How To Fire An Underperforming Employee

Dan Drew

CTO, VP Engineering at Didja Inc



"We had an employee who was significantly failing to deliver on his work. Repeated attempts to work with the employee to correct the situation failed and we came to the conclusion that it just wasn't working out and we had a mistake in hiring him. Unfortunately, the employee became hostile at the negative feedback and was also in one or two protected classes."

Actions taken

"I started working closely with HR to ensure we wouldn't have an issue once he left if he chose to try and sue us for a wrongful dismissal. I came up with a four-week performance improvement plan ('PIP') of weekly deliverables. My expectations for each deliverable was clearly documented, then reviewed with the employee with HR present to ensure the plan was understood and formally accepted. Every week we met with the employee to review his progress against the deliverables. HR was always present to witness and document the discussion. As he worked through the plan he repeatedly failed to deliver what we had asked him to do and explained clearly how he had not met the expectations. Once the four weeks were up, we met with him and explained that he hadn't met our expectations and we would be letting him go. We were respectful as we could be, but the transition wasn't very smooth as he was quite upset about the situation and disagreed with our assessment of him."

Lessons learned

"It's always important to take firing an employee seriously, but even more so when there are additional factors such as protected classes and hostility. Partner with HR early to decide on how to proceed, they may have important information about the employee or other relevant factors that need to be considered. Be upfront with people when they're not performing and treat them with respect even when they're not reciprocating. Even if it feels like you're jumping through hoops, make sure you're doing everything correctly so you don't inadvertently cause unwarranted and unavoidable issues for yourself and the company."

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Dan Drew

CTO, VP Engineering at Didja Inc

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