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PIP & Disability leave

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Staff Software Engineer at Taro Communitya month ago

Hello

TLDR: I started a new job in September last year, and within three months, I was placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) with impossible tasks to be completed within four weeks, essentially setting me up for dismissal. Two months prior, I had been seeing a doctor for health issues, and they advised that the PIP would likely worsen my condition. The doctor recommended taking Short Term Disability leave to focus on my health. The tasks I was assigned for the PIP were eventually completed by two engineers (1 staff and 1 Sr) over four months. My Short Term Disability leave ends soon, and I'm unsure whether to return to my old job.

Question for this community:

  1. Is it a good idea to return to the same job after being put on a PIP and taking medical leave? (HR informed me that the old PIP would not be in effect upon my return from Short Term Disability leave. However, I'm unclear on how this process works).
  2. I want to change teams upon my return; is this something I can negotiate with HR before trying to go back?
  3. I like the company and its culture but ended up in the wrong team with the wrong manager. Is there a way I can remain employed at this company but join a different team and manager?

More Context: My manager was present during the hiring interview, where I clearly expressed my desire to move away from a particular tech stack. I was highly rated in the interview and received a generous offer, which I accepted. However, once hired, the manager assigned me to a project in the same area I wanted to avoid. Given it was a high-priority project and my first assignment, I reluctantly accepted. 1 month into the job, I faced a personal emergency requiring a few days off. I shared the reason with my manager, who seemed understanding at first. After that, the manager's behavior changed drastically. They began assigning more work, constantly switching me between multiple issues and projects, and bullying me in meetings. Despite working overtime (12-14 hours/day) to meet expectations, their attitude worsened. This was the worst manager I've encountered in my 14-year career who had unreasonable expectations as far as ramping up on the projects is concerned and it almost seems like I was hired to be fired in this situation. Note: This is not at Amazon.

Any other pointers would be appreciated. Please help.

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Discussion

(2 comments)
  • 1
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    Really sorry to hear this - This sounds so terrible... It is crazy to me that a company would squander a Staff Engineer like this. To make things easier, here's a tldr; - Use what's remaining of your leave to look for a new job.

    Overall, this situation looks incredibly bad and I honestly don't think it's salvageable. I'll still go through the individual points.

    Is it a good idea to return to the same job after being put on a PIP and taking medical leave?

    No. I can't see an organization go from throwing you under the bus so hard to then being nice and accommodating.

    I want to change teams upon my return; is this something I can negotiate with HR before trying to go back?

    You can try, but it almost certainly won't work. Looping in HR is a recipe for disaster 99% of the time. Their goal is to protect the overall company, not the individual people working within it (well, unless you're a VP/C-Suite or something). I have heard way too many sad stories of friends being gaslit after going to HR. 😢

    Is there a way I can remain employed at this company but join a different team and manager?

    The only path you have is to negotiate a move in secret. If there's an engineering manager/director in another part of the company that you're on good terms with (presumably with the tech stack you're the best at), then you can try going to them.

    In general though, it is hard for people labeled as low-performers to switch. Companies prefer to play it safe by assuming the labels are accurate and not allowing the low-performance to "spread" to another team. Meta didn't allow a team switch if you didn't get Meets All Expectations or higher in the past 2 halves. This sucks as your low performance is often due to the team you're on, but that's how it is.

    To help with your job search, you can start with this: [Course] Ace Your Tech Interview And Get A Job As A Software Engineer

  • 0
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a month ago

    If you were to join a different company, do you feel confident you'd end up at a similar level (Staff Eng) and compensation?

    If the answer is yes, I'd absolutely start to look for another job. There is baggage associated with a PIP, and it'll be stressful to navigate the situation. And since you'd get a comparable package with (hopefully) a much better manager, your career will do much better.

    However, if you're going to see a significant drop in compensation (30%+) or you only get Senior offers, then I'd explore the options at your current company a bit more.

    • I would backchannel good teams or managers within the company first.
    • Once you have confirmation from another team that they want you, then I'd approach the current manager and tell them about the team and you think it could be a better fit.
    • Have the new manager advocate for you -- they'll be much more effective at keeping you in the company compared to HR.