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Brief story: I work as IT support in a bank. I am an analyst who just graduated from university and my boss is a VP

  • 10-May-2019: My boss told me they will put me on an informal "performance improvement plan"(i.e. PIP) due to my recent poor performance (I did make a few small mistakes in previous months).
  • 13-17 May 2019: I was sick for the whole week and clarified with my boss on PIP's expectations and measurements.
  • 20-24 May 2019: I followed the plan and reported progress to my boss. She asked me some really strange questions which I couldn't answer (e.g. to recite all column names in a feed text file with nearly 50 columns)
  • 27-May-2019: my boss declared improvement plan failed since I didn't make enough progress (i.e. I couldn't answer her above query)
  • 27 May: I understood from HR that the next step is my boss would put me into a formal PIP with HR and this will be recorded into my P-file.
  • 28-May-2019: I told my boss not to put me into formal PIP as I don't want to be recorded (PIP record may affect me during reference check). My boss agreed and asked me to tell her when I would resign.
  • 29-May-2019 to 5-June-2019: I took a long leave and went for multiple interviews (I started to apply for jobs since 10 May 2019)
  • 6 June 2019: my boss chased me on resignation-date. I told her I need to discuss with my family and she agreed.

I know I can't drag much longer. I either have to resign or my boss will submit me to HR for PIP. I can't sue my boss or my company since they are not doing anything illegal.

I have 2 verbal offers since the start of this week but no written offer yet. Besides, I am also interviewing with other companies. All these take time.

Can anyone advise me on what I should do now? As you can see, my boss really wants to get rid of me and this 1 week PIP is just an excuse to fire me legally.

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    tchen003 - I'm taking your words for it, but I can't think of a scenario where being in PIP in one company will be known / disclosed for reference / backgrounds checks. Does it really matter, you know for sure? Otherwise, what @Abigail said make more sense - let them fire you. – Sourav Ghosh Jun 7 at 10:08
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    @SouravGhosh If you let them fire you, you have to tell that you got fired in any upcoming interview, which isn't a killer, but typically seen as a negative aspect whereas you switching on your own isn't. So I'd only go the "let them fire you" route in countries where this gives you a benefit, e.g. significantly more time or additional money or the chance that they find out they cannot fire you (and this only if you really need the job, as working there will not be fun if they want to get rid of you but legally cannot). – Frank Hopkins Jun 7 at 10:36
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    This: recite all column names in a feed text file with nearly 50 columns could be seen as bullying. If this was done in writing, and a third party confirms that it is bullying, then the boss could have great difficulty firing you. Not with a counter allegation of management bulling on the table. – Underverse Jun 7 at 10:47
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    Can you join a union at work and get them to advise you for this or act in your interest? – Underverse Jun 7 at 11:49
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    If being put on a PIP for a "few small mistakes over the course of a couple of months" is how they treat a new college grad, you're probably better off not working there anyway. Of course, what you see as "a few small mistakes" may be glaring errors in their eyes. – FreeMan Jun 7 at 20:32
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I'm going to try to be gentle here but I think you've taken this as far as you can - you talk about your boss "wanting to get rid of" you and the PIP being an "excuse to fire" but let's be realistic here your boss has so far gone to some pretty substantial lengths to help you.

The first "PIP" wasn't formal - presumably to avoid the negative associations of having it on your record (that you acknowledge are a possiblity), you didn't improve on that so they gave you the option to resign and avoid having a firing on your employment history, they gave you the onus of when to resign and over a week later are still giving you more time to discuss it with your family! And all you can do is act as if they are persecuting you!

Unless you need to avoid resigning (say to qualify for unemployment benefits or similar) then I think you just need to resign now. You mention some verbal offers already - you only need one of those to pan out during your notice period and you're fine. It's either that or you are going to get that PIP, and a firing, and probably an ex-boss whose good will with you has run out - and you might need a bit more of that good will when it comes time to be getting references.

It's really not worth riding that horse into the ground and exhausting their good will completely for the sake of what at most is going to be another week's worth of being employed there.

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    Hi Motosubatsu, thanks for the advice. Very good point. – tchen003 Jun 7 at 10:17
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    Not sure being asked to correctly recite 50 column headings is "being helpful" or even a valid assessment of abilities and progress – Solar Mike Jun 7 at 10:20
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    @SolarMike difficult to say whether reciting 50 column headings is a valid assessment without knowing the context of them and how they relate to the particular duties of the role. But does it really matter? The OP's boss clearly had options to take a tougher stance then they have shown but chose not to, I'm not suggesting the boss should be nominated for sainthood or anything but they are clearly trying to help the OP soften their exit a bit. – motosubatsu Jun 7 at 10:29
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    @motosubatsu, from context of my job scope, I don't see reciting these info as necessary. I can't comment on what's her intention of 1 week PIP with weird questions. I do appreciate her on-boarded me to this company and exposed me the working field. – tchen003 Jun 7 at 11:34
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    @tchen003 we don't know all the details, without further context it could be a valid way to gauge how familiar you are with a certain topic (typically the real requirement would not be to know all of them by heart but some of them at least by semantic content) or totally nonsensical. – Frank Hopkins Jun 7 at 12:29
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The optimal path for your CV / future interviews is typically you leaving for another job, rather than you being fired or you leaving without any job lined up.

