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Performance Improvement Plan Q&A and Videos

About Performance Improvement Plan

A performance improvement plan, also known as a PIP, provides an employee with low performance an opportunity to improve their performance by following an actionable plan.

Bouncing Back After Termination. What can I do to move forward?

Entry-Level Software Engineer at Unemployed profile pic
Entry-Level Software Engineer at Unemployed

Hello, I just wanted to get some advice last month I was terminated from my job after being placed on PIP/probation. When I first joined the company I had successfully completed training in React but was put on the team that didn’t use it. When the first review cycle came one of my teammates described my learning as flat and my technical skills as inadequate. There was even a time when I was ignored and tasks were passed over and one where I couldn’t come up with a plan. The junior who they assigned it afterward had the same issue couldn’t find and also didn’t need to come up with a plan but was allowed to work on it. Also, I was given noncoding tasks for a time or generic unit test tickets for functions that didn’t need it.

Eventually, I and the other junior got a task that was basic and miscommunication led to a delay and they complained about us both because of how it took. Then the assignment that sealed my fate was I had to implement a microservice and node API with a unit test in 2 weeks. There was a reference code but we couldn’t ask for help from senior developers. When my manager saw my progress he PIP'ed me and then when saw the demo he was underwhelmed and said I couldn't justify the code had a poor understanding of restful API concepts and my test didn’t meet functional requirements he wrote up the paper to basically have me fired.

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Risk of PIP!!! Performance Review: Sometimes Meets Expectations x2.

Mid-Level Software Engineer at TikTok profile pic
Mid-Level Software Engineer at TikTok

My Role is Senior SRE

I received my second performance review and it came in at a -M which means Sometimes meets expectations. This is my first year in big tech and I'm at a loss for words. I worked 12-hour days since I started. The first 6 months I just winged it and did not realize how strategic and crucial these performance reviews were.

So for my second 6 months, I aligned with my team lead and manager. I executed every project they asked me to and even created some projects to help the entire team. I was led to believe I was doing good work. However, this Tuesday I received the news that my rating is again a -M. They said that they did not put me on a PIP because they saw improvement from the last PR.

They told me the reason was that I am one of 3 Sr. Engineers and that two of them are performing more than I am. Since we are rated on a curve I am last. 9 out of my 10, 360 reviews were positive and an M or above. I have a follow-up meeting next week with my manager to discuss my improvement plan. I also set up a call with my manager's manager for a coaching/mentorship call.
Here are my questions.

  • I feel like my manager sees others as more proficient than me. Even though other colleagues tell me I am better than the other senior engineers how can I break out of this perception my manager has?
  • How can I avoid a PIP? Our next performance review is in 2-3 months due to some changes they made in the yearly PR schedule. I don't think I can make enough changes during that time.
  • What should my approach be towards my manager and his manager?
    • I want to be humble but also direct.
    • I feel I am not being treated fairly but I also think the system may be designed this way. I don't want to appear like I am a victim either.
  • I fear that I will get a PIP due to my manager's subjective opinion I will lose my job, my apartment, and I will have lost the last 2 years of working myself to the bone. How can I escape being in this state of survival?
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I have been put in PIP. What should I do?

Site Reliability Engineer [L4] at Taro Community profile pic
Site Reliability Engineer [L4] at Taro Community

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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How to handle negative surprise feedback?

Anonymous User at Taro Community profile pic
Anonymous User at Taro Community

I've been working as a Sr Fullstack Engineer for 2 years at a Series B startup. I've never received negative feedback, actually, I thought everything was fine until last week. My manager told me that I need to improve my Problem-Solving skills and ask better questions, she kind of implies that I'm a candidate for starting a PiP.

I agree that I struggled in the last 2 months (they switched me to a new project where I'm the only engineer and my manager only has 20% of her time for me), it's been super challenging but I'm trying to make it work. That means that I'm putting in more hours than I should frequently, and I'm starting to feel demotivated and depressed.

Honestly, this feedback took me by surprise, as no one told me anything about my performance during the last two months, I thought that even when I was struggling, they were fine with it because it's a new project and I'm basically on my own and no one is there that I can reach out to for help.

  • I have ~6 years of experience and I come from a non-traditional background.
  • Her feedback is vague, she says that I need to improve my backend skills, but she hasn't told me exactly what's lacking. "backend" is a big word.
  • My manager told me that I should think about how to get better and that is on me to come up with an improvement plan. This feels wrong to me, isn't that her job as a manager? how can I create a plan for myself when I don't know what she wants to see from me?

How can I better navigate this? Should I start looking for a new job? I like my job and it would be sad to leave.

What do you think?


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Success story after PIP?

Entry-Level Software Engineer at Series E Startup profile pic
Entry-Level Software Engineer at Series E Startup

I transitioned into a backend engineering role 1 year ago after working as a data analyst for 3 years. The jump was definitely big to me, as I had to learn a lot of new concepts (OOP, clean code, architecture, devops etc). The transition was done through internal hiring where they did a live coding interview (2 easy leetcodes), a live system design interview, and motivational interview. I passed all of those and ended up in a high-paced team.

The team was severely understaffed. The manager was managing 3 teams that decreased from 20+ people to <10 people and there was hiring freeze. There was no proper onboarding and all the seniors were too busy with tasks to help me properly. I did my best to read the documentations and set up 1-1s with more senior engineers from other teams that could help me. I finished several projects although carried over some to the next half.

My 1st performance review was "meet expectations". However, before my 2nd performance review, there was a manager change and this manager gave me "partially meet expectations" and then said that I would be put on PIP program. When I asked the manager what the program would be like and how many people completed this successfully, he/she couldn't give a definitive answer and said that HR would be in touch me.

I decided to quit and spend time to learn more fundamental concepts and take up a freelance project. It's been 2 months since then. Right now I feel like I'm learning a lot in these 2 months compared to my 1 year in that company, but I can't help but feeling very anxious with all these layoffs and the incoming tech winter. I don't have any self-confidence within myself that I would get any decent job, especially after getting an incoming a PIP, I'm just worried that when I'm interviewing at my next job, the career gap in my resume and the past potential PIP would deter me from getting any jobs. I'm also at loss on how to avoid potential PIPs in the future. Any advice to help me? Thank you very much.

Edit: For more context, I didn't come from a CS background (I studied Mathematics). My team was not a revenue generator. The company was especially hit really hard during covid and had 2 big layoffs. When I left, there are many products that are being shut down and a couple of senior-level product managers left as well without being replaced due to hiring freeze. During the talk of my PIP, the manager brought up his/her expectations on me that was 1 level (mid-level) above my current level (junior-level).

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