Dear CEO - A Letter From Your Former HRBP



I have developed an interesting little ritual for myself in which every time I leave a company, I write a letter to the CEO. I don't send it to them, I usually just consider it like a journal and it's time I wrote this one.

In these letters, I usually thank them for what I learned and reflected on how the experience helped me evolve.


  • From Wayne, I learned the value of sales and marketing, how to understand what clients wanted and how to present your products and services as the perfect fit.
  • From Andrew, I learned how to build a company around your consumers. How to take feedback and hostility from all of your customers and build a series of products, services and experiences that gave them what they wanted. How to turn around a reputation and be enthusiastic and charming along the way.
  • From DanieI, learned how important it is, (especially at the CEO level) to acknowledge and realize that he was brilliant in some ways, but wasn’t in others. He hired amazing leaders, especially in Finance and HR that he listened to - because they knew what they were talking about
  • From you - I believe I can summarize it in saying: “I had always heard the phrase that ‘the path to doom is paved with the best of intentions’ but I didn’t get a chance to actually experience it until my tenure with your organization.


I had worked for your company for just about a year and was part of the layoff. (Affectionately referred to as The Snap)

Consider this my analysis, recommendation and observations as an HR professional who worked in your organization and hadn't been there long enough to acclimate, but was there long enough to observe.

We have certainly seen an uptick of really unfortunate and disappointing CEO behavior.

Anyone who knows me knows that every time one of you does something so questionable and foul, I opine again that maybe we should mandate that CEOs take a year or two of training and certification before being given the material ability to impact peoples lives the way you do, and so often callously treat it.

Between the crying CEO, the CEO who said people lost their hustle (in the middle of a global pandemic), the one who thought candidates should pay an application fee , the CEO who did the layoff a week before Christmas to the one last week who told his whole company that they needed to "hustle more" and "work more hours" it's fair to say that many CEO's have a rather uninformed view of their role compared to their team, don't they?

Who am I?

My name is Daniel - I have worked in HR for 20 years. I have worked for companies like WebMD, Electronic Arts and Spotify and was fortunate enough that I had the opportunity to support many organizations: Sales, Marketing, Data, Product to Engineering, Insights and Design giving me a nice healthy versatility and immersion in job families.

In early 2020, I went into consulting and spent a great deal of time doing HR Director, Fractional CHRO or HRBP consulting for a variety of companies.

Additionally, I also began to develop a reputation as an HR content creator.

My moniker, DanFromHR, was primarily grown on TikTok and most of my content was pretty simple. It was direct, helpful advice on how “Corporate America” worked.

Everything from optimized resumes, how Linkedin works, how interviews function, how companies think of compensation, how to talk to your manager about compensation, promotions, development, even terminations.

Over the next 2 years, I grew to almost 200k followers, I was featured in a few articles based on my content, the reputation I had earned of being very experienced in HR, debunking bad advice and explaining to people how it all worked really resonated with people since so many employees have no information to work with.

In the fall of 2022, following the death of my Mother and the reality of the instability of my life in New York I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.

I also decided to go back to work full-time.

Within 2 months of being in Charlotte, I had 3 offers in front of me.

I chose your company.

It paid the least, but it was in an industry I really liked and the business unit I was assigned to was one I had no experience in and wanted to learn more about.

The role as offered was 3 levels below my experience, which was great! I didn’t want the high level responsibility - I wanted to just immerse myself in a business unit, learn what it did, and try to help the leaders build an organization they could be proud of by building relationships, establishing trust and becoming an advisor.

And so I started with your company.

My Onboarding

The first few months were really quite great.

Your offices were beautiful and it felt good to be “part” of something again on a full-time basis.

I realized I had made the right decision because of how happy people seemed to be, everyone told me how beloved you were and how much you cared about your people. They raved about generous lunches, compensation, benefits, time off, in-office perks, etc and how things were so thoughtful during the pandemic.

At the same time everyone was also a little wary of the fact that the company moved in obscurity. There was simply an acknowledgement that certain decisions happened at the top and people were just expected to do it.

