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How to navigate my manager potentially getting PIP’d and terminated?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community7 months ago

I’m an E5 at a Big Tech company trying to get to E6. As part of performance reviews, my skip level asked me for feedback on my manager:

  • He confessed that he has concerns about my manager’s people management and execution on the team
  • My manager’s EngageMe scores are very low and have not increased in the last 3 quarters
  • My manager has been at this company for a little over a year

Before this, I had 5 managers in 5 months (my current one being the 5th) as we went through a reorg and a lot of leadership departures. I was hired as an E5 and have been at this company for 3+ years. Every time I get a new manager, they say they want to see consistent E5 performance before they’ll give me an E6 opportunity. I feel that this keeps getting reset due to management churn. Are there strategies to mitigate this? For what it's worth, I got Exceeds in the last performance review.

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(2 comments)
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    Outcome-Based Career Coach • Former Head of Engineering
    7 months ago

    My manager has been at this company for a little over a year. Before this, I had 5 managers in 5 months (my current one being the 5th) as we went through a reorg and a lot of leadership departures.

    Zooming out a bit, I think the overall company environment/stability is the primary concern here. I'm not sure a promotion to E6 would be favorable here given the churn at the leadership level.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd try to wait it out at E5 until things stabilize while keeping a close relationship with your skip level that asked for your feedback (this is typically positive and a sign of trust). This is one of those rare instances where you don't have to 'push' for the promotion since there's a high chance you'll get it once the turmoil is over. When things are chaotic, I've seen many organizations try to stabilize things by promoting a consistent performer from within vs. hiring externally (especially since your manager appears to be an external hire from a year ago).

    Staying at E5 also gives you some breathing room to calmly tackle E6 problems gradually rather than being under the gun to solve for what looks like a blazing fire if you're promoted to E6.

    At a tactical level, make sure you thoroughly document your accomplishments and get feedback from others in written form, especially when they may get laid off or voluntarily leave. Having your name as a contributor / author on critical artifacts such as design docs for major projects help as well.

    Feel free to DM me if you want to chat further.

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    CTO at Taro
    6 months ago

    Oof, 5 managers in 5 months is rough - I'm so sorry to hear that. 😢

    Every time I get a new manager, they say they want to see consistent E5 performance before they’ll give me an E6 opportunity. I feel that this keeps getting reset due to management churn.

    That 2nd sentence is 110% true - In order to go from senior to staff, you need continuity:

    • The stability is necessary to deeply understand your organization's problems and solve them at a scale large enough to be E6 scope.
    • The consistent relationship with the same manager is needed as they have to make a super strong case for you to get E6 (E6 generally requires Senior Director/VP-level approval).

    Are there strategies to mitigate this?

    To be 100% honest, the best course of action is probably to leave your organization (i.e. switch to a different Director at least, if not VP). If you think this chaotic culture is company-wide, then you should leave the company. However, I know that this is much easier said than done given economic conditions.

    Tactically, I do have some other pieces of advice:

    1. Create your own scope - Product roadmap work is especially thrashy. If you're able to deliver sufficient impact through scope you created entirely on your own (and therefore have 100% ownership of it), it's much more immune to org chaos. We made a playlist about this here: [Taro Top 10] How To Create Scope As An Engineer
    2. Work on infra - As mentioned before, product work is vulnerable to thrash, especially at Big Tech where the pixels on screen are generally quite optimized. However, projects like adding better logging, improving internal tooling so engineers can test/push code faster, and making apps faster/smoother - These are always useful and clear value-adds for the company.