I am a technical team lead. We have an under performer in the team (he joined one month ago, and is not picking up fast enough). We will most likely remove him from our team.

What are the positive and negative sides of being transparent to other team members in the same project about the reasons for his removal from the perspective of keeping the team motivated?


  • This will not result in his direct termination, but he will be moved to another project
  • None of the persons in the project is his line manager
  • An HR person will be consulted regarding legal questions
  • our rate of under performers is on the order of 10%

More remarks after comments:

  • At least one colleague in the team knows this already, and her input was a factor (about 20%) in our decision. I want her to know that the decision was made by us, not her. I told it to her and asked her to keep it confidential.
  • I want to avoid the impression that people are sacked because they "don't get along with colleagues". It may seem like this to people in the team.
  • We are consultants, so 1 month is maybe longer than it would be in other jobs (and his incompetence and/or lack of motivation are beyond my imagination)
  • I am afraid that a part of the story will be communicated outside of my control (through customers)
  • I want to make it clear to the team that we have objective criteria which have to to be met to remove somebody from a project

My current planned approach:

  • Do not make statements to the team about this person beyond that he was moved by his manager (which is a explanation which is always true).
  • Ask the under-performer to be confidential about the reasons for his own sake.
  • Make sure that the colleague involved understands the context, and ask her to be confidential for her own sake and her colleagues sake
  • After 1 month, give a general presentation on which things are important and which are not for performance evaluations in the team meeting.
  • 2
    1/10 people are under performing in their job. That seems extremely high.
    – Donald
    Mar 18, 2018 at 6:10
  • Probably similar enough to be a duplicate: Should I explain to other team members why I fired somebody? Mar 18, 2018 at 6:35
  • @dukeling: thanks, I agree it's a duplicate. Did not look for the right keywords.
    – Sascha
    Mar 18, 2018 at 10:41
  • 2
    Voting to close as unclear what you're asking because of the latest edit adding a lot of relevant details which could have been reasonably included in the first version. As a result, existing answers got partially invalidated, and you have been on this site long enough to know not to do this. Your first version sort of implied that you are managing this person (and hence responsible to deal with his firing), you didn't include that you are consultants, you hid your actual goal why you were considering a public announcement.
    – Masked Man
    Mar 18, 2018 at 18:00
  • Above all, it is not clear why you even have to get involved in making an announcement if 1. you are not this person's manager, 2. you expect his manager to deal with it and 3. you expect the announcement to happen anyway from other sources.
    – Masked Man
    Mar 18, 2018 at 18:02

3 Answers 3


No, you should not talk to other team members about this specific case. What you should do:

  1. Make sure everyone understands what is expected of them, how they will be evaluated, and the consequences. Development teams, often do work that affects everyone else, so they should know who isn't getting the job done already. There shouldn't be any surprises.
  2. Work out a strategy to prevent the hiring of people who are so poorly qualified to do the job. The interview process is flawed. Not all hires workout, but if you figured this one out in probably less than a month, someone made a huge mistake.

Hopefully, there aren't other problems with the management of this team.


What are the positive and negative sides of being transparent to other team members in the same project about the reasons for his removal from the perspective of keeping the team motivated?

  • Positives: Nothing
  • Negatives: Everything

Don't publicly humiliate anyone. Just don't do it.

Tarring and feathering anyone for any reason is not only unprofessional, but also unethical. One of the worst things you could possibly do to another human being is violation of human dignity. Moreover, no dignified person would "enjoy" this kind of public humiliation of another person, or in other words, they don't want this level of "transparency".

In addition, in the workplace context, public humiliation of an "underperforming" team member will intimidate other employees (because they now know what will happen to them if they too should underperform in future). This will create a hostile work environment and even tarnish the company's reputation.

Just to drive home the point further, let me suggest you organize a send-off for him like you would for anyone else leaving the team with one important difference: everyone has to say bad things about the person leaving, and perhaps sign a card for him with some kind words on why he sucks. You surely realize how absurd (and embarrassing) that sounds, and you can guess what your other team members will think of this idea.

To summarize: Don't publicly humiliate anyone. Just don't do it.

Moving on, one month seems too short a time frame to conclude that a person is underperforming and needs to be kicked out. All days are not equal, people go through highs and lows in both personal and professional life. It could be an unfortunate coincidence that one of his lows occurred right after starting a new job. Personally, I would give my "underperforming" team members a longer rope, and possibly work with them to bring them back on track.

Nonetheless, in case I forgot: Don't publicly humiliate anyone. Just don't do it.

  • 3
    I agree completely with the negative side here. There is, however, one positive. Not dealing with underperformance can demotivate people a huge amount. Knowing that the company is brave enough to address issues and not force people to carry underperformers can be a big positive. It must be done sensitively though.
    – Ben
    Mar 18, 2018 at 8:41
  • 4
    @Ben The "positives" (or rather the lack thereof) in my answer are applicable only to the public humiliation. I am not convinced that one month is enough time to conclude that a person is an underperformer, but putting that aside, I don't suggest that the team should carry underperformers. They can address underperformance without putting up a public show.
    – Masked Man
    Mar 18, 2018 at 11:22
  • 1
    Agreed - one month is really short. If they're truly terrible, one day is all that is needed. That someone only apparently became "bad" after a month implies something amiss is going on.
    – bharal
    Mar 18, 2018 at 22:45

It should never happen.

A similar incident happened in my team a few years back and it created a army of hatred for that sacked employee. Not everyone in the team had interaction with the sacked one and yet they started showing their hatred towards him. They were opining with the TL. It created ripples of negative connotation towards him that never stopped to subside. It only showed how the team lead and the project manager misused their power. The negative waves spread so fast that other PMs would purposely ask difficult questions which he couldn't answer and hence wouldn't be selected in any project. Ripples can never be stopped. Ultimately, he resigned from the company.

Don't be directly or indirectly responsible for one's resignation.

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