding ones. You may well be one of those managers (largely because you don't sound like any manager I've ever known personally), but my experiences have always been with managers whose total lack of knowledge in their field has never hindered their outlandish promises, their expectations founded in crack-induced hallucinations, and their purely selfish and political motives aimed at bettering their own personal image at any cost to their employees.

    If you can honestly say that you have never made a promise for a deadline or a project or anything else to another manager or higher up without first consulting with your employees, considering at full weight their input, and have never let creep in any ulterior motive (i.e. "if I promise them this feature and work my guys hard enough so they get it done, I'll look great and may get that promotion"), then I would love to know if you're hiring. If so, and if I'm competent and interested in the field in which you'll be hiring, I will file an application and send my resume very shortly.

    My basic point is that you can't assume this guy's managers are as well-intentioned as you seem to be (and I truly would commend you on an excellent job if you've avoided the pitfalls I'm so apt to gripe about). While my optimistic side would have me believe that maybe I've just been unlucky with managers and that one day maybe I'll meet a manager that is competent and does truly have only good intentions for the employees and the company, that hope is quickly drowned out by two things. First, I'm not an optimist. Second, I see the same things happening to many of my friends and fellow programmers on an all too frequent basis.
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:10AM (#495357) Homepage Journal
    Leave them. They won't show you any loyalty, you don't owe them any.
  • -- if I bail ship, the company will likely either fold or have to transform itself immensely, quite probably at the cost of the jobs of my friends Isn't that a little arrogant? What makes you think that they won't find a replacement? The world (and that company) don't revolve around you. Life (and the company) will go on without you.
  • Hmm... you say bad management has shafted the company. But your submit tag states you're an "Anonymous CTO".

    Isn't CTO a management position? I certainly wouldn't call it a grunt.

  • Actually, no, we think they're super idjits who can't find their ass with both hands and a map. ;)
  • No, it may be very truthful. I was in the exact situation described. The money wasn't coming in and there wasn't and REAL prospects for some coming in any time soon. I told my boss that he had three weeks to get me some one to train and show my documentation to. He never did get anyone because he wasn't going to pay the money to get someone that could do what I was doing.

    Within a month of my leaving the company went belly up and I had to take care of the client clean up on my own. A lot of the people we did business with I developed a friendship with and I gave them my word that if I left they wouldn't be left high and dry. They are very appreciative for that and I feel like I did the right thing.

  • Bail....your family and your well being comes WAYYYYY before your friends and co-workers.
  • and the company is in a position that would cause them to fail based upon one employee leaving, then they're in bigger trouble than just finding funding.

    Go ahead and pursue the other offers. If the company survives, then great for your friends. If the company fails because you left, then it most likely wouldn't have lasted anyway.

  • Someone I knew on linuxnewbie.org last year got a job offer because people saw their responces to questions about programming.

    They weren't able to take the job sadly because at the time they were only 15.

    :P

  • I don't know...

    I think it's a good thing to be help people out if you can. Last year I worked for a photo shop where the person who trained me left and I was the only person who could run the lab. I was honestly only person in our town who knew run the equipment.

    In some ways, I wanted to quit that job but I knew my boss would be totally screwed if I did. So I stuck around and trained in two people to replace me. Then I left.

    I don't regret staying around for that extra bit.

  • I would say that in more than nine times out of ten (so, I guess nine-point-five is okay), it's management's fault. I've see it happen myself a few times.

    The hardest part is when it's above the CTO when stuff goes wrong. We were working in a startup on a piece of [non-Internet, BTW] software, and were about halfway through and word came down from on high that we had to switch directions and build something almost totally different, or at least different enough so that we couldn't leverage anything -- okay, we reused the disk space.

    But that turn lost us a lot of time, and considering that we were a startup and the first round of money had a finite life, it was definitely not a good thing to do. And to top that off, right after the first internal delivery, upper management discovered that the software really didn't look that good, so we had to "tweak" the UI. Right around this time, we ran out of money right when the NASDAQ was cratering, and the group that was providing the next round of funding pulled out after promising that they'd give us the money. Oops.

