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I have been put in PIP. What should I do?

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Site Reliability Engineer [L4] at Taro Community6 months ago

There have been multiple instances since I joined last October with my manager where in, I felt I didn't fit in. I had lots of excitement when I joined in, but since the 1st month, with interactions I have had with him everything went downhill.

I realised that I don't work until there's a fire/my life depends on it (serious deadline). I am literally the pro definition of procrastinator. I have been this person for so many years. Until things get serious, I have never had self motivation to do the hard things. When I want to do hard things, I always have procrastinated, when deadline comes, I try to find existing solutions, only when there's nothing that exists but I have to think and create one and I believe I can do it, I do it!

These things make me worry whether I have the ability to take anything up in this world. When items/issues are discussed during work, others pitch in and talk, and I just listen, and think, how am I not able to come up with these stuffs or be proactive in solving problems.

Is tech not for me?

What should I do now? My PIP is for 1 month. I do think I can survive PIP as this is exactly the fire thing I was talking about above. But I don't think I can provide the consistency they ask for! I am preparing for backend since I found my work in DevOps is mostly Ops and I like learning things than executing. I am not ready for job change for primary reasons like -

  1. Don't know what job should I take?
  2. Not ready to take DevOps roles with current knowledge I have
  3. Not ready yet to clear backend interviews

Has anyone else ever been in my shoes? Not in PIP terms, but if they can relate to the procrastination bit / self motivation. What did you do to solve the problem?

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(20 comments)
  • 15
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    Senior Software Engineer [IC3] at Nvidia
    6 months ago

    You need a strong, dependable support system. I would strongly recommend a therapist to work through these issues. You can do some work yourself with reading self-improvement content and following motivational + growth channels, but a good therapist can be instrumental in figuring out what you want, why you behave in the ways you do, and how you get to be the person you want to be. There may even be some mental health stuff to work through there.

    I think there's a lot of generic advice for procrastination and motivation (e.g. creating fake deadlines, checking in with your manager more often with smaller goals, etc.), but I really think a therapist is where to start here. They can tailor advice for you, iterate quickly, and provide accountability for you.

  • 2
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    Site Reliability Engineer [L4] [OP]
    Taro Community
    6 months ago

    Tried therapy before, hasn't worked for me

  • 23
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    Tech Lead, Manager at Google
    6 months ago

    I can empathize with your "don't work until there's a fire/my life depends on it". I used to do the same - especially when I was at college, where would literally wait until the night before to finish my assignments and/or study for exams. I used to think I was cool because I could get away with it - but at some point it all caught up w/ me and I nearly failed out of college.

    Your situation might be different, but one question to ask yourself is "why do I keep doing this?" For me, I realized that I had internalized this behavior when I was younger in high school, since back then getting work done last minute AND getting a good grade was considered cool. I felt I could "cheat" the system and felt smarter than all the other kids who worked so diligently just to get a B. So it really felt good doing it, and it was at least comforting when I did it even when the strategy stopped working later.

    I didn't really change until I knew deep down that I hated this version of me. That it wasn't who I wanted to be. I think my biggest "advice" for you is actually to figure out with yourself whether you actually want to change your behavior, and by extension, your identity. None of the external structures and support systems can help you until you make that decision for yourself.

    Having said that, if there's one thing I could've helped myself in my own journey as I strived to change back then, it's that I wish I had more structure and support system around me. You don't have to do all of this using sheer willpower and determination. Still, I wouldn't stress as much about what's happening around you as much as what's happening inside of you. If you are able to set your intention on changing who you are in this aspect, other things generally follow.

  • 3
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    Site Reliability Engineer [L4] [OP]
    Taro Community
    6 months ago

    Intentions are there. They are realised every single day. But current habits overpower it. How did you overcome your issues? What did you follow through? Would definitely like to know more about this

  • 11
    Profile picture
    6 months ago

    If given one task at work, I find it very hard to succeed (difficult to sustain interest). I cant do things linearly, I am horrible at planning and spacing out work. Those are kinda essential and expected while working in a team. One thing that helps is to be aware of these limitations and set realistic goals. Don't let your manager ask about it, its better to get an idea of the expectations from them. The self work part of this is very personal.

