Chapter 26. Fire Them!

Mike Fisher

Fire them! As people managers, we all must deal with personnel who are not performing to our standards or are displaying behaviors that are not aligned with our culture. This sounds very cut and dried, but in most cases it’s not. The work that engineers perform is usually multifaceted, and the required competencies are broad. Typically, we need engineers to write code, fix bugs, achieve business results, participate in Agile ceremonies, mentor other engineers, and more. To do these effectively, we need engineers to be great written and verbal communicators, be leaders, be knowledgeable, be collaborative, and be effective, to name just a few competencies.

Often, we are faced with scenarios in which a person is displaying all the correct behaviors but they are not delivering Or, they are achieving their goals but they are doing it in a manner not in line with your culture. Often times some of our most brilliant engineers are curmudgeons who can’t work well with others. I call these engineers “brilliant jerks.” It’s unfortunate for them because much of engineering is team based.

What sounds so clear on paper is often a confusing scenario in which engineering managers become stuck trying to decide whether they have given the engineer enough time to improve or whether a different coaching technique will fix everything. In these scenarios, my guidance ...

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