I've been a software engineer for 6 years.
For the last 2 years I've been working for a US-based startup as a contractor in a Senior Engineer position (I'm South American).
The whole tech stack was new to me when I joined, and I made it very clear. The company didn't have any problem with it, as long as I showed good problem-solving skills. After a while, I got the hang of it and had nothing but excellent reviews from my last 3 managers (team rotation is pretty common). They were even pushing me to get ready for a tech lead position.
But this year has been a giant turmoil.
In January, the company pushed for a complete tech stack switch. We moved from using Camunda and AWS to mostly just Temporal, which doesn't have that much of a great learning curve.
Coincidentally, at the beginning of the year, I broke up with my girlfriend of 11 years, and my dad got cancer. He passed away shortly after.
Obviously, my state of mind hasn't been the best since.
2 months ago the company laid off 20% of its headcount, because of bad financial decisions. I survived it, but my manager didn't, so I got assigned a new one.
First 1:1 with him, I express my concern that the whole team is moving very quickly with the new tech stack, and I won't be able to catch up 100%, as I'm still grieving and having a very hard time. He says it's cool, and that we'll set expectations accordingly.
For the 7 following 1:1s, I don't receive any feedback at all, nor talk about any of the expectations he mentioned.
Today he basically unloaded a truck full of negative feedback, telling me that, even considering my personal situation, I'm severely underperforming in my role. For some, I didn't agree, but his main concern is that I'm still playing catch up with the tech stack and work culture changes. He basically let me know that I have to improve quickly, or I'm out.
I don't know what to make of it. He had 7 meetings to point out what he thought was wrong but didn't. I've already proven that I can adapt to a new tech stack when I joined, and I've been well-valued for 2 years.
I'm not saying that I shouldn't be pointed out if I'm doing something wrong, but why did it have to come to this? Why not point out things at the moment instead of letting them pile up until the situation is critical?
I know they are a startup and have to make money at all costs, but for a company bragging about being people-first, I think this is a crappy move.
My first idea is to play it cool, ask for concrete examples of underperforming, counterexamples to show what I should have done instead, improvement tools, and metrics to know how my progress will be tracked. Then just give the best I can without exerting myself given my emotional state, and hope for the best.
My second idea is going for idea number 1, but also bringing the matter to the head of the RD department, but I don't know if that'll just bring me more problems. He probably even gave the green light to do this, and that'd probably piss my manager off even more.
Third idea: I have enough savings to last for a whole year. I could just quit, dedicate time to take courses and certifications, and then come back to the workforce with a better set of tools and a clearer state of mind, but I don't know how good that'd look on my resume.
I wrote this still in the heat of the moment. I talked to my pillow and my shower, and I think I found the best path forward. I wrote to 40 different recruiters I have as contacts in LinkedIn, and all of my ex-colleagues, to see if I can find a new job as soon as possible. If I land one before I'm fired, when they ask how fast can I join, I'll ask for at least a couple weeks. Then I'll immediately quit my job, and spend that time to cool off, and get finish the certifications that are more relevant to my new position. In the meantime, I'll do the best I can at my current job, and shake hands on my way out. Wish me luck.
Update: In case it's of any use to anybody.
I crushed my PIP. I came up with a plan that my manager modified to his expectations, and I overachieved it. He said he never saw someone come back that strong from a PIP. Not that I believe much of what he says now anyway.
Was it worth it? Not entirely sure. The market is down, there are so many people for so few offerings. I interviewed like crazy, but haven't got anything yet.
The stress of aiming to pass the PIP & interviewing, combined with the grieving almost put me on medication. I get to collect a couple more months of paychecks in a place I now resent, with a Manager I resent even more, until they need to reduce headcount again.
So the extra runway to get a new job is nice, but I'm tired and day to day working in a place I don't fit in anymore. Do keep in mind that you'll probably feel the same if you choose to try and pass a PIP. Looking back, I feel like any outcome would've been equal in pro/cons balance.
When I passed, I got an email with something along the lines of "Congratulations! You are doing so much better than a couple months ago!". You don't say? A couple of months ago I was scattering my father's ashes you moron, thanks for nothing.