    Having a side project might help. Sometimes trying to be a leader in the team could be very up lifting. You will have to find the part/piece of tech that you can enjoy a lot. There is space for us in tech. Go for devops if its your thing.

    In my case I think if use my skills and get a paycheck to help my family, itis a huge motivator. Give yourself the time and grace to work on yourself, that will help you at any job.

    Hope this helps.

  • 26
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    6 months ago

    Similar to Kuan, I procrastinated a ton back in school. I continue to procrastinate to this day, but it's not nearly as bad as it was before. So what changed?

    I started living far more for others.

    Of course, I still care a lot about myself (self-care is extremely important!). However (and it's hard to describe), it was hard to care about my own success sometimes and hence dangerously procrastinate. This was due to a mix of the following:

    1. Lack of confidence and conviction in self-worth
    2. Some level of arrogance that I could totally finish this 2 week assignment in just 1 day before the deadline
    3. Diminishing returns on happiness when accomplishing tasks (I have always lived well within my means and after a few years of working, money wasn't a burning problem at all anymore)

    So how did I "solve" this problem?

    1. I got married - My wife is far and away my #1 priority. If she needs me to do something, I'll do it. Supporting her and making her happy makes me happy, so this is a dead obvious prioritization my caveman brain will make.
    2. I surrounded myself with amazing people at work - This is why I tell people again and again and again to pick a team that's deeply supportive and is always willing to go to bat for you (so you will want to go to bat for them!). If it comes down between a toxic team at a FAANG company and a super-friendly team of homies at a startup, I'll take the startup team any day of the week, even if it pays 50% less. Find a team where you strive to do incredible work not because you care about the promotion or looking good in performance review but simply because you don't want to let down the wonderful people around you. Once you find that team, your career will be a rocket ship 🚀

    Now I can't write a guide on how to get married (I would need to found an entirely separate company for that), but I do have a lot resources on how to find good people and build relationships with them:

    It's really hard to cure procrastination with productivity tactics and tricks. The solution is usually more fundamental around the passion you have for the work you're procrastinating (you probably don't have much) and the surrounding motivations (there's probably not enough to make you really care). So expanding on #2, you might want to do some soul searching on what kind of work excites you and which kind of company you want to work for (which may lead to you switching stacks/companies). Here's another good video around that: How To Discover Your Work Passions And Hatreds

    However, sometimes the procrastination can be a symptom of burnout and the solution is to simply take a long break (1 month+). I've seen that work as well.

  • 5
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    Site Reliability Engineer [L4] [OP]
    Taro Community
    6 months ago

    Thanks for the input Alex. I'll come back on this. I recently had 2 weeks off, but it still didn't help.

    I was pretty new at this field 3 yrs back. I was the same person, when I look back and see, I used to think of quitting almost everyday due to the work, but I continued and persisted cause the Manager there was someone I believed in and that I wanted to prove to everyone that I can do it.

    I still need to figure out what I want to do, seems a bit difficult to do so. Any tips on exploration when you are 25 yrs of age? Seems a bit late when others are striving to go ahead in their software engineering journey

  • 17
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    Software Engineer at Series B Startup
    6 months ago

    Whenever I find myself procrastinating on something I really need to do I ask myself, 'What the heck would you rather be doing anyway?'. More often than not, my answer is extremely lame (such as 'ummmm order takeout and go lie in bed') or I cannot find one. If I do have an answer, I then ask myself, 'What are the benefits of doing that [other thing] right now vs this?' and again, I usually fail to come up with a great argument. And usually, my pathetic logic just points to an endless cycle of delaying tactics (insert Spiderman meme here). A small amount of self-interrogation has helped me a lot in defeating the procrastination dragon.

