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An Amicable Firing

Underperformance
Firing
Career Path
Feedback
Internal Communication
Managing Expectations

16 May, 2018

Edwin Chau talks about how he was able to fire someone in a really amicable way, through good communication.

Problem

One of my engineers hadn't been performing well for a while, so I started out by giving her a lot of feedback, discussing her issues in one-on-one's, and giving her specific tasks to work on. However, she still wasn't working to the standard expected.

Actions taken

Because of this, we put together a formal performance improvement plan. Within the plan were areas of improvement and three or four actionable goals for each area. We also included how we would measure improvements and progress. I was working both as her manager and her mentor and was meeting with her for three to four hours each week to manage her career and to coach her in meeting her goals. By the end of the performance improvement plan, she had made significant improvements. However, I communicated to her that I wanted to see sustained improvements. This didn't happen, so I continued to give her feedback directly and explicitly, and I increased the urgency of that feedback. We also came away with a lot of learnings. She was a college grad who had joined a team with a lot of very senior engineers and originally, she was reporting to a V.P. of engineering, rather than me, and he had had fewer day-to-day interactions with her. In addition, when we onboarded her we gave her discreet tasks to do by herself, which meant she didn't have a chance to get onboarded with the team. However, even after correcting for these issues, her effort dropped.

Lessons learned

Ultimately, we came to the realization that the role she was in was not the best fit for her and because of this I thought it was unfair to put her on another performance plan. We all knew it was a good outcome when I communicated with this person that she should be let go and the reason why and she was completely understanding.


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