    But nothing is as sad as seeing a good CTO that has to drag his people (me included) into a conference room to tell us all that we've run out of money and it's time to pack up. Especially after he worked his butt off getting the group put together. To give him more credit, he had the good sense (and humanity) to line us up with some job opportunities, especially for the young guys just out of college. There's nothing like seeing a lot of good talent that you've spent time developing just walk out the door. And what's even funnier, upper management acted like nothing happened, or at least nothing worse than a stubbed toe. One clueless upper management individual wanted more improvements done to the product when some of us came back in the next week gratis to put the software to bed proper.

    Would I work for this CTO again? In a heartbeat.

    As a coda, the second round investors are making their investment conditional on removing the clueless upper ones. But it may be too late to jump start it because the senior developers have left, and continuing to pay for the office space, etc., while any new developers come up to speed won't get the software out the door before the (minimal) funding runs out. Do I feel bad for leaving the company when they need the old developers so badly.? Nope. But the competition is pretty much where we were, so it doesn't matter anyway.

    DT
    --

  • Capitalism is not about whether we decide to empower people or we empower legal entities to behave as people. Capitalism is about pursuing wealth for yourself, be you a company or a person. Do you really love that companies have more rights than you do?
    Don't believe they do?

    A company can, through willful planning precipitate the deaths of human beings (Union Carbide anyone?) but is not eligible for the death penalty (aka liquidation). Couple hundred years ago a company could receive the death penalty, known as a revocation of its charter.
  • If you think the company has no future, bail. Bottom line.

    If you want what's best for your team, be in a position to help them when the ship sinks. You can't be there for them when you're going down yourself.

  • I stayed with a company for too long, in large part due to loyalty -- to the product and to my fellow employees.

    As a result, I did not receive my last paycheck when I, along with my co-workers, were laid off. Other bad stuff is still creeping out of the woodwork now.

    Lemme tell you, as a skilled IT worker, I have plenty of offers -- buu missing that last 2 weeks and missing 2 weeks while interviewing -- it is leaving a mark.

    I have a young family and a new house and not a lot of savings, but even if I was single, 4 weeks without pay could be detrimental.

    Leave now for you and your family's sake. Do your best to warn your friends without stepping any legal boundaries for your sake. Sort of a cross between "blood is thicker than water" and "treat others as you would have them do unto you".

  • by doublem (118724) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:40AM (#495396) Homepage Journal
    Jump Ship. There is NO reason for you to stay with a dying company. Give your friends good references. Feel no guilt. You'll be kicking yourself for losing those job offers whent the comany does fold.

    http://www.matthewmiller.net [matthewmiller.net]
  • Get your mind out of the gutter -- not THAT "playing doctor".

    Lie back on my couch, look at all my (nonexistant) psychology diplomas, and tell me the first thing that you think of when you wake up in the morning. The odds are >90% that it's one of the following:
    • Cool, today I'll get to work on that project my boss is letting me tinker with.
    • Fuck. More goddamned work.
    If you truly enjoy what you're doing at work, then you're not working -- you're doing what you enjoy, and you happen to receive a paycheck! Bonus!

    If, however, you hate what you consider to be a papershuffling, nonenjoyable, piece-of-shit job, then cut your losses, if any, and bail. It's quite simply not physically or mentally healthy to continue doing something you loathe.

    --
  • I think the point regarding this comment is that if the person who sent in the Ask Slashdot submision knows what should be done, how the company could survive, why the hell isn't he/she the manager? In most cases, I'd think what someone would do would say "ok, I know how to do things better, so I'm going to go find a company where I can do them." I doubt it's possible for him to go to the management and say "you people have really screwed up, let's switch jobs so I can take a shot at it." I suppose such an attempt might be worth it if he/she already has a solid alternative lined up -- as in, another job -- but does anyone actually picture it working?
  • by Logic Bomb (122875) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:43AM (#495400)
    I think the important thing is what's ethical when considering issues of corporate loyalty. It is unethical to jump ship in order to get money for bringing trade-secret-type information to a competitor. It is unethical to make a false committment to a company's project and then (barring an extremely good reason, of course) bail when they are depending on you to do what you said you would. It is certainly ethical to watch out for your personal welfare and leave a failing company.
  • This company has paid for this 'anonymous CTO's house, the car in the garage, the panties worn by his three year old daughter.
    No, that company paid for services rendered. Not services to be rendered; it was compensation for work.
  • >Grammar was correct as well. Could not of been Taco.