    Over the years, I have learned that putting off and avoiding priorities takes a lot more effort and energy than just overcoming the temporary discomfort of start/doing it. I guess this means we also need to ask ourselves what is our 'priority' at all. Maybe we are distracted by something rather significant, something unresolved and completely unrelated to work (therapy is mentioned above and that is one of the many ways in unraveling this), so it is contaminating other crucial areas of our life (speaking from experience). As aforementioned, developing habits is the way, waiting to feel motivated or the willpower to arrive is a myth (IMO).

  • 3
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    Site Reliability Engineer [L4] [OP]
    Taro Community
    6 months ago

    Thanks Grace, I'll try this out

  • 16
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    Entry-Level Software Engineer at None
    6 months ago

    I’ve been like this all my life and at some point I just thought I wasn’t one of those ‘smart’ peeps. This belief led me to give up on myself until 2020, when I actively sought help and delved into understanding myself. As a network engineer, despite my efforts, I was just never motivated. I aimed to complete tasks and just leave, unintentionally missing meetings and making multiple mistakes. Despite my desire to excel, I found myself on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) and subsequently terminated—twice in two years.

    Undeterred, I committed to turning my life around. Following my second termination, I felt a sense of shame and couldn’t even tell anyone but was determined not to let it define my story. Uncertain about what assistance I needed, I began by cataloging my shortcomings at previous jobs and in general. Reflection revealed I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing, prompting a shift to software engineering ( this happened very randomly). I did a tryout and realized I was spending so much time on it because I genuinely enjoyed it with some days extending beyond 13 hours. Recognizing I was on the right path, I sought ways to improve, delving into activities previously overlooked, like reading.

    This transformative period included therapy and then a psychologist which then led to an assessment that led to an ADHD diagnosis as well. This newfound awareness allowed me to seek targeted assistance, making sense of past struggles like losing track of time, making silly mistakes, studying and forgetting, inability to focus on one thing and easily losing interest. All these enabled me have a fresh start in learning by learning how to learn. I adopted strategies, turning tasks into games and also making use of note-taking and the idea of creating a ‘second brain’. I was finally able to help myself.

    Acceptance of my need for extra time and effort changed everything. I stopped the comparisons with others, understanding we operate on different timelines and also understanding that I am a work in progress.

    Learning to be kind to myself, celebrating small victories, and treating mistakes as part of the journey became crucial lessons. I realized the parallels between myself and successful individuals in the field. Regardless of the job losses—two attributed to incompetence and one unfortunate situation totally out of my control—I reframed them as opportunities for self-discovery and improvement. Losing three jobs in three years didn't deter me; instead, it fueled a commitment to understanding my strengths, enjoying the learning process, and pursuing continuous growth.

    Another pivotal lesson learned was the importance of a supportive manager. Recognizing the value of a conducive work environment, I understood the significance of leaving when it doesn't align with personal well-being and career goals.

    While I acknowledge that I'm not yet where I want to be, I strongly believe in myself and my journey and I am committed to doing everything within my power to progress, be successful and find joy in the process.

    Edit: this is my first time sharing this anywhere, so I guess this is also part of my growth. I know better now and my next job will be my first in over 1 year and some of my goals include staying there long term, be promoted, and ultimately be so good at my job that I become the go to person on my team.

    You will get through this 🤗

  • 2
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    Site Reliability Engineer [L4] [OP]
    Taro Community
    6 months ago

    Thanks for sharing this Ebi, I can totally relate to that! Do you think therapy actually helped you in this regard?

  • 5
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    Entry-Level Software Engineer at None
    6 months ago

    Therapy only helped with my past trauma. It helped me unpack and I was able to get to the bottom of some other issues like being extremely introverted, unmotivated and completely anti social.

