My friend, a non-technical manager, has a software developer employee who was hired 5 months ago and is still on probation (6 months probation). The employee was given a task with an estimate for 4 months to complete.
Your friend should collect all the documentation associated with this task as it will be used to justify their recommendation to fire the employee in question. The last 4 months can be used as a starting point, the manager can use the next 3 weeks, as the final nail in the coffin. Your friend can then use the outcome of the next 3 weeks to justify firing the employee in question. I would hope your friend did document their communication, between the employee and them, over the course of 4 months. 21 days is more than enough time, to determine if the employee will improve, or if they should be simply be let go.
This is not the only issue, their attitude was very poor, they work remotely and sometimes come to the office, their communication skills are very poor, written specially.
Your friend needs to document these issues. Your friend needs to collect every instance of when they documented that this employee's communication was poor. Hopefully, your friend actually did communicate that their (the employee's) communication was poor, to the employee. If your friend did not do that, then they cannot old the lack of communication, against the employee.
Your friend should immediately remove the privilege of working remotely. The employee does not appear like they can handle that responsibility. Your friend should be prepared to take the privilege away from anyone that does not meet a reasonable quantifiable work metric.
They won't reply to messages for hours. This is only a summary, their technical skills are not of a senior developer as reported by rest of team members.
Your friend needs to document every message that was not replied to within a reasonable amount of time. Your friend should be prepared to use the same metric against any of the other team members. Your friend should collect that information, and show that this particular team member doesn't respond for "x amount of time" longer than any other member of your team.
This needs to be done in a month and this employee needs to be made aware of the warning and where things are going. My friend informally has done this previously with this employee but now HR wants it done again formally.
The suggestions I provided can be worked into a performance work plan, that can be easily reviewed, in the amount of time allocated. Your friend should put the employee on notice, that their performance needs to be improved, and provide specific areas that can be addressed. Your friend needs to provide this work plan and tell the employee how much they must improve in each area, or otherwise, the recommendation will be to release the employee.
All of my recommendations can be implemented today (they really needed to be implemented yesterday). The performance plan can be issued today. Informing the employee, what your friend's current recommendation would be today, should also be shared. The entire point of being forthcoming is to document their final recommendation in a month.
One thing I missed to add is that, software development is such a creative job, it's not as easy as giving someone some admin work and then judge them based on that. Also to provide them straight forward tasks and them having completed them would not solve the problem completely as they may act as they had been acting on difficult tasks and my friend would be back with square one with more difficulties than now.
Your friend needs to come up some way to measure the performance of this employee based on their daily tasks. Your friend does this for everyone else on their team, it isn't difficult to measure the performance of somebody in a position like the described employee, it will just take some considerable amount of work and effort on the part of your friend.
So, what's the easiest way to convince HR to sack a dysfunctional software developer?
Your friend needs to find every single instance, they believe is a reasonable and justifiable reason, to fire the employee in question. If this documentation does not exist, your friend will be unable to justify firing the employee in question more than likely.
I would sort of agree with other users, the current situation might easily be solved, by simply NOT offering a permanent job after the probation period ends.