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Dealing With an Employee Performing Poorly

Chuck Sweet

Engineering manager at DocuSign

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Problem

Bob, one of my developers, was not delivering very good work. Either I was pushing him and he was then delivering on time but with a poor quality of work, or I was letting him work at his own pace and he was delivering average or slightly above average work but was late in delivering it. I decided I really had to do something about it, as the problem was more and more visible, even from outside my team.

Actions taken

I spent a lot of time and effort to explain to him he was performing below my expectations and coaching him to help him to improve. However, this had a very bad impact on the team, as I regularly had to redistribute parts of his work to other members of the team, who were of course not very happy about it. After a few (too many) months of coaching, without him reaching the level required, I finally decided to dismiss Bob. The whole team felt relieved.

"I spent a lot of time and effort to explain to him he was performing below my expectations and coaching him to help him to improve."

As a manager, it is easy for me to handle good performing employees and bad performing ones, but I sometimes struggle to manage employees performing at an average or below average level. I always have the same dilemma: should I fire them, or should I help them reach the level I expect?

Lessons learned

I would advise defining clear expectations and reasonable deadlines to achieve them. Then, you should attempt to coach the person in order to help them reach these goals, and if they don't, you should then let them go.


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Chuck Sweet

Engineering manager at DocuSign


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