    I had to do my own research on some things I was doing that I didn’t like and wanted to change but couldn’t. I did tons of research and kept on seeing different people(therapist, psychologist etc) while at it until finally, I saw a post that recommended seeing a psychiatrist.

    I actually also had to research the different jobs they all did to understand better who and how they could help me. Seeing my psychiatrist made the utmost difference. He understood better, he listened and proffered a very different approach (stimulants and cognitive behavioral therapy). He made me go through loads of tests before we got to that point tho.

    Combining my meds with the therapy has been life changing. Now; I have reduced the amount of stimulants I take and sometimes don’t even take stimulants at all in a month because of all the other ways I have also learned to handle things.

    Note: All these took about 2 years altogether before I finally found help that fit. However, if you know what exactly your needs are, and what to look for, you might be able to get there in a much lesser time.

    I however, wouldn’t advise you go on stimulants.

    As much as they help, there isn’t much on the internet about the long term effect on your brain. I’m trying to completely get off it and intensify on my cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s a much safer option overall. Also, stimulant doses have to be increased every time because your body starts to get used to it. Also, when I’m on it, I have to continuously check my blood pressure, heart beat etc. it affects everything ( I’m generally healthy but my Dr makes me check to be on the safe side). To even get on stimulants, I had to do blood tests, brain activity test, heart rate test etc because of how Powerful it is. They have to make sure your body can handle it.

    Other alternatives that gives me the same stimulation as a stimulant are; coffee and energy drinks. I also don’t take them daily. That way, my body doesn’t get too used to it and it works.

    I hope this helps in giving you some clarity. If you need any further help, don’t hesitate to reach out on slack.

  • 9
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    Entry-Level Software Engineer at None
    6 months ago

    On the other end, learning how to properly manage your time, tasks, and day is something you should look into.

    Read books like Atomic habits. I mean, it wont completely stop you from procrastinating but It’ll help you understand things better like how to approach making a change from the root and not just the surface and how to turn that change into a daily habit. How to trick your brain into thinking something is more fun than it actually is and more.

    Another gem to consider is "THE 12-WEEK YEAR". This book unveils strategies to streamline your execution cycle by crafting short and long-term goals, breaking them into actionable steps. The clarity gained makes productivity a breeze. You can find a helpful Notion template for implementing the 12-week year idea here: https://chambray-fenugreek-23a.notion.site/12-WEEK-YEAR-FREE-template-518711ecd1a74ff98b448c4b4478a6e4

    There was an event with a company Taro partners with called Shimmer that helps you understand your strengths, prioritize better, communicate better, build better habits etc. You can also grab a discount code on Taro's perks page.

    Explore Taro's various workshops and meetups targeting these challenges. Follow accounts focused on self-help, ADHD, and related topics for a constant stream of helpful tips.

    Remember, take it one day at a time. Be kind to yourself, put in the effort, brace yourself for a challenging yet beautiful transformation, and you'll emerge stronger.

  • 4
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    Site Reliability Engineer [L4] [OP]
    Taro Community
    6 months ago

    Thank you🙌

  • 8
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    6 months ago

    Any tips on exploration when you are 25 yrs of age? Seems a bit late when others are striving to go ahead in their software engineering journey

    Trust me, 25 years old is not too late to do some soul-searching, haha. I know engineers in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s who are trying to figure out what to do!

    When it comes to finding work you truly love, it really is something that is much better late than never - Don't just give up on it because you feel "too old" or "too late". The process also doesn't really vary much based on age; just do this:

    1. Try a bunch of stuff
    2. Keep doing #1 until you find something that resonates with you

    When it comes to #1, it will generally come from a mix of the following:

    1. Side projects
    2. Asking your manager for different work
    3. Going through your network for inspiration

    I recommend going through this video as well: How To Find Your Path Among The Countless Paths In Tech

  • 3
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    Site Reliability Engineer [L4] [OP]
    Taro Community
    6 months ago

    I agree Alex. But, what if I ain't sure about tech? Just because I did my bachelor's in Computers doesn't mean I should stay in tech/engg role, right?