I was so incredibly fascinated as I was onboarding because nothing made sense!

The organization I was assigned to was one of the most unusual mixtures of business units I had ever seen. It was almost like every aspect of Organizational Design that is universally agreed on was turned on its head.

I had so many questions!!

Why on earth is THAT unit reporting to THAT person!

Is this just random chaos or brilliance?

A HUGE shout-out to some of your Sr Directors and VPs, they are some of my favorite people that I’ve worked with - and they deserve better than what they are experiencing and the trap you have inadvertently placed them in.

Trouble Brewing

I would say it was mid-spring where I began to see the cracks.

There were some very obvious concerns about money, yet there was no acknowledgement of what was going to be done about it...other than asking employees to brain storm? But while they were, it was noted that the company continued to engage in some of the biggest financial wastes but there was no discussion on stopping those.

Replacing backfills became a nightmare, not just the process, but because roles like mine are part of determining and executing that and I had to keep telling people “we aren’t sure” because it took forever to get any kind of guidance, and when we did, the process changed a few more times and everyone struggled. This was in complete contradiction with the understanding of managing out lower performers. The phrase "a warm body is better than none" is really popular for a reason.

The complete obscurity regarding what information is shared regarding employees, with your managers in the dark and unable to coach or guide and since the information is controlled at the highest of levels is absurd. When people reached out to me, all I could say was “well, I guess that’s unfortunately just how it is here”.


I remember one of the silliest events that happened that only grew more ironically amusing with time, was a role elimination. Some decisions had been made and it was obvious and acknowledged that the role was no longer going to exist.

I really liked that for exits, your company definitely learned towards generosity and the conversation with the employee was very positive.

When I processed the termination however and used a job code “position elimination”, I was told by someone, I believe from legal, to NOT use that code since “we don’t do position eliminations or layoffs”.

It was so clear how much you loved this company and some of your executives shared that love, but you did not have experience in these other functions, and it doesn't seem that you listen to leaders who do.

As your company scaled exponentially, without an appropriate strategy for doing so, especially in different types of companies in new countries, it was clear the company was not aware of all of the new issues that would come up, and the leaders continued to be in the weeds.

Additionally I was told a few times that there were a number of employees that we just had to “accept" their "quirks" (aka - demands at best, bad behavior at worst), because when they were told to adhere to something or that they couldn't do something, they would inevitably mention they had a direct line to you and you would get involved. This is something that can work when you're at 20 people, but at the size you are, you create so much damage with this.

I also noticed an unfortunate tendency for you and other executives to be way too involved in slack channels - which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have a presence, but when your company grows to the size it’s growing, when you’re trying to be involved in several types of products, all across the world, there comes a point where you have to delegate.

The philosophy around compensation and information caused some of the biggest painful loops between employee, manager, director and/or VP, and inevitably they were sent to me and everyone shook their heads in wonder. Why were we doing this?

While I found those events frustrating, I also found them sort of interesting - this was the first time I’d ever seen a company do things like this and I was curious to see if it would keep leading to success or if it would reach a point where it would implode.

What a fascinating learning experience!

Is there rationale and evidence that what we'd consider "common sense" is wrong? Could a culture of complete obscurity and treating smart people like children actually work?


The summer rolled around and to anyone who was paying attention, it was obvious that we were not doing well.

There were fires all over the place and people were becoming rightfully worried.

The economy hit every industry and layoffs had been a common occurrence since fall of 2022.

You and the executive team however consistently reiterated “we aren't doing layoffs” - but I recognized I was still new and there were a few mitigating strategies that could be done and I really appreciated that as the CEO- you seemed to understand the power and trust of telling employees that they will have their jobs.

I had also noticed that you doubled down on your “claim” - you had even taken to social media and boasted that your company would not be doing layoffs.

Bold! But you took a stand. That was to be commended.

I know for executives, especially CEOs of companies that have seen success, money becomes a bit of a non-issue.

