I am currently working in a team-lead position for the development department of a company and we are extremely busy at the moment.

The problem is that the company keeps bringing in new clients without thought as to how my department should deal with the workload. We have processes in place which ensure a consistent workflow however the increasing workload is putting a substantial amount of pressure on the workflow and I am concerned that we will no longer be able to meet deadlines etc.

I have raised my concerns with my seniors on more than one occasion and they have said that we can hire additional staff, however nothing has come of it in the past 2 months. When the other departments are short-staffed they are able to find relevant staff within a week or 2.

I am fairly certain that there is no shortage of software developers, so that surely cannot be the issue. There are certain skills we require, however it has not been an issue finding staff in the past.

Ordinarily, when new developers are required, I will supply a specification for the position, and the HR department will send me potential candidates. Interviews will then be scheduled, which myself and my direct senior will conduct.

It is becoming quite frustrating as myself and my team are having to put in a lot of overtime work (which we are compensated for) and I have cut my personal lunch hour down to 15 minutes.

What would be the best way to approach my bosses and and tell them that my team literally cannot deal with the workload any more?

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    Downvoter: care to explain?
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 15:19
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    So are you not getting any candidates, no qualified ones or are they dropping out during the interviewing process?
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 15:21
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    @Lilienthal I have received 2 candidates, none of which met the specification I provided.
    – Und3rTow
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 15:31
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    In the US competent developers are in short supply. You may have to recalibrate your compensation. Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 16:58
  • I wouldnt bother trying to find the best way since any way you do this is likely going to end in your termination(if not immediately in 6 months or less) go with the way that gives you the most release and makes you the happiest. Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 1:53

2 Answers 2


This is called "sweating the assets" - Your team is an asset and you are being sweated! In a sales-led environment, and particularly in sales-led software development this is par for the course in my experience- Where money is made through selling people's time and efforts, no company wants any asset (i.e. individual) on the bench not earning any money. So from one point of view, in a "well run" software shop the demand should always outstrip the resources available to comfortably handle that demand, so get used to it, it goes with the territory.

Senior management loves the concept of sweating assets and it make business sense. But it is common to assume you can continue to overload human assets as if they were production line machines without consequence. The problem is, a lot of management are so in love with sweating their assets and maximising revenues, that it is hard to persuade them that it is not sustainable, particularly when it is sustainable up to the tipping point.

At the tipping point everything changes; quality goes down the drain, turnover of staff becomes high and morale goes through the floor. The net result of all that is that costs remain high but revenue starts to nosedive as more and more time and money is spent on reworking poor deliverables and recruiting new developers whilst existing burnt out staff eventually "work to rule" and productivity crashes.

So the way to approach this problem is to highlight the high risk to future profits, revenues, morale and even reputation in their clients' markets. Even that approach does not often work in my experience- they need to go through at least one cycle of crashing and burning before they learn the lessons. Good luck.

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    Thank you for the insight, I can certainly relate to what you have said. My argument is that by paying us overtime, they are essentially spending more money as the hourly rate for overtime is more than the standard. So hiring an additional employee would make more sense to me.
    – Und3rTow
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 15:30
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    @MarvMills You're right, I should have read your answer more carefully. I still think that it's unlikely that OP is in this situation as I'm more convinced that his difficulty in hiring new staff is accidental rather than deliberate but your advice is sound. +1.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 15:35
  • Good answer, and such an accurate description of a company I once worked at that I wonder if we were co-workers. :-) Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 1:19

Who decides on deadlines? If you have any influence you should make sure that current clients / workload are taken into account.

It might also be an idea with a list of current clients / workload / deadlines that can be presented to your bosses. That should make it easier to demonstrate the need for additional people.

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