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A team member struggling with working remotely

Charles Buckingham

Engineering Manager at InVisionApp Inc

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Problem

I took over a team of engineers, and we all worked remotely. Over time, I noticed that one member was performing poorly and inconsistently. She was not reliable in terms of her quality of work, she was not participatory during meetings, and in general, she was not as communicative as she needed to be. As time went on she began to miss deadlines and give excuses for her behavior. Her presence in the team was having a negative impact on morale and productivity.

Actions taken

From when I first took over the team, I talked to her regularly, both in scheduled one-on-ones and in ad hoc meetings. As her performance began to decline, I provided her with direct feedback, showing her what she needed to change and outlining direct steps for her to take to improve her work and participation in the team. In talking with her, I learned that it was her first remote job. The transition to managing her own time (though we all worked a shared schedule) and not being surrounded by an office's social structure was proving difficult for her. She clearly understood what was being asked of her and how she was not satisfying what was being asked of her. However, she was unable to put this into practice. I was not able to directly fire a member of the team at the time, so I had to work with my manager to get authorization to fire her. When I fired her, she reacted emotionally but understood that she had not been performing satisfactorily and the decision was not a surprise to her.

Lessons learned

Working remotely is not for everyone. Looking back, it was clear that despite my investment and effort this team member needed more structure in her life to succeed. At the time I felt like I was letting her down and not motivating her in the right way. However, I now believe that I should have focused more on what she needed and realized that she would likely find more happiness and success working with others, in a social office environment.


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Charles Buckingham

Engineering Manager at InVisionApp Inc


CommunicationPerformance ReviewsFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthDiversity ImpactOvercoming BiasIndividual Contributor RolesLeadership RolesTeam & Project ManagementDiversity & Inclusion

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