I've been working for a year for my current company as a Programmer Analyst. My company is an IT Division for internal company group and some external project for other companies.

Yesterday, my manager talks privately with me. I've got an assignment for an internal project. What upset me is that he also said that if something goes wrong with this project, there might be a possibility to outsource all the programming work. And therefore, he told me to ensure this project is completed within the timeline.

My company is not a big company, mostly the staff is high school graduates who is also a university student. I have a degree and have been working since 2012 - even though I'm not on managerial position but I enjoy my work - currently in here too. However, that threat makes me think about other opportunity. Should I ?

I want to say thanks to Flatter for answering in details, and I will try to explain the condition better : So today, I asked my coworker privately, let's say his name is John. John got the same assignment as me, the internal project and my manager also talks privately with him. I asked him about the outsourcing thing and from his point of view, he told me that not all the programmer will be cut loose but some select few that the management think 'not performing'. Other than that, I also had a meeting with my senior manager and other coworkers - nothing was out of the ordinary. Even earlier this month, my CEO had a pep talk to explain some company policies and offering small benefits like : outdoor activities this year, coffee grinder, and monthly sport activities.

So to me, what my manager said and the CEO said is a huge difference. Not to mention, there are some of my coworkers who has two-year contracts. My contract will end in October this year. As for my reaction, I will still stay and do my best for now.

  • 2
    "Should I?" That's for you to decide and not something we can answer. A more practical question to ask would be how to go back to your manager to clarify what he meant. – Lilienthal Apr 12 '18 at 7:46
  • 2
    Why is this a thread? A thread would be if he said if this project goes wrong you are responsible and your job is in danger. In my opinion, he gave you a (crucial) information. You have a good chance to influence the decision positively. – skymningen Apr 12 '18 at 8:20
  • Could be interpreted as a form of "you are either promoted or fired", but more focused on responsibility than rank. The question for you, in any case, is "do you enjoy being in the hot chair, or not?". – rackandboneman Apr 12 '18 at 21:29
  • This was not a threat This was a prioritization of requirements. I'd focus on delivering what was asked for, completion on deadline, and if that means rewriting some of the deliverables, then that's a consequence of the request. Your manager wants you That's why he's telling you how the project will be evaluated. I'll bet he's not telling the programmers that management wants to let go. I'll bet that all projects there are late, and they want to use that to justify the terminations. You've been told to avoid their trap. Aovid it and be grateful. – Edwin Buck Apr 13 '18 at 14:53

Was it a threat?

he also said that if something goes wrong with this project, there might be a possibility to outsource all the programming work. And therefore, he told me to ensure this project is completed within the timeline.

Threats are very hard to accurately define. This can be innocent as much as malevolent:

  • Malevolent - I'm going to strongarm my employee by threatening his job security.
  • Innocent - The CEO said that he's thinking of outsourcing the work. I can't change that decision, but I'll alert the developer so that he can avoid this happening, or is at least aware of what might happen in the near future.
  • Innocent - Although it is my decision, I see no way of keeping this company financially viable unless we either outsource the development or deliver the next few projects on time. It's the only way to prevent the company going under.

Whether this is a threat or not hinges on two points:

  • Is the manager who spoke to you the one who has executive control over outsourcing the work?
  • Even if the project fails, is there a financially justifiable way to avoid outsourcing that the manager is willfully refusing to consider?

If you said yes to both, this could be a threat. But if you said no (or are unsure), then it might not be:

  • Maybe your manager isn't the one pulling the strings.
  • Maybe the company is simply unable to avoid bankrupcy if they keep their development in-house.
  • Maybe there is an endemic problem with the in-house development team that is an obstacle to the company's work (it's not impossible).

Suppose it is indeed a threat. How to handle it?

  • I would immediately reconsider working there. I am not going to spend my time with an employer who threatens my job security in order to manipulate me into working harder.
    • If this problem is limited to a department (not the whole company), I might consider an internal transfer. However, I would first confirm that this is not company-wide by alerting my manager's superior of what's happening.
    • It's possible this will fix the problem without me needing a transfer, if the company cracks down on the manager's behavior.
  • That manager will only receive professional courtesy from now on. There is no personal interaction anymore.
  • I will confirm what has been said via e-mail; in order to create a paper trail.
  • I will inform other developers of this news, as it threatens their job security as well and they should be informed of that.
    • Unless the manager has specifically told you to keep it quiet; because then it's willful insubordination.
    • But then again, I might morally decide to (quietly) inform my colleagues anyway.

Wild speculation

I can't guarantee that this fits your case, but I have a hunch. Based on past experience, I've noticed a few things in your question that suggests that the company has overinflated expectations of their development team:

  • Programmer Analyst - It's a real job, one that I've held for a few years now; but this title is also very common with companies that have uninvolved management or a shoddy support framework and lack of documentation or procedure. In such a case "Programmer Analyst" means "a programmer who has to figure it out himself", suggesting a lack of needed overhead support.
  • The staff is high school graduates who is also a university student - Generally speaking, younger staff are less quick to speak out against excessive workloads, as they are still trying to jumpstart their career. Doubly so for young staff who lack a degree in their field. Older employees are generally much more experienced as to where the line of an acceptable workload is drawn.
    • If you weren't talking about staff age, but rather their education level; this may suggest that the company hires somewhat underskilled people in order to keep wages lower.
  • My company is an IT Division for internal company group and some external project for other companies + there might be a possibility to outsource all the programming work - If they outsource the programming work, does your company still have work to do? Or would outsourcing mean that the entire company is abandoned (including your manager?)

This is consistent with a company that pushes work onto their employees expecting them to solve it, no questions asked.

Should you work for such a company? That is wholly up to you. These companies are usually a double edged sword.

  • If you do well, you might reap the rewards from handling a shitty workload (e.g. an old employer of mine had an unavoidably shitty workload, but rewarded its employees with freely working from home at any time, and allowed free time when employees got ahead of schedule. That is a fair compromise to keep employee morale up, in my opinion).
  • If you do badly, you'll be the scapegoat for all of the company's problems.

Some people like a "make it or break it" atmosphere. Some people don't. You'll have to make your own decision here.

And again, I want to stress that this is wild speculation based on your question description.

| improve this answer | |
  • One point missing is if this project been in the backlog. Suppose the execs wanted this project for years but they just couldn't. So they made an attempt to get it going but if it can't be delivered on time, then outsourcing might be viable to free the developers up to other tasks. – Dan Apr 12 '18 at 18:55
  • @Dan: Your interpretation does not fit with what the manager said: "to outsource all the programming work". It also wouldn't make sense for the manager to stress that OP must succesfully complete the project, if it's only a matter of outsourcing that project and then giving OP a different task. Regardless of it being a threat or not, it does seem fair to assume that based on OP's explanation, the manager was talking about the job security of the programmers; not just which project they'd be working on. – Flater Apr 13 '18 at 7:37

You have been told that your job is not safe. The logical consequence is that you polish your CV, and start looking for jobs elsewhere. Especially better paying jobs.

Wouldn't you like to tell your boss "I'm leaving in two weeks time for a job that pays a lot more, and maybe you need to start that outsourcing now. Good luck. ".

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .