What Now? Firing a Key Executive

In the previous vignette, you (as the CEO of SpiderNet) were trying to decide on how to organize the engineering organization.  Your decision was to hire a new VP of Engineering and your co-founder, who previously oversaw Engineering, agrees to become the CTO and chief architect.  Everything seemed to have worked out with the transition and your new VP has been on the job for a few months.  When he joined, you were certain you had a “rock star” on the team.  References from the recruiter came back great and the person had exactly the right profile against your hiring objectives.

A few weeks later, at a dinner meeting with a close business associate and CEO of another company, you mention that you’ve hired an incredible new engineering VP.  Your dinner friend tells you that he knows this person and you’ve made a big mistake.  “I know this person and he’s really lazy.  Little real domain knowledge despite the pedigree.  You should have called me.”  Crap.

Several months later, the laziness starts to show.  Your “rock star” now becomes a “project” and you have to manage his weekly performance and deliverables.  He is just not working very hard and does not have the strategic insight into the nuances of your business.  He also does not have the respect from the team.  They don’t think he is a total lost cause, but they also don’t pay much attention to him.  That said, he’s certainly ok and he’s better than nobody.  He puts together decent schedules, brings much needed process to the team and always says the right things when you have your 1:1s.  However, you don’t feel good about him and the engineering team is not delivering at the level you’d like.  You talk with your board and have a few options: find a different job for this person and re-hire the VP; put him on a plan and re-assess in three months; or fire and re-hire.

What now?

Up next: my answer.

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