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I am the lead developer in a team of 7 (inc. business analyst and a digital designer) for a multi-million pound turnover company in London. The company itself has around 100 employees.

My team just finished a major project successfully, the relevant departments have been singing our praises; and apparently out of nowhere the directors of the company decided to terminate the employment of the whole team bar myself and my manager, the head of IT; also cancelling a number of projects in the pipeline. We are told this does not relate to performance and that the company is financially sound, this is not happening to any other department.

My manager will be tendering his resignation as soon as he finds a new role elsewhere because he was not consulted in any way about this basically meaning I will be responsible for anything and everything developmentally for the company, which for a firm this size is simply ridiculous.

I am not sure what to make of this with regards to my own position, should I seek to move on myself or try to exploit it for my own gain? I certainly don't feel at risk but this literally came out of the blue.

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    You have to sit down and think and meditate about what you really want to do. Perhaps this is too recent still. However, your manager has not resigned yet so you have time to think what you want to do when/if your manager resigns. – DarkCygnus Oct 11 at 21:02
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    @DarkCygnus that's actually a very good point, he hasn't resigned yet and this is still very fresh, we are all emotional about this (happened today). Maybe it is best to let the dust settle a little bit – ggdx Oct 11 at 21:09
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    Do you like the company? Other managers? Are there any positions within the company which you actually want? Where do you want to move with your career from Lead dev (because it sounds like you would be less of a 'Lead' and more of an 'Only' dev). There are a lot of variables here. Whether it's an opportunity depends on what you actually want. – Cyclical Oct 11 at 22:13
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    If you think they'll actually keep you for a long period of time, then it's down to 'do you want to be the only guy doing this'. But think carefully - there's no telling whether they are hedging against potential downturns, planning to do this kind of work somewhere else, or not planning to do this kind of work at all. – Michael Kohne Oct 12 at 1:40
  • @Cyclical - I do, however we are more a support team. We are an investment, we generate no direct income but provide the tools the rest of the organisation require to perform their operations. There is very literally nowhere for someone of my position to move to internally, and aside that, I have absolutely no academic interest in the company as a whole's activities. I am "business agnostic". I simply enjoy, and am good at building software and this companies software projects are interesting to me. – ggdx Oct 12 at 9:16
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In my experience many corporations tend to have stupid processes, when it comes to layoffs. They are all made for the worst case senarios when an employee goes berserk.

Nobody involved actually wants to be involved in the process.

Usually this is why they don't talk "about it".

And everybody wants it quickly over.

In your case :

  • the company has proved that, WHEN they want to let you go, You will the last person to know,
  • You must prepare Yourself for changing a job, cv, letter of recommendation from your current boss, looking at offers,
  • if they want You to stay, negotiate terms such that You can survive a few months without having a job from the moment they decide to let you go,
  • if You decide to stay with a promotion, negotiate a period of more lenient evaluations or request trainings, education, a manager as a coach,.. Whatever You need to fulfill the role adequately.

Motivate your requirements that:

  • You proved Your worth for the company
  • You have not created this situation, which You feel unsafe in
  • You need to feel safe,

Whatever decisions the company makes, whichever manager changes, whatever! To feel safe You need it on all on paper.

  • The security and this is my biggest concern here. They have kept me, for an unknown reason and they (from my perspective) little moral fibre when it comes to loyalty to the staff that have put in a huge amount of (free) overtime when things go south. I have a pretty long notice period (both myself and the company), unless I do something stupid, so there is this safety net I guess. It appears they want someone around, bit I think the real question here is whether or not this is a permanent arrangement for me and that I will be, as you correctly stated, the last to know. – ggdx Oct 12 at 9:30
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    Changing a job is a normal thing, some do it after only a few years, some do it after many years in one company. If You have a safety net already in Your contact, then You'll just be in an uncomfortable situation until You accustom to the "next job". – Robert Andrzejuk Oct 12 at 9:35
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If the whole team except you is gone, then you are at risk. Check out what payments others received. Look out for new jobs. You don’t want to quit yourself because that means zero redundancy pay, but you want to be able to go into a new job as soon as pushed.

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I had a similar problem about 8 years ago and the result was they eventually let everyone go including myself (laid off) from the department after the initial let go of several others.

Weather or not you decide to stay with the company it is a good idea to keep some prospects open so you are not blindsided. If you are going to be the only developer for a volume of work that just is not possible you need to keep your options open and start at least looking into other work. You don't have to take another job right away but have something in the works just in case is a good idea.

We are told this does not relate to performance and that the company is financially sound, this is not happening to any other department.

I cannot believe this sentence. Either it was performance and the company is good financially or it was not performance and the company is not doing well financially. Especially when your manager of those people was never consulted. Being in management in the past myself this is very strange to fire a group of people without even letting management know. This in itself is a bad sign.

A company doing well financially does not randomly and without warning lay off or fire all of a department save 1 or 2 people.

From personal experience in a situation almost identical to yours I would at the very least keep an eye out for a new position elsewhere. If you find something you like then go for it and don't look back.

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    "Either it was performance and the company is good financially or it was not performance and the company is not doing well financially." It could also be a change of strategy, or a decision to outsorce non-core parts of the business. I've seen both happen and they aren't necessarily a red flag unless combined with other signs there is trouble brewing. – Cyclical Oct 12 at 19:19
  • @Cyclical maybe but not without letting the manager know. This tells me it was sudden and reactionary. Meaning somewhere up the line they said get rid of people now. 100% reaction to something not good. If they were going in a new direction they would have let the manager know and done things a bit more civilized. – Sierra Mountain Tech Oct 12 at 20:14
  • It does feel reactionary, I do totally trust that my manager had no prior knowledge meaning they either have no more faith in him or just do not respect his position and want him to simply do as commanded. At the very least, his position is completely untenable. – ggdx Oct 13 at 6:29
  • It may be that the directors just don't understand the contribution made by the department. I've seen startups completely underestimate their IT requirements and get caught out further down the line – Dave Gremlin Oct 13 at 14:17
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    Thanks @DaveGremlin, not a startup, it's a 50 year old company; but possibly yes, they may be viewing us as a "cost" rather than an "investment" – ggdx Oct 14 at 8:46
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The biggest issue here seems to be the uncertainty of the why this happened and what it means for you.

This sounds like the perfect time to negotiate for a big raise! First of all you just had several successful projects. Then you are now alone responsible for everything. But that aside, it's also a perfect strategy to test the waters:

  • If they really want to keep you, they will agree, otherwise they might have to find a replacement soon, as no one else knows what you do.

  • If your position is threatened they can, and will, flat out refuse. That would be a good indicator to rather look for another place as they might be looking for how to replace you.

In principle, this could be an opportunity. Maybe they are restructuring, they know your value and therefore kept you. Perhaps you will get other bigger tasks with a team dedicated to and fitting for these new challenges. But it could also mean you are marginalised, most of your responsibilities will slowly be restructured away, outsourced or otherwise replaced until your services are no longer needed.

P.S. This assumes that they otherwise stone-wall you to their plans and what's to come. If they are open about it, just ask and decide based on what they tell you and how reliable/realistic and fitting you think that sounds.

  • Honestly this is probably a good test of the situation. I have my appraisal in January, so have no contractual right to request any raise until then but definitely something to consider. – ggdx Oct 13 at 6:24

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