This is like Deja Vu all over again....
We have a senior, very capable (i.e. 5x) engineer, "Gust", who has served his notice (4 weeks), and will be leaving.
So, you had a very loyal, highly competent worker who is now leaving.... I see where this is going.
Our company likes to "test" people in their new roles when being promoted for up to 6 months before we officially promote them.
A bad practice, and just why, will become apparent shortly.
Due to incompetence by Gust's former manager, Gust was basically working 2 levels above his pay grade for 18 months, and training new engineers at more senior levels than he's paid (i.e. Gust is a "senior engineer I", and has been training new "senior engineer II/III" positions for over a year).
Oh, this isn't incompetence, it's malfeasance. If the typical time is 6 months, sounds like Gust was being promised the moon to sit patiently. That's the only reasonable explaination.
I tried to ease this over with a promotion to "senior engineer II" and a bonus to offset the "missed out pay" for the past 12 months (trial period should never exceed 6 months), but Gust wanted 2-3 promotions outright (fair, but senior management declined due to the "optics") and and even greater bonus, i.e. "if I'm training people 2 levels above me, I should be paid at least 3 levels above my current pay grade". Gust waited until annual bonuses and stock payouts cleared, and served his notice.
Yeah, that's called adding insult to injury. Sticking a knife three inches into a man, then pulling it out two and saying "isn't that better", isn't going to make the man happy, which is why he rightfully asked for JUST compensation.
My problem is that, while Gust is providing documentation and training materials for his eventual replacements (had to hire 3x intermediate engineers in his place), a lot of his work depends on changes to open source technologies (numerous open source projects on GitHub).
So, you didn't want the "optics" of paying the man what he's worth, but you're fine with hiring three people, which will cost you far more..... Only in the corporate world does this make any kind of sense.
You're lucky you are dealing with an honorable man, he could have screwed you so hard, you'd have been walking funny for a week.
Even though we can gradually train his replacements on these projects (it's just code, after all), a large part of succeeding with these projects involves having someone with the necessary rapport with the maintainers/contributors for these projects.
INSERT RECORD SCRATCH
Now, I see the source of the problem: It's just code, after all
It's just code, after all???
That comment alone sums up your problem. You have no idea what kind of expertise you are dealing with, or what it takes to program.
When I was originally hired at my current employer, it was as a consultant. I finished the project early and I was still budgeted for an additional month, so they asked me to look at some code IT'S JUST CODE, AFTER ALL The problem with this code, that is just code, was that it took ten hours to run, and crippled the machine it was running.
I fixed the code, and now it runs in six minutes. The mere fact that you would make such a statement demonstrates you have no concept of what someone in Gust's position contributes, but boy are you in for an education you will never forget.
If It's just code, after all your team should be able to handle it no problem.
a large part of succeeding with these projects involves having someone with the necessary rapport with the maintainers/contributors for these projects.
90% of every job is having good relationships, you've made a big mistake thinking that HIS relationships are YOUR relationships.
I don't know what Gust did/said, but most of the developers on these projects (at least those to whom we reached out via e-mail) basically told us off and treated the intermediate engineers with contempt (and in some cases, very foul language).
Well, since your actions towards Gust were contemptible, all he'd need to do was tell the truth. How surprised are you? You screwed Gust, and you'll screw them too. It sounds like you've made the cubs upset, and they're getting revenge for papa bear.
How do we best engage with these open source teams and "pass the torch" from Gust to our intermediate engineers, so we can continue to get features we need into these projects?
How do you cross a bridge after you've burned it down completely?
We've straight-up asked Gust for help with this, and he flatly told us "go **** yourselves; introducing you to my buddies for my after-hours hobbies is not in my job description".
And he's right. His friends were helping HIM and are loyal to HIM not you. See what you lost in not pushing harder for him?
I don't see anything posted in the mailing lists or GitHub pages indicating Gust is encouraging these teams to mistreat us, but I doubt such people would be so coarse to any newcomers engaging in the project unless they were instructed to act this way towards us.
Is this your first time managing programmers? I certainly hope so because you seem absolutely unaware of the culture. If I were part of Gust's group, and read this, I'd go back to the group and tell them not only not to help you, but to deliberately give you wrong answers. Here's why:
I doubt such people would be so coarse to any newcomers engaging in the project unless they were instructed to act this way towards us.
You just leveled a serious accusation against Gust with this one. Again, this shows ZERO respect for the man, and such a staggering ignorance of how good a man he is, and how programmers operate. This man could probably shut your operation down with a word, if he were so inclined. I've seen it happen.
As to him giving orders to attack your people, you obviously don't know the programmer mindset. We don't follow orders, but we tend to have an overdeveloped sense of justice and would happily mess with anyone that we saw as either a bully, or as taking advantage of one of us. To be honest, you look like both to me.
By the way, Gust didn't tell me to post this, I did it all by myself.
If you want to save yourself a world of pain, do right by Gust. Give him a big fat bonus, and hire him back as a consultant at a rate HIGHER than an Eng III would make, and then, POLITELY, ask for his help.
Otherwise, you'd better hire 10 more people to prepare for the avalanche that's going to hit you.