I am creating a new question with an update to this question of mine.

So the meeting happened & as some of answers had expected, my boss's boss was there as a witness.

I am going to be really honest here so I can get some fair opinion(s) on how to proceed. I am going to outline main things my boss covered throughout:

  • Insubordination on some occasions where I didn't do something my boss expected me to do.
  • Attention to detail(s).

I think these points are fair. I accept these without any reservations.

But there's still some stuff on that 20 page document that I think it's there because of nitpicking & his dislike of me.

A couple of thing(s) my boss & my boss's boss said during the meeting was that I have a lot of potential & I am smart without my doubt but all of the things in the document can be avoided with awareness of what I am doing. They are right, I think they can be fixed with proper counselling.

One thing my boss said that he likes my ability to switch between programming languages and kind of knowledge I have even though I have been professionally doing this since a year & a half. He also said that it speaks volume that I will be put on PIP not immediately terminated.

Now I think I have two option(s):

  • I will accept the PIP thinking they really want me to improve and try to do my job to the best of abilities. But leaves the possibility of me doing something not outlined in the paper & I will have to face the termination. I don't want that.
  • I am supposed to meet him next week to follow up on this & I will put in my two week notice & leave on a positive note. I wouldn't want work to under the stress & scrutiny in those sixty days.

Which option will suit me given my situation? Also there's no option of them letting me go with a severance package. Is this normal? Also is there a room for negotiation here?

After a lengthy talk with my parents, one of the things came out was that it's possible that me & my boss had ego clash. To some extent, I think so.

I have learned a lot of the stuff the hard way & to make sure I don't repeat this with future employer(s), what step(s) should I take?

Additional note(s):

I think I haven't mentioned it yet, my work permit will expire in June meaning I will not be able to work legally & may have to leave.

Again, thank you everyone for your answer(s).

closed as off-topic by gnat, paparazzo, Snow, The Wandering Dev Manager, mxyzplk Feb 18 '17 at 5:03

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

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  • 53
    A third option is to accept the PIP, but immediately start an intensive job search. – Patricia Shanahan Feb 17 '17 at 4:33
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    Is your PIP really 20 pages long? I don't have any experience of them, but I'd expect something specific and actionable, i.e. 1 or 2 pages, not 20 pages of waffle! – AndyT Feb 17 '17 at 15:34
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    @user3777390 In that case, start searching for a job now (literally now). A PIP usually indicates they want to fire you with legal foundation with a papertrail of you not performing up to par. Him letting you know he is also using Skype logs tells me he is gathering as much information as possible, and it's not to help you actually improve. – Edwin Lambregts Feb 17 '17 at 15:49
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    20 Pages = They are (likely) going to fire you, but they need time to find your replacement. They are (likely) stringing you along to buy time, since kind words cost nothing. Fine. String them along, and collect a paycheck while you find your next job, ASAP. – Wesley Long Feb 17 '17 at 18:37
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    @user3777390 The employee finding another job during the PIP period is a very common outcome. It is the way the game is played. The PIP gives you time when you have the advantage of job hunting with an existing job, and no need to explain why you quit the last one. It gives them the advantage of avoiding the unpleasantness and legal risks of actually firing someone. – Patricia Shanahan Feb 17 '17 at 20:52

First: you said in previous questions that you've had health issues including difficulties with anxiety. I fully sympathize with how difficult that can be. I strongly encourage you to look for whatever kind of support system you have available to help mitigate those problems. Any problem gets a lot harder to solve when you have anxiety to deal with. There may be support available through your work, while you still have a job. Talk to your doctor. Use the resources at your disposal.

Now, to consider your questions:

it's there because of nitpicking & his dislike of me.

A PIP is the company's way of reducing their legal liability by thoroughly documenting your eventual firing. The dislike is irrelevant. The nitpicking is documentation.

He also said that it speaks volume that I will be put on PIP not immediately terminated.

That's a nice thing to say. And obviously you have potential or you would not have been hired in the first place. But don't take false hope from it.

Also there's no option of them letting me go with a severance package. Is this normal?

The function of severance is to trade your statement that you will not sue for a lump of cash. Are you willing to sue them? Remember, the point of the PIP is to document why firing you is the right thing to do.

Also is there a room for negotiation here?

