Session 6

Addressing underperformance

Dealing with underperformance with integrity, dignity and fairness

March 29, 18:00 - 20:30 BST
10am–12.30pm PDT / 1–3.30pm EDT / 6–8.30pm BST / 7–9.30pm CEST

March 30, 14:00 - 16:30 BST
6–8.30am PDT / 9–11.30am EDT / 2–4.30pm BST / 3–5.30pm CEST

See session details

Meet our session contributors

HOST

Anjuan Simmons

Engineering Coach

Help Scout

Co-HOST

Arquay Harris

VP of Engineering

Webflow

TUTOR

Rod Garcia

Senior Director of Engineering

Slack

TUTOR

MoJen Jenkins

Engineering Manager

Netflix

TUTOR

Kevin Goldsmith

Chief Technology Officer

Anaconda

Meet our session contributors

Session overview

There will come a time when every engineering leader will be faced with engineers who are underperforming in their roles. And this is always tough for the underperforming person but also you as a manager. Underperformance, if not addressed correctly, can have tangible consequences both for an individual and your team. So how do you tackle these situations with integrity and ensure that you’re doing all you can to help people succeed?  

In this session, we’ll help you set out a plan of action to manage underperformance effectively, looking at how to set expectations, drive performance, and deal with any aftershocks.

You'll leave this session with:

Frameworks to help you define performance and to set realistic goals 

Tools for being able to manage underperformers 

Communication methods to treat the person with dignity 

The ability to make hard choices confidently 

Strategies for creating communication plans

Talk

Identifying underperformance and setting expectations

We’ll be exploring how to address underperformance in this session - but how can you even tell if someone is underperforming? For underperformance to be genuinely established - both you and the person you’re managing need to have clearly defined metrics for success and failure. 

 

We’ll outline how to set clear expectations for your reports in this talk. We’ll look at how you need to write and communicate these expectations and set out what to do when your report is missing them. We’ll identify traps that new managers fall into, how to avoid them, and how to gain the confidence to say ‘you’re not meeting the expectations of the role’. 

Rod Garcia

Senior Director of Engineering

Slack

Talk

Managing compassionately through underperformance

You’ve identified that a person is underperforming, you’ve set expectations, and you’ve communicated to your report that they’re not meeting the expectations of their role. What comes next? Truthfully, a lot of work for both you and your report. Successful performance management only works when there is a clear action plan that you regularly check upon. 

 

In this talk, we’ll identify what you should do to help manage someone out of underperformance. We’ll look at how to turn expectations into practical actions, how and when to check in, and how to provide the best support and give your report the best chance of improvement.

MoJen Jenkins

Engineering Manager

Netflix

MoJen Jenkins is an entrepreneur, technical leader and UK video game industry veteran who founded The Noisemakers, a software development company based in London, after 12 years of working in games. MCV Magazine listed her in the Top 100 UK Women in Video Games in 2013, and she served as a jury member of the 2015 and 2016 BAFTA Video Game Awards. 

MoJen has worn many hats as a founder, developer, content creator, mentor and public speaker. She moved to Los Angeles in 2017 where she has held engineering manager roles at Verizon Media, Genvid Technologies and currently Netflix.

Talk

Firing like a human  

Unfortunately, there will be times when even the most thought out improvement plans don’t work out. And in these situations, it will sometimes be necessary to let a person go. This is painful for you as a manager and will have material effects on the life of your report - and as such, it can’t be a decision that is made lightly. 

 

In this talk, we’ll provide three safeguards that will allow you to make this tricky choice confidently. We’ll ask: Were you transparent with this person? Did you support this person and give them the tools to succeed? And did you act with integrity? We’ll then outline practical advice on how to hold a firing conversation.

Kevin Goldsmith

Chief Technology Officer 

Anaconda

Kevin Goldsmith has been a developer, software architect, technology manager, and senior technology executive for over 28 years. He is the Chief Technology Officer at Anaconda, overseeing innovation for Anaconda’s current open-source and commercial offerings, as well as developing new solutions to bring data science practitioners together with innovators, vendors, and thought leaders in the industry.

Formerly, Kevin was the Chief Technology Officer at Onfido; Chief Technology Officer at Avvo; the Vice President of Engineering, Consumer at Spotify; a Director of Engineering at Adobe Systems; and, development lead at Microsoft.

@KevinGoldsmith

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