    You mean, "Could not HAVE been Taco", right?

    Are you sure it shouldn't be "Could not have bean tacos?"

  • Shut up, troll. You say:
    The managers will pull the company together again.
    And then you say:
    Think of your friends. If you leave, now THEY do not have a job.
    Either the managers can pull the company together, or they can't. If his friends are as good as he thinks they are, one of them will stop up as CTO and fill his shoes. Or, they'll find new jobs before the company disinigrates. Hell, they might find new jobs before his two week notice is through. If the "Anonymous CTO" is such hot shit that the company will fail immediately when he leaves, then his company is fucked twelve ways before Tuesday, anyhow. Everyone should take the opportunity to get the fuck out while the paychecks are still coming in, instead starting to look for a job once the lights get shut off and fancy desks and workstations get hauled away by the creditors. He's not doing anyone any favors by giving them a reason to stay until their ass is reamed bigger than the goat sex guy's.
  • If you really believed in what you were doing, you wouldn't try to make any money from it, you would be running a NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION!

    There are many reasons why a company may be a much better vehicle for a dream, a vision, or a value than a non-profit. If you can't see this, I can only imagine that you're hopelessly anti-capitalist. But I work for such a company, and it's amazing.

  • You're being too sentimental. You work for money. If the money is fading, so should your loyalty. Loyalty ends when the first paycheck bounces, and there's nothing wrong with fleeing preemptively.

    If it makes you feel better about leaving your friends behind: if the company is so shaky that any one employee leaving dooms it, then they're screwed anyway.


    My mom is not a Karma whore!

  • so true!

    the difference between an employee who thinks the company is there to help them out and treat them right; and the employee who is always looking over his back for the knife - is about 5-10 yrs in the field being an employee.

    I love my current company. its perhaps one of the best I've worked for. but I still look over my shoulder. its the wise thing to do.

    my last company had quite a few 'youngsters' working there (fresh out of college). they were shocked at my 'the company is NOT your friend' attitude. I give them another 5 yrs (or a few company changes) before they come around...

    --

  • by Kingfox (149377) on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:41AM (#495429) Homepage Journal
    Exactly the way I feel about this as well.

    My girlfriend works in an environment where her boss treats her and her co-workers very poorly, and the working conditions are quite poor. Yet she feels a loyalty to her position and will stay until the 'lull period' in her job's cycle. Personally, I think giving them anything more then the standard two weeks notice is doing them a favor they don't deserve.

    I, on the other hand, have a great boss who treats me and my co-workers quite well in just about every way imaginable. Even though I could make more money elsewhere, and am struggling to make ends meet at times, it's hard for me to consider abandoning him... though I regret I may have to. Working for a good company that treats you right makes all the difference in the world, and can be a rare thing it seems.
  • by Spoing (152917) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:59AM (#495432) Homepage

    Management is responsible for staffing concerns, not you.

    If you are so pivital to the project, then it's management's problem not yours.

    If the company is doing so poorly, then the decision will be made for you within the year even if you do nothing.

    Leave. Stay. Either way, be honest and remember what you are responsible for and what is out of your control.

    Jumping immediately to another interesting company is a really good way to keep your spirits up. If you can bring some of the good people with you, go for it. They'll appreciate it because they know that you aren't responsible for them but will deeply appreciate it. Good for building loyalty and/or friendships.

    From what you wrote, you've already made up your mind -- probably a few moments before pressing the submit button.

  • I've been in this situation four times in the last six years. The chances that things will turn around are about zero no matter how hard you work -- cut your losses and bail now, trust me on this one.

    You only feel like a jerk the first time :)
  • (a) That's some coincidence!

    Well, no...

    (b) Boy, you sure can pick the losers.

    "Losers" is such a negative word. How about "speculative plays"?

    (c) You're not doing anyting to, uh, contribute to the demise of these companies, are you?

    Hey, *I* do *my* part -- one place my products won a Best Of Show at MacWorld three (3) Expos running -- there's just never anyone around that could market water to a guy stranded in the desert :)

    And you can save the "well, programming the Macintosh is your first mistake" cracks too ;)
  • On slashdot we have the best baiters, dare I say the master baiters, of the internet.
  • Agreed !