Do you have something they want? Maybe what they want is you to not sue them, maybe what they want is for you to leave sooner, I don't know.

You are of course free to make the attempt; you've got nothing to lose. But I would try to see things from their perspective. Find out what they want before you try to negotiate for what you want.

After a lengthy talk with my parents, one of the things came out was that it's possible that me & my boss had ego clash. To some extent, I think so.

Probably. But this is irrelevant now.

to make sure I don't repeat this with future employer(s), what step(s) should I take?

That is one of the few benefits for you of the PIP. It should tell you precisely that.

I will accept the PIP thinking they really want me to improve and try to do my job to the best of abilities.

They're making you document your firing. It is rare for anyone to survive a PIP, and if you do, your long-term prospects at this company will forever be tainted.

am supposed to meet him next week to follow up on this & I will put in my two week notice & leave

You should research what impact this will have on your ability to collect unemployment insurance. In some places, quitting means you are not eligible.

Frankly, what I would be attempting to do were I in your uncomfortable situation, is researching how can I (1) leave soon, (2) not burn any bridges, and (3) be able to collect unemployment while looking for another job? If there's no way to do all that, then I would take the PIP and keep collecting a paycheque while you look for a new job. Best case, you survive the PIP before you find a new job. Worst case, you have an uncomfortable 60 days where you're being paid to document your firing.

And again, I strongly encourage you to talk to a professional about your anxiety. It can make a huge difference. Best of luck on your next job; I hope it goes better.

  • 1
    @user3777390: That is lucky, but don't forget to give yourself some credit: having savings and a support network is something you chose to establish; it's not all luck. Also, if you do want to negotiate, willingness and ability to walk away with nothing gives you some power. – Eric Lippert Feb 17 '17 at 5:58
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    I agree with all of this except the "rare for anyone to survive a PIP" - a well managed PIP should have two possible good outcomes, the underperforming employer leaves, or becomes performant again. In many cases the latter is preferred as it costs less. I have seen many work well and turn around an employee's performance. – Rory Alsop Feb 17 '17 at 13:01
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    In all honesty, leaving immediately before you have a new position is foolish. Think about your interview for your next job, what will you say when they ask about your work? How will you answer the "Why did you leave?" question? It's easier to find a new job when you have one already. – DLS3141 Feb 17 '17 at 18:39
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    @RoryAlsop I have never seen a PIP used to retain an employee. I have heard of such things, but I have seen many employees given a PIP full of either impossible tasks or a PIP that's seemingly achievable but management sabotages at every turn...either way the employee gets kicked to the curb. The only reasonable course of action is to start the job search post haste. – DLS3141 Feb 17 '17 at 18:43
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    @RoryAlsop I think it's different in the UK and other countries than in the USA. Our corporations are notoriously evil. – Richard U Feb 17 '17 at 19:07

The most telling thing to me is that it's 20 pages.

If they've gathered that much evidence on you, you are most likely done, and this is a formality.

Do everything to the letter for your review, but assume that they are not going to keep you. Update your resume and talk to everyone you can. Make connections, network, get together with friends and see who has connections to whom.

Reading in between the lines, it sounds like you were a bit of a hot shot. That's normal for your age, but the fact that you've accepted that criticism likely means that it won't be a problem in the future.

As for "attention to detail" They've got you and there is no way to escape that one for the simple fact that nobody is perfect. It basically is going to come down to whether or not they feel you've been sufficiently brought into line. If you have, then you're suddenly attentive, and if your not, then you will have failed to notice some small detail and that will be the reason to let you go.

Take this experience, and go with it. Apply to new jobs, and take one that you are suited to. You cannot trust your current employer any longer.

  • Yes, at one point, I was the one person they would always come to for any minor or major production issue & I was committed to make a mark but I guess I didn't do things properly. I could do everything to the letter in the review but at the end one small mistake & I will face termination. That's not what I want in my work history. 90% of me thinks resignation is the best way out here and I can't work under scrutiny and stress for 60 days. – user3777390 Feb 17 '17 at 19:35
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    @user3777390 I'd hang in there if I were you, apply to other jobs but do not resign until you have another one. You can still apply for UI if you're fired and they may not fight you, but you cannot collect if you quit. Also, most employers won't check with your current employer, so you can dodge the bullet that way. – Richard U Feb 17 '17 at 20:41
  • I am in a very uncertain situation where my work permit is supposed to expire in June and I don't think any employer would be willing to give me work temporarily until I get my permanent residence. – user3777390 Feb 17 '17 at 20:56

In your PIP, are there quantifiable things you can work on and achieve to "get back on track" (for want of a better term)?

