Recently discovered this thread... and *BOY* do I have a few EPIC FU stories to impart.
Aside: I never call these idiot managers 'Assholes', because EVERYONE has an asshole, and I have more respect for my asshole than I do for these clowns. Where would we be if human beings DIDN'T have assholes? Asshats would be a better term...
But I prefer the term Tina Fey coined: Asshair. Everyone has ass-hairs, and NOBODY likes them.
Asshair#1: Calera (1990)
I was commuting 1.5hrs/day from Fremont to Santa Clara, working 10 hour days as a software test lead on a Windows based Optical Character Recognition program 'TopScan for Windows'. Scan a printed page, or put a PDF image thru this program, and get a Microsoft Word document. The character recognition engine was fine - it was the Windows application that needed LOTS of work. After my team did a 2-day acceptance test, we found enough defects that we determined we would need 3 months of testing (different scanners, printers, etc) to get 'TopScan' into shape for launch. Asshair VP of Engineering went BALLISTIC, screamed, yelled, profanity laced diatribe... the works.
BUT... Developers, and my Test Manager in the room all agreed with my team's assessment.
Finally Asshair said "It has to be done in a month - no flexibility. Can we do it in 1 month?" So I came up with a 24/7, 3-shift testing rotation where we would divide the existing test resources into teams, and test around the clock. Asshair took the plan to the President. Response comes back that a 24/7 schedule would be too stressful on the team members. I came back with a 2-shift solution - 6am-3pm, and 3pm-midnight, thus the "Day Hawks" and the "Night Hawks" were born. We did it - worked around the clock, another test lead handled the morning team, I handled the evening team, and reported up for all teams at EOD (sometimes as late as 3am). Three weeks later, we're ready to ship. That plan saved the project, and made TopScan a successful launch. Let the promotions begin!
Former Test Manager wanted to become a developer - boom - happily transferred. I was promoted to Test Manager!
Soon after, I got a call from a head-hunter / recruiter who wanted to place me as a Senior Quality Assurance (test) Engineer with a company making a well known presentation graphics program (think 'Harvard Graphics' competitor) - a software giant (SG) based in WA but with a small artsy group in CA. I said, "Thanks but no thanks". I was happy with Calera, and wanted to bask in the success.
Then we waited to see if sales would help the company's bottom line. At the same time, we started work on TopScan for Macintosh. I brought in my personal Macintosh desktop machine to help defer company costs - one less test machine to purchase. Some, but not as many, problems were found in the acceptance tests, so a shorter test cycle was needed, but before we could really get started, sales results for TopScan for Windows were in, and were not impressive.
Layoffs would be next. We would mothball development until end of summer, giving sales a chance to kick in, and bring in revenue. once sales had a chance to pick up. Asshair said I could only keep only 1 of our 14 contract testers during the layoff period, and could try to hire them back in the fall. I thought about it, and asked if I could instead put ALL contractors on a part time basis, have 1 person on a mostly full-time basis, and keep 13 of them one-hour a week, or less, just to keep them on the payroll - the idea would save paperwork, and be a way to keep the team available when we needed them in a month or two. After all, this team had saved the company's bacon, and shipped a high-quality world class product, they deserved more than a kick in the pants, AND we needed their expertise for the upcoming test effort. The development manager liked the idea, my former manager liked the idea. Asshair... not so much.
Two days later, there was an off-site manager meeting held to discuss the upcoming layoffs.
All my peer managers were invited, but I was *NOT* invited. The writing was on the wall.
Soon I was called into Asshair's office, and greeted with: "As you know, we're having layoffs, and you've been affected".
I was stunned. I said I would be happy to do whatever was needed, if we needed to layoff the 13 folks, that would be workable, and I'd be happy to help - he said, "Oh, your help won't be needed - that's already happened". Since I rode the bus to work, I had to ride the bus home, pick up my car, and come BACK to pick-up my personal computer. During the double-double-commute, I had time to think, and realized that I'd worked my butt off for months only to be shown the door. ONLY THEN did I realize how overwhelming the work had been for MONTHS. I needed a break, and was happy for the chance to get my head together. I had FU money, and a newish economy car - ROAD TRIP? I started planning a cross-country road-trip that day. I gathered my stuff, and went home without further incident.
The NEXT MORNING... (can you guess?)
The recruiter for artsy-SG making the world's leading presentation graphics program called me AT HOME, and asked if I might still be interested in the SG job. I said, yes, but asked how she got my number. Evidently two developers who also got the boot that day were already in touch with this recruiter, and BOTH said the BEST PERSON who was laid off was *ME*. I was embarrassed - gratified, and humbled. It turned out that the story of my willingness to stand up for my hourly part-time contract workers at the RISK OF MY OWN FULL-TIME JOB was making the rounds in Silicon Valley.
I said, "Thanks but I need to think about it."
I took a month off, driving across country, and de-compressing.
When I returned, I *did* interview with the Silicon Valley unit of SG, and after a grueling interview process started two weeks later.
Once hired, I found out THEY ALSO heard about what happened at Calera - my standing up for my employees - and based on that, and my proven track record as a person who cared about quality, SG wanted to have me on-board.