Why with the growth of the company, the developers who stood at the origins, are "overboard"

    A few weeks ago we raised the topic of "effective" management , which caused a lot of controversy in the comments. But any mass corporate phenomenon has its root causes. In our case - this is the growth of the company.

    Growth is almost always good. No matter how the employees relate to what is happening inside the company in the future, from a business point of view, growth is an indicator of the success and correctness of the course taken. Hiring new people, managers, and even "effective" managers is always dictated by increased needs. Without these new and seemingly at times not very necessary people, business cannot grow. And so, one morning the leading developer, hired technical director, another specialist star wake up, come to the office and find out that now they are not the lords of their piece of work. Now everything has changed and their posts, in fact, does not exist.

    All this is very hard on the ego and self-esteem. Why is this happening? How to handle it? And whether to cope? Let's figure it out together.

    How does this happen

    Let's imagine that we have a spherical lead developer in a vacuum that stood at the origins and raised the product of our fast-growing company from its knees, plus or minus a year ago. This developer wrote the main features, conducted a review of the code, introduced new technologies, attended interviews of new employees, and so on.

    At some point, the product went out of the closed alpha stage and successfully occupied its chunk of the market; revenue is growing, the customer base is growing, the weight of the company owner has also moved off dead center and in six months or a year will grow faster than the previous two metrics taken together. It would seem that right now the moment has come when our leading developer can rise to the throne he created, get comfortable and drive the slaves to work for their pleasure.

    But he is called to the carpet. In the office sits the director of the company - his immediate supervisor, as well as the business owner, the main one of HR and anyone else to his taste. The conversation begins fairly calmly, even naturally, but at some point the word “restructuring” sounds. Or "development". Or "change." You can choose any suitable. The word can be different, but the meaning is always the same: "%% USERNAME %%, you are a good fellow, an athlete and a member of the Komsomol, but the company is growing and we no longer need your work in its current form."

    At this moment, most of the heroes of similar scenes (our leading developers or other SuperStar) darken in the eyes and the earth leaves from under their feet. “How is it not needed? Did I, in vain, plow for 70-100 hours a week, not see my family, friends, partially bald and, as a result, look like a nosferatu? Hello! You decided to throw me? ”

    But no one throws anyone, we have a decent society here, for the most part. In fact, everything is quite simple. Everything that our SuperStar did during the last year of the product's development was important and necessary. Very important and very necessary. Most business owners and other executives are well aware of the role of our developer in their own well-being.

    But there is one problem. Everything that our developer did does not scale .

    Business is a story about making money

    It is necessary to make a small digression to introduce uniqueness. Any business, including software development - about making money for the founders, and not the realization of the ambitions of employees.

    But most often at the start it is precisely ambitiousness and the desire for professional self-affirmation that make yesterday’s start-ups successful companies. The first stage of development and entry into the market of any product stands on the shoulders of our enthusiastic comrades who do not see families, work 10-14 hours a day and are rapidly balding from overloading, both physical and moral.

    Business willingly supports such people in their self-immolation in the workplace, but it is profitable only for him, the business. Very quickly, the company grows out of the “children's pants” of the endless sprint, innovations and innovations, which the founding fathers of the project introduce, and pass into the “plateau” stage - measured sawing of features, support and close monitoring of existing and potential competitors. It is at this stage that our Stakhanovite stars become “superfluous”, because their endless sprint, features and “come on new”, which discards development a couple of hundred hours ago, is no longer necessary and harmful for a business that should now not be surprised and guarantee stability for customers and investors.

    That is why our star is either asked to find a new job, or to calm down, to disassemble his “throne” from the skulls, to repair his nerves and accept the fact that he will now work in a common team.

    Further scenarios

    In fact, this situation is very hard for the ego. Yesterday you were a central, indispensable specialist who led the product to a bright future, and today you are asked to remove the crown, put on a badge, because you have a security service, and listen to the opinion of investors or market analysts.

