Things to consider:

  1. She's getting paid at a level that implies that she is a very experienced mid level consultant
  2. She doesn't ask questions, even though I very clearly make it known that I'm available to talk to her.
  3. The amount of effort I expect to hand hold her to get her to a level where I can feel she will be independent will probably take over 25% of my time. I don't have that luxury.
  • I don't believe that this decision is within the scope of project management. I think the answers are more likely to be influenced by opinion than by project management methodology (making this a subjective question). Finally, I don't think that the answer is going to be useful to the community. While this is an important question for you, and more important for your consultant, I don't think it is appropriate for PM:SE. Is there a way to revise this question to be a practical problem in project management that is useful to the community?
    – MCW
    Sep 17, 2020 at 12:17

3 Answers 3


In your OP, you used "junior" and "mid-level" judgment words. That's based on your subjective scale, which could be very different than others. However, the bottom line is she is not performing to expectations. As a PM, this is in your domain to make a decision to either 1) get her up to expectations and take on the risk you may fail at that and the risk of extra costs to get here there; or 2) remove her and take on the expense of finding a replacement and the risk of making another bad hiring decision.

Both choices carry risks and costs. The question is, which is worse?

On projects, you don't have the luxury of time to nurture an under performing resource, human or otherwise. If the resource is not performing, you remove and replace. Humans are more complex and more risky so replacing is AFTER you analyze the costs and risks of doing so. On the other hand, managing projects is ALL about managing variances, including human work performance. This means your expectations of her performance should have been based on average performance, not a perceived high performance. So if your bar is high on performance, then your planning was less than optimal. Include that in your analysis whether to replace her or not. For me, my practice is plan work performance to be very average, even mediocre, because the human performance curve suggests I will most likely hire average employees.


Should I recommend letting her go or giving her time to ramp up?

Only you can make this decision since you have a full view of the situation. This isn't any different than having an under-performing employee, which is handled by:

  • having a discussion about expectations and how the current situation isn't meeting them;
  • agreeing together on some improvements and changes that need to be done to meet those expectations;
  • agreeing on how those changes need to be performed (what must she do, what support will you offer, etc);
  • agreeing on a timeline to make them happen;
  • agreeing on some objective ways to evaluate at the end if things improved or not.
  • based on the result, decide to continue or end the collaboration with her.

This will depend of course on your willingness to give her a second chance, which judging from your third point, I feel it might not be the case. There is also a red flag with your second point. Consultant or not, junior or mid, having to ask lots of questions should be a given when you are new on any project.

Other things to consider: Who hired her? Why wasn't this caught before she was hired? How hard will it be to replace her? Are you better of without having her on the project or with? etc. Like I said, only you can make this decision since you have a full view and understanding of the situation


I agree with what seems to be the general consensus that you should now speak with this person, one-on-one. Importantly, be willing to listen as well as talk. Think of the two of you as being a partnership that you constructed with certain expectations that you don't think are being met – and with the expectation that this person would interact with you in ways that are not happening now. Privately discuss the matter without bringing up the possibility of termination. Be prepared to learn something that you hadn't yet considered.

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