You and many on your team are essentially set for life (some of them are just coasting and being paid fortunes to do so) and it becomes more and more difficult to remember your employees are not, and that sudden drastic changes or unprepared actions can impact their ability to live.

You being responsible and committing to not doing that made me respect you.

I didn’t agree with everything you did, but it all seemed to be based on the best of intentions and looking over the last few years, it clearly worked for you.

More Cracks

It was an interesting experience to be partnered with functions that were more back-end. As I had previously worked with Sales, Marketing, Data/Insights and Product/Engineering.

I could see a lot of your infrastructure teams were seriously understaffed and your teams had to do everything possible to keep things going, in very ineffective ways.

They are brilliant and resilient, holding certain large infrastructure work-streams together with digital tape and glue.

One common theme I learned and didn’t love and had to help coach some leaders on were unreasonable expectations placed on them from above, mostly by you.

It is okay that you don’t have experience running every department, but when you hire people who do, you do have to listen to them and you need to understand the damage it causes when you tell them that they need to do everything and more, that every goal is urgent - while you cut resources, not answer questions, not provide guidance and worst of all - not LISTEN when they tell you they can't.


Around this time I began to call some of the phenomena I saw as the “Stepford” syndrome.

Anytime an issue was brought up, the corresponding leads in my unit basically said “that’s how it is unfortunately” - and more than that, it seemed to be that people that had been specifically hired to help transition the company into better and effective processes and strategies suddenly left...usually with no notice.

Often it seemed because they were doing what you hired them to do, but didn’t like how they communicated it, or that they were suggesting a large change.

People could vent and pull their hair out to each other in private and roll our eyes at the absurdity and contradictions that we saw, but on every public channel, everyone was just polite, cheerful and agreeable.

I think this is common sense, but in case it's not - That is never a culture you want to have, but I assure you - that is the one that has been built.

And the irony? Nobody will tell you this.

Performance Reviews

The concepts of performance management, coaching, development, feedback, goal setting, are all incredibly important to me and I have been so fortunate to work for companies that have been pioneers in overhauling the concept of how ineffective "ratings" are and instead have moved to systems that focus far more on meaningful conversations - which requires a great deal of focus and training to managers.

When I was consulting I loved introducing this, helping design programs, launching and executing full-cycles and more than anything seeing when executives, directors and managers “got it”.

When their eyes stopped glazing over thinking this was “an HR thing” and instead realized just how critical being a people manager was, and the responsibility they had and seeing them open their eyes for the first time and want to absorb everything about leadership, giving feedback, helping develop, having tough conversations - that was what made my day.

Your company has not moved there yet, though everyone, especially recent hires who come from companies that have done this, seem very open and excited about planning better processes, improving definitions, setting better examples and determining a better cadence and calendar with much clearer goals, expectations and tools.

The Worst Performance Review…Ever.

And then, one day in the middle of the year, we were told that we’d be doing a full performance review cycle, several months ahead of schedule, due in weeks.

When I asked around about why this sudden change, I was told, once again, it was a decision made out of good intentions.

I understood the logic of what happened, but I didn’t understand why we needed to impact an entire population of people when the concern was for a small part of the population.

Everything about that process was poorly thought out - and I can’t stress enough that performance management by itself is serious and needs to be evangelized by you and your team, but when you tie compensation into it, it needs to be balanced structured, well thought out and planned correctly.

This had none of that, and on top of all the responsibilities that your leaders had, with continually decreasing resources, we now had to block off huge chunks of time to give reviews, calibrate, run reports and try to find time to review to meet a very arbitrary and sudden deadline.

To make things even worse, new ratings were added, we were given a new tool that had a ton of technical issues and everyone was doing everything possible to get this done.

As I sat in calibration meetings with your leaders - usually no more than 1 or 2 hours at most since this was so quickly dropped in our laps -  I observed that many of them haven’t been trained on meaningful calibration. Whether or not this observation was true, or was simply the outcome of such a poorly designed cycle, but calibration isn’t "going line by line and talking about ratings."

