CMPS171, Winter 2014, Section 01: Firing

There are many reasons why a specific person may not be an effective team member. They might repeatedly fail to complete tasks on time, or work much less than other members, or consistently miss team meetings. They might cause meetings to be unproductive, or be consistently negative in their comments to other team members. Their personal hygiene might make them extremely unpleasant to work with. Mild forms of these behaviors are normal on almost all teams, and it is important to learn how to be effective even in the presence of these traits.

However, sometimes a team member's behavior is so extreme that the team just does not feel they can work with that person any longer. In this case, if the behavior does not change, the team needs to be able to remove a team member. That is, a team needs a way to fire people.

It is important for teams to inform the TA or instructor about emerging team issues early on. With early notification, corrective steps can be taken before team dynamics make it challenging or impossible for a team member to remain on the team. Historically, some of the worst team issues were hidden from view until late in the quarter, at which point the ability to fix them was low. This hurt the team, since they had a problem fester for too long, and it hurt the person removed from the team, since they had little time to recover.

In this class, there is a two step process for firing a team member: remediation, then (if necessary) removal.

Remediation: Teams need to give the non-effective team member a chance to change their behavior. This is done by the team writing a letter to the poorly performing team member. This letter describes: (a) the specific behaviors that are causing problems, and (b) the specific improvement steps that must be taken for the team member to remain on the team. This letter must be approved by the course instructor before it is sent. This process can be initiated by any team member, but is usually performed by a team member in a management role (sprint manager, producer, etc.) The course instructor will send the letter to the individual, and will discuss the improvement steps required (and timeframe for improvement).

Removal: If the remediation plan does not lead to improved behavior, then the team can perform a vote to remove the poorly performing member. A team meeting is called, at which the TA or course instructor must be present. This meeting is led by the TA or course instructor. At this meeting, the poorly performing team member has the opportunity to explain why they feel they should not be removed from the team. After this, they are asked to leave the meeting room. The team may then discuss the removal of the team member. Once discussion has ended, a vote is taken by secret ballot on the removal of the team member. Removal of a team member requires a 2/3 vote of all CMPS 171-enrolled team members present at the meeting (A quorum of 2/3 of CMPS 171-enrolled group members is required to hold this meeting).

A team member fired from their team has two weeks (or until the end of instruction) to find another team to join. Failure to join a new team within this time period will result in a failing grade in the class.

In certain cases, the course instructor may remove a person from a team (and potentially initiate campus disciplinary procedures) without going through this firing process. This includes (but is not limited to) situations where one team member makes another member feel unsafe, has physically threatened or assaulted another team member or themselves, or has violated campus regulations and/or state and national laws concerning sexual harassment and hate speech.