Can I pick your brain for a few minutes? (Thanks)
First, a little bit of background.
A small software shop (let us call it ‘The Shop’) that I am helping out as a consultant has a four year old relationship with a strong and stable European client; a relationship that they are working hard to retain. In this economic phase of a high demand for experienced software professionals, The Shop’s relatively unknown name does not attract a lot of resources from the top tier, but it has still managed to create and retain a decent team with them for the last 3 years.
Now, the problem.
The trouble started two months ago, when one of The Shop’s lead developers left for greener pastures (read a larger firm paying a few thousand Rs.). He left on good terms with the shop’s management (and is freelancing for them now), but he also left a big hole in The Shop’s small structure that needed a quick replacement. Meanwhile, their client was requesting a further increase in team size to handle the ever-increasing workload.
This is when a Mr. K, a very experienced programmer and a former employee of The Shop, showed an interest in rejoining, as the pastures that he had left for earlier were drying up (read paycuts). The Shop was quite happy to have Mr. K back as he would have partially patched up the widening hole, and already possessed prior domain knowledge.
The above information is important as it shows that:
- The shop has a cool work environment, a place that people can comfortably come back to.
- The people running the shop are open-minded enough to welcome former employees back into their team instead of holding grudges.
- The grass on the other side usually looks greener than it is.
Anyway, The Shop was happy, the client was happy, and while the shop started scheduling interviews to hire support team members for Mr. K, the client sent one of their project managers from Europe to Pakistan, so that he may train and understand the team for better offshore coordination. The Shop’s CEO also went out of the way to attend Mr. K’s numerous phone calls, and agreed to most of his demands, so eventually, Mr. K signed a contract with the shop last week.
Two days after Mr. K signed the contract, the CEO told me that he had just gotten a one-liner email from Mr. K telling him that he won’t be joining The Shop after all. No apologies, no explanations and no mention of the penalties for such an action that are included as a standard in the contract. The CEO also heard from the grapevine that Mr. K has opted to join another firm.
Despite being an outsider for the most part, I was boggled by Mr. K’s arrogant and unprofessional behavior. Ignoring it this time was not an option as such behavior is not anomalous anymore – I have seen this happen more than once in the last few years. The Shop’s CEO also wants to do something about this incident instead of letting it go, and I personally think he is right because a) Mr. K signed a contract, and is legally obliged to fulfill it, or pay the penalty, and b) This action reflects very badly upon the Pakistani software industry as a whole – the project manager has arrived and is asking ‘Where is the guy that I have to train? The one who is joining from tomorrow.’
So my questions to you are:
- Has such a thing ever happened to you?
- If you were the shop’s CEO, what would you have done?
I am hoping that the discussion in the comments will help us in formulating an SOP/checklist that would be helpful to all shops that face a similar situation in the future.