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How to (or NOT to) Train Your Job Replacement?

Anonymous Coward writes | about a year and a half ago


An anonymous reader writes "I am a contract developer from a major U.S. city. My rate has never been the lowest, nonetheless very competitive considering the speed and quality of the work I have always delivered, as well as the positive feedbacks I've got from most clients. In the past ~3 years I have been working on a sizable project for a major client. For most part it has been a happy arrangement for both parties. However for various reasons (including the still ailing economy), starting this year they hired a fresh college graduate in-house, and asked me to teach him all "secrets" of my code, even though they have the source code by contract. The implicit (although never openly stated) goal is of course for him to take over the project and hopefully reduce cost, at least in the short-term. I say "hopefully" because I am pretty sure that, unfamiliar with the software industry, they underestimated what it takes to make quality, production-ready code. I am not afraid of losing this particular client as I have many others, but I want to ask Slashdot, how do you handle this type of situation — train someone who you know will eventually replace you at your job?"

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Easy... (1)

trailerparkcassanova (469342) | about a year and a half ago | (#43215281)

You train the employee as best you can and if the outcome turns out as you expect they keep you on or call you back. If not there's always the next gig.

upto U (1)

Anti Cheat (1749344) | about a year and a half ago | (#43216107)

You said it yourself. You have other clients. The choice is yours really, if getting out of your contract is possible.
In your present situation are you tasked by contract to teach anyone?

If I felt that the company was purposely bringing in this new guy to hopefully replace me one day, I would seriously look at my contract situation. I maybe in a position to renegotiate a new contract at a price that represents the workload to teach someone else. The price certainly would be set based on what I considered a decent exit payout.
It's all about value for money.
Like it or not, there is a value to expecting ongoing work verses work that terminates earlier. The longer the job the better the rate (to a point). Less secure jobs warrant a different consideration especially if it means turning over knowledge you took years to build into your skill set, especially when it made the project successful in the first place. If a company is going to abuse the intent of the contract, then I certainly would examine my options. The way I feel. Replacing me at the expense of my IP is simply not on, unless I specifically signed that away.

Are you a software instructor? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218963)

They are putting you in an unacceptable position.

They are asking you to transfer your (presumably) years of experience to someone else in a short time. That is an unreasonable request.

Asking you to teach someone how to use your software is one thing. Asking you to teach someone every little detail of the code, how you arrived at your design decisions, etc. is quite another matter. Not only is it something that many coders do not teach very well, not being trained software instructors, teaching is almost certainly not something that is normally in your contract or, for that matter, in your job description. A master does not teach an apprentice in a matter of weeks.

I would charge them twice your usual rate for the teaching AND, for the reasons I gave above, guarantee nothing once you are through. You have no way to control what that other person does with your code, or with what you teach him or her, and you cannot reasonably be held responsible.

Just to be clear: I honor my work. If something goes wrong, and it is clearly my fault, I have had no problem fixing it on my own time and at my own expense. However, when I am doing contract work, the moment somebody else touches my code all bets are off. No promises, no warranty.

Also: get the customer to give you a written recommendation for your work NOW, long before you part ways! Once whoever it is gets their hands on your code, you can no longer be responsible for the results and they may no longer be happy. But that's not your fault and you still deserve that recommendation.
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