For groups that have larger populations, and especially are composed of different business units, there has to be pre-calibration, identification and discussion on what “good”, “great” or “excellent” look like. You report and analyze teams, you look against metrics of gender, sex, nationality. You dig into each other respectfully and call-out and observe blind spots. None of this was happening.

Everyone tried their hardest, and I was so impressed as I knew how much people were juggling and still made as much time as possible but the calibrations were not effective. Until your teams are saying "our team" instead of "my team", they are not in the most optimal space to calibrate.

It was essentially the best people could do.

This was without a doubt one of the worst performance review cycles I have ever seen because it didn't do right by anyone. The employees suffered, the managers suffered, HR suffered.

But let's focus on the positive. We technically did it, and now we can focus on how to improve it was the mentality.

The Day I Became Disengaged

Time went on and managers were delivering their reviews, awkwardly because of course it was done in obscurity and certain information couldn’t be shared and many conversations were versions of You have done well but here is this thing you haven't done well and I can't tell you anything more than that” but we took the victories where we could and tried to apply the best learnings.

And then it happened.

This day will be in my memory for decades as an example of some of the worst things to ever due to employees, at all levels.

One of the elements that sets your company a little bit apart is the frequency in which you award additional compensation.

Your company chooses to do everything in an almost comical level of obscurity. (Not realizing that you have hired smart people who generally figured out the calculations- which is pretty much what every company uses, but let’s focus on the positive generosity)

The positive element about bonuses or stock is that it's just “extra” money. It shouldn’t be planned on, or accounted for, and each time you receive it - should just be “oh wow! What a nice surprise!”

The problem with that is humans don’t work that way, and you, with again the best of intentions, built and designed a system that paid out like clockwork, and had been very generous and now with all the financial woes, your employees had seen less and less payout, driving ongoing questions from the staff, which of course nobody was allowed to answer and was somehow routed to us?

Then the day happened and the payout came.

That very poorly planned rating system we JUST went through had in fact been used as a determinant to this payout.

As is fairly common, the ratings had an impact - but there was a new calculation that had not been considered before, impacting a large number of employees negatively, and nobody knew it was coming.

I remember having almost 40 slacks and emails as employees saw their payout and some of them received a small portion of what they had received last time, which had already been reduced and right after a performance review in which they had been told that everything was great. Some people asked if this meant we were doing layoffs - and of course the executive team adamantly said no.

In a slack channel, when people were accurately pointing out the discrepancy, I saw the most GENERIC of messages being shared: “We know this may be disappointing, but if you have any questions, reach out to your HRBP”

Why on earth would anyone say that? What was I or any other HRBP supposed to say?

This company has chosen to do things in full obscurity, without any level of transparency or logic that can be understood.

If you want people to thrive within that, it needs to be worth it, and this type of action makes people feel disengaged. T

he people that should be answering questions about why this payout was so lopsided and different should be answered by the people that made those decisions.

You were silent.

As a result of that day I had TWENTY-TWO meetings in the following week in which I had to simply recite, over and over again, that I had no visibility into the calculations, I did not know the rating to calculation would be changed or calculated with this much difference, and trying to assuage good performers who were just given a very clear sign that they weren't. What a horrible waste of time and resources.

Anyone who works in HR knows that one of the largest downsides to a standard rating system with an expected distribution is that your leaders almost always take most of the highest ratings.

It’s expected that Directors, Sr Directors and VPs are rated the “exceptional” and “above expectations” as they have the biggest roles to fill, meaning that if you do bonus/stock distribution based on rating, it unfairly favors your employees who are already high earners - and you further put strain on your larger population of ICs in which seeing a severe reduction of bonus is far more risky.

Just imagine the difference between a VP getting $600,000 and $660,000.

Now compare that 10 employees who got $6,000 more. That is a huge meaningful amount of money for your standard population and still rewards an executive beyond what most of your population would be able to fathom.

As a company, you can do anything you want - but I don’t think anyone has informed you of this, and this is exactly what happened. Are you aware of how your compensation decisions impact your staff? Do you understand that compensation alone is usually what drives 70-80% of people's career decisions?