  1. Insubordination on some occasions where I didn't do something my boss expected me to do.
  2. Attention to detail(s).

These are important things that you need to work on, whether it's this job or another. Attention to detail is so key in software development. As is doing what is asked, rather than what you think should be done. These are issues that will affect you in any role.

Which option will suit me given my situation? Also there's no option of them letting me go with a severance package. Is this normal? Also is there a room for negotiation here?

What can you negotiate. They are saying you aren't performing your job to the required standard. Why would they give you a severance package? Why would they financially reward you for poor performance? They can fire you soon enough.

PIP's are bad. But they need to have quantifiable and tangible targets to meet. The question is can you suck it up and meet those targets? Your employers may find a way to fire you anyway. BUT, it could be a chance to work on some issues that will get you in trouble wherever you go.

Summary

Here's what I would do:

  1. Accept the PIP
  2. Start looking for jobs (only outside of work time)
  3. Ensure your PIP has quantifiable measures on (i.e. reduction of bugs in code etc. Things you can measure and track)
  4. Sort some coounselling/advice if you can

Edit: Just seen a comment about you being OK financially/parental support etc. Resigning wouldn't necessarily be a bad option, but you still need to work on the main issues noted. Would that be better in the current job? Or bearing in mind these things for a new job? That's for you to ponder.

  • 1
    Sometimes "Insubordination", especially by not doing things, is almost impossible to avoid with some managers. I've been in positions where priorities/features change daily, and manages clearly have zero clue how stuff works but are making decisions that I just simply have to straight up ignore. And doing everything that someone "expects" can be impossible with a manager with unreasonable expectations. But yeah, could be a warning sign that you're doing something wrong, or it could be a bad manager. – Joe Feb 17 '17 at 12:18
  • If it is being flagged as an issue for a PIP, there's an assumption that it's happened multiple times. That coupled with his comments about ego's etc make me think it's not as you described above. – Andrew Berry Feb 17 '17 at 12:21
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    @Joe, There is no excuse for insubordination other than your personal safety or the safety of someone else. The company pays your salary and they pay your boss to make choices. You can work with any kind of boss effectively if you try and don't get all hung up on ego. I have successfully worked with virtually every kind of boss imaginable in my 40 years in the work place because I pay attention to what their needs are above my own ego. Often the worst bosses are the easiest to convince to do things your way once they have learned to trust your judgement. – HLGEM Feb 17 '17 at 21:11
  • @HLGEM The issue with my current boss is that I DO persuade him, after hours of discussion, then next week he's forgotten and we're back to square one. He's frequently said we should "just do it in excel" when we're talking about a multi-hundred thousand pound piece of client-server enterprise software :\ When he comes up to me and asks me to deliver some ridiculous feature (that's completely contrary to his decisions last week) I can argue with him for 3 hours, or just ignore it knowing he'll have forgotten next week anyway. I have no choice but to be "insubordinate" with him. – Joe Feb 17 '17 at 22:32
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    "Insubordination" means refusal to do the work assigned by the boss. The OP may have carelessly neglected to do a thing. That is not insubordination. They are merely looking for reasons to fire the OP. "Lack of Attention to Detail?" PUHLEASE. – Tony Ennis Feb 19 '17 at 5:43

I have seen people survive being put on a PIP and ones who did not. In every case of those who did not, they made almost no effort to make the changes required by the PIP. In every case of those who did get past a PIP, they took it as a wake up call and permanently changed their behavior.

As to the best thing to do. First, make a genuine effort to make the changes required. The behavior change will be necessary even if you go to another job, so start working on improving your ability to work with your boss and your attention to detail. In the next job you do not want to create the same problem again. You need to pay attention to managing your boss and his expectations. Technical is only about 25% or less of what gets you success at work. You need to understand the politics of managing your boss and getting positive attention at work. As for the technical, you can't mess up that attention to detail thing, you are in a detail oriented profession.

