Coder fired after 6 years for automating his job

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I have often noted that the best person to hire for a job can be a lazy person, because they will work incredibly hard to set something up so that they never have to do it again.
Not that I’ve ever done that, dearie me, no.


I have never been so torn over whether something was terrible or awesome.


It sounds like he took things a bit far(being blatant enough about your slacking that the IT department is forced to turn their attention from keeping the cyber-sewers from leaking and bursting to tell you to stop screwing around on the internet? Could you really not afford cell data, or do vaguely-work-related things at work?); but I’d be inclined to go with ‘awesome’ for one major reason:

If the company had figured out that the job could be automated, they would have automated it, sacked him, and kept the extra cash in a heartbeat. They’d probably brag about it in their earnings call if it was proportionally large enough.

It seems only fair that he should reap the rewards of automation if he was the one who discovered them.


You just have to avoid the trap of skipping tedious-but-necessary tasks in order to tinker with and polish your elegant automated solutions. That one can catch up with you.


Terribly awesome, or perhaps awesomely terrible.


An employee should be honest with the company about the job they are being paid to do. He was deceiving the company about how difficult and readily automated the job he was hired to do was.

If he’d been honest and told his managers he’d been able to automate the task they’d have found new work for him and he’d have a better chance of a raise or promotion (sounds like the company did very well so he’d be in great shape).

Instead he made himself useless by literally not doing any work and got deservedly fired.


6 years an no work tracking. Sounds like mismanagement to me. You can fire him if you want but what about his boss.


I can be as high-horse as they come about the virtues of being honest and hard working and professional, but I also am equally big into the concept of being paid to do a job, rather than paid to clock hours, so I agree with this sentiment 100%. I haven’t RTFA, but if his job was getting done to the satisfaction of his bosses, then they should fuck right off. Right after being so embarrassed at their poor management that they resign.


As a software engineer whose particular specialization is to do just this: this guy sucked at his job and basically had this coming.

Sure, you can automate yourself out of a job. Once that’s done you move onto the next troubled part of the development cycle / organization /deployment process and improve that. There are ALWAYS new problems that need to be solved.

This dude was a lazy POS.


Yep. Once you automate something they give you something else to tackle. He wasn’t good at any of his jobs, just at looking competent.


Spending 6 years surfing the web for 40 hours a week sounds to me like the most soul-destroyingly pointless thing to actively chose to do with your life I can think of…


I make it a point to tell my bosses that yes, my ideal state is to automate myself out of my own job. Haven’t cracked that problem yet.

A guy that used to work for me who had similar aspirations had a neat saying, “I’d rather write a program to write a program than write a program.”


The reward for a job well done is … another job.


It’s attitudes like this that make me cringe. Somehow management is incompetent for implicitly relying on their employee’s professionalism? Honestly, if the job is being done competently, then it’s up to the employee to make it clear that they can take on further responsibilities.

Sorry, but the idea that a competent management should implicitly distrust its employees and monitor not just their job-related duties but how they accomplish them fills me with dread. If there’s a problem, it’s my responsibility to let my boss know. If I can take on more responsibilities, that’s my responsibility as well.

The company should be trusting its employees, and the employees should not be abusing that trust, which he did.


My old job came in waves. One week I literally had nothing to do. I spent most of my week at work online. To the point of going home and not even wanting to turn on my computer because I’d finished the web that day.

I felt really gross and have been finding work for myself since.


He sounds isolated and like he may suffer from severe clinical depression. I hope he gets help.


Yeah my time on the server build team was like that. We would get busy for a month then there would be a week or two of next to nothing where we would be spending 6 hours of the day just going yep have at least one request in work so I am technically good.
I would have gone nuts if I wasn’t telecommuting and couldn’t just wander outside or do some housework task that took 15 minutes or so.


I always find it kind of funny when someone does this or something like it. My jobs have always involved judgement and maybe one day after they perfect self-driving cars and my phone can actually understand that the sound of the water running isn’t me trying to google “halfstep monotrain” (???) they’ll manage to automate judgement too.

But if I automate or streamline one thing, I look to the next thing. There’s always more things that could be better.

I can’t see caring so little that I’d just sit back and wait to get caught. Although I suppose I admire his chutzpah.

@hello_friends raises an interesting factor. Some of this does sound like depression.


Or they would have just eliminated his position without even thanking him for pointing it out. You never know how these things will go.

If he could get away with not doing anything for 6 years, his manager should be fired for not paying attention. He was poorly managed.