Today I started a new job as team leader in a new company (150 employees in total, the branch in my city counts about 35-40 people).
It is in IT and IT consultancy (company is more towards consultancy side whereas the local branch is more a software house with projects developed inside, not at clients locations). The location is EU.
I was hired after a three rounds interview process:
- With an HR guy.
- With the senior team leader and two senior developers of the team I was supposed to join.
- With a senior manager (who introduces herself as the manager of all the projects for that specific client of the company and should have been the boss of my boss).
All the interviewers were very friendly and I was extremely happy when I signed the contract.
To my enormous surprise, I found that all these five people left the company before I started and when they interviewed me they were all in their notice period (one of the senior developers was even on his very last day!).
I’ve never been in this situation before: is this a red flag? Or is this a red flag only if other conditions are met? Or I’m overthinking?
I passed my morning with an HR person from headquarters that came here to help me with papers. Apparently they had not found a replacement for the HR guy that interviewed me (and my impression is they didn't try at all) and that was the only HR here. I tried to ask two or three questions about the situation, but she responded in an evasive way using a tone between embarrassed and annoyed. I didn't push further. I've not yet talked to other team members.
I have a big update. Last week I asked many questions to teammates and yesterday I took part in a dinner with 20/22 coworkers, the 5 people that interviewed me, 5 or 6 people from the client I was hired to work for and a few guys from Kate’s new company (Kate is the senior manager of my last interview). Situation is much much worse than I thought. Summarize by points:
- Kate directly hired all (except 4) people (including the HR guy) of the local branch in the last 4 and a half years. With the exception of those 4, everybody was used to report to her, was used to work on her projects (all for one client) and didn’t have any contacts with the rest of the company
- The HR person that came in for me on my first day was the first person of the company they saw in the last 2 years. CEO, the direct report of Kate, didn’t show up for at least 3 years and she phone him 1 time every 3 or 4 months
- The company is purely consulting, whereas my local branch is a software house and Kate was trying to start the development of a product The gains brought last year from my local branch were equal to the rest of the company
- The product imagined by Kate was studied 4 hands with the client and the contracts were already written: my company was supposed to develop the product for 1 year, then the client committed itself to buy it and continue the development. My company step in and blocked everything intimating to Kate to leave the company
- Kate found a position as international division manager in a new company and more or less everybody in my local branch are going to follow her (or already did it, as the 4 people that interviewed me): last week 3 left, during this week 4 or 5 will leave, for the middle of March there will be me and 2 or 3 others that had not already decided to leave.
- The client already has terminated one of the contracts with my company and is going to terminate the other 4 soon. Of course they already signed new contracts with Kate’s new company (as the client’s people and Kate’s new coworkers confirmed at the dinner)
- Talking privately to me, Kate explained what has happened: they interviewed me not to hire me where they were working at the time but to hire me in the new company. In fact they gave a negative opinion of me to the headquarters HR office. But because of this (probably to make a last spite to Kate), headquarters HR proposed me a very good contract
- Finally Kate said that she already has a contract with my name and better conditions at her new company for me and she is waiting me to sign it. Given the situation, I’m strongly thinking to accept
tl;dr: This is definitely a huge red flag. Everybody is going to follow the senior manager to her new company. The client also is following her. My local branch is going to die soon.
I moved to Kate's new company at the middle of March. I really enjoy the work and the people here. I'm working in the team I was supposed to work in at the ex company (with few additions) and in September we will begin the development of the product that Kate and the client designed.
During the few weeks I was in the old company I did not have access to any company platform, even code repositories or email client (I was forced to used web based client) and I had literally nothing to do. Last person left at the begin of June (even the 4 people not reporting to Kate left the company). At some point in April, internet connection was no more available. In June even electric power was disconnected. Nobody from the company showed up.
My coworkers have a good relationship with the building receptionist of the building where the old company had his office. They said that all utilities were disconnected but everything is still there (desks, furnishings, servers and other IT stuff and specially all laptops of former employees). The only actions we see from our ex company are:
- Remove my city office from their website page "Where we are" (and had it removed from Google Maps)
- Remove from their website any reference to the client
- Remove from their website 2 successful projects related to Kate and her team