Cloudflare CEO Responds To Viral Video Of Employee Getting Fired

A video of an employee of US-based IT services company Couldflare being fired over a conference call had gone viral on the Internet. The video, posted by Brittany Pietsch, titled “POV: You’re about to get laid off,” shows her in a virtual meeting with HR executives at Cloudflare.

In the video, she talks about being laid off after working for three and a half months as a mid-market account executive. The video also mentions that some of her coworkers experienced layoffs just before her.

In the video, we see Brittany Pietsch get on a virtual call with two HR executives she had not met or interacted with before. The HR representatives told Ms Pietsch that her performance did not meet expectations but could not provide more details. Ms Pietsch mentioned receiving only positive feedback from her manager and being hired during a tough period with two major holidays. She also asked why they were delivering the news instead of her manager.

“It must be very easy for you to have these little 10, 15 minute meetings, tell someone that they’re fired, completely wreck their whole life, and then that’s it with no explanation – that’s extremely traumatising for people if you can imagine that,” Ms Pietsch said.

The HR executive said, “So I don’t think there’s anything we can say at this moment or today, Brittany, that’s going to change the way that you feel. Again, it’s understandable, I’m taking notes and feedback, and we’ll circle back.”

Watch the video here:

Now, Matthew Prince, the CEO and co-founder of the technology company, has reacted. “We fired ~40 sales people out of over 1,500 in our go-to market org. That’s a normal quarter. When we’re doing performance management right, we can often tell within 3 months or less of a sales hire, even during the holidays, whether they’re going to be successful or not. Sadly, we don’t hire perfectly. We try to fire perfectly,” Prince wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Acknowledging that they were “far from perfect” in this case, Mr Prince said, “The video is painful for me to watch. Managers should always be involved. HR should be involved, but it shouldn’t be outsourced to them, No employee should ever actually be surprised they weren’t performing. We don’t always get it right.”

He added that “sometimes underperforming employees don’t actually listen to the feedback they’ve gotten before we let them go.” He also explained that letting someone go doesn’t necessarily brand them as a bad employee. “It doesn’t mean (they) won’t be really, really great somewhere else,” said Mr Prince.

The Cloudflare CEO provided an analogy, likening the situation to a sports team where a player may not fit a particular team but can excel elsewhere. “Chris Paul was a bad fit for the Suns, but he’s undoubtedly a great basketball player. And, in fact, we think the right thing to do is get people we know are unlikely to succeed off the team as quickly as possible so they can find the right place for them. We definitely weren’t anywhere close to perfect in this case,” he stated.

He clarified that the mistake wasn’t in the decision to part ways with underperforming employees but in the lack of kindness and humanity displayed during the process. “Any healthy org needs to get the people who aren’t performing off. That wasn’t the mistake here. The mistake was not being as kind and humane as we were. And that’s something @zatlyn (Michelle Zatlyn – COO of Cloudflare) and I am focused on improving going forward,” Mr Prince wrote.

Read the full post here:

In a recent LinkedIn post, Ms Pietsch mentioned receiving amazing support after her video. She now sees that firings like hers are common in the corporate world, pointing to a larger systemic problem.

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