in Work&Life, 生活

Facebook employee suicide case – Some thought about managing the working relationship

Below was a writing for the class BMA5016 Leading with Impact.

A full-time software engineer at Facebook headquarter building jumped to death on 20th September 2019, this was a tragedy and really a sad news to know. This incidence triggered some thinking about managing the working relationship in our workplace, as we have learned about the Peter Block's framework in the class, how to identify your allies and adversaries.

Someone said Facebook working environment is toxic, we don't know about the truth, however it seems working at this famous hi-tech giant is not as good as we outsiders imagined. We don't know when will the final investigation report will be released and how the report will show as Facebook is trying to cover up this event, but from the Preliminary investigation by the Menlo Park Police Department and a well known Youtuber Patrick Shyu who has around 600 thousands follower also an ex-Facebook employee, he talked about this event in his channel, we roughly knows what happened before the software engineer chose to end his life.

The Facebook software engineer was holding H-1B visa, means if he got fired, he will need to find another sponsor for him to stay in US, and he was working in the advertising group, which is all day a very high-stress group. Before the incidence, he had a broken relationship with his superior, was not happy working with current group, and wanted to transfer to a new group. He had discussion with his boss about his intentions, his boss agreed. The software engineer successfully found a new group who agreed to receive him. However his boss changed his mind at last minute, the reason was that too many people left the team and the team lacked human hands. His boss forced him to stay at the team until the end of the quarter and promised him a good performance review result, so he will not to be put on the PIP (performance improvement plan) plan, which is a path for the employee to get fired. At the end of the story, the software engineer was “betrayed by his manager” by receiving a low performance rating, it blocked his ability to transfer teams, if he stays in PIP, he will be in a very difficult situation because he was a H-1B visa holder. After quarreling with his boss, he jumped to death.

So the software engineer chose to trust his boss to keep his promise, this was a mistake that he wrongly identified his boss from adversaries to allies or bedfellow. The adversaries means things cannot work out even you have tried to do all you can because there is no common interest, it is believed that If you confirm your Boss is an adversary, be prepared to move on. If a subordinate is an adversary, the nicest thing you can do is help them to move on.

Below Peter Block’s Framework figure is from this link.
Peter Block

Hope all of us have the wisdom to identify our allies and adversaries in our workplace, and manage the working relationship properly, and just watch yourself, no company is worth dying for, at the end of the day, work is important, but not as important as your family.

Follow up this link:
A Chinese engineer was terminated the working relationship with Facebook for the reason of “lack of judgement", the real reason might be he spoke up and join in the protest for the Facebook engineer death incidence.

Reference:

Facebook Worker Dies After Jumping From Headquarters Building
Facebook Employee Suicide Cover-Up by Youtuber Patrick Shyu, Youtube channel name: TechLead
FACEBOOK SLAMMED FOR ASIAN EMPLOYEE SUICIDE ‘COVER UP’
Allies vs. Adversaries: A Framework for Discussing Relationships
A Chinese engineer says he was fired from Facebook after discussing a colleague’s death, and it’s caused outrage in China

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