PIPs and layoffs in big companies

New / Eng LondonGame
Jun 15 37 Comments

I am really curious to understand the concept of performance improvement plans and the stress that it causes to potential victims and the layoffs.

Those of you who have seen people getting PIPed, why do you think it happened to them? Were those people really bad? Or were they stuck with the wrong team/manager? Who is more responsible when something like that happens? How come companies where this is more frequent (I hear Netflix amazon and even Fb), are they not able to identify low performers during the interview process?

Basically, I think anyone that gets into a good company on merit and capability displayed during interview, has the potential to do good work. So I fail to understand why PIPs aren’t a rarity in the industry but more frequent than expected?

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TOP 37 Comments
  • Jet.com GgcE62
    To add on- PIPs exist because the manager wants to start the process of firing the employee (which HR won’t do without documentation to protect the company). If the manager was really interested in improving performance they would meet with you one on one and not bring HR into it.
    Jun 15 1
    • Amazon blindError
      That should have already happened by to time of the PIP. The manager had hopefully run some kind of less formal development plan with feedback on what needs to improve and goals to do so.

      Getting to PIP implies that didn't work.
      Jun 15
  • Google rafaNadal
    An interview process at a major company usually weeds out bad candidates. The process could be broken, but it works a majority of the time.

    I’ve seen extremely smart people PIPd at Microsoft who went on to do great things at Amazon. A lot of the times PIPs happen due to low performance which can result from a multitude of factors like

    - personal problems (family, relationships, health, depression etc)
    - you don’t get the culture or don’t connect with the product and it ends up in some sort of malaise leading you to low performance
    - manager could be bad (they don’t get tech, don’t understand efforts and estimates, have general trust issues and biases)

    What I’ve noticed is, at least till the senior engineering level, any motivated person can work 5-6 hours a day with focus and more than succeed with flying colours. At least at most major companies.
    Jun 15 0
  • Microsoft yesterda
    PIP is banned in Microsoft
    Jun 15 9
    • Amazon blindError
      HR is involved in PIP at Amazon. It's actually a pretty robust process.

      First the manager has to notify HR that there is a problem and describe what coaching steps are being taken to help the person improve. This must result in multiple documented instances of provided feedback on what needs to improve along with time and opportunity to do so. Takes 30 to 90 days to go through this step.

      If that fails then the manager notifies HR to initiate something called "pivot". Pivot gives the employee a chance to choose between improving or taking severance. If they choose to improve there will be a PIP that is reviewed by HR and which the employee can read before making this decision.

      If they choose to leave they get a fairly generous severance.

      If they do the PIP and fail it then they get another choice. They can leave with a modest amount of severance or they can formally appeal. If they appeal then a panel of people in their job function but outside their org will review the PIP and the results and interview both the manager and the employee and then decide whether the PIP was fair and whether the employee beat it.

      If they win the appeal they can transfer to a new team at Amazon (and get 60 days to find one).

      If they lose the appeal they get the minimum severance allowed by law.

      So you get three chance to stay (coaching, PIP, appeal) if you want to fight to the end. If instead you want to leave the severance is highest if you decide that up front and lowest if you fight to the bitter end.
      Jun 15
    • Apple Wapple
      Wow, that’s fascinating, thanks for the overview ^
      Jun 15
    • IBM 叫爸
      If the committee is truly unbiased why does everyone on here is crying about amazons unfair pip and that decision is always in managers favor?
      Jun 15
    • New
      kandahar

      New

      PRE
      Cisco, Amazon
      kandaharmore
      M$’s committee !== Amazon’s committee 🤷🏻‍♀️
      Jun 15
    • Amazon blindError
      IBM, Amazon is very aggressive on getting rid of low performers. We fire about 3000 a year in Seattle, which is a lot, even though it's still only 1 in 20.

      Out of that 3000 it doesn't surprise me that a number of them don't agree that they were low performers (even if they were) and also that some number of them actually did have some bad experience.

      I don't have any direct way to measure, but let's say that bad managers are also 5% just like bad individual contributors. So then 5% of those 3000 people faced some kind of poor management.

      That's still 150 people even though it's only a quarter of a percent.

      I'm surprised there aren't MORE complaints on blind given that you're far more likely to hear from people who are unhappy than from people who are happy.

      And there is some data for that:

      We had a poll previously in the Amazon channel asking if people were on a performance plan. By policy at Amazon it's 10% who are being coached for performance, it's a known number.

      Yet well over 20% on blind said the were.

      What's that mean? Something that isn't really unexpected at all: people who are receiving feedback that they have a performance problem are more than twice as likely to be on blind as people who are not.
      Jun 15
  • Slalom Consulting Samms
    Hey OP and Jet- I have managed and counseled people out. Pip’s are never fun. No matter the size of firm or company. Authentic and open leaders make or will make efforts to help people perform. Key of managing anyone is to understand their operating style, core strengths and problem solving skills. Some of those may or not may not come through in all interviews given templatic approach of interviewing. Not every great interviewer can be a rockstar and viceversa. Coming to concrete example. PiP is supposed to help improve or manage someone out elegantly if they are not cutting it. Yes it is a cover your ass exercise for companies!! Doesn’t matter Amazon or FB or j&j or a start up. More importantly if someone is on a pip though they perform well it is a broken thread of motivation. If any of us are on a pip will we have the same drive to go back to work at same place. Food for thought? Happy to talk directly. DM if you need help
    Jun 15 0
  • Amazon blindError
    Well. They ARE pretty rare. At companies like Amazon that do this aggressively you're talking about only 1 person in 10 getting coaching for a performance issue and only half of those end up leaving.