Good companies have considered this and either moved away from ratings as a whole, or update the distributions so that your highest levels have different calculations from your larger IC staff.

We rolled out a rating system that gave additional rewards to your highly-comped people at a level that was not strategic, at the cost of your largest population. And there was no accountability for it - instead the employees were almost gaslit and HRBPs had to field the chaotic nonsense and the CEO was silent.

We had an HR call that day and I was really hoping we’d get some information and talking points.

We didn’t. We spoke about it for 2 minutes, and then moved on to celebrate promotions I believe. It was Nero playing the violin while the HRBPs looked on in complete shock and confusion.

That was the day I decided I was going to leave and I was going to do it in January so that I could finish up a few projects and ensure that my boss and business units had ample time to prepare.

The Calm Before the Storm

The people you hire, as a rule are not idiots.

Most of us know something was happening - there was no great planning to this and it was a pretty badly kept secret.

This is the irony in the way that you run your company.

The more you try to lock all the information at the top, the more it slips through, it is actually cultures of more transparency that have far greater success keeping secrets.

Anyone who has any experience in layoffs saw what was happening - but you had committed that we weren’t going to do that, so…did that mean further financial cuts? All that free food? Bonus/Stock/Salary reductions? Were we being purchased? Sold? Hopefully we weren't doing another acquisition.

The Worst Layoff I've Witnessed

And D-Day.

A one way zoom call and an email to those impacted.

It was over and done in about 4-5 minutes.

I am not sure where this trend started - but while I appreciate the concept of gathering everyone together to tell them they are laid off in one fell swoop is attractive and likely easier, it’s actually quite horrific.

I remember one of the first CEOs I ever worked with had to do a layoff of 40 people. Not only did we do it live, but he wanted to sit in EVERY meeting. Because this was his fault and he was going to be just fine, but had to tell loyal staff a month before the holidays that they no longer had a job. He wanted to hear every angry, sad, furious or disappointed employee vent their frustration so that he would learn and never do it again.

I have worked for organizations 3-4x your size, and we still did layoffs in 1:1 meetings.

That is the right way to do them.

Your employees deserved better, and you and your executives need to see how the decisions you made, at that level, without involving the people that could have helped you, has led to you taking away their employment.

You and your exec team should be conducting these live, and remember when you give them your canned speech about “unfortunate changes” - just keep picturing how much you have all received in bonuses and compare that to how much has been taken away.

Every element of that action was poorly planned, I was embarrassed for you as a company, for the reputation you claimed to have made, I was embarrassed I had chosen to associate with a company that did this to it's employees. They deserved so much better. I sat there in shock that I was witnessing "leaders" who were acting more like clowns at a circus.

Every part was bad - most of the executives couldn’t even be bothered to make eye contact, employees who had been long faithful and dedicated were treated like criminals, given a short amount of time to try to pack their boxes, say goodbye and be escorted out of the office.

You told everyone “none of this has to do with performance” - but that wasn’t true was it?

That poorly planned rating system was used to make decisions - and naturally your problem employees were all impacted, like the ones who had filed complaints about discrimination or were the most vocal about unfairness, but that would go against the narrative, right?

Anyone impacted was basically told they needed to sign contracts immediately - we were told our laptops would be available until the afternoon, but no within a minute of my signing my form, I was completely closed out. Late morning.

You Ruined Your Reputation

People who had long since been loyal, who had given you years of their life.

They had dedicated themselves to you, had defended you and bought into your quirks because you kept your word, now understood that you do not.

In the best of intentions, you promised your workforce that they were safe.

In the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, you assured everyone that they had a job. In ongoing heat from all sides, you and your executives repeatedly reinforced that no layoffs were coming.

And then you did layoffs.

And what’s worse, you didn’t really take accountability for it.

You made one of the worst mini-announcements and then your other exec took over.