    I love my wife, but I can have a summer time affair with an ncredibly sexy woman. what should I do ?
    I think I should buy my daughter a litle puppy because she wants it so bad and she worked hard at school, but I'm sure there will be problems with my neighbours what should I do ?
    I want to ask something to slashdot, but maybe noone can answer it.. what should I do ?

    This just doesn't make sense... are you sure that if your company has a bad time it's not due to some peoples lack of decision ?
    I mean.. come on.. how can a good CTO ask something like that ?
    I don't think I would even ask my mom if I should share my candies with these or these friends not having enough candies for everybody, and being say.. hmm.. 8 ?
    My advice is that you should take a few days to think about your problem. not only it might be harmful to your actual company, but it could be to the ones that want to hire you. once you realised you should decide all this by yourself, you will have solved two problems.

  • I found myself in a similar situation a month ago and decided to leave. I was able to take my time looking around and I found a good job after getting a couple of offers.

    9 days after my last day the company folded and laid off all employees (64 of them). To make matters worse the company couldn't afford to pay people their last paycheck (work they already had done + vacation balances). So now there are a lot of out of work people who didn't even get paid what they had coming to them. Now they can't afford to be as selective in finding new work, plus there is more competition for what jobs there are.

    If I learned anything from this situation it's to not ignore your instincts.

  • by SquadBoy (167263) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:42AM (#495445) Homepage Journal
    and by that I include coders and us admin types should have no problem in this economy finding jobs. It sounds to be like the end has come. I would take another offer, the good talented people will be ok and in a perfect world the bad ones would be out of work but they will most likely find jobs also.
  • You work for a dot.com. Get out. Its probably going under. If the company isn't making YOU happy, then why should you stay? Unless you are making so much money that it would be stupid for you to leave, then get the hell out.

    Why make yourself miserable?

  • by 20000hitpoints (175978) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:51AM (#495458)
    I can't even understand why there is even a CONCEPT of company loyalty. What are you being loyal to? What are you even talking about? Throughout the ages, human beings have been loyal to things like religious causes, their nation or ethnic group, their families... where it actually MEANT something. Who has ever heard of being loyal to a company? Think about it -- what does a company stand for? Making money. Selling widgets. Commerce. That's it, it's totally shallow. If you really believed in what you were doing, you wouldn't try to make any money from it, you would be running a NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION!

    The dot com thing and the startup cult mentality thing have gotten people so confused they don't even remember that it's JUST A JOB. And by the way, that's why you shouldn't go to work with your friends.

    I think the problem is that your typical Ivy League educated kid jumps right out of school and into one of these dot com cults and thinks it a way of life or a belief system. Get some perspective. I worked for years at delis and as a secretary and whatever before I went back to school and got a batchelors in Comp Sci. Now I've got a different job that pays more money. But it's still not that different from when I went to work every day to serve bagels to somebody. It's hard to believe in bagels. I guess it's a little easier to fool yourself into thinking you believe in software.

    "Loyalty"? Give me a break.
  • by Coz (178857) on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:50AM (#495462) Homepage Journal
    Agreed. If your buddies are good folks, they can find good jobs. Let them know you're heading out - be up front and honest, even if management asks you to "keep it quiet" so they can panic and bail first.

    It's hard to make choices that affect your friends, but you're all adults. The only thing you can do by sticking with a sinking ship is add to the body count.


  • I may be from the old school...But I would assume the easy answer to this question is:

    Your loyalty ends when the paychecks end -- anything less and then you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Why does it have to be any more difficult than that?
  • ...and as long as you feel there is enough upside, I say stick it out... Having trouble with financing is par for the course, so I would not worry too much about that... (unless your pay cheque bounces)

    However, if you find yourself doubting managment decisions, or the direction of the company, well, you should probably cut your losses.
  • A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks - rocks about 2" in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The students laughed. The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. "Now," said the professor, "I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things - your family, your partner, your health, and your children - anything that is so important to you that if it were lost, you would be devastated. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else. The small stuff." "If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and your time on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. TAKE YOUR PARTNER OUT DANCING. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal." "Take care of the rocks first - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."
  • by Ergo2000 (203269) on Friday January 19, 2001 @10:31AM (#495488) Homepage

    The easy answer is that your #1 priority should be yourself. Of course that doesn't always mean running to the first position with the highest paycheque (indeed many of the people who ran to dot coms are realizing that first hand), but you do need to put yourself first and foremost.

