Dear Mr. Senior Manager / Decision Maker,
I wonder if you know me, but I do know you very well. I am a software engineer, that breed of people who make your products, who ensure your services run without a glitch. Never mind if this requires us to work late nights, or take on more work than we humanly can. Never mind if some of us end up setting up camp at work place, with our family wondering if our office has become our home. If only you had the good sense of recruiting enough people as per the project requirements, rather than worrying about your gross margins.
From time to time, I, a software engineer, receive emails from your desk about newly formed policies. Policies that affect your employees, policies that affect your engineers. Policies that are applied without giving a penny’s worth of thought to the affected employees. Pay cuts to unbilled employees (even though they may be racking their brains to get that solution right, but are unbilled to up your gross margins). Leave without pay. I must say you guys are quite ingenious when it comes to cutting losses (or ballooning profits). I am sure the next plan you come up with will beat all these schemes. So Mr. Manager, could you tell me which institute or B-school taught you all these techniques? Maybe a programmer could take up a course there (he would not have much to do in case he is handed the inevitable pink slip) and learn a few innovative techniques to combat those of your own.
Wonder why the pay cuts are not handed to the management. Wouldn’t it make sense to have lower pay cuts across an organization instead of having a select few facing pay cuts? That would seem appropriate to my limited logical mind, but I think you have better abilities. Hey, wait a minute! I think I have figured it out. If you cut remuneration for the management and they quit, who will make your policies then? Big big problem, isn’t it? It’s okay if your engineers are sent packing. What’s the big deal with that? You could have a single employee taking on the superhuman work of 2 or 3 or even more resources. Let your engineers become robots, you would probably be all the more happy with that. The work would still go on, and you would have your coffers full. Talking about robotic engineers, I have a suggestion. Why don’t you hire robots instead of people with flesh and blood? Robots would never get tired; they would never have to be paid. Ah, but would they come up with creative solutions like we do? Your guess is as good as mine.
A few more questions, Mr. Manager. What would your management team do if you did not have a single engineer? Would your policies earn customers? Would you still find a way to hoodwink them? Well, given the skills at your disposal, maybe you could still do that, but I won’t bet on it.
Hopefully this angst will not be futile. Perhaps you, Mr. Reader, are indeed one of the decision makers wherever you work. Maybe this will shake you out of the cocooned reverie you are in. Maybe, and this is purely from your perspective, you would value the greatest assets in your organization: the men who make things work. Without whom, all your plans with ornate presentations would stay within those PowerPoint slides you make. Stay there, lifeless and unrealized. Is that what you want?
I just hope, in all optimism, this letter would force you to get your behind off that fat, cushioned pay-cheque and do something about the people who breathe life into your organization.
A software engineer