    So that is about 1 in 20 that are leaving for performance reasons. Our interview process looks to be around 95% right.

    Isn't that pretty good?
    Jun 15 4
    • IBM 叫爸
      Lies
      Jun 15
    • Amazon blindError
      Those numbers are both the historical averages and the goal. 1 in 10 into coaching of which half do improve and stay at the company.

      So that means 90% were outright good hires and 95% were good hires with the application of some coaching to get them on track.

      95% is pretty good in my opinion.
      Jun 15
    • IBM 叫爸
      Given the amount of post on here about amazon id say its more than 1 in 10
      Jun 15
    • Amazon blindError
      It's not. I've seen the data. It's roughly 1 in 20. You may be unaware of how many people Amazon employs. 1 in 20 is about 3000 per year in Seattle alone.
      Jun 15
  • American Express D.BCooper
    I got PIP'd and lived. It was mostly communication issues. Myself and others, along with my manager's boss, knows she's unqualified for her job. Amex just loves dinosaurs who have been with the company 30 years.

    I didn't respect her. She'd come up with the most ridiculous tasks. She is managing data science with a bachelors in accounting, basically drowning in meetings. I ended up delivering a huge project early and about 3 other teams were impressed with me and let her know.

    The most petty comment I received was 'if they knew how bad you were really doing, no one would say this'. She knew she was losing the battle and laying me off would hurt the team a lot. She still tanked me with L4 (failed to deliver, inadequate) , basically the lowest rating you can get and 0% raise and 4% bonus, but she said that won't be the case going forward.

    I become the go-to person for a lot of teams and made her look great. The PIP went away pretty fast.

    Anyway, we're much better now and I'm on my way to over-deliver this year.
    Jun 15 3
    • New / Eng
      Ama B.O

      New Eng

      PRE
      Amazon, Google, Facebook
      Ama B.Omore
      I feel so sorry for your man I totally understand someone so unqualified being it in her position like that.
      What's your strategy to deal with the situation?
      What about others how do they feel about it?
      Jun 15
    • American Express D.BCooper
      Well, her previous boss knew about her behavior (once demanded an apology from a peer for using highlighted red text in an email to her). All our project managers do not like her in meetings. Her current boss has to know. It's just how it works - she's sacrificed a lot for the company so they won't treat her poorly.

      She'll still misses 80% of our 1-on-1s and never shows up to daily standups. I just took more leadership and figured I can fill in for her and slowly took over her responsibilities so she doesn't get involved and I can make decisions. That works out amazingly well, just slowly disassociate her with her tasks and let me take them over.

      I also started directly presenting to her boss, our VP.
      Jun 15
    • Cerner leav1ng
      @D.BCooper I feel sorry for you, and appreciate you sharing the story.

      I recently switch one of the major credit card processing company, so learned about the industry. Looks like same story here, company likes to keep people who has been with them.

      I have bit similar situation, and I m doing some of things you mentioned.
      Jun 15
  • Jet.com GgcE62
    Anyone ever hired anywhere showed potential in an interview. Not everyone performs well in their role and interviews are not always effective in showing whether someone will succeed in a role.

    Companies need to fire people sometimes. PIPs exist so HR has documentation and support to cover their asses/protect the company from being sued.
    Jun 15 3
    • New / Eng LondonGame
      OP
      Right. And question is to understand these low performers. Were they actually not capable of doing a good job or did circumstances lead to them being poor performers at a certain stage in their life.

      Any concrete examples would be great for insights.
      Jun 15
    • Bloomberg / Eng
      YUNOSlayer

      Bloomberg Eng

      PRE
      Bloomberg LP
      YUNOSlayermore
      It’s a side effect of the stupid interview processes, LC means nothing in the real world.
      Jun 15
    • Oracle iwantfang
      Yep LC process is crap
      Jun 15
  • Netflix / Eng LoveDeathR
    Netflix want you to have stunning colleagues. And let's be honest. Most of them are not. We have to fire some to keep the quality above average
    Jun 15 7
    • Netflix / Eng LoveDeathR
      That's not true. Most fires are warranted. And there's no quota.
      Jun 15
    • Amazon checkPls
      Respectfully, not what I hear
      Jun 15
    • New / Eng JexD77
      @Netflix, what if it’s a good team and manager doesn’t need to fire anyone? How is it different, on the surface, from a team where manager doesn’t do his job and just doesn’t fire people? How that manager’s higher ups can tell one from another?
      Jun 15
    • Netflix / Eng LoveDeathR
      If you are a manager and your team doesn't deliver, you'll be fired quickly. This incentizes middle management to fire underperformers fast.
      Jun 16
    • New / Eng JexD77
      I see. Thanks for explanation.
      Jun 16
  • New / Finance TeamRedF1
    I don’t know much about the Tech industry but am trying to pivot into it. What’s a PIP?
    Jun 15 1
    • Google nrvD43
      Low performers can be put into "performance improvement plans" which really means you are going to get fired unless you improve tremendously in a few weeks.
      Jun 15

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