So, since you already have verbal offers, next time you meet your boss you should let them know that you are in negotiations with another company for a follow-up contract. You can ask her how flexible you can be, e.g. whether it would be okay to mutually agree on leaving faster than the notice period once you have lined up the next contract.

That way your boss knows you are actually working on leaving. For your boss it's way less hassle if you leave on your own than if she has to go through company processes to have you fired, so she might not be thaaat concerned whether it's a month earlier or later if she at least knows it's gonna happen.

This would also allow you to sweeten the deal for a future employer - in case they need you fast, you can switch quickly after signing the contract. As soon as you have a written offer and signed it, you can quit your job.

  • hi Frank, this is the best answer I got. You are right since she want me out of the team for whatever reason. So I could tell her that I have a few offers line up and buy more time. However, I disagree with you on "leaving faster than the notice period " because if I left the company during notice period, per company policy, I need to make payment-in-lieu to make up for the remaining days. Thank you once again – tchen003 Jun 7 at 11:31
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    @tchen003 that's why I wrote "mutually agree on leaving faster". That agreement obviously needs to address any concerns both parties might have. A contract can always (legal obstacles aside) be amended if both parties agree on the amendment. So it would be possible to agree that the company lets you stop working within the notice period and waves its rights to these payments if you quit within the next [agreed time-period] or so. If no such agreement can be found, sure, then take the full notice period. – Frank Hopkins Jun 7 at 12:22
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    @tchen003 The reasoning behind the suggestion is that to your boss, the main factor of how fast she wants you to leave is how long she has you in her budget as a cost factor. Thus, agreeing on cutting the notice period short gives her incentive to allow for a later quit date as it at least indicates a good chance it won't cost her (much) additional money while saving her paperwork and potential legal trouble etc. Obviously it shouldn't be agreed to in a form that hurts you, but as you want to leave, it can be an advantage for you as well, if you can leave faster once an offer is made. – Frank Hopkins Jun 7 at 12:24
  • Great advice! will talk to my boss in this case. Thanks a lot – tchen003 Jun 7 at 12:27
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As I see, you have two choices:

  • Keep stalling and end up being put into PIP (and most likely the outcome will be negative anyways, based on the previous experiences), and finally end up being terminated.

  • Resign, leave gracefully and search for other opportunities.

Point to note, in current scenario, in either of the cases, you might run into the situation of staying unemployed after quitting / being let go, but in second case, you won't have PIP in your record.

You also mention that there is a notice period of one month, so at least you have got that much time to find you a new job, considering you submit your resignation letter immediately.

I'd say, your boss is actually handling the situation very gracefully and with sort of a preferential treatment towards you - you were given a chance of informal PIP, they respected your request to avoid formal PIP, they even allowed you to decide on the resignation date with two times extension period to allow you to think (and to probably find another job in the meantime) - I'd not discount that. They could have been more formal and process-oriented, if they wished. So, leave in good terms, announce the day of your resignation on the next meeting.

You need to take the final call, anyways.

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    It is much easier to get a new job while you currently have a job. – Underverse Jun 7 at 11:00
  • I agree with @Underverse : the proper order to do things is "find a new opportunity and only then gracefully resign". – gazzz0x2z Jun 7 at 12:46
  • Isn't there a third choice? Or, maybe, a 1a: Keep stalling and stay employed while you look for a new job? The way your first bullet is worded it makes it sound like you're talking about just passively waiting until you get fired. But maybe you meant what I'm suggesting? – dwizum Jun 7 at 13:37
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Unfortunately in the world of IT you often have influences, including supervisors, who have a very limited scope of rationale when it comes to their demands - such as demanding you memorize all of the columns in a query.

Most IT Managers/Leaders understand that it is our job to break things every single day then take the figurative "hammer" and "fix it".

Getting released from a job almost insures that you cannot use them as a reference for future applications.

My advice is to hit the applications as hard as possible, do not use this position as a reference (you can always say unless I am a final candidate) - and FYI - at least in the U.S. - it is illegal for your current employer to say anything that is opinionated outside of the specific scope of your job duties.

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