    The time of crazy sprints is left behind, more and more strangers appear in the office, and new developers sometimes curse on crutches in the code or incomprehensible to them chips. They can not explain that it was necessary! Here begins the talk about refactoring and introducing new, more stable tools, and the gap between the company owner and our developer is getting bigger and bigger.

    Many do not stand up to this and leave the project. Someone strongly offended, slamming the door loudly, so much so that the plaster crumbles from the ceiling, someone quietly, receiving thankful "compensation" for poor health and lost hair (but not always). But what to do if a product in which so much energy was invested, time and nerves would not be desirable to throw?

    Should not be irreplaceable

    When moving from a product creation stage to a commercial long-term development-support business, customers and investors must be confident that the structure of the company is stable and the processes inside it are scalable. This is common sense common sense: there should be no irreplaceable people. There should not be a person in the process of developing a commercial product that is used by N clients, a person on whom “all at once” would hold. That is why the “mutation” of the company begins with restructuring, parting with the previously key SuperStar-developers and hiring a large number of new employees.

    At this point, it all depends on the individual. If he accepts the new rules of the game, sees the product as a commodity, which he is, and is ready to share power and responsibility, then there will always be a well-paid “warm” place for him.

    But in order to properly “play” in this situation, one must understand the logic of the business: any attempt to continue to “lock” the processes on yourself and beat out some special conditions, veto power or other levers of pressure on the development will be perceived as direct sabotage. Because most often all these instruments of influence are used to achieve a subjective, rather than an objective result.

    Developers are extremely suspicious of salespeople and other analysts who say they are in demand. Even more rejection is caused by situations where these same analysts point out that any part of the work so hard done by developers is irrelevant to the current needs of the client. At this moment, many people break down, tear a shirt over their chests and start shouting: “But I put so much strength! I will not allow it! ”And so on. It is precisely this kind of behavior that business fears on the part of SuperStar-developers who raised the project from scratch, it is they who are trying to avoid it through the dismissal of key members of the old team.

    In fact, it all comes down to one simple truth: if you are not a co-owner of a business, then it is not for you to determine how it will develop. And no matter how much time and effort was given at the first stage of the company's formation. Yes, it can be painful, it can be a shame that the product turned into a swamp of the corporate segment and ceased to become overgrown with new features and chips. But a direct confrontation with the interests of the business will only lead to one thing - the search for a new job.

    And even if you are right in a particular case and see that the new course leads to the abyss, and not to the stars - the statistics play against you. Because for one developer who understands the situation, there are 99 star developers who pulled the blanket over themselves, not seeing the whole picture.

    How often have you been faced with the fact that leading developers have resisted changes and innovations associated with the growth of the company simply because they did not like it ? It was not like, but it was not right . Unfortunately, such situations are far from uncommon. In order to remain on the same wavelength with the current needs of the business, it is necessary to accept that the code written is not your property, but a part of a commercial product whose purpose is to make money, and not to please someone from the developers.

    How to stay on the "ship"

    Actually, the way to stay and work further is quite simple, but lies in the plane of struggle with your own habits. Many developers described by us are faced with the fact that the new management, the owner of the company and even colleagues are starting to think in completely different categories. Actually, this is taught in the MBA - extracting maximum profit from the product. If you do not share such views, but want to stay at the current place, then the following points should be taken into account:

    1. The product is made for customers and with an eye on customers, because now you have them.
    2. The design approach will change and this is normal.
    3. Scaling is inevitable.
    4. You can not try to close the whole development on yourself.
    5. It is likely that you will have to take a management position, and not everyone likes it.
    6. There will be less and less of interesting tasks and professional “challenges”, and we must be ready for this.
    7. Now many more people will have the right to vote and influence on the development. That is the business.
    8. Confrontation with new people and bosses will not lead to anything good for all parties.

    In large companies, such star developers wander between different departments and projects, where they can go all out and leave the office every evening with a sense of accomplishment.

    But if the product is only one, then the choice is not too large: to support what “done”, go to the managers or look for a new project. As it is not sad.

    Post Scriptum

    The described should not be confused with situations when the developer actually “squeezes” radish managers out of the company. We may talk about this another time.

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