At HackerBay, we strive to hire smart people who can get things done. Though the bar for getting hired is high, our interview process is imperfect and later on we may find that someone is underperforming. We want people to be successful and should give every opportunity for individuals to work effectively but at the same time, we need to balance the company’s needs and move quickly to manage areas of underperformance.

The important thing to remember is to always address any early signs of underperformance immediately. Managers should follow these guidelines when underperformance is recognized. Please reach out to People Operations with any concerns related to underperformance to protect the organization and equally consider the individual(s) involved.

One-on-Ones & Coaching

Managers should first address areas of poor performance or behavior related concerns verbally during one-on-one meetings or in impromptu private coaching sessions with their team member. These conversations should be documented by the manager and shared with the team member so that everyone has a record of the discussion and is in alignment on where improvements needs to be made and by when.

Helping HackerBay’ers understand clearly how their performance is not meeting standards quickly is very important to foster immediate improvement and continued success.

If there are extenuating circumstances some leeway may be granted depending on the situation. This is an area where People Operations can provide a sounding board or voice of reason. The People Operations Generalist meets with all managers every two weeks and any concerns about underperformance should be discussed then or managers can reach out in the meantime.

Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)

When coaching is not enough there are two options:

  1. Propose a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)
  2. Let the team member go immediately. This should be discussed with People Operations first before any action is taken.

Many companies use a PIP for all firings to have a legal trial for the reason behind letting someone go. At HackerBay we think that giving someone a plan while you intent to let them go is a bad experience for the team member, their manager, and the rest of the team. A PIP at HackerBay is not used to cover our ass but is a genuine last chance to resolve under-performance. You should only offer a PIP if you are confident that the team member can successfully complete it. For director and higher functions we are unlikely to offer a PIP and more likely to let someone go immediately since the impact of their underperformed is greater on the rest of the organization.


It is important to remember that the root cause of issues can be a variety of things, PIPs are not intended to be a negative document. They are an opportunity for the manager and their team member to work together to get the individual back on track. We have an example of this to share here, it is anonymized in line with keeping job feedback private as per the General Guidelines;


“Although nobody wants to be put on a PIP, for me it ended up ultimately being a positive experience. My initial introduction to the plan was a shock and a serious blow to my self confidence, but the process was presented in a fair and open way with clearly defined steps and goals. The document presented an attitude of wanting to help me improve and thrive, not a pretext to send me out the door. This helped me shape my attitude going through the process. As it turns out I had several blind spots in my communication and time management skills that needed to be remedied, and over the course of the PIP with daily updates with my manager and some personal efforts in activity logging I was able to improve in both of these areas”.


“For me as a manager, I want to be honest and open with people. I never feel good about telling people they are not meeting the standard. At the same time I really want people to improve. With the PIP we were able to clearly talk about the work that needed to be done to, make them improve and get them where we needed them to be. In this case, the underperformance was not a lack of skills. We merely needed to redirect their focus”.


The intention of a PIP is to support the individual in any way required to make their time at HackerBay a positive experience but also to make clear that immediate and sustained improvement is required. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) has a helpful guide to review when you this step is needed to push past the current performance issues.