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Issues with manager around my performance - How to handle?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community9 months ago

Manager says that I have not been meeting expectations of my role while my teammates do not agree with his comments.

He writes email after our 1-1 meeting every week with not meeting expectations claiming that I did not deliver on time while another staff engineer on the team told me 1-1 that I have set the example for others in the team with my deliverable.

I have met 1-1 with other senior engineers in the team and all of them have told me that I am clearly meeting the expectation of the role but my manager always seems dissatisfied with what ever task I do. Am I being managed out?

This manager joined the team 6 months ago. The manager who hired me left the company.

What should I do?

Current level - SDE II

Total comp - 240K

1.5K
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Discussion

(9 comments)
  • 16
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    9 months ago

    Hey, I'm really sorry to hear this. This is a bad situation, but I do believe you have the pieces to turn it around.

    Make Expectations Crystal Clear

    It seems like you and your manager are in a more reactive state:

    1. You ship a task.
    2. After the task is entirely shipped, your manager finally tells you that you were too slow.

    Try to invert it so that your manager provides that velocity feedback before you do any work on any task. It can be as simple as putting a due-date on every task you get. I also recommend creating a "gradient" of due-dates instead of just one. Have the following:

    • A date that exceeds expectations because hitting it means you turned in the work early and crushed it
    • A date that meets expectations (doing okay, nothing too special here)
    • A date that really misses expectations (avoid at all costs)

    I also get the feeling that there's more to this than velocity: At SDE II, the behavior is important as well. I recommend checking out this other discussion around creating a rock-solid expectations plan with your EM (it's about promotion, but the same concepts apply): "How to drive my promotion discussion with my new manager?"

    Pull Together A Coalition To Vouch For You

    It's great that you have a staff engineer who believes in you. In general, a staff engineer is regarded to be of equal stature to an engineering manager. I recommend doing the following:

    • Getting that staff engineer's feedback in writing (it can be as simple as a screenshot of a Slack convo)
    • "Take the temperature" of other engineers on your team, especially senior/staff engineers. See what they think about you:
      • If they agree with your manager and provide clear feedback to improve, now you have an improvement plan.
      • If they all agree with the staff engineer and think you're great, your case strengthens.
    • If most to all of this feedback from your teammates is good, compile it and share it with your manager in your next 1 on 1 (do it politely of course, try not to seem defensive). Genuinely ask what the delta is between what your manager thinks of you and what your teammates think - What can you do to make these perceptions align? Your goal is to figure out how to get better, not prove your manager wrong (at least initially).

    Here's an incredibly thorough discussion that goes through this in more detail: "My manager and I don't see eye-to-eye. How can I improve this relationship?"

  • 17
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    9 months ago

    Is a team switch possible? How hard would it be, and are there other teams where you would know your teammates or manager? Honestly, if your manager is unsupportive, it's often easier to simply remove yourself from the situation (especially if you've tried to repair the relationship several times already).

    I also really like Alex's answer -- can you agree on expectations with your manager before you get too deep into your work?

    p.s. we're not Blind, so no need to share your TC unless you really want to 😇 we'll help you regardless!

  • 10
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    Anonymous User [OP]
    Taro Community
    9 months ago

    @alex: Thank you for your response. That is good suggestion, but I am unsure whether I have enough time now to remedy the situation. My company's year-end performance focal review is close (in the next two months) and assuming that he has already send the feedback for last year, should I spend the time and effort in looking for a new position outside the company (given that I am on visa) or trying to improve the current situation?

    Moreover, if they put me on PIP should I consider fighting PIP or just gracefully exiting before completing the PIP? The visa situation makes it tricky for me to make a decision.

    On - "Take the temperature" of other engineers on your team, especially senior/staff engineers. See what they think about you"

    I have already spoken 1-1 with other Senior Staff and Senior engineers and they all agree that the feedback that he has given is unfair.

    @rahul: I added role and TC so that it helps anyone to better understand my role expectations and level and respond to the question. I will keep that in mind for further questions.

  • 7
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    Anonymous User [OP]
    Taro Community
    9 months ago

    Also, I would like to thank both of you(@alex & @rahul) for creating this community. This is super helpful for any questions work-related and in decision-making.

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

    Also, I would like to thank both of you(@alex & @rahul) for creating this community.

    Really appreciate the kind words - Happy to help! 😊

    ...should I spend the time and effort in looking for a new position outside the company (given that I am on visa) or trying to improve the current situation?

    I think you can do both concurrently (especially as they live in separate realms of time):

    • During work: Try to take this final stand and follow the advice from my first response (have an honest conversation with your manager, bring together a coalition, maybe even have a meeting between your manager/you/staff engineer ally).
    • After work: Spend at least 15-30 minutes per day cleaning up your LinkedIn profile, polishing your resume, responding any recruiter messages you luckily have, and applying for some roles. No need to go full LeetCode grind machine yet - Just put out some initial feelers.

    Moreover, if they put me on PIP should I consider fighting PIP or just gracefully exiting before completing the PIP? The visa situation makes it tricky for me to make a decision.

    Given the SDE 2 and the TC, I assume you work at Amazon. Amazon PIPs are notoriously brutal. I recommend leaving, but given your visa, you might need to strike a halfway point. Stay employed throughout the entire PIP, but don't seriously try to complete it. Time-box your work to 6-8 hours a day and divert remaining time towards finding a new opportunity.

    Additionally, here's a couple good resources we have around PIP:

  • 1
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    Anonymous User [OP]
    Taro Community
    9 months ago

    @Alex: I do not work at Amazon. I work at tier 3 fintech :)

  • 4
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    9 months ago

    Ah, that's pretty good TC for an SDE 2 then 😁

  • 1
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    Anonymous User [OP]
    Taro Community
    9 months ago

    Is it recommended to involve HR if there is misalignment in the feedback between manager vs senior/staff and if I feel that I am being thrown under the bus at year end?

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

    Is it recommended to involve HR if there is misalignment in the feedback between manager vs senior/staff and if I feel that I am being thrown under the bus at year end?

    Strong no. HR is there to protect the company, not you. They're also not equipped to handle a dispute over engineer performance - They aren't technical. Roping in HR has a 90%+ chance of just making the situation messier.

    Another route to try if things get dire is to go to your skip if you have a decent to good relationship with them. That will have a much better success chance than going to HR (though it will still be slim most likely).