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Another possibility is they will further 'trim' the department (looks good on the books - reduced 'running costs' - accountants love that), then when the department becomes too small to provide/sustain their next move to 'outsource' it (appears elsewhere in the ledgers, but as 'expenses' are claimable off income - even though more expensive it makes for a 'better' ledger.)
As one of the inner core: play your cards right and you could end up doing the same work you do today on contract (also means you can claim your own expenses off your income). I'd suggest have your own terms organised and ready: i.e. where/when you work, what you provide, what they provide, billing/payment terms... Don't forget to charge more: you've now got to cover your own medical, time off/vacation cover (4 weeks vacation = 8% of your income, medical - check cost of insurance plans plus some for typical sick days/doctor visits).
In fact be ready to 'suggest' that idea to them should they utter the smallest hints of it; if that's their thinking being on the same page from day zero will keep you in their good books. If yu can get it, it's a good way to move to working for yourself without missing a paycheck.
HR will see it, but it's illegal for them to act on it, and they know it. The hiring team will eventually figure it out, but maybe not before you've shown them what you know. Dinging you simply because you're too old is a weak (as in illegal) position for them to be in, so they will try to do things honestly and find a better candidate. That's certainly a better position for you to be in than having them decide not to hire you the moment they see you.
We can program with only 1's, but if all you've got are zeros, you've got nothing.
Richard Branson has said words to the effect that the customers are not the most important part of a business - the employees are. Look after the employees, and they will look after the customers. If your bosses do not agree with this type of policy, then they are doomed to failure, and your best option would be to abandon ship before it sinks.
It doesn't matter how often or hard you fall on your arse, eventually you'll roll over and land on your feet.
What's the new management's response likely to be if they have no IT team left? Hire from scratch or get in a "consultancy" to manage things in the interim? If your systems are critical then the first option will take too long. If they take the second route and choose a large-ish consultancy, you have the possibility of being kicked out, then approaching replacement consultancy with your intimate knowledge of the system. You get re-hired by the consultancy at twice the rate and carry on doing what you always did, the system and company don't implode, and management learn a valuable lesson. To "add value" you can spend between now and d-day removing any comments from the code and deleting all documentation.
Have done similar (with a variation) in the past. Part of team laid off to off-shore system support; new consultancy totally incompetent and incapable; re-hired as freelancer by end-user company (under a different manager) to "rescue" support of the system. I then charged them a monthly retainer on top of the hours I worked.
Leave. Don't worry about your coworkers -- those who want to put up with that kind of pressure will stay, the rest are already planning their exit strategy.
If you stay, and the team misses the deadline, then they will fire you and you'll then have a black mark on your employment record. Don't wait around for them to do that to your career.
If the new management has a brain at all between the lot of them, once a few people leave, they'll figure out that they are hemorrhaging their best and brightest, and will tone down their stance to preserve the rest. If they don't, then by staying you'll end up working with the losers who can't, or are not smart enough, to get new jobs elsewhere. Is that really a team you want to be working with in the future? Especially give the poor management you'll be doing it under?
Yup, time to leave.
We can program with only 1's, but if all you've got are zeros, you've got nothing.
A critical component in this that the company's primary business is not software - they just use it.
I'm practical enough to know that I've no chance to be hire directly (not for development, at least). At my age, some look to work at Walmart.
In the sense, then, of hemorrhaging the best and brightest, although that might be true in terms of pure intellectual merit, it wouldn't have any effect on day-to-day operations until the systems begin to (inevitably) collapse. They've hired lousy outside contractors before - so they've experience at wasting money on people's who's primary interest is in keeping the money flowing.
If that's their management style, then I would invest no effort at all in meeting their deadlines, because things will only get worse, and you will never be thanked by people like that for breaking your back.
Good managers are worth making an effort for; bad managers are not.
I wanna be a eunuchs developer! Pass me a bread knife!
