It’s incredibly difficult to hire good engineers. When people do perform badly, it’s always best to try and reverse the situation, rather than let them go without trying to help them. However sometimes it’s just not possible to manage poor performers.
We had a situation with a poor performer. We were receiving feedback from the team that there were communication issues and throughput of work had slowed.
I sat down with this individual and his line manager, to explain the situation, the behaviours and the impact to the team.
In this case, the situation was as described, the behaviours were tone of voice and getting stuck down rabbit holes. The impact on the team was that he was alienating himself from the team, and work was taking longer so the teammates were getting frustrated. We wanted to understand what he thought was the cause of this, and offer any support that we could.In
They explained that they were going through a tough time, a breakup and this was impacting their work. We offered to support them through it, but also explained that we wanted to see some improvements. We outlined some changes we wanted to see, and setup regular checkins to monitor the situation more closely.
Although we did see some improvement, this individual fell back into poor performance again. Unfortunately this happened too many times over a period of roughly 3 months.
It’s never easy to have to let people go. After such a long period of trying to we sat down with them and explained that we’d tried to work with them to get things back on track. However they did not improve.
I asked them what they would do in my position and to have a think about whether this was the right role for them.
In the end, they decided that this wasn’t the right role for them and actually decided to go for a career change, moving into a radio technician.
Although it was a long process, it mean that we could part ways on amicable terms. At the time this was an important strategical decision for the business.
Retrospect and Learning
In hindsight, I wouldn’t want to drag this process out for as long. It’s unfair on both the individual, the team and ultimately the business.