When you made the press the next few days, I remember thinking “I hope he focuses his message on the people he just completely screwed over” but no, you spoke business lingo about “right sizing” and actually made an even more bizarre decision in somehow tying that decision to the price of products.

At no point were you held accountable for your dishonesty - at no time did I ever hear you or your execs say “we really messed up, we know we’ve been assuring you that you all have jobs this entire year, and telling people to not use job elimination codes, but we had to do it, here is a list of our talented people and we want to ensure they are connected to opportunities."

Basic Physics

If I mention the company “” - the first thing people remember is the horrible layoff of 2021 - where the CEO did a similar thing and it went viral.

While it was condemned and judged, it was almost expected - nobody really remembers his name, but he basically acted like a CEO would, where employees are simply line items to profit while he earns an amount of money that most Americans could not even think about having.

But you did the opposite - you built a reputation, a confidence, a culture where it was not going to happen. You bragged on social media and you did a layoff in one of the cruelest and worst ways possible - so that instead of viewing you as a standard CEO, many of your former and current employees have lost a lot of respect for you and the damage you did was far worse because of the dishonest and broken promises.

Your layoff figures were more than double what is seen as reasonable, and you did it at the end of the year, reinforcing that not only have you seriously hurt your reputation with employees, but now your business acumen is being called into question.

The Dishonesty Continued

All of us who were impacted continued to be disappointed, mostly with the ongoing dishonesty and lack of clarity.

What was announced as a “generous severance” was it really all severance that was said in the press? Or was it a mixture of severance and a WARN calculation?

And was it really that generous for COBRA? Or were the dates manipulated a bit to take advantage of a “last of the month” plan?

I want to acknowledge that it was more generous than most, I just don’t see the reason to be dishonest about what the calculations actually were.

We were given membership to a outplacement agency that you paid way too much for, who gave some really bad resume and job hunting advice.

I myself wrote my "assigned coach" a letter on her feedback to me pointing out all of the discrepancies, and I helped about 100 of those impacted personally with accurate guides, templates and 1:1s since their services were so low value. Can I send you guys an invoice for that?

I myself made FOUR different queries for a copy of my employment file - it was never sent to me, despite me highlighting the exact definition of the law around it.

As time went on, problems kept occurring - it was implied to people that they needed to return their equipment in order to get their layoff processed, despite that being illegal.  Benefits expired and people had to make hard choices. I had to cancel a root canal. People in Europe got their severance while everyone in the US waited for some sort of deadline sometime in the future, since again, this process was bad.

All these were fixed of course, but it just showed how poorly this was all done. As when done right, these issues don't happen.

Who Planned this Layoff?

I have unfortunately been a part of way too many layoffs - which means ironically, I’ve gotten “good” at it - and I didn’t see any evidence that this was well planned.

As I looked at who was cut - a lot of the decisions, at least 30% , made almost no sense. You cut deeply into infrastructure that was already skeletal, some of which had direct ties into revenue. You cut single points of failure in various functions in teams that were already stressed.

You cut your BIGGEST supporters! When conducting layoff - you focus on product, work, impact, relationship and engagement. The employees who are performing well who also love the company are the ones you try to retain, engagement is critical - instead you look for redundancies or people who are disengaged or want to be packaged out.

You eliminated some of the biggest fans who were also high performers and kept overpaid acquisitions, political hires or the results of executives not having a good assessment of their team.

It was very clear that your teams didn’t speak to each other throughout this.

While some companies want to keep layoffs private, you should always have trusted people who know how the organization runs so they can walk through the impact and potential danger and how layoffs in one area impact others. You also should be working with HR Business Partners since when we do our job well, we know intimately how it all works and help ensure a lack of bias.

This doesn’t appear to have happened which means you will likely see several things in the new year.

Diversity? Sure


For all the companies that “took diversity and inclusion seriously”, especially after the murder of George Floyd in 2020, you did exactly what they all did.

The moment there was a layoff, Diversity and Inclusion just fell by the wayside.

Because it’s “Black Lives Matter” …until you have to cut costs.

A quick look at your executive team reaffirms this.

