Objcoder My rant on dev, tech, and startup scene

The 'worst' email I ever sent

When people do bad things it’s either : personality or situation. Most of the time it’s the later.

Whenever I do retro and do 1-on-1 review with my team, I always emphasize that I am there to help them, to unblock and resolve their issue. I won’t be able to change someone personality (we are not hiring jerk) but I can do something regarding the situation and environment where they work and do the job.

I still feel bitter whenever I recalled the day I sent this email, I was shaking, it was very painful to wrote. I was asking myself whether I had done everything I could to help my team member. Have I gave enough constructive feedback? Have I gave enough coaching and mentoring?

Past couple of weeks I’ve been noticing and finding that your performance was not meeting expectations. To name a few, you’ve been keeping yourself in silos, not communicating issue you are facing clearly, and taking too long to act on those issues.

I would love to know how I can help you to improve your performance? Or is there any issue that stopping you from completing the task assigned to you?

Personally I was disheartened when the checkout feature took way too long to complete and you failed to request help or flag it earlier. When you need extra time to complete the task, please let me know how long, and why does it need additional time. Further, I expect an excellent result from that extra time given to complete it.

I also notice that some bugs you encountered was caused due to lack of understanding on basic language feature, ability to debug the cause, and manipulating data structure. It is not what I expect from software developer that has years of experience.

In addition to that, I’ve been reviewing the commit you made, which bring to my attention the frequency and time you took to complete certain straightforward task is not satisfactory (too many commits across a long period of time). Thus making me lose confidence in your ability to perform the task assigned.

Moving forward, I need you to step up and improve, and I am giving you the trust and benefit of the doubt that you can do so.

I need you to do a few things by Monday

  1. Give me a satisfactory explanation of what is happening, what is the motivation or bottleneck of your performance.

  2. Within the next 2 weeks what actions do you want to take to restore my confidence towards you and your ability to continue on with the team.

  3. Let me know what is the suitable consequences if you didn’t manage to achieve the actions you set on point no 2.

Consider this a final warning letter. I want you to think about it thoroughly and come back to me by Monday or earlier.

Whatever your response is, I will continue to support you as best as I can.

Today our head count is the same and despite how bitter it was to wrote and sent the email, it was worth it. We have a changed person and one of my successful hire.