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I'm wondering if I'm on a sinking ship or if it's just the normal growth process of a company.

I started as one of the first employees in a consulting firm. Now we're about 30 people and still growing.
Reasons why I think it might be a sinking ship:

(As information, when I talk about Development, I am talking about Custom Development in code. Much can be configured on our software stack by consultants, as we use a SaaS solution most of the time.)

  1. The managers just hiring more management people they already know. E.g. the first manager came from a large European company. We now have five other employees from the same company or the managers inner network. Most of them are not involved in operations. And they in turn bring their working students and other people with them. It becomes a nepotism

  2. Dissatisfaction is growing. While I got a raise, another developer (the only one besides me) complains that he doesn't get a raise despite good performance and lots of overtime. Also, we are not getting any new developers. Supposedly because there are none to be found.... On the other handy, money to hire more "head of..." is there though and they're probably costing the amount of two developers per month. I am afraid that he will leave the company and I will be the only developer. I was also told that as a lead developer with 60k (incl. bonus) the ceiling has now been reached and I would have to take on management responsibility for another raise. I would also be willing to do that, but it's not possible from my POV because no one does operational things anymore when everyone is just managing.

  3. Questionable deals are being made. For example, with software that we use. There is some kind of affiliate program there that offers us a commission if we hire people with no prior experience in the software and then certify them as consultants in the software. That brings cash flow in the short term, but we have to follow through on projects with Juniors.

  4. Officially, we have no hierarchy in the operational team and it is not desired. Project managers, developers, consultants, everyone is on the same level. As a result, power struggles are now being fought indirectly and people who are on the same level (as everyone) then act as the boss or delegate some things.

  5. The projects are causing real problems. In the end, we usually manage to solve problems through a high resource effort of the dev team. But mostly in much more effort than the sales team sold it as a declarative solution. Customers complain that we don't have enough time for them and things are constantly reprioritized as a result of the fact that there are two of us managing the development of 6-7 projects.

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  • Most of these are things you can and should raise with your own manager. Bring suggested solutions too if you can. – Rup Apr 24 at 14:17
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    What country? 60K is a lot in some countries, and a starting salary in others. – PeteCon Apr 24 at 14:38
  • Re: sinking ship? Probably not any time soon. The state of affairs you describe is dysfunctional, but can go on for many years. Also it is not as uncommon as it should be. After a certain point, more excess mgmt will just mean more confusion. Combined with a relative scarcity of tech staff, it is sometimes possible to create a bubble for yourself and a couple of allied employees where you are basically left alone because you keep the machinery running which pays the bills. If you can't get that outcome, move on. If you can, make sure you keep learning new stuff. – Pete W Apr 24 at 15:16
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    When the coxswains vastly outnumber the rowers, it’s time to move on. – ColleenV Apr 24 at 18:31
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    Tbh I already built my bubble where I do things in my way and I also can protect the second developer from getting burned out from too much work. But what's next? I can't sit in this bubble for years waiting for new structures and then get laid off with not that much personal development. I've done my masters and I would like to grown and climb up the ladder. At some point I would like to become a CTO (not in consulting). But one of these few who really have op experience. Just a few I know who are like that and I have them as role models. That would be my goal in the very long term – 0x30 Apr 25 at 7:48
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From my experience, you will not get management to cut down on management. I have seen projects with a "lead", an "architect", two project managers and a line manager all looking over a single developers shoulder asking him when he's done.

It is up to you to decide whether you are paid enough to tolerate that kind of circus.

are not getting any new developers. Supposedly because there are none to be found

I was also told that as a lead developer with 60k (incl. bonus) the ceiling has now been reached

If both is true, it should be trivial to find a new, better paying job as a lead developer in your region.

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  • The second sentence is both chilling and so true! – Fattie Apr 25 at 14:27
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    Outnumbered five to one... A relative told me at some point that she had a manager who had no job but managing her, who had a manager having no job but managing my relatives manager, who had a manager having no job but managing my relative's manager's manager, who had a manager having no job but managing my relative's manager's manager's manager. – gnasher729 Apr 25 at 15:45
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I was also told that as a lead developer with 60k (incl. bonus)

Walk away and never think about them again for any reason.

Good luck in your next job!

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    I usually think your opinions are extreme, but I agree this time. If two people are the linchpin of such a mess and if they are underappreciated, why not walk away. – Al rl Apr 24 at 19:44
  • @Alrl - gotchya. I sometimes write out my opinions in the "shortest way possible" to try to emphasize for the OP the importance of the course of action and being decisive. You're right it can come across as "extreme" ! – Fattie Apr 25 at 14:26
  • Indeed that may contribute to this, though extreme was maybe not the right word, but I agree that in some instance being more direct is a valid option. – Al rl Apr 25 at 15:32
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Walk away, but do things in the recommended order: Look for a new job. While you do that, work the hours that you are paid for, probably 38 hours a week. When you have a new job, sign a binding contract, taking into account your legal or contractual notice period. Give notice. For the time from giving notice, a relaxed attitude to work will make the time more enjoyable. If you get a counter offer, don't accept it. If you're curious, you'll say "sorry, but I wouldn't look at a counter offer below (whatever they offered plus 15%). And because we are all curious, update your question with the counter offer :-)

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    I would leave it at just "sorry, but I wouldn't look at a counter offer". Even if they were willing to meet the significantly higher salary number, the rest of the company would still be a dysfunctional mess, and after accepting it you'd probably be on the companies "find a replacement for and then an excuse to fire" list. – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight Apr 25 at 17:48
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    "And because we are all curious, update your question with the counter offer :-)" this should be mandatory for any question about anything... – Pampa Nello Apr 26 at 9:24
  • @DanIsFiddlingByFirelight has it right. The poster hasn't listed his/her salary as the main reason for their unhappiness, so a higher salary won't fix all those other issues. – spuck Apr 26 at 15:32

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