There are a LOT of headlines in our industry about former employees bringing their experiences to light.

I imagine this will be your future.

What Will Likely Happen

Your reputation both internally and externally have taken a huge plummet. Where in former private chat boards people defended your quirks and some of the oddities about working there are now actively attacking you.

This layoff was conducted so poorly that many of those impacted have immediately deleted all products and tossed all remnants of things from your company.

The % impacted was not small, you have started a domino effect of people associated negatively with your company. Your company now resonates one of the worst employment experiences I've ever had the displeasure of witnessing.

As you have shown people that they can’t trust you, that their jobs are not guaranteed and that furthermore their financial rewards continue to be impacted without rhyme or reason, expect many to be far more open to new opportunities.

Because of what I can see in how poorly some of the decisions were made, this means skeletal teams in infrastructure are further cut, and the basics have to get done - so you will have high level people doing low level things, stopping any ability to move the needle meaningfully.

You are very likely going to experience an attrition domino or avalanche, something your layoff team should be familiar with but it doens't look that way.

You cut less than what you need to cut because layoffs generate attrition naturally.

Between survivor guilt, negative stigma, fear, needing to do extra work, etc, the more you layoff, the more you should be calculating how it dominoes.

I am aware of your recent successes, but we all know the difference between a gimmick, a PR event and meaningful business operations. All indications from your long term hopes are not promising and your teams see that.

My Recommendations

As I mentioned, I am unable to hold grudges and as disappointed as I am with how you and your management team have chosen to treat a huge part of your workforce, I still believe it was partially the result of good intentions gone wrong, at least from you.

Here is what I’d recommend, as an HR Consultant on how to change things and make your company an example of how to do things the “right” way,


  • Rethink the value of diversity, inclusion and belonging. I was so disappointed in how many people were impacted and I've had way too many conversations with your old team and how everything was "lip service". I have some great recommendations for people who can really help you move the needle and understand the value and importance of diversity, but this means you and your executive team have to be engaged and committed.



