I'm the only developer in a small company, and around a couple years ago an important developer (at that time we were 2), left the company for what he thought would be a better opportunity.

His departure resulted, naturally, in extra hours for me. For a long time I worked 45-50 hours a week, as the company increased its profits and number of projects, but never added a second developer.

They just communicated me now, however, that the guy who had left will be coming back. I really don't agree with this decision, and also don't agree with the procedure; after I worked extremely hard for 2 years and showed my worth, they didn't even have the touch to at least ask for my opinion.

It's also worth mentioning that I never got any bonuses or rewards for my extra hours or hard work, even though the company has increased its profits notably in these last 2 years, which is an added negative emotion towards management.

Any thoughts? What should I do? I want to tell them to let me hire someone new, as I also feel that the returning developer will just bounce back again. What should I do? Have you been in a similar situation?

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    "I want to tell them to let me hire someone new" - are you normally involved in hiring decisions? – Brandin Oct 28 '15 at 12:17
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    Maybe your question/action should be more about the extra hours and lack of bonuses. Addressing those will probably do more to address your happiness. – Brandin Oct 28 '15 at 12:45
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    Setting your own ego aside for a moment, will the additional developer lighten your workload, or otherwise help the company meet its commitments? It seems from your question that you feel you have earned something for your sacrifices for the company. Is it possible you feel threatened by his return, that he will take away something from you by being there? – Kent A. Oct 28 '15 at 12:48
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    None of the issues you mention seem in any way related to this former developer. I'm not seeing an actual question here. Voted to close. – Lilienthal Oct 28 '15 at 14:08
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    That your team was understaffed after their departure, that you worked unsustainable overtime, and that you went unrewarded are in no way the fault of that developer. The responsibly belongs to you and management. – Nathan Cooper Oct 28 '15 at 15:21

It's also worth mentioning that I never got any bonuses or rewards for my extra hours or hard work, even though the company has increased its profits notably in these last 2 years, which is an added negative emotion towards management.

Any thoughts? What should I do?

If you haven't gotten any rewards at all for your extra hard work over the past two years (promotion, raise, bonus, etc), then it's time to talk with your manager.

Find a quiet time that you can sit down privately. Talk to your manager about all of your hard work over the years, and ask what you would have to do in order to get a raise. If you think it's appropriate in your organization, ask what you would have to do in order to get a promotion.

This also provides an opportunity for your manager to bring up a discussion about the returning developer. If he asks, it's your chance to politely discuss your feelings. Don't slam this developer, though, if the decision to bring him back has already been made. Be positive, and talk about how the company can best use his skills.

  • This is a particularly awkward situation since the developer has already been rehired so I agree that it is wise to avoid giving too much negative feedback. However, had the OP been consulted before the decision to hire was made and the developer was actually not worth having back, I would point out the folly of sticking with the devil you know rather than trying to find fresh, potentially better talent. – Eric Oct 28 '15 at 16:29
  • I should add that them telling him the old developer is coming back doesn't sound like it is asking for his approval. They're just informing him of decisions they made, and regardless if he likes it or not. With that in mind, I feel that bringing up anything about the old guy being bad is probably unwise and would only make you look bad. – Dan Oct 28 '15 at 19:17

It is too late to ask for input into the returning dev coming back. That decision has already been made and he has likely given notice at his current job. There is a 0% chance that any objection at this stage would be listened to. If you didn't want to see him ever come back then you should have let management know all along that there was a problem with his work (so this is as much your fault as management's). That said, people change a lot in two years and his skills may be much better, so give him the benefit of the doubt when he does return.

As a dev and not a manager, it is unreasonable to expect to be consulted before they hire someone, especially someone they already know and respect. So get over your hurt feelings on this. Often in cases like this, JOe (the old emplyee) calls Bob (your boss) and says something like, "Hey we are having a layoff here, is there any chance I could come back?" The boss, having been happy with his work when he was here and knowing of nothing since he left that would make him question that judgement and knowing that the current dev is working too many hours and that they had just approved a new position, says, "Sure." In over 30 years in the workforce, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have seen a current non-management employee consulted before hiring someone that management already knew.

What you do have is a problem of not feeling as if you have been rewarded. Have you asked for any rewards and been turned down? Maybe it is time to move on in that case. But if you have never asked, again it is as much your fault as management's that you haven't gotten what you wanted. Rewards don't magically happen. Management can't read your mind and know what you want.

The real issue here though is how to move forward knowing this guy is being hired. First, you need to talk to talk your manager about job responsibilities and how that will work. You think you will be senior to him but that is an assumption. I have seen people brought back who were put into a leadership role over those who stayed. You need to have it be clear what the roles will be before this person is on board.

Next you need to prepare for his return in a professional way. The system has changed a good bit since he left. Policies on how to do things may have changed, architecture may have changed, heck even the source control might be done differently. Put together a retraining document to help him get oriented into how things are now. If you know there are some things of his that you reworked that he will likely not be happy with, then you need to discuss them with your manager and get him to support the new way of doing business before this guy gets here.

When he gets here, treat him with the same respect any employee deserves. Don't be angry or snippy or act like a child who didn't get his way because this person is back. That will only make him look better and you look worse. Even if you choose to leave over this (which seems like an over reaction), then as long as you are there, make an effort to work with this person professionally. You don't have to want someone to be there or like him, to treat him professionally and courteously.


Given the information you provide, I'd write the friendliest email ever expressing your concerns that you feel under-rewarded for your impressive performance and extra work over the last two years, the worry you have over the new/old guy being a run hazard, and say that you'll be professional and productive even if the new/old guy comes back. Concerning the first point, understand that your superiors and colleagues worked hard too to make the profits and revenues rise over the last few years (if this is not true, reconsider why you're still there).

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    I agree with the general thrust of this answer, but I would do it in a face-to-face conversation instead of an email, because it is way too easy to misconstrue the tone/attitude of an email. – Jim Clay Oct 28 '15 at 13:53
  • @JimClay That's why I said the "firendliest email ever". But yes, a face-to-face conversation does have a few advantages like how one can more closely control the tone of the dialogue and fix any misunderstandings quickly. – Lan Oct 28 '15 at 15:20

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