    With this in mind, how do you suggest one navigates?

    These are the following threats for me -

    1. Let's say I wanna try some other stream in tech, like move from SRE to Backend/development. I am now an L4(pay for L4 is more than fresher(L3)). Does it make sense to earn less to see if that's the field I resonate most with?
    2. Let's say I wanna explore different fields, tech, non-tech etc, whatever I find curious about. Should I pursue it now? I mean, I know I should've done internships on it, but I was naive back then. How should I go about on this?
    3. How do I cope up with the thing that maybe exploration is gonna take year or 2 down the line, and by then my peers/friends would be high up in corporate ladder (earning way more). Not that it's wrong, but it feels strange for me that on some level everyone is moving ahead
  • 5
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    6 months ago

    But, what if I ain't sure about tech? Just because I did my bachelor's in Computers doesn't mean I should stay in tech/engg role, right?

    Of course not, do whatever makes you happy!

    Let's say I wanna try some other stream in tech, like move from SRE to Backend/development. I am now an L4(pay for L4 is more than fresher(L3)). Does it make sense to earn less to see if that's the field I resonate most with?

    Yep! When it comes to career, you have to think long-term:

    • Passion for your craft lets you work with more energy over a longer period of time, eventually getting you to career peaks most others can't achieve
    • Not having passion but working in a more "pragmatic" field for short-term $$$ looks good initially, but you eventually fall behind due to burnout

    Let's say I wanna explore different fields, tech, non-tech etc, whatever I find curious about. Should I pursue it now? I mean, I know I should've done internships on it, but I was naive back then. How should I go about on this?

    The earlier the better as you have more to lose when you're older and further in career.

    How do I cope up with the thing that maybe exploration is gonna take year or 2 down the line, and by then my peers/friends would be high up in corporate ladder (earning way more). Not that it's wrong, but it feels strange for me that on some level everyone is moving ahead

    Understand that it's literally not strange at all. If tech was this overly traditional place where your level and pay were strictly a linear mathematical function of your years of experience, it would suck to work in and I wouldn't be in it.

    There are always going to be people far, far ahead of you in the tech industry. That's how it is in a space that pays so well and innovates so quickly. It's like accepting that the sky is blue.

    I recommend going through this very similar discussion about it: "How do I not compare myself to others in my career?"

  • 1
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    Site Reliability Engineer [L4] [OP]
    Taro Community
    6 months ago
  • 6
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    6 months ago

    @Rahul, @Alex, Doesn't your post seem to contradict whatever was posted above? https://www.linkedin.com/posts/rpandey1234_ill-get-some-pushback-for-saying-this-but-activity-7122954710294138880-F2U6/

    Believe it or not, Rahul and I are actually separate people 😛

    I actually don't fully agree with that post, especially in this economy. Of course, if you can get a FAANG offer that's 2x your current pay and doesn't brutally down-level you, you should probably take it. But nobody is getting that offer right now.

    Careers are long and pay/level is a lagging indicator. If you're at a seed stage startup, paid comfortably, have great teammates who you love, and are learning a lot, you should probably stay there for 1-2 years to soak up the learning (again, especially in this economy). You can always go somewhere of a higher "status" later.

    These 2 resources cover both sides of the coin:

  • 8
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    6 months ago

    The beauty of Taro is that you get credible advice from different people. Not all the advice will agree with each other -- up to you to figure out what is applicable to your situation 😇

    Here's what I believe: working on something you enjoy ("passion") is a privilege that is earned once you've taken care of the necessities.

    The amount of salary and savings that gives you permission to pursue a lower-paying job, or no job at all, will depend on you.

    Another nuance to the answer is the concept of a one-way door vs two-way door. It sounds like you have been working as an SRE for a while. If you follow your curiosity and it doesn't work out, you can likely get another SRE job. That's a two-way door, which means you can take on more risk!