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Following on from this question I received a written warning for my performance, how can I save my job? where the person asking received a warning letter and later resigned, I am in a similar situation where I have received a warning letter that contains accusations based on my performance on a single week[1], one of which is that I do too many git commits[2].

I am preparing for the worst and started looking for another role, but when asked why do I want to leave my current role (which I have been in for less than a year) how do I answer that?

Footnotes

  1. The warning letter was mainly about me not owning up and finishing my task on time, I explained that the requirements were vague and didn't defined what would make this task "finished" my manager disagreed.

  2. The warning letter also contained other things like, not being on my desk all the time (even though the week before that I would be in the office at 9 AM and leave at 7-8 PM to get work done) and not adhering to work from home protocol which is true and bringing my laptop to meetings which everyone else does, I started bringing a notepad instead.

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    A warning is just a warning letter. Doesn't hurt to keep your resume up to date, but I wouldn't give up on your current role over the letter, unless you want to move on anyway. – Gregory Currie Mar 20 at 5:10
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    @GregoryCurrie They had a follow up with me a week later and gave me a document to sign that contained all of the stuff they wanted me to work on (the git commits was one of them) and HR was there, I felt like they were just making a case to fire me later – Nickolozo Mar 20 at 5:45
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    How much is exactly too many git commits? And, how does that matter? – Sourav Ghosh Mar 20 at 6:32
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    @ChrisStratton Agree. Commit in shared branches go through pull request review, and almost all sane process includes the review. Yes, commit message needs to be verbose, but we don't know that it is not already. I share the same suspect, it's just an excuse for an already-decided plan. – Sourav Ghosh Mar 20 at 7:09
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when asked why do I want to leave my current role (which I have been in for less than a year) how do I answer that?

Well, there is a stock answer that you can provide:

"I am looking for a change and new challenge where I can use my capabilities and learning in a better way and also, continue learning new things".

You don't need to lie / hide, you don't need to be blatantly telling the exact details, either.

In case there are follow up questions, like "specifics", "why", "what was not" etc, just smile and say:

"Well, we had our differences."

Reasonable interviewer will stop there. They need to know what you know and don't know. Why you want to leave your ex-employee is not the "prime" concern (Unless you have criminal charges and they are the reason for losing the last job).


That said, there are couple of things I feel like mentioning:

The warning letter was mainly about me not owning up and finishing my task on time, I explained that the requirements were vague and didn't defined what would make this task "finished" my manager disagreed.

Fault is as much yours as your manager's. In case, the acceptance criteria (or, "definition of done") is not defined against any action item, you should not accept and start working on that item. The reason is clear, you don't know where to "stop", so either you will leave it incomplete, or you'll overdo it. Either ways, it's not going to be useful.

Also, you need proper planning to have proper estimate. If you don't know the targets, you cannot estimate the effort and once again, most of the cases you're likely to end up being short of the expected output.

not being on my desk all the time

This would be a non-issue, in case there is no performance impact. The time-keeping issue comes up only when the expected outputs are not achieved and the timelines are not adhered. In case the targets are met, most do not bother about timekeeping anyways.

not adhering to work from home protocol which is true

Well, you need to work on that.

[not] bringing my laptop to meetings which everyone else does, I started bringing a notepad instead.

Again, unless you are missing something expected of you (discussion points, MoMs - for examples) - I don't see this to be an issue.

  • "just smile and say: Well, we had our differences." That's clear deflection and would be a huge red flag for me if I was doing the interview. – 17 of 26 Mar 20 at 19:49
  • Fault is as much yours as your manager's. In case, the acceptance criteria (or, "definition of done") is not defined against any action item, you should not accept and start working on that item. The reason is clear, you don't know where to "stop", so either you will leave it incomplete, or you'll overdo it. Either ways, it's not going to be useful. you're absolutely right, lesson learned. – Nickolozo Mar 20 at 22:09
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First off, update your resume, get it out there, and start interviewing.

If you feel like this is all a setup to initiate termination proceedings, you are most likely right, trust your gut. If you're "terminated with cause", it's difficult to recover, so you want to avoid it, if possible.

For the interviews, be honest, but put it in a positive light

If you end up being terminated:

I know this is a cliché, but it turned out to be a bad fit. There was poor communication on both sides, and we agreed it was time for me to move on. I'm much more confident that I'll fit in better with your company because of [Insert research you have done about company here, and how you align with their interests and culture] I know I will be a perfect fit for this company, and am eager to start as soon as possible.

If you leave before being terminated:

I found that there is more room to grow with your company, and that your company culture aligns far better with my own interests, and that I can make for more contributions to the success of your company because of that.

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First of all. We go to condition you still with the company. You just stay working as long as they still not terminate you from the company. If they force you to resign, then take some time to find another job. Make sure you secure your future job before resigning.

If you get to have an option to negotiate about terminating you, try negotiating with them to extend let you prove you still can do work at the company. Many cases I read they still working until now as they didn't simply leave when they were asked to.

For your answer to your next interview, don't mention anything about it if not asking about it. But if they ask, before you state why you resigned from the previous company, make sure you don't lie. The company might call your previous company to make sure if your answer seems suspicious. Be straightforward and give your best answer. Basically, the interviewer will not interested in your previous company.

  • Thanks Nazrein for the advice, unfortunately being here has taken a toll on my mental health; I found myself extremely stressed out, paranoid and depressed in the last couple of weeks so if they want me to resign they'll win but I'll get my ease of mind back at least – Nickolozo Mar 20 at 22:14
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The problem I see here is that this smells of constructive dismissal, which is illegal (at least in the UK) git hub is used to keep track of development and if you can prove that they contribute to your projects then the manager cannot call them a waste of paid time, especially since you're working 10-11 hours a day by your count. Being at your desk does not necessarily mean you're not working, so that is fishy to me too.

As for taking your laptop to meetings, unless that's written in your employment contract or handbook, that is a case of preference, some people still write things down over using a screen and if you think it's healthier to break from one that's your right.

My advice would be to contact citizen's advice (or whatever parallel you have access to) and see if you have a case for it in your region. If they say they do, write to HR directly stating that you believe your manager to be engaging in tactics to cause this outcome. They exist to prevent the company being taken to court so they will take such allegations very seriously.

I was nearly a victim of a similar case but my father gave me the instruction to tell the manager that if this continued there would be a solicitor sitting on my side of the table. It didn't last very long.

As for what to say to interviewers, be honest but be constructive. For example, you could say, "My workload saw me working 10 hours most days and that is not sustainable for me." Or, "My manager and I didn't fit as a team."

  • With respect to git, motion is not necessarily progress - one can produce a lot of work, but still be quite legitimately dismissed if the work is not of useful quality. While the 2nd hand report of the manager's complaint is far from clear, there's a very real possibility that their core issue is with an employee who produces a lot of commits that either accomplish little, or lose the meaningful changes in a lot of noise, slowing down everyone else who then has to try to interpret that for review and integration. – Chris Stratton Mar 20 at 16:42
  • Thanks for the advice Sam but I'd rather go our separate ways than get involved in further conflict especially since I don't have a lot to lose assuming I'll find another job before leaving this one and I'm too mentally and emotionally drained to put up a fight – Nickolozo Mar 20 at 22:16
  • That's fine, in the end it did depend on your attachment to the job. The market when I was going through something similar was terrible so it would've been hard to find another job. Moving to London solved that a lot, even if competition is fierce. – Sam Lee Mar 21 at 7:13

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