I'll do the work, as always - their deadline (if they every even got one) has no effect on me. I do what I do at the rate I do it. If it goes live it's because I'm as sure as I can be that it works.
My boss brought the whole IT department together, as a family, and build loyalty. And, on top of that, he's a really productive coder (he, too, loves doing it).
There's always a possibility that some of the corporate old guard will pull them aside and point out to them that their running towards a cliff.
Things only getting worse is somewhat where I started out: if the threat seems to work they'll try to do it again. Might as well save myself the trouble of worrying about it. If, for some reason, this deadline is met and they try to do it again - I'll explain to them that it doesn't work that way unless they plant to do the coding themselves. Possibly in a less KSS manner.
By considering the work environment -
Since it's already short-hand in development, if they do any cuts the workload will likely become oppressive. A person who use to work where my wife worked had an excellent response to management: Two Hand - Eight Hours - Which do you want done? This was clerical, but addressing your first paragraph, just because management makes a demand doesn't mean it can happen.
My recent lapse in response was replacing a solution I had yesterday with a much better one that's more dynamic, flexible, and will (best of all) be easier to work with. Which is being built for the use by another (the other) developer throughout a major application which is essential to the companies operations. At the very least, neither of us would make junk for the other. Lucky management!
The current plan, however, is to go gracefully into what will become quite a comfortable (albeit not luxurious) lifestyle. If I fret over anything, it's to make sure I keep my mind exercised thoroughly and consistently.
There's quite a lot to do - will it be enough? As long as work was fun, well, it was fun.
When it's not fun anymore - well, life is precious and amazingly short.
Resumes would be the answer if I were, say, 20 years younger. Since a replacement position is going to be difficult (or impossible), aside from self employment (back to the future) then I need to wait to be let go (and thus eligible for unemployment insurance).
And, of course, it's always possible that the old guard, who still hold the real power in the company, will call the new management in and read them the Riot Act.
Sadly, it sounds like you're in a similar situation to mine. I'm 55, and finding a new position would be difficult. Secondly, if I'm laid off, I'd receive a nice severance package under the current policy. My only hope is for a sale of the business to complete (promised Any Day Now for the last couple of months ).
Although I am a driver personality, I have to agree with you. Nobody should be driven like that.
Personally, I would have a closed door meeting, and explain where you are at, and what your thought process is, like you did here.
They will argue that they wont do this again, it is just this ONE last time, to save the queen.
They always do. And many believe it.
Meanwhile, keep your resume up to date, tighten the belt a little, and be prepared to be let go, or to walk.
It certainly is no longer a career, but a job, at this point.
The whole department, or at least the developers, have been given the bullying attempt.
Certainly, at least two of us (perhaps with the tightest grip on the short hairs) could turn around and fart in their general direction as we leave.
But - a calm and reasonable meeting - with discussion rather than demands - is the way a grown up would have handled it. Remember, though, we're talking about management. The merit system for that job is based on . . . well that is a good question, isn't it?
Belt tightening? Fortunately, Mrs. Wife and myself are minimalists. We can just relax. Doing something I like to do and getting paid for it keeps me working. But - I've been considering the resume thing: if I want to do some teaching I'll need to recast it.
Which is why I suggest a sit down with management as the first option.
The problem is that management is clueless about IT and what it takes.
But regardless. The deadline will come to pass. With or without software ready.
The earlier the conversation, the better for everyone.
But there are risks.
I would bring 1-2 people in the meeting with you, not the entire team. But make sure
you can speak for the team.
Ultimately, not my place - there's a IT department director. A bunch of others. My part in this opus-magnum is, in a certain way, support: I make tools/interfaces to facilitate the implementation and make sure everything work as close to "no matter what" as possible. One or two others will be working with data, using my stuff to insert/edit/delete/display/etc. Architecture for all of this is something we (developers) come to agree on, together.
The real problem, I think, is that they need to be made to understand how much was done in the last few years and how much the company depends upon it.