I see no harm to you in trying to meet the terms of the PIP. I see very much harm if you do not. Yes you still might lose your job, but you have gained time to look for another one. YOu will learn some skills that will come in handy on the next job and you will not be a quitter who runs away every time things are uncomfortable.

There is no reason not to start looking for another job at this point even if you are going to try genuinely meet the PIP. That is for your own protection. You have 60 days - use them well to improve your performance, but don't neglect to see if there is something else better out there for you.

The one thing you should not do is quit without another job.

If you get fired before finding another job, rest assured that people will be asking why and they will want you to have learned something from getting fired and change your attitude and/or behavior. This is one reason why it is critical to make a genuine effort to meet the terms of the PIP. It shows you understood you had a problem and you worked to fix it. You also want to be thinking about how you will describe what you learned in trying to meet the PIP and how your behavior will be different in the future.

You need to learn to adapt to your boss's expectations and the organizational culture of any job. They will often want things done that are not the way you want to do them or what you want to do at all. The company paying your salary and its representative (your boss) make that determination, you do not. You need to find positive ways to present your ideas before decisions are made, you likely need to find ways to make your boss aware of problems before they become bigger problems (telling someone that you will miss a deadline is far better than actually missing it before he finds out for instance).

You need to work well with people you despise and have nothing in common with and never let them know that you feel that way. You need to make sure that your accomplishments are known in the organization as that tends to make the mistakes less important. In other words, you desperately need to read about organizational politics and start learning how to manage the way you are perceived in the workplace.

  • I have never seen a PIP used positively for the good of the employee. They were always used to reduce the likelihood of a bias lawsuit, and nothing more. – Tony Ennis Feb 19 '17 at 5:44
  • And you have seen all PIPs at all companies? I have seen people survive a PIP. I have even seen them go on to get promoted. – HLGEM Feb 20 '17 at 15:23
  • no, I only stated my direct observations. What lead you to question otherwise? – Tony Ennis Feb 20 '17 at 20:23

The PIP process serves three major purposes. It:

  • documents the evidence and procedures leading up to a termination
  • gives you an opportunity to leave (or self-destruct), and
  • warns you that you must drastically change your behavior.

Depending on the employer and the situation, some of those are more important than others. An employer who already has extensive documentation, including detailed logs of your behavior, is probably leaning more toward termination than rehabilitation. You might not have a realistic chance of saving this job – in which case, the warning applies more to drastically changing for your next job than for this one.

That said, I recommend that you not leave this job earlier than you must. Resigning immediately will negatively affect both unemployment insurance and searching for a new job. It will also leave a huge hole in your daily routine, which can aggravate anxiety and mood symptoms. Resignation might alleviate work stress and anxiety, but it could also leave you adrift and further complicate your need to find new work before June.

Instead, I concur that the best course of action is to faithfully attempt to complete the PIP while looking for a new job. Focus on improving the problem areas that you agree with, and on trying to figure out what you are doing to cause the more “nitpicky” complaints, without beating yourself up over it. That will serve you well, regardless of whether you keep this job or move on to a new one. It’s rare that you get this kind of frank criticism of your weaknesses and blind spots, so try to make the best of it, with as little defensiveness or self-recrimination as you can manage.

Putting in an honest, best effort at the PIP will open up more possible good outcomes. It may be unlikely that you keep your current job, and even if you do, it may be impossible to salvage your long-term prospects with the company. You may forfeit various bonuses and other benefits regardless of the outcome. However, a serious effort at improvement will:

  • give you an honestly-earned paycheck during the PIP
  • mitigate reputation problems, and
  • complicate the evidence against you.

You may find that you actually get good references from your employers in the future if you make a sincere effort at improvement. You may also find that they offer you a severance package at the end of the process. If they are determined to fire you, they will be much more likely to offer you severance if you make a sincere effort, than if you make yourself easy to dismiss.

I'd like to give an alternative answer.

There are actually companies that use PIPs to, you know, improve an employee's performance.

If you like your job and the company you work for, then accept the PIP and do your best to improve in the areas that it outlines. A lot of people make mistakes when they are young and new to the professional world. It doesn't have to be a permanent black mark.