  • Your company has been oft-described as one that found a great deal of success and then began buying unrelated companies thinking that success would duplicate, but you never hired the right people to help with that. From my experience, that was true. Learn from that and don't do that again.
  • Why on God's Green Earth do you have so many lawyers??? I have worked for companies 4x your size that had 1/3 of them.
  • Figure out who you are, what your product is, who your customers are and BUILD intelligently, an organization around that. Org design is a science - determined by identifying your strategy, building a structure that meaningfully supports that, and then choosing the people to do it. This should be carefully thought out, validated, tested for bias and built together by people that know how to. After that you involve employees as much as you can because involvement = commitment. Not secrecy.
  • There is no reason to keep reinventing the wheel and there are leaders in the same industry who would be happy to share best practices and consulting. Some of your processes are so archaic because you don’t hire people who have long since automated and solved these problems, nor work with them to do so, and there are ways to do it without ever compromising IP. Be open to industry sharing and connections.
  • This whole opaqueness around compensation is terrible. One of the files on my laptop that was immediately deleted was how my entire group could be solved within 8 months. The hesitations you have regarding transparency can be easily fixed and you are not paying attention to the public voice which is mandating transparency. Several states now have to be completely transparent. Be proactive before it becomes mandatory.
  • Rethink how your compensation rewards operate. One of the best tools a manager has is to reward their performers and can assign each person through discussing with their HRBP and management team, leading to much better results, more feeling of direct rewards and better engagement. This entire high tower of obscurity is falling apart and you are robbing your managers and employees both of the value associated with this.
  • Rethink all of your HR processes. It's an HR BUSINESS partner for a reason - I can't speak for the other disciplines but from what I saw as an HRBP, this is not a competency you have, but you can certainly grow it.
  • This means removal of absurd processes and expectations that they hold meetings to answer questions they have no ability to influence.
  • This means including them in business decisions, calls and giving them the tools and platform for success. Everything from terminations, performance management, job leveling, promotions and compensation is low value, frustrating and not optimal.
  • There are a ton of good people who can be trained and can make meaningful change, but you have to give them the ability to do so. I would imagine if HR is that bogged done in low value processes, your other teams likely are as well.
  • You have some incredible talent in your Compensation and Finance teams - work with experts who have a lot of experience doing this and listen to their advice.
  • Take a long hard look at your executive team and see just how qualified or unqualified they are to run the organization that you need. If there is a mismatch, handle it. If you hire people to do things, listen to them. And I’d really analyze executive compensation, rating distribution and how it impacted everyone. Not a single ONE of you should've gotten a performance bonus after all that lying and making bad decisions that impacted the large a workforce.
  • You win nothing by being too kind. I found it almost ironic that the month before the layoff, people were talking about introducing “Radical Candor” - in your companies case, that’s like trying to teach geometry to cacti.There is no common language between how far away you are from even giving feedback to how much courage and discipline it takes to build radical candor.
  • The idea that many of your executives don’t have “challenging conversations” and it’s just accepted is ludicrous. You have to build the foundations of feedback, courage, having tough conversations and doing so with empathy before you can begin to absorb Radical Candor.
  • This means that YOU and your exec team need to be the forerunners of it and model it. I am still amazed at the idea that I was told several times that "this executive doesn't like to have the tough conversations" - and that's just accepted?
  • Listen to your detractors. You have unintentionally created a culture of fear - to where people know it is pointless to talk to you about problems, negative situations or frustrations and pushing you may risk them being let go. Change this and encourage people to be honest with you. Listen to them. You don’t always have to agree, but you hired smart people for a reason. Let them manage and give them space to succeed as leaders.
  • You have created a culture of fear and complacency. When the payout occurred and I spoke to each one of your shocked and appalled leaders who had no idea what would happen, they knew they were complicit in this negative action, but what could they do? Bring it up and risk losing their ability to take care of their families? This is what I mean - you have unintentionally created and encouraged a culture to where people agree that the Emperor is wearing just the best outfit ever, because admitting that he is naked means they may risk everything.This is not an easy solve, especially because they will NOT admit this to you, you have forgotten that while you are dedicated to seeing your company succeed your team will be dedicated in so much as it helps them live a life where their basic needs are met and they can take care of their families. You have now put that in risk.
  • I take your dedication to being in the weeds as a mark of how much you care about your company. I think that’s great, but you keep making questionable decisions because you are too far invested in minute details.
  • You hired leaders with huge pedigrees at very successful companies and you are at risk of losing them because they cannot do their jobs. Let them!
  • Involve your staff. I know it sounds SO scary, but the reality is companies that continue to involve their staff in decisions build commitment from their employees. Your org runs with this bizarre “highest echelon decision makers that have to weigh in on everything” and your teams just execute without commitment or engagement. Leading to some of the worst administrative heavy archaic processes I've seen.I have seen, time and time again, companies plan much better layoffs when the employees were part of the decision. People volunteered, others saw that with the removal of certain products, it made no sense for them to keep working, others found great new opportunities. Doing it in secret, from people that don’t seem to know how to plan or execute a layoff  led to a pretty horrible experience.
  • You have lost a ton of confidence and respect, but I think you can re-earn it. Take accountability, be more truthful, talk more to your employees, and not just the senior engineers, and ask them to be involved in some of the decision making and you will see a workforce that is far more committed
  • Use this as an opportunity. Rebrand yourself as someone who is honest. If layoffs are on the horizon, say it. Never again hold yourself as the “exception” just to do one of the worst planned ones, in one of the worst times of the year, leading to so much chaos and negativity. Let you and your company be the lighthouse for accountability, understanding how to fix and change things and turning around a reputation.


Alright, that’s all I got.

As for me, I’m heading to South America for awhile - I’m a little sick and tired of the corporate nonsense and the cruelty of "organizations" so I may just consult and build content for a bit and enjoy traveling.

I wish and hope 2024 is one of growth and prosperity for everyone who was impacted by you this year and that all of those talented people find roles in companies that give them a far better experience.


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