    Having said that I would like to take issue with a lot of other messages basically saying screw da man! While loyalty is a word that means very little to most people, often it is earned. There are companies out there that go the extra mile to make their employees happy. There are companies that put their employees first and in periods of downturn they eat losses to avoid sending people out packing. There are companies where the owners are working by far the longest hours and making by far the least. To read the hilariously ironic comments of want-to-be socialists (which Slashdot is unfortunately packed full of) portraying all employers as evil borg entities is frightening. Companies are nothing more than collections of people acting as a unit. Sure sure the world is going to hell in a handbasket and all those evil corporations are out to steal your lunch... Grrrr.

    There are far too many idiots on the planet.

  • by abe ferlman (205607) <bgtrio@y a h o o .com> on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:46AM (#495493) Homepage Journal
    Where should company loyalty end?

    5PM or your conscience, whichever intervenes first.

    Bryguy

  • by atrowe (209484) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:38AM (#495496)
    You can replace "An Anonymous CTO" with "CmdrTaco" and the article still makes sense. Try it yourself!
  • by deebaine (218719) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:59AM (#495510) Journal
    I don't necessarily agree. My partner and I have been working to open and then running a company since July. In that time, we each have had at least two job offers that I would consider genuine (and other pie-in-the-sky type flights of fancy). Many techies I know routinely get offers from people with whom they interact outside the company; suppliers, contractors, etc. who try to steal them away from their present job. If this particular CTO has been doing his job well and has done the requisite networking for his company, then I'm mildly surprised that he's only gotten two offers.
  • by lrichardson (220639) on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:50AM (#495512) Homepage
    You'll be kicking yourself for losing those job offers whent the comany does fold.

    I've dealt with HR, mostly on the basis of interviewing potentials, and one fairly important point revolves around "Where do you work now?"" and, to a lesser extent, "Why do you want to switch jobs."

    I've had the unfortunate experience of being 'downsized', and the even more ridiculous experience of being on the losing side of an internal political war (of which I had no part, and joined 1/2 way through). In the first case, I was surprised, and had a heck of a time getting a new job - the HR belief is that if you were laid off, _obviously_ you weren't good. There is some recognition that this isn't always the case, but most HR types aren't the brightest candles in the marquee. The second time, I already had a job lined up, left on a Friday, started up elsewhere on the Monday. The new job was not necessarily ideal, but it seriously helped with both the cash flow, and with getting the next job ("I currently work at xxx." and "I'm looking for something more challenging than web design.").

    No trite answer will help you resolve your problem, but company loyalty is a rather mythical item in this day and age. Your primary responsibility is to yourself (and any family). Loyalty is a desirable trait, but blind loyalty can get you into trouble.

    I left one company for a bunch of reasons - one of which was I picked up more and more responsibilities, ended up the sole person capable of supporting several systems, and still being treated as dirt. Yes, they were royally screwed by my leaving, despite my best efforts at a painless transition. Part of the 'loyalty' thing is that it works two ways. If they show zero reason for you to be loyal, then don't. It's that simple. Incompetent management is one of the best indicators that they're not worth your time.

  • by cosmosis (221542) on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:26AM (#495516) Homepage

    The economy has never been about companies - its about people . A companies sole reason for exisiting is to act as an adhoc convenience for people to act in concert to produce products and services for other people. The sad part is, the incompetent people at the top have lied to us over the years by promoting the good of the company over that of the people employed by it. Not because they have any company loyalty themselves (thats why CEO's are always bailing), but because keeping the company afloat keeps them employed long enough to gather millions in salaries and stock options. Once they are vested, they bail too.

    Which brings me to why I think the current trend in capitalism towards the survival of the corporarations over all other goals is a very bad trend for everyone. The economy exists to bring the state of humanity to higher and higher degrees of prosperity and wealth for everyone. Or at least that should be its goal. Instead, what you have happeing, are larger and larger merged corporations becomeing wealthier and more prosperous, further dividing the haves from the have nots.

  • by human bean (222811) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:49AM (#495517)
    Been there, although it was the late seventies. Simple answer: If things have gone to the point where one person can have such an effect on an entire company, then that company has already passed the point of no return.

    No management (unless thier heads are where the sun don't shine) would allow this, purely from the point of treating that one critical employee as a person, much less from the reliability angle.

    Bite the bullet and get it over with quickly. Your coworkers will thank you later. Life goes on. Even the darkest day finally ends.

    Also, be creative. Plan. Take their curricula vitae with you. Keep the cream, and spread the rest around. Your new employers may thank you, and so might your employee friends.

  • by TWX_the_Linux_Zealot (227666) on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:06AM (#495520) Journal
    If you go, and if once you are comfortable, take some with you! Where I work at, four or five people (at one time even more) had all come from one other company. They were good at working together, now the only thing holding them all back is the management *grin*. It can work, and if the current place is dying, and if you like the coworkers, do what is best all around, save your neck, then try to save theirs.

    "Titanic was 3hr and 17min long. They could have lost 3hr and 17min from that."
  • by LauraLolly (229637) on Friday January 19, 2001 @11:05AM (#495523)
    About ten years ago, a friend at a hardware startup had a similar problem - he solved it by quietly telling five people to meet him at his place on Saturday afternoon - bring your families and your resumes, along with information about possible places to work and live. He had a couple of computers and printers so they could update resumes and search for some information. (Yes, Virginia, you could search with your computer before the World Wide Web was World Wide.)

    They held a strategy session that afternoon. Some of the spouses/siggy o's had great ideas on the search, so everybody took time to watch the kids, and circulate around. Six hours later, everybody had a great resume, a plan for their own personal dream job, and better friendships.

    They also each had five copies of everybody's resumes, including family resumes. This search was decided on as a community venture. At the end of the interview, if the interviewer asked if they knew of anybody with x skill, they pulled out a buddy resume from their portfolio.

    Some people left right away, while others still worked. Within three weeks everybody was at a better job. (This was in much tougher times than these.) Some people had found jobs with other people.

    This has since been done with another friend who rented the back two rooms of a restaurant. They all had better jobs within three weeks, again. Don't do this with people you don't trust. Do make sure you involve the families. Do have fun.

  • by freelance ninja (231868) on Friday January 19, 2001 @12:20PM (#495528)
    The company that I currently work for is in the EXACT same situation that you're company is in. In fact, the developers working next to me are taking bets as to whether or not you are the CTO of our company (who is out of the office today).

    I know what it's like when morale is bad, and it's very easy to get excited about working for a new company. If you really play as pivotal a role as you say you do, then this is not a decision that anyone will be able to answer execept for you. In fact, I would go so far as to say that there really is no correct decision that can be made, because there is a downside to either one. On the other hand, there is no wrong answer because of the obvious advantages to either solution.

    The tech market isn't doing so good right now and a lot of companies are finding it difficult to stay afloat, especially startup companies. The situation that I am in is that we have funding to stay alive for a few more months, by which time our product will be out. I really believe that the product fills a niche, so I'm going to stick with it solely based on my belief in what I'm doing. As CTO of a consulting firm, you might not have the advantage of believing in a single product like I do.

    Some people say that it really depends on how loyal the company is to you. I disagree with this, because unless someone has worked for a company that is going under, they don't realize how unimportant loyalty can be. Just the fact that they are going out of business feels like a slap in your face. It's not an easy decision to make, but if you feel this guilty about leaving, then you have a tough road ahead if you do actually decide to bail. I would stay with them for as long as possible until every last smidgen of hope was gone. The tech market might not be doing to wel,l but there are plenty of jobs out there. "Job offers don't last forever", but other jobs do exist.

    The advantage of working for a startup company is usually the laid back atmosphere, and the ability to make a huge difference as an individual. The disadvantages are a lack of money, and a lack of stability. You probably knew this when you accepted the position as CTO. Just because the going got tough, doesn't mean that you have to get going. Stick it out as long as you can. The longer you stay, the more information you will have, and the better the decision you will be able to make.

    "Vote for Matt Diez"
  • by OlympicSponsor (236309) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:44AM (#495535)
    "And yet, I have two upcoming job offers that are both well paying and good career moves, and offers don't last forever."

    Why do you have offers coming in? Did you put your resume out? Surely you must have at least interviewed with them.

    I suspect you've already made the decision to leave and want us to provide some conscience-salving justifications for it.
    --
    MailOne [openone.com]

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