  • 2
    While some companies do use PIPs for their stated reason, the fact that they created a 20 page document does not bode well for him. – Richard U Feb 17 '17 at 18:30
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    @RichardU disagree. This could be an honest attempt to rectify the situation - finding staff is hard! There is a whole industry around it - but it still has to leave the option to terminate OP if performance does not improve. You can't have a half page PIP and say you made an honest attempt. – bharal Feb 17 '17 at 20:02
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    @bharal 20 pages of evidence, including printed out Skype conversations is not done for corrective reasons. – Richard U Feb 17 '17 at 20:42
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    I have to agree. Performance Improvement Plan is used for one thing in my experience, there are numerous other plans in the workforce, but they are not called PIPs – Ramhound Feb 18 '17 at 19:18
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    I have never seen a PIP used positively. – Tony Ennis Feb 19 '17 at 5:45

The only reason I see for you to resign rather than get yourself fired would be if that would allow you to get a good reference from your present employers for work at future employers. It is probably better to let yourself get fired, and it is definitely better if you are sure that they won't give you a good reference. Here are some benefits of letting yourself get fired.

  • You will get paid until they fire you.
  • You will be employed while you look for a job. This is helpful in the negotiations for your next job, and it provides an excuse as to why you can't provide anyone from your present company as a reference.
  • Depending on what country you work in, you will probably get paid unemployment benefits after you are fired.
  • In the future, you can lie about why you no longer work at your present company, rather than saying you have been fired from this job.
  • In order to sue the company for firing you illegally, you have to let them fire you rather than you resigning willingly. It's probably not worth it for you to sue them, but I think most firing is illegal, so if you documented stuff very well and had a lawyer, you probably would have a good case.

The situation with your application for permanent residence is quite interesting. Your precarious migrant status makes you effectively a slave to your company, and this is a major asset for them: You are likely to keep your job and do what they say even if they don't give you raises and are mean to you. So maybe they really won't fire you. I don't really know though. Either way, if your application for permanent residency is tied to a particular company, I suspect it would be better for you to wait until your next job. Your savings is a liability to the company.

Don't expect the next job to last very long either, though. Continue to save money, as you have been doing, but pretend when looking for jobs that you need money. (One of the main things that makes it hard for me to get a job is that I have too much money already, so the companies know that I'll quit when the working conditions get bad.) If you are is the United States, I recommend that you plan on retiring within a few years. Get your living expenses down to at most $15,000 per year. If you make $60,000 per year, then $20,000 would go to taxes, $15,000 would go to living expenses, and $25,000 would go to savings. This is $100,000 after a few years, which is enough to last a long time if you accept that you will always be poor. Expect that you will never get permanent residency, but keep trying to get it and acting like you want it, as this will make you more desirable to employers. If have permanent residency by the time you retire, you can move to pretty much anywhere in the United States other than the major cities. If you don't, you can move to pretty much any other country.

The main thing to take away from this whole experience is that you have misunderstood your role as a tech worker: Tech is the industry based on the vision that computers will save the world. Computers won't save the world, so the main job of the company is to maintain this illusion. Having lots of stressed-out employees contributes to the impression that a company is very big, that their technologies are very advanced, that they are doing something new, and that they are doing lots of work. Your job is to convince your superiors that they are very smart and that they are saving the world, so that they may better convince everyone else that the company is the best company and that it is saving the world. (You're better off not believing this yourself.)

For your present job, start pretending that you respect your boss's ego. If people are puzzled by your change, you can say that your boss talked some sense into you or something; the explanation doesn't have to be reasonable. This is hard if your co-workers are your friends; if that is the case, you should also look for new friends.

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    +1 for the first part; -2 for "The main thing to take away...", -10 for all the advise about lying and pretending. – AnoE Feb 17 '17 at 12:17
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    This is crazy. Save $100,000 and then live in poverty for a while is not really useful advice. – Ben313 Feb 17 '17 at 19:43
  • "In order to sue the company for firing you illegally, you have to let them fire you rather than you resigning willingly." - not true, constructive dismissal/discharge. (Admittedly it's probably not relevant here.) – Julia Hayward Feb 17 '17 at 20:40
  • This assumes the company is willing to give a good recommendation and I don't see that happening – Ramhound Feb 18 '17 at 19:19

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