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To quote a discussion on HR from a while back (can't find the actual link in my history) - "My manager can fire me but I can't fire my manager". Manager is a promotion if only based on power dynamics.





It really does depend on the organization IMO. In a healthy organization, the managers manager can easily distinguish between contributions and fuck ups of the manager versus the same for the managers reportees.

If a team hits their metrics a good (super-) manager knows if it’s because of the manager or in spite of them, and vice versa.

What we really need is to train people to be better at identifying these organizational concerns, and set the right incentives, so that people choose to be Engineering Managers for the right reasons.

Edit: and to answer your question directly, in a healthy org, it’s definitely possible (and in fact in some very rare cases easier) to fire your manager than for them to fire you. Also depends on the level of trust you have built for yourself as in individual contributor.


Not to quibble, but it's a lot easier for most of us to "fire" our managers than it is for them to fire us. If your manager sucks, start interviewing.

I don't think that's a quibble. I think that's pretty fundamental. Most people don't quit their jobs, they quit their managers. And to your point, it is MUCH easier to quit than it is to fire someone. Firing someone is generally a painstaking process.

I've never had to fire someone but I've seen interviewing being very difficult. (With it being routinely common for engineers to spend months prepping on interview practice over weekends and nights before even doing their first real interview) Is firing someone really that difficult? I've seen it done on what seems like a whim - no long review process or anything.

At any mature employer if you fire someone (and it’s not due to general layoffs) you need a 6 month PIP pre-termination as legal cover.

> MUCH easier to quit than it is to fire someone

What's hard about firing people? I actually don't know and would love to find out if you could share your thought


Generally (especially as companies grow) it's all about liability protection. Companies don't want to get sued, and they don't want to lose if they do get sued. That means paper trails, and attempts at showing a history of objective criteria leading to the decision, etc. This often looks like performance improvement plans and so forth, and so it can be pretty easy for someone to do just enough to not get fired but still be a quite low performer (especially with inexperienced managers).

This is flipped on its head for things like abuse where the company could be liable for not responding to reports in a timely manner. Cross a line behavior-wise, and you can get fired quickly.


Large organizations (and many small ones) just don't do it if there's any way to avoid it. They're rich targets for lawsuits, of course, but more importantly, it has widespread effects on morale. Fire one guy, and ten start thinking that their jobs are nowhere near as reliable as they had thought.



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