How to Turn Software Engineers Into Zombies

Elson
6 min readNov 29, 2022

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Photo by julien Tromeur on Unsplash

There are a lot of tech companies with career promises hiring right now. Many of them happen to get rough diamonds and polish them into superstars but others simply turn engineers into zombies programmed to wander around clueless and hungry for real opportunities and career development.

I will teach you how to create a perfect army of zombies to take your product forward and make you millions of dollars. These techniques will make sure your product will be placed in the market but I can’t guarantee that it will be successful. However, with an army of zombies, you can retry as many times as you can afford.

1 — Reduce them to coders

You don’t want your engineers to think. If they start to think you will have problems so you must make sure you give them the title of an engineer but a coder’s job.

The best way to do that is by shielding them from customer issues and business problems. It is simple, dont bring them problems to solve. Bring them full solutions to implement. Something marketing came up with or a customer suggested to the product team.

Usually, something already designed and architected to illude them with the idea of“opportunity” to solve a real-world problem. Engineers love that sense of purpose and they won’t realize that they are not the ones finding the solution. They are simply figuring out how to implement the solution.

Keep doing that. Always give them something to implement, not to solve. It would be easier to just hire contractors or third-party agencies since you only need coders but they are hard to deal with so bring engineers in-house and treat them like contractors and third-party coders.

2 — Distract them with perks so they continue to overwork

You want to numb the engineer's pain as much as possible. If they realize things are bad they will quit. Therefore, give them unlimited vacation.

Better yet, pay them to take vacations. They never do, trust me! Provide food in the office and free snacks. Provide transportation options, free parking, a place to nap or sleep, Gyms, bars, coffee shops, babysitting services, barbershops, and nail salons — all in the office.

You want them to come to the office as much as possible so make remote or hybrid work options an illusion. Work-life balance is easier if they can find everything they need already in the office.

Make sure your perks will keep them in the office or at their desk as much as possible. They won’t notice they are working 50–70 hours a week if they have a lot of nice perks to distract them. Deprive them of any social life so all the friends they have are co-workers. That’s what will keep them coming in every day.

3 — Make them believe they have a say in the product

As I mentioned before, you dont want your engineers to think but you must keep them believing in something. From time to time share good product achievements and collect their feedback. Make them think that what they have to say will change things.

Occasionally allow some of them to do some investigations and write a proposal document and then shelf it. You may even use them to work on confirming something you already decided on the solution for just to make them believe they helped with something.

Always listen to what they have to say then do nothing. If you keep them busy they will eventually forget about everything.

They are dumb and only care about coding. What a heck do they know about product development, customer problems, or business? It is not like they understand the full system, right?

4 — Take credit for their work

Yeah, they implemented it but it was your proposed idea or solution. Maybe you managed the project so take credit for it. When it comes time to present the solution implementation at an event or to customers, dont let engineers do the presentation. After all, engineers are not social creatures and won’t know how to handle customers.

Do all the presentations and take credit while doing them. Mention product and marketing teams, even show photos of the product, marketing, and sales team but never the engineers. Engineers don’t make for good photos. If they question you about it, simply tell them that people only care about the flashy UI and animation stuff and won’t like to get bothered with implementation details.

Keep them deprived of any attention to always work for it. Happy engineers will want career roadmaps, promotions, and better opportunities. You don’t want dreamers and achievers. You need to keep them coding for you for as long as possible.

5 — Make them work extra for promotion and raise

When it comes time for promotion come up with some credible silly process they have to go through in order to get something. You can give them some raise but not much. Always have a reason why though.

If they completed 5 significant features tell them that the best engineers complete 10 on average. Always have something they need to work on and present in a caring manner so they believe you want to develop them and that they should stick around cause it will take another year to do so.

It will always take an additional year for something. Keep this going as long as possible. Thats the secret to keeping engineers.

If they decide to leave after or come to you with a job offer from a different company, let them go. Who cares! You can always hire a replacement to do the same mundane job quickly and for less or same pay.

6 — Keep them busy

Disguise your waterfall process with sprints and other agile techniques like sprint planning, stand-ups, etc. The waterfall process creates a lot of tech debt since the flow of ideas and solutions is only downwards. If they want to take care of tech debt or extra improvements they will have to put in extra time on their own.

Don’t create a testing or after-release plan. If something comes up, fix it if it is a bug or put it in the backlog as tech debt. There is no time to go improve code engineers are saying will become problematic. If things are working there is no need to bother with improving under the hood things. Keep shipping features time after time.

Whenever a solution is too big, find the MVP option and put the rest in the backlog. There should always be work and a sense that engineers should put extra time and effort to improve things on their own. Coders are always trying to find more things to code, so take advantage of that.

Never run out of features. Always have a new flashy feature to implement — even if it is useless. Keep them busy at all costs!

Increase meetings needed to keep them in check while increasing their workload. Don’t give them chance to organize and blame them for not having the management skills to handle everything.

7 — Hire new engineers instead of promoting

If you keep promoting you will have to give out more money. If you feel like you have to promote them, dont give them pay raises. Give them RSU or ESO with the promise of the company going public or stocks doing better in the future. They will stick around in hopes.

If you keep hiring, you will always pay less per employee. From time to time fire or layoff under excuses that you over-hired. Engineers will believe you if you did a good job making them believe it's best for the company.

Always keep a set of old engineers around for backup though. They are not so efficient and creative but they never leave regardless of the working conditions. They know the most about the product so they will be useful in training new and more energetic new engineers.

Conclusion

You need coders to keep your startup afloat and investors happy. By continuously delivering features and improvements you will attract more customers and investors. That will make you millions and with an army of engineers, you will keep your costs low and your ideas always being implemented to give investors the illusion that the product is making progress.

Dont worry if features or product ideas fail. With an army of zombies, you can always keep trying until something work. Something always do.

Believe me, it works! Dozens of companies implement such strategies and they are million-dollar companies. Give it a try 😊 .

P.s: JK 😊

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Elson

Software Engineer sharing knowledge, experience